There is an excellent colection of links and comments at Allah
Arnold's speech was really good - read it here
I do not like this call but it is in any sense a hard one to judge. Today's KOMO-5 site reports on the trial of two kids (19 and 21) who:
They're accused of repeatedly shooting a dog with a bow an arrow until it died.
The Judge in this case decided however:
But on the trial's first day, the prosecution lost its first battle in court. The judge decided the prosecution must now prove that the two defendants didn't just kill a dog, but that they wanted to make it suffer.
What animal rights activists thought would be an easy conviction, is now very much in question.
“We want to see jail time in this case,” says Susan Michaels of Pasado's Safe Haven, an animal rescue organization. “It's the least of what these two guys deserve for what they put this dog through.”
The 19-year old — Troy Loney — was heard to say:
Last spring, Loney told us what happened: “We shot it with a bow.” But he denied they shot the dog several times, saying they were just trying to put the stray out of its misery.
“I'm not cruel to animals, I just figured I would do what's best.” Witnesses reported the animal was shot at least 10 times.
Activists sitting in court don't buy Loney's statements and say the pair's actions in court are proof.
“They don't look remorseful at all,” says Bess. “They were giggling and laughing, as soon as their attorneys re-entered the courtroom they stopped laughing. It's a joke to them; they think they're going to get off.”
The Judge in question is Judge Thomas Felnagle
I don't use harsh language often but this decision is fucked in the worst sense of the word. These children do not need a long sentence but they need to get something that they will remember for the rest of their lives — how about 300 hours service in an animal shelter. After the first hundred hours or so, they will begin to recognize the fact that these critters are as complex and as deserving of love as we hominids are and they might come around and be decent humans after all… If not, if they do not get 'adopted', we can always stuff them into the 55-gallon oil drum and pump car exhaust into it until they stop moving…
A wonderful story in today's news — from the SanFranscisco Gate:
Suitably, James Doohan was beaming Tuesday.
The “Star Trek” actor — famed for his portrayal of “Beam Me Up” Scotty, the intrepid engineer who kept the spaceship Enterprise flying and its passengers warping from planet to planet — grinned and waved to fans as he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
It was expected to be the last public appearance of the 84-year-old performer, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and also suffers from Parkinson's disease, diabetes and lung fibrosis.
The ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard was the culmination of several days of farewell activities that brought Doohan back into contact with many of this longtime “Trekkie” fans.
George Takei, who played Sulu on “Star Trek,” told the crowd: “This is a galactic day in this town full of stars.
“We've gathered from throughout this planet to say congratulations to you, Jimmy,” Takei said. “We love you and we thank you for your luminous talent. We thank you for the gift you have given us of that unforgettable character, that ingenious and beloved engineer that was able to fix anything.”
Other “Star Trek” cast members to attend were Nichelle Nichols, who was Uhura on the series, and Walter Koenig, who played Chekov.
“He's a wonderful friend, a beautiful person,” Nichols said of Doohan. “There is no one better than he, and no one more deserving. We all love this man.”
Koenig said he felt great companionship with Doohan after decades of working together, from the original TV series in 1966 to their last film in 1994, “Star Trek: Generations.”
“This star is a recognition of a man's talent, his endurance and the effect that he's had on people all over the world,” Koenig said.
Doohan did not speak to the crowd, but he waved and posed for photos before leaving with his family.
This is a wonderful and fitting event. He is a good person and his character on Star Trek encouraged a lot of closet nerds to explore Engineering and Science.
James lives just outside of Seattle (where we used to live) and has led quite an interesting life — to excerpt from the recent StarTrek.com posting:
Reportedly Doohan's short-term memory is beginning to fail as a result of the onset of Alzheimer's, though his long-term memories are intact and he can still recognize people. His son Chris has stated that his father can still tell detailed stories about his Star Trek days and about his World War II experiences, including his participation in the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
A war hero too — funny that he never mentioned it when he was talking to filk.
Reinforces the idea that people who are heroes do not talk about it and people who are not, bloviate.
John Forbes Kerry, call your campaign office…
The one that Rudy Giuliani gave is wonderful. I would have liked to see it live…
Here are a couple of lines that caught my eye:
And since September 11th President Bush has remained rock solid.
It doesn't matter how he is demonized.
It doesn't matter what the media does to ridicule him or misinterpret him or defeat him.
They ridiculed Winston Churchill. They belittled Ronald Reagan.
But like President Bush, they were optimists; leaders must be optimists. Their vision was beyond the present and set on a future of real peace and true freedom.
Some call it stubbornness. I call it principled leadership.
President Bush has the courage of his convictions.
In choosing a President, we really don't choose a Republican or Democrat, a conservative or liberal.
We choose a leader.
And in times of danger, as we are now in, Americans should put leadership at the core of their decision.
Giuliani also has a few words regarding freedom:
Look how quickly the Berlin Wall was torn down, the Iron Curtain ripped open and the Soviet Union disintegrated because of the power of the pent-up demand for freedom.
When it catches hold there is nothing more powerful than freedom. Give it some hope, and it will overwhelm dictators, and even defeat terrorists. That is what we have done and must continue to do in Iraq.
That is what the Republican Party does best when we are at our best, we extend freedom.
Read the whole thing - it's about five minutes and very well written…
Jen and I had the chance to spend a couple hours with a forester in some of the woods around where we live. It was part of this group Black Mountain Forestry Center.
The guide kept talking about the “unintended consequences” of environmental regulations and how some of them were causing more damage in the long run than was ever intended. (making it easier to get a permit to clear-cut than to selectively harvest, stream buffers, letting beavers keep their dams when it was drying up the stream removing fish habitat - these are just a few)
Back40 at CrumbTrail has an excellent writeup on yet another “untended consequence” of environmental “planning” — another exercise in short-sighted thinking and a deficit in communications skills:
One of the reasons that environmental protection and remediation has had so little success despite so much noise and anger is that noise and anger are the chosen behaviors of the politicized environmental movement. Huge amounts of time, energy and money are squandered by brain dead activists who approach every problem with protest, legal and political efforts.
Force is a blunt instrument for these issues which is mostly ineffective. Worse, it creates opposing armies. The activist-bureaucrat-lawyer-politician pseudo-environmentalist army is opposed by an equal and opposite force. Little changes, less is accomplished, time passes and the only ones smiling are the lawyers and politicians. It's just so stupid. Here's an example.
He then quotes from an article in the Eugene, OR Register-Guard newspaper:
Politicians should act on Siskiyou compromise
The Bureau of Land Management is studying cattle impacts [on the Cascade-Siskiyou Monument] now, but results are not expected until 2006. And even then, the agency says it probably will be years before the government issues a final decision.
For the ranchers, this investigation might not represent the proverbial writing on the wall, but it has made them hesitant to bet tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs on an uncertain result if the grazing study lands in court. As for the conservationists, they want to begin environmental restoration and protection of the monument's outstanding features without further delay or damage. These are the separate but dissecting interests that have brought the sides together.
OK you say — must be a lot of cattle to be causing that much fuss. Back40 provides some of the back-story:
There are only 600 cattle in the whole disputed area and ranchers have been willing to vacate their leases for years if they were compensated. Just the current study will cost a million dollars and take years to complete and lead to management changes. The grazing leases could have been bought out several times over by the money spent over the years attempting to take the leases by force.
If that happened then the brain dead pseudo-environmentalists could more quickly see that they have accomplished nothing. As in other parks such as Yellowstone native grazers such as Elk will soon increase in numbers to replace the cattle, and do as much “damage” or more. Then the brain dead environmentalists can agitate for wolves to control the naive grazers, or park service hunters can cull the herd with guns, poison or traps.
Emphasis mine — the environmentalists only look to their own agenda — a talking point or two. A project to work on. The often fail to see the total effect of what they are proposing in the grand scale of things. If they do own up to the possible damage, they will say that the victories over the industrialists have to start small and one at a time.
Back40 goes on some more about the comparitive virtues of the ranchers and the environmentalists and suggests that the ranchers are doing a lot more to environmentally manage the park system than the rangers or the scientists.
The forester we talked with on the trip said basically the same thing. The people who own the timberlands do not want to do anything that would hurt the environment. Their profits depend on a healthy ecosystem and the majority of their techniques are designed to mimic those of nature. True, a clear-cut looks pretty fugly and I would not want to live in one of them but a naturally burned forest is not a nice place either but in a few years, it's an incredible habitat and in 30 years, it's another forest. Same thing with the clear-cut.
From the BBC News:
Giuseppe Cannella had a big surprise for his mother-in-law when he put a jet engine on the back of her wheelchair.
Mr Cannella says the chair can now do top speeds of more than 60mph and has proved the star of a model plane championship during the Bank Holiday.
A model plane enthusiast himself, Mr Cannella has been putting on shows at Barkston Heath near Grantham, Lincs.
“It is just the wheelchair with the engine bolted on the back and steering on the front,” he said.
The BBC link has a great photo of Mr. Cannella in the chair with a long plume of exhaust coming from the rear…
Very interesting link and commentary from Denny at Grouchy Old Cripple. It seems a 47 year old Ethiopian man moved to this country 20 years ago, got his citizenship and now considers himself to be an African-American.
Guess what — he can't do that:
This is from the Denny's link
For a moment, the Ethiopian-born activist seemed to melt into the crowd, blending into the sea of black professors, health experts and community leaders considering how to educate blacks about the dangers of prostate cancer. But when he piped up to suggest focusing some attention on African immigrants, the dividing lines were promptly and pointedly drawn.
The focus of the campaign, the activist, Abdulaziz Kamus, was told, would be strictly on African-Americans.
“I said, 'But I am African and I am an American citizen; am I not African-American?' ” said Kamus, who is an advocate for African immigrants here, recalling his sense of bewilderment. “They said, 'No, no, no, not you.' ”
“The census is claiming me as an African-American,” said Kamus, 47, who has lived in this country for 20 years. “If I walk down the streets, white people see me as an African-American.
Yet African-Americans are saying, 'You are not one of us.' So I ask myself, in this country, how do I define myself?”
Evidentally this has been going on for a while. The first I heard about this was when Terence Moore, a black racist sports writer for the AJC bemoaned the fact that the Atlanta Braves had only one African-American on their team. Funny, I had seen a lot of black faces but Terence said they weren't African-Americans. It seems that to be a real honest to God African-American you needed to have been born here.
Let me state upfront that I have always abhorred the term African-American. To me it means someone of African descent and not solely black African descent. For example, Tuh-RAY-sah Kerry is an African-American. So is Kim du Toit. They were born in Africa, came here, and became American citizens. To me, that makes them African-Americans. Kim would deny this and say, “I am a fucking American and damn proud of it!”
Denny quotes a bit more and then goes on to say:
So let me get this straight. The only way you can be an African-American is if one of your ancestors had been a slave? This is getting even more ridiculous. Let's milk this victimhood bullshit for all it's worth.
But now we find out the real reason for this bullshit.
And more from the link:
Bobby Austin, an administrator at the University of the District of Columbia who attended the meeting in Washington, said he understood why some blacks were offended when Kamus claimed an African-American identity. Austin said some people feared that black immigrants and their children would snatch up the hard-won opportunities made possible by the civil rights movement.
Several studies suggest that black immigrants and their children are already achieving at higher levels than native-born blacks. A study based on 2000 census data conducted by John R. Logan and Glenn Deane at SUNY-Albany found that African immigrants typically had more education and higher median incomes than did native-born blacks.
A bit more from Denny:
And do you know why this is happening? These immigrants haven't been told by the black “leaders” and the Dimocrat Party that they are too stupid to make it without gummint assistance. They haven't been hit by the bigotry of low expectations. They know they are just as smart as anyone else and they do not need to be told by the black “leaders” that whitey is holding them back.
My friend Cindy worked with one of these immigrants. This lady was totally disgusted that blacks who had been born in this country were bitching about how bad conditions were. When another black would speak ebonics to her she would tell them to speak English. She and her husband make sure their children do well in school. They make them learn how to read and write proper English and they tell them that doing well in school is not “acting white” it's acting smart.
Some of Denny's commenters are of interest too…
Loftus used to work at University of Washington and got booted out because she started exposing the “repressed memory” scams being perpetrated. (a client undergoes hypnosys and leading questions are asked to the point where the client 'remembers' something the hypnotist was fishing for; usually child sexual abuse)
Professor Loftus now works for UC Irvine and is under fire again, this time via the court system and a lawsuit for 'damages':
Memory and Manipulation
The trials of Elizabeth Loftus, defender of the wrongly accused
On the wall of Professor Elizabeth Loftus’ third-floor UC Irvine office is a paper bull’s-eye target, pockmarked with bullet holes. If it looks somewhat incongruous in the mostly sedate academic surroundings — bookshelves lined with psychology texts, a large desk with a black Dell computer and stylish flat screen, a mock Vanity Fair cover with Loftus’ face staring out from atop Demi Moore’s body (a humorous gift from students), and photocopies of Andy Warhol’s Mick Jagger portraits — there’s good reason. Loftus — who, when she pulls her blue straw hat over her mussed shoulder-length brown hair and stands up in black-velvet pants and cotton blouse, looks startlingly like Diane Keaton in Annie Hall — took up target practice in 1994 after receiving death threats following the publication of her book The Myth of Repressed Memory. “We’re going to kill the bitch,” was one choice missive. The holes in the paper, Loftus says, laughing nervously as she recalls the events, were made on the firing range.
Target practice aside, Loftus’ work veers into an X-Files-type reality where nothing is as it seems, where even the inner sanctum of an individual’s most personal memories is subject to manipulations and falsification. We think of that sanctum as a citadel invulnerable to outside pressures. Loftus tells us that, to the contrary, it is a marshland crisscrossed with paths, instantly imprinted by the footprints of all those who traverse it.
The article goes into detail here:
In an era where social panics — around sexual abuse, drug use and, more recently, terrorism in particular — have led all too many Americans to abandon the assumptions of innocence that theoretically underlie our criminal-justice system, Beth Loftus is a voice of caution. Like Henry Fonda in Twelve Angry Men, she is a holdout against our willingness to equate an accusation with guilt and our tendency to damn people on hearsay rather than genuine, verifiable evidence. Fighting the memory wars, for Loftus, has gone beyond the confines of the academy; it has become a battle for the credibility of America’s justice system.
In essence, Loftus says that our memories can lie, and that, when coaxed in one direction by people we trust (family members, therapists, police officers asking us to identify perps from a series of mug shots), all too often we can “remember” events that did not happen and see people at the scene of a crime who, in fact, were not actually there. While these false memories can be about almost anything, in the past couple of decades they have had an impact on the criminal-justice scene, most notably around the theme of “recovered” memories of instances of sexual abuse alleged to have occurred years or decades previously. Lacking any physical evidence, these cases hinge solely on the word of the alleged victim, their legal viability reliant entirely on the willingness of prosecutors, judge and jury to accept the allegations at face value. Yet, so traumatizing are these “memories,” these images of shattered and violated childhoods that swim up to the surface years later, often while the “victim” is undergoing counseling with an unlicensed therapist, that few are willing to challenge their validity, and to further devastate already desperately depressed individuals — and, as a result, too often men and women have been prosecuted solely on the basis of such “memories” or, if not prosecuted, have had their reputations and family relationships destroyed.
A perfect example of what she is talking about is related here:
Not long ago, the actor Alan Alda visited Loftus’ lab while researching a television documentary on memory. Before he visited the lab, Loftus’ team had Alda fill in a questionnaire about his eating history since childhood. Over the course of the morning he was in the lab, Loftus and her students then implanted a false memory in Alda’s head, subtly convincing him that a computer analysis of his questionnaire had determined that he had gotten sick from eating bad hard-boiled eggs when he was a young boy. Later, when they took the actor out for a picnic — a photograph of the event is tacked up on Loftus’ office cork board — they monitored his food choices and, sure enough, he avoided the hard-boiled eggs they offered him.
Richard also links to another example of false memory
A good list of 50 things to keep in mind when starting a Blog at Simon World:
1. If you want to start blogging and have huge amounts of traffic instantly I can recommend one of three things: be an established journalist/opinion maker; be Glenn Reynold's brother; or porn. Otherwise face facts: you've got an awfully big hill to climb.
2. Never get your brother to guest blog for you. Trust me.
3. Before you start, read other blogs and get a feel for what they are like. Then completely forget everything you've read and seen so you can establish a new and distinct voice that will get noticed. This also helps a common problem: a really sucky first post. Trust me.
Simon finishes the list with:
48. If you're looking for material, a nice long list doesn't hurt. Especially if you include lots of gratuitous links to others. Many people do “101 things about me” lists and provide a link to them. The toughest part about this is most people don't have even 11 interesting things to say about themselves, let alone 101.
49. So sometimes list need padding to make it to a nice round number.
50. Ignore all the conflicting advice you get, including this.
Bill at INDC Journal links to a wonderful article from Ben Stein. (I wrote about Ben recently here)
As a professional moonbatologist, I concur with his analysis of far leftists:
For illustrative examples, read through Atrios's comment sections and the Democratic Underground message boards. When I attend ANSWER protest rallies, for example, they may say “HallibechtelBushNaziShrubChimperorOILOILOIL!!!!!” but all I ever hear is “Daddy, please love me! Please?”
I disagree with Stein on a few major social issues (he would call me a “RINO,” “Republican In Name Only”), but he is a very interesting and laudable character, specifically with regard to his economic punditry.
Despite Hollywood's historic liberalism, Stein says the times, they are a changing. “When I came to Hollywood, there were still a lot of diehard Marxists that had gone to City College or Brooklyn College, and grown up in this sort of first-generation Jewish Brooklyn Communist [milieu], and then moved out to Hollywood, and were still avid Communists. I mean real, card-carrying Communists. That's all gone now. Those people are either dead or retired. What you have now, in place of the kind of ethnic and class-based Marxists, are what I call personality-disorder Marxists.
“A significant cause of people being anti-American, in Hollywood and in universities, is that they have an infantile personality disorder. They are fixated, and in denial, on entitlement, dissatisfaction, weakness, fear, and envy. And their weakness, fear, and envy compels them to be extremely uncomfortable with people who actually go out in the world and succeed. And also compels them to be extremely fearful — because fear is part of [being] infantile — of what I would call mainstream America. They're terrified of America between Beverly Hills and West End Avenue. They think out there are a bunch of racists and Klansmen that are going to kill them.”
Good stuff - this is only a brief excerpt.
Fun article at Popular Science — they have a reporter live for one week using the available tech of 50 years ago. Nothing invented after 1954 is allowed to be used.
Tech '54, where are you?
Mornings are the worst.
The coffee is too weak. The windup alarm clock is too loud. The phone rings, and it might or might not be my mom. There are no new e-mails. There is no hope for a Krispy Kreme. And man, oh man, I miss my Ambien.
Why have I subjected myself to life without a PDA? Why did I agree to a plan that forced me to spend New Year's Day watching the Gators in black and white, while the rest of the civilized world rings in the new year with Hoppin' John and the Orange Bowl in glorious Technicolor (or better yet, on TiVo with full control over instant replay and super slo-mo)? Why, oh why, am I spending the first 10 days of 2004 attempting to work, play and party like it's 1954?
It's a fun read and the author (Larry Smith) provides copious footnotes with mini-histories of some common objects…
Hat tip to Brian at Grafyte
There is a strange news item at CNN/US today:
9/11 toy found inside candy bags
Small toys showing an airplane flying into the World Trade Center were packed inside more than 14,000 bags of candy and sent to small groceries around the country before being recalled.
Lisy Corp., the wholesaler that distributed the candy, said Friday that the toys were purchased in bulk from a Miami-based import company.
The toys came in an assortment purchased sight unseen from L&M Import in Miami and included the toys depicting the attacks on the World Trade Center of September 11, 2001, along with whistles and other small toys, said Luis Pedron, Lisy's national sales manager. The invoice described the toy as a plastic swing set.
“I hate to blame the importer. He probably did not know what he was getting. He brings them in 40-foot containers. But whoever made it knew exactly what they were making,” Pedron said.
It will be interesting to trace back and see just who the original manufacturer is. I wonder if anyone will do this… The photo at CNN is very unambiguous.
Proof that anyone can have a website.
Get with the Epsilon Program
Some of the testemonials on the site:
“I was lost. Luckily, I now go to regular meeetings of a cult group and give them lots of money, so everything is okay.”
- Jane Pole, Ohio
“At first, I was nervous about giving up my identity and sleeping with all of those men, but I really enjoy it now.”
- Mary Fortune, Liberty City
“Cris Formage is a genius. It's a religion without homework!”
- Morgan August, Los Santos, San Andreas.
For anyone involved in wine, the three months from the end of August until the end of November are both the most exciting and the most frightening of the year. These three months dictate the final say in whether you happily learn that your wines will be served at the White House or whether you become the largest vinegar producer in your neighborhood. These are months of 60- to 80-hour work weeks (and many times more) that on one hand require complete control of the environment around you and on the other hand require you to give in completely to the whims of nature. These are months where all thoughts of family and friends dim in an ever growing purple haze as your sleep deprived mind attempts to reconcile the hundreds or thousands of details that'll make or break the next year of your life. This is Crush.
Fun stuff. The Coffaro website is worth checking out too.
Derek Lowe at Drug Discovery has a wonderful ongoing occasional colum writing about various things that he will not work with in his lab.
Today's installment is Polyazides — fun stuff!
Things I Won't Work With: Polyazides
The azide group (three nitrogens bonded together in a row, for the non-chemists in the crowd) has several personalities. Unfortunately, most of them are hostile. Azide anion, as you find in sodium azide, is pretty toxic. It shuts down several important enzymes, and it's often used in biology labs as a general metabolic poison.
Covalent azides are a different sort of beast. Having something directly bonded to the group stops it from being an enzyme-killer, for the most part, but you have a new problem to worry about: explosiveness. In general, reasonably high molecular weight azides are OK to handle (e.g., the early anti-HIV drug azidothymidine). I've made some of that sort, since azide displacement is a classic (and useful) way to get a nitrogen into your molecule. But the smaller ones aren't worth the risk.
That's because the higher the percentage of nitrogens in the formula, the more you have to worry. Thermodynamically, nitrogens bonded to each other are always regarded as guilty until proven innocent - there's always the fear that they're going to find a way to throw off their civilized clothes and revert to wild nitrogen gas. That's a hugely stable compound. If your structure goes that route, all that extra bonding energy it used to have ends up diverted into flying shrapnel and loud noises.
A few years ago I saw some Israeli escape artists has prepared triazidomethane, which I wouldn't touch with somebody else's ten-foot titatium pole. One carbon, one hydrogen, and nine nitrogens - look at the time! Gotta run! But there's always worse. Just today I was reading a soon-to-be-published paper in Angewandte Chemiefrom some daredevils at USC. They've prepared titanium tetraazide, of all things. One titanium and twelve nitrogens: whoa! Podiatrist appointment! See you later!
You can isolate the stuff, it seems, as long as you handle it properly. It turns out that brutal treatments like, say, touching it with a spatula, or cooling down a vial of it in liquid nitrogen - you know, rough handling - make it detonate violently. I think that staring hard at it is OK, though. The authors recommend using everything you have for protection if you're zany enough to follow their lead: goggles, blast shield, face shield, leather suit (!) and ear plugs. Those last two suggestions are unique in my experience, and quite. . .evocative of what you have to look foward to with these compounds. (We don't have any leather suits around where I work, although I'm sure I'd look dashing in one.)
Some of the folks on the paper have a joint appointment with an Air Force missile propulsion research lab. They've found a home. Me, I'll be way over here.
This was forwarded through an email list I subscribe to — I want to work in this guy's department…
THE BEST F*CKING DAY I'VE EVER HAD AT WORK!!!!!! ANYWHERE!
as you all know, i was elected (COUGH*FORCED*COUGH) to be my ports' safety warden. you all know the story. well anyway, they had scheduled a “surprise” fire drill for today between 2 and 3 pm. the only surprise was on the administration, as i told ABSOLUTELY EVERYBODY about the fire drill for 3 days straight. (if you got an email from me at work then you already know all about this.)
in our “safety team” meetings, they gave all the safety wardens a dayglow orange safety vest, and a large-ish dayglow flag. this was so that everyone in our respective ports would be able to follow us out of the building, and then know where our port was to assemble out in the parking lot. i felt the uniform was somewhat lacking, so, i made some alterations to mine.
at 1:45 pm i suited up.
-dayglow orange safety vest with “let the motherf*cker BURN!” written on the back in black sharpie (yes, actually had the *-asterix in it.)
-dayglow orange rubber dishwashing gloves
-TWO of the aforementioned flags, taped to my back in a “V” formation with packing tape. (think of the samurai, but larger.) on the flags were drawn 1.) our port number 2.) a picture of a stick figure man burning to death.
-a plastic toy firemans hat that said “FIRE CHIEF” in big red letters across the badge on the front. the hat has a tinted visor that comes down to right below my nose (think “judge dredd”)
-i rolled up my pants and tucked them into my jump boots
i was full-on ready to rock by the time the alarms went off at PRECISELY 2pm.
this is where it gets fun.
yesterday i ordered a bullhorn from the internet. in a flash of brilliance, i called this morning and had it rerouted to me at work.. (ask kimberpixie she was talking to me right after i ordered it yesterday. )
i deputized zeke (who is 6'4 and 300 lbs.. used to play middle linebacker in college ) to be the deputy safety warden. i rode piggy back on zekes back screaming “WE'RE ALL GONNA DIIEEEEEEE!!!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVESSSSS!!!” out of the bullhorn.
nobody was ready for that… i can assure you. some people were slow to evacuate, so i would have zeke move us towards them and get on the bullhorn and say “ATTENTION BURN VICTIMS, YOU ARE NOW SEVERELY BURNED! PLEASE REPORT TO THE PARKING LOT FOR EMERGENCY BURN CARE.”
some of the account executives, who weren't taking the fire drill so seriously, wanted to stay on the telephones to close deals. i would ride up to them on my trusty steed, zeke and say (sans bullhorn) “hey! fire drill! we gotta GO. we got NO TIME! NO TIME!” and then proceed to make watch pointy motions … (even though i haven't worn a wristwatch since i was 15.)
then they would say “i'm on the phone.” or point to the phone as if to say “hey asshole, i'm on the phone!” (probably closing a really important deal.) that's when i would pull out the bullhorn and shout (about 4 feet away from them, their phone, and their deal),
“YOU THINK FIRE CARES ABOUT THE PHONE??? ALL FIRE CARES ABOUT IS TURNING YOU AND EVERYONE YOU LOVE INTO SCREAMING MANGLED HEAPS OF SMOKING GOO! MOVE!”
i don't have to tell you, i was laughing my ass off the whole time. so was everyone else. my manager almost wet himself. it was so much like being a little kid again that i almost cried afterwards.
i thought i might get in REAL trouble for that stunt, but i'll tell you something. my port, and all the ports i went into, evacuated the building free and clear with all heads accounted for in under 6 minutes. the closest time to that was 8. we were the first ones out.
if you think that i am embellishing the truth, please call xxx-xxxx and ask for xxxxx xxxxxxx. (the facilities manager of our building.) he will probably even include details that i have left out*. we had a check delta meeting after the drill and i was still wearing all of my gear.
*(like maybe how i was smoking a cigarette in the parking lot while still on zekes back screaming out roll call for our office on the bullhorn, checking names off on my clipboard.)
why can't i find a job where it's like that EVERY day?????
Interesting editorial by Ralph Peters (a retired Army officer):
John Kerry went to Vietnam. Voluntarily. Given that President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and every chicken-hawk in the coop did all they could to avoid getting the mud of Indochina on their loafers, his service should make Kerry the election-year choice of those who serve, or once served, in our country's uniform.
Instead, military men and women are overwhelmingly suspicious of Kerry. Many despise him so intensely that their emotions verge on hatred.
What went wrong?
There are three big problems with Kerry from the standpoint of those who are proud of their military service. And one of those reservations has been overlooked entirely by the parade of talking heads, so few of whom have served in uniform themselves.
He then goes on to enumerate the problems — worth reading.
His closing comments are priceless:
I wish Kerry were better. The truth is that I'm appalled by Bush's domestic policies. I believe that the Cheney-Halliburton connection stinks to high heaven. And I'm convinced that Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld & Co. have done colossal damage to our military and to our foreign policy.
But we're at war. And for all his faults, Bush has proven himself as a great wartime leader. Despite painful mistakes, he's served our security needs remarkably well. And security trumps all else in the age of terror.
Kerry says many of the right things. But I can't believe a word of it. I just can't trust John Kerry. I can't trust him to lead, I can't trust him to fight — and I can't trust him to make the right kind of peace.
I have reservations about voting for George W. Bush. But I have no reservations about voting against John Kerry. And I'm not alone.
Interesting news about the Dave Matthews Band in ProSound News Online:
The Dave Matthews Band, currently on tour, has been accused of violating Illinois state water pollution and public nuisance laws, fines for which could reach $70,000. The band and tour bus driver Stefan A. Whol were accused by Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan on Tuesday over an incident on August 8 where reportedly one of the band’s tour busses dumped 80-100 gallons of human waste on to a Chicago River tourist boat.
During a two-night stand at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, WI on August 7 and 8, the band stayed in a Michigan Avenue hotel in Chicago; according to the three-count civil complaint filed in Cook County Circuit Court, a black 2003 Monaco Royale Coach which was on tour with the production dumped a tank of effluence while crossing a grated bridge. Unfortunately, a boat of tourists on an architectural sight-seeing journey was passing underneath at the time.
Eeeewwww… The story gets better but unfortunately casts a bad light on the Dave Matthews Band publicist:
A band publicist claims the tour was not involved, and has stated that all of its busses were parked at the time of the incident, noting in a statement, “Our driver has stated that he was not involved in this incident. We reserve any judgment until we see the evidence.” On the day of the incident, police initially fingered Jerry Fitzpatrick, a driver for the band whose bus was parked nearby. Fitzpatrick denied involvement and insisted that police inspect his vehicle; its waste tank was nearly full.
Detectives pored through videotapes from local businesses’ surveillance cameras, eventually tracking the bus, they say, to Whol. In a statement, Madigan remarked, “This incident may be unique, but that does not lessen the environmental or public health risks posed by the release of at least 800 pounds of liquid human waste into a busy waterway and onto a crowded tour boat…. This situation clearly demonstrates the environmental and public health problems that can occur when laws are ignored. This act was not only offensive, it was illegal.”
Here is a list of ten things (plus a couple extras) to consider when writing your epic best seller:
Ever since “The Lord of the Rings”, epic fantasy novels have been high on the bestseller list. Every thought of writing one?
WELL HERE'S HOW.
1. Create a main character.
Most of the people who read your book will be unconfident males. So make your main character a Loser. Aimless, shy, cowardly, guilty, ill, lazy, rural - any of these will do.
2. Create a Quest.
Out of the blue, the Loser must be suddenly told that the fate of the whole world – or some other world - rests in his incompetent hands. To save the world he must perform some task, confront some nameless foe, learn some mysterious skill etc.
3. Create a Motley Bunch of Companions.
The Loser/Hero must have a Motley Bunch of Companions drawn from different human species e.g. dwarf, elf, Rotarian etc. Each of these companions will have one particular skill such as sword fighting, lasso twirling etc which will come in handy at a particular part of the story.
A bit too close to the mark… Heh…
There are some interesting stories coming out of Najaf these days now that Sistani is coming back to open a can of Whoop-Ass on the pretender to the throne Sadr.
This first link is from a blog written by an Iraqi: Healing Iraq
I excerpt starting partway through the third paragraph — the 'He' in this case is Ahmed Al-Shaibani, a deputy of Sadr:
He also mentioned that all negotiations with Sistani's office on the current status of the shrine have been 'suspended'. Sistani seems to have given instructions to his office in Najaf not to accept the keys to the holy shrine unless a neutral committee inspects the contents of the shrine and an inventory is made to ensure nothing is missing from the treasury of the shrine.
This treasury which is located inside a safe locked basement beneath the shrine contains historical artifacts, priceless manuscripts and a significant amount of gold and gems. These have been gifted and donated to the shrine by Shia from all over the world for centuries. No one has ever dared touch that treasury except the family that holds the keys to the shrine. Radhwan Al-Rufai'i was forced to give over the keys to one of Sadr's aides last April. Al-Rufai'i had taken over the responsibilities of the shrine after his cousin Haider Al-Kelidar who was murdered with Abdul Majid Al-Khoe'i on 10 April 2003 by Sadr's followers.
Sistani's office has been placing these obstacles on Sadr in response to rumours that a large part of the treasury has been stolen and possibly smuggled to Iran. If true, Sadr would be in a very bad position since he was practically responsible for the shrine's contents and would also expose him as the gangster he is.
The second link is from the Toronto Star and provides some back-story:
Al-Sistani, 75, the country's most respected Shiite cleric, left for London on Aug. 6, one day after the clashes erupted. He underwent an angioplasty to unblock a coronary artery Aug. 13 and was recuperating, when his office suddenly announced Wednesday morning he was returning to the country “to stop the bloodshed.”
And the money quote:
Police also arrested several al-Sadr aides with valuables from the shrine in their possession, al-Jazaari said. One of al-Sadr's top lieutenants, Sheik Ali Smeisim, was among those arrested, police officials said on condition of anonymity.
Thugs and gangsters masquerading as religious leaders.
Good to see that a real leader has returned and is cleaning out the trash.
Posting was nonexistent yesterday (Wednesday) - in Seattle for errands and just got back home…
A short but interesting news item at Reuters:
Iraq's most influential Shi'ite cleric is on his way home to the country from treatment in London and wants all Iraqis to march on the battle-scarred city of Najaf, a senior aide said on Wednesday.
The aide, Hamed al-Khafaf, told Reuters that Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani should arrive within hours. The aim of the march was to save the “burning city of Najaf,” he said.
Sistani was in Londen for medical treatment — sounds like he is heading home to open a can of Whoop-Ass on a certain swine…
Fun article in The Morning News - the writer (Matthew Baldwin) asked a bunch of professionals what tricks they had:
Do whatever it takes to fit your contracts onto a single page: Format with single-spacing, use a 10- or 9-point font, and reduce the margins to less than an inch. Most people assume any contract that fits on one page will be simple and straightforward, and even sophisticated negotiators can be charmed by the lack of a staple.
When working in the field, stick a strip of duct tape to your pants. You can take it off while working to quickly remove large masses of ticks, biting ants, and thorns.
If you have a client who is unable to approve a proposed design without putting her stamp on it, just put an obvious error in the proposal: a logo that’s too large, a font that’s too small, or a few judiciously seeded typos. The client requests the change and feels she’s done her part—and your design, which was perfect all along, sails through to approval.
Check out the link for more.
Phosphorus is the fifth most important element for life (after carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen) and it's interesting that this evolved because there is so little of it around…
Back40 at CrumbTrail has a wonderful article about this:
That's the original name Vincenzo Casciorola of Bologna gave phosphorus in 1602. Alchemists felt that light represented the spirit, making them keenly interested in phosphorus due to its apparent ability to contain light, as so glow-in-the-dark. Pure phosphorus also has the ability to spontaneously burn in air. Phosphorus was the ancient name for the planet Venus, when seen before sunrise. If you've been reading that book mentioned earlier - ok, alluded to earlier - you may have a heightened interest in phosphorous and the evaporative methods used to isolate it from certain liquids.
We now know that it's even more marvelous than the alchemists thought since it is essential to life and in chronic short supply.
Read the whole thing, it's a delight.
Back40 posts some links to other related articles too…
Although BluRay is due out fairly soon, the 'standard' DVD format just got another shot in the arm. This is available in both + and - formats.
There is a writeup on this at DVD Industry Insider Report - August 20, 2004:
Both have two thin substrates joined by specially designed UV bonding materials. When the laser is through writing to the first layer, it increases power slightly and begins writing to the second layer. When you are playing the dual-layer DVDR9 disc (+ or -) you’ll have to look hard to notice the switch over from one layer to the other.
The result is a full 8.5GB or 4 hours of DVD-quality (16 hours of VHS –quality) video. Some manufacturers may refer to the capacity of 4 hours of SP and 16 hours of EP so make certain you understand the playback quality you want before you begin writing your write-once discs.
The other big similarity is that the DVD specification requires that players and drives read dual-layer discs. If you encounter one that will read “standard” /-R9 media it means the manufacturer had a design flaw which they should correct at no charge.
The 8.5 GB will be nice but if it cannot be played back in all players, what is the point… BluRay is a true technological advance using the shorter wavelength of near-UV light to pack more bits into the same space the relatively long wavelength InfraRed used today.
How much more?
Try 25 GB for a single-layer disk and 50GB for dual-layer. Kinda makes the 8.5GB look a bit… puny by comparison? Hmmm???
Hat tip to Smoke on the Water for this story and the link to the transcript and the actual audio of the interview.
…Kerry ran crying and whining to Bob Dole concerning the Swiftie's ads, and Bob Dole laid the bitchslap of the century on the Botox Boy.
Is this how Kerry intends to work with the U.N.? How he intends to stand up to rogue nations? How he intends to fight terrorism?
Running and crying to Mum and Pop is not what we expect from a candidate for the highest office in the most powerful and influential nation on the face of the earth.
Bob Dole was on Sean Hannity's radio show and said:
“John Kerry called me this morning, which surprised me,” Dole told radio host Sean Hannity.
“He said he was very disappointed, we'd been friends. I said John, we're still friends, but [the Swiftvets] have First Amendment rights, just as your people have First Amendment rights.
Dole said he urged Kerry, “Why don't you call George Bush today and say, 'Mr. President, let's stop all this stuff about the National Guard and Vietnam - and let's talk about the issues.”
Dole said Kerry responded, “I haven't spent one dime attacking President Bush.”
But the Republican war hero shot back, “You don't have to. You've got all the so-called mainstream media, plus you've got MoveOn.org and all these other groups that have spent millions and millions of dollars trying to tarnish Bush's image.”
“Don't tell me you don't know what some of these people are doing,” he told Kerry.
“Everybody likes quiet heroes,” Dole added, saying he told Kerry, “John, everybody knows you were in Vietnam and the less you say about it, the better.”
Ouch! Could not have happened to a nicer guy. Kerry calls Dole asking for sympathy and gets the truth handed to him on a platter…
There is a fascinating interview in New Scientist magazine.
Alexander Yuvchenko was on duty at Chernobyl's reactor number 4 the night it exploded on 26 April 1986. He is one of the few working there that night to have survived.
Q: How did you end up working at Chernobyl?
A: I chose it. It was one of the best stations in the Soviet Union, it was a good town to live in, and I had been there for practical work as part of my studies. And it was a good wage. Being a nuclear engineer was a prestigious career - in those days. Nowadays people in Russia prefer to be businessmen and lawyers.
A: The first thing I heard wasn't an explosion, it was a thud, a shaking. Then two or three seconds later came the explosion. The doors of my office were blown out. It was like when an old building is demolished, with clouds of dust, but combined with lots of steam. It was a very damp, dusty, powerful movement of air.
To get a clearer idea of what had happened we walked outside. What we saw was terrifying. Everything that could be destroyed had been. The entire water coolant system was gone. The right-hand side of the reactor hall had been completely destroyed, and on the left the pipes were just hanging. That was when I realised that Khodemchuk was definitely dead. The place where I was told he'd been standing was in ruins. The huge turbines were still standing, but everything around them was rubble. He must have been buried under that. From where I stood I could see a huge beam of projected light flooding up into infinity from the reactor. It was like a laser light, caused by the ionisation of the air. It was light-bluish, and it was very beautiful. I watched it for several seconds. If I'd stood there for just a few minutes I would probably have died on the spot because of gamma rays and neutrons and everything else that was spewing out. But Tregub yanked me around the corner to get me out the way. He was older and more experienced.
Emphasis mine - this is Cerenkov Radiation and yes, it is very beautiful…
I excerpted just a few paragraphs out of this article — it's worth reading if you are into this sort of stuff, he goes into a lot of detail about what happened and his extensive recovery process.
Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: A True Story of Hell on Earth
Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures is a memoir of UN peacekeeping by three civilians who served in numerous trouble spots in the 1990s, including Rwanda, Somalia, Bosnia, and others besides. It is also a record of UN failure, corruption, and cynicism, and reading it one can easily understand why the UN tried hard to prevent its publication.
Emergency Sex also deals with the subject of UN corruption. One UN ambassador in Liberia was removed for taking fifteen percent kickbacks on everything the UN purchased. His successor tapped the phones, began sexually harassing vulnerable secretaries, and continued taking the same kickbacks. One thing that this book makes clear is that even with more military clout, the effectiveness of the UN would still be hampered by the low caliber of the people it employs.
Wretchard at the Belmont Club comes up with a wonderful analysis of the Democratic Party and its reasons for selecting J. F. Kerry as its candidate:
John Kerry's troubles have largely been forced on him by the Democratic Party platform. He has been given the unenviable task of presenting it as the War Party when in fact it is not, nor does it want to be. The Democrats could have chosen to become a real anti-war party, in which case it would have nominated Howard Dean or it could have elected to become a genuine war party and chosen Joseph Lieberman. Instead it chose to become the worst of all combinations, an anti-war party masquerading as the war party.
To carry out this program, it required a Janus-like figure and found it in Senator Kerry; the only man of sufficient stature who could look two ways at once…
Wretchard takes off running — this is well worth the couple minutes it will take to read. Good stuff!
He also links to an article by Christopher Hitchens who has this observation:
He still gives, to me at any rate, the impression of someone who sincerely wishes that this were not a time of war. When critical votes on the question come up, Kerry always looks like a dog being washed.
One wonderful link and one not-so-wonderful link from Allah:
At least 10.3 million Afghans have enrolled to vote in their country's upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections after the final registration sites closed last Friday, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) has announced.
That figure is expected to rise as registration details continue to be verified over the next few weeks at the Kabul headquarters of the Joint Electoral Management Body (JEMB), UNAMA spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva told reporters yesterday at a briefing.
Mr. de Almeida e Silva said 10,353,380 people were confirmed as registered voters as of last Saturday, with women comprising more than 4.2 million, or 41 per cent, of the total.
A series of bombs went off at a UN voter registration office in western Afghanistan, injuring six Afghan police, setting vehicles ablaze and shattering windows, police and the United Nations said today. It was the latest in a string of attacks targeting election workers.
The blasts occurred at about 8 p.m. Thursday at a voter registration site in Farah City, near the border with Iran and about 750 kilometres southwest of the capital, Kabul, said Mohammed Rasool Khan, the deputy police chief for the province.
Progress is being made — especially that 41 percent of the registrations were women, something unthinkable under the Taliban just a few years ago.
From IOL News Service:
Star Wars creator George Lucas could be poised to make three sequels to the original space opera trilogy, according to insiders at Lucasfilm.
According to fan site Theforce.net, employees at Lucas's company Industrial Light and Magic have all been made to sign non-disclosure agreements to promise not to talk about the possibility of episode's seven, eight and nine being made.
Let's just hope that he gets someone else to write the dialogue…
A new worm is out there which specifically targets computers with Webcams.
As reported in NEWS.COM:
A new worm has been discovered in the wild that's not just settling for invading users' PCs—it wants to invade their homes, too.
The Rbot-GR virus follows a fairly traditional malware route of exploiting Microsoft security vulnerabilities and installing a Trojan horse on infected machines. However, the worm also spies on users by taking control of their Webcam and microphone, then sending images and soundtracks back to the hackers, according to antivirus firm Sophos.
As well as getting an insight into homes and businesses across the world, the worm allows the malware writer to take a look at information on the infected machine's hard drive, steal passwords and launch denial-of-service attacks.
There is a proposal out for a very cool new particle accelerator.
This one is a linear one (straight line) as opposed to circular (using magnets to cause the particles to bend in a curve). The advantage here is that particles with different masses curve differently in a given magnetic field so the straight—line approach is a lot more versatile. The downside is that this puppy is going to be 40 km long (almost 25 miles) and it has to be in a straight line so the curvature of the earth needs to be taken into account when building it.
From the article:
Details of a giant machine for discovering the secrets of the universe were revealed yesterday by scientists who believe the massive device could revolutionise how we understand the cosmos.
An international panel of particle physicists has decided that the high-energy linear collider - a £3bn machine for smashing matter against antimatter - will use revolutionary superconducting technology to shed light on the origin and nature of the universe. Plans for the International Linear Collider have still to be finalised but scientists hope that construction of the underground machine will begin in six years.
And why we need this (Dr. Neil Calder from the Stanford Linear Accelerator Centre in California is speaking):
“In the last 10 years there has been a revolution in our concept of the universe and the realities of our new knowledge are very much stranger than could be have been imagined,” he said.
Last year, physicists accurately measured for the first time how the universe is composed. They found that only 4 per cent of it was made up of visible atoms, with the rest being mysterious dark matter and dark energy - neither of which entities can be seen.
“The implications of this new understanding are enormous. We and everything we can see with our most powerful instruments make up only 4 per cent of the universe,” Dr Calder said. “We are a tiny minority. The rest is waiting to be discovered… The linear collider is the key to understanding this weird and wonderful universe that we inhabit,” he said.
I am very much hoping that this doesn't turn out like the SuperCollider — a victim of stupid partisan politics…
(The Science Community thanks you Mr. Clinton!)
The Quantum Sleeper
How about spending the same money on reinforcing the whole room. Then you have the ability to walk around a bit instead of sleeping in your own wase… The optional speakers don't look that hot either (thinking of a cheap car stereo).
From the BBC comes the news that the World's Smallest Brewery has re-opened:
'Smallest' brewery reopens
A mid Wales brewery which claims to be the smallest in the world has re-opened.
Less than 5ft square and formerly an outside toilet, Bragdy Gwynant brews ale for just one customer - the Tynllidiart Arms next door.
Based in Capel Bangor, near Aberystwyth, the brewery has gone back into production after a two-year break.
“The previous owner of the pub moved out two years ago and up until two weeks ago the pub was closed and the brewery was too,” said Mr Phillips, who moved in just two weeks ago.
“We thought it would be nice to brew our own local beer and luckily we had a brewer living a few doors down who was able to help.
Cool — the local beers are generally a lot better tasting than commercial beers. Fresher too.
A convenience store burns. It is owned by someone from the Middle East. The fire is of suspicious nature. And more:
In addition, white crosses and an anti-Arab message were found spray-painted inside
Turns out to be a bit different from the mental picture you are painting now.
As KOMO reports:
The owner of an ethnic grocery store that burned in a July 9 arson has been arrested, accused of torching the business himself, a police spokesman said Thursday.
Mirza Akram, 37, of Everett, was arrested for investigation of arson by investigators from Everett police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Investigators found a gas can and incendiary device inside the Continental Spices Cash and Carry store. In addition, white crosses and an anti-Arab message were found spray-painted inside, which initially led investigators to consider whether the fire was a hate crime.
However, the agencies said in a news release that investigators learned Akram allegedly was having financial difficulties with the business. They allege he burned the business to eliminate the losses and potentially recover money through an insurance claim. They allege Akram and an associate set the fire.
Sheesh - the guy could have done the old 'faulty wiring' and gotten the insurance. To fake a hate crime in these times is unthinkable especially when you have personally made the effort to move to this nation to get away from the global area that is sponsoring most of the terrorism these days… (except for two brand-new nations and one 50-year-old democracy)
Charles at Little Green Footballs published a letter Ben wrote to the wife of an Army Stryler Soldier stationed in Iraq:
I have a great life. I have a wife I adore, a son who is a lazy teenager but I adore him, too. We live in a house with two dogs and four cats. We live in peace. We can worship as we please. We can say what we want. We can walk the streets in safety. We can vote. We can work wherever we want and buy whatever we want. When we sleep, we sleep in peace. When we wake up, it is to the sounds of birds.
All of this, every bit of it, is thanks to your husband, his brave fellow soldiers, and to the wives who keep the home fires burning while the soldiers are away protecting my family and 140 million other families. They protect Republicans and Democrats, Christians, Jews, Muslims and atheists. They protect white, black, yellow, brown and everyone in between. They protect gays and straights, rich and poor.
And none of it could happen without the Army wives, Marine wives, Navy wives, Air Force wives — or husbands — who go to sleep tired and lonely, wake up tired and lonely, and go through the day with a smile on their faces. They feed the kids, put up with the teenagers’ surliness, the bills that never stop piling up, the desperate hours when the plumbing breaks and there is no husband to fix it, and the even more desperate hours after the kids have gone to bed, the dishes have been done, the bills have been paid, and the wives realize that they will be sleeping alone — again, for the 300th night in a row.
Read the whole thing. It's wonderful!
Maybe there should be another catagory like Islamofascism for die-hard communists and maoists. They (unfortunatly) are still out there and the maoists have been holding the wonderful city of Kathmandu hostage for several days. Fortunatly, this has been happening with a major outcry amongst the worlds nations and the U.N. is sending troops there to quash this.
(set wishful thinking = off)
(set sarcasm = off)
There have been several trickles of info coming over the last couple days. Hard facts are now starting to exfiltrate into the rest of the planet.
Roger L. Simon has a good writeup here:
According to The Guardian “Maoists tightened their grip on Kathmandu yesterday when two powerful bombs were detonated and a policeman seriously wounded by suspected guerrillas who have blockaded Nepal's capital for a third day.”
Maoists in 2004, who'd have thought it? But who'd have thought our election would be revolving around Vietnam? All the world's a flashback.
I visited Kathmandu in 1989 on the way to go trekking in the Himalayas with some friends, but I found the city itself relatively uninteresting compared to the mountains and the Sherpa/Tibetan Buddhist culture of the high country (and I do mean high). Kathmandu itself suffered from a retro sixties feel (still does in another way, obviously) with a neighborhood of backpackers dealing hash. I won't say whether I indulged, but if I did, I promise you I inhaled (but did not bogart). I did have a great trip and always wanted to go back with my family, have Sheryl and Madeleine see Annapurna, just as I wanted them to see Luxor and Abu Simbel, the nubian villages of the Sudan, all places I got to visit. I wonder now if that is meant to be? What's happening to the world?
There is a wonderful collection of four Novellas: Escape from Kathmandu by Kim Stanley Robinson.
Hard to describe but it really gives the flavor of Kathmandu in the 1970's…
Worth tracking down.
Turns out that this is not possible…
According to this article in CNN:
Athletes may be the center of attention at the Olympic Games, but don't expect to hear directly from them online — or see snapshots or video they've taken.
The International Olympic Committee is barring competitors, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from writing firsthand accounts for news and other Web sites.
Although they are not entirely draconian:
An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Games.
But still — this rankles:
To protect lucrative broadcast contracts, athletes and other participants are also prohibited from posting any video, audio or still photos they take themselves, even after the games, unless they get permission ahead of time. (Photos taken by accredited journalists are allowed on the personal sites.)
I found this link at Slashdot and some of the readers comments are very interesting — here are a couple god ones:
A small university in Nebraska held an event called the Rat Olympics, but the Olympics Committee apparently owns a trademark on the name of an ancient contest, and threatened to sue. There was no sense behind it, since the Rat Olympics was just a little event held by the Phychology department, but apparently the Olympics people are determined to prove to everyone that they sold their consciences.
That's why the Gay Games are not the Gay Olympics. It is particularly silly in that case, considering that the original Olympics consisted of naked athletes performing for horny male spectators.
Lots more at the Slashdot link.
An interesting writeup on the efforts to eliminate Malaria in Africa at Bizzare Science:
Aaron Oakley links to an article by Roger Bate and Richard Tren at TechCentralStation
Fiddling Piano Keys While Africa Burns
On Friday the science journal Nature published a series of papers on malaria and its control. Focusing on this preventable and curable disease is crucial and timely; malaria is the biggest killer of children in Africa accounting for over 1 million deaths world wide each year. Furthermore, we are now at the halfway point through the World Health Organization's (WHO) Roll Back Malaria program which can only be described as an unmitigated failure. Unless urgent and far reaching reforms are made to Roll Back Malaria and its partner organizations, malaria's death toll will continue unabated. One partner, UNICEF, the UN children's agency, is even sending a pianist instead of urgently needed nets and drugs.
Aaron extracted these 'money quotes' and they are very much worth thinking about:
The WHO, World Bank, the US aid agency, USAID, and UNICEF launched Roll Back Malaria in 1998. Their aim was to halve malaria deaths by 2010. So far malaria deaths have risen by 12%.
Some countries are getting malaria control right though. Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa have successfully driven the incidence of the disease to almost all time lows. Zambia, one of the world's poorest countries is also witnessing increased success against the disease. The common thread among these countries is that they are rolling out highly successful new combination drug therapies and are running insecticide spraying programmes to kill adult mosquitoes that rest indoors. Crucially, these malaria control programs are funded not by UN bodies or established donor agencies but by the relatively new Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) and the private sector.
Unlike GFATM, the Roll Back Malaria partners are unwilling to fund interventions that work but upset environmentalists, such as indoor insecticide spraying.
Emphasis mine. This is a classic example of environmentalists being too focused on minutiae and subsequently causing much more damage in the big picture.
When people advocate the use of DDT, they are not proposing a return to its heyday of the 1950's where it was tossed about indiscriminately by the fistful. We are talking about a careful measured application to specific places inside the houses. This has proved to have a fantastic positive effect but the use of DDT is forbidden because of potential environmental damage. How about one million preventable deaths per year — does this not also count as environmental damage?
Finally, this points to another perfect example of why the United Nations has far outlived any positive benefit and needs to be dismantled ASAP. To quote from the TechCentralStation article:
As malaria kills so many children, UNICEF — the UN's agency devoted to the welfare of children — is quite rightly involved in malaria control. But this agency, too, appears to be failing miserably. In 2003 it spent $3.7million buying malaria drugs, but most of that was spent on ineffective medicines. In Kenya and Burundi it purchased drugs that those governments do not sanction because they simply don't work.
But UNICEF is not doing nothing. This month it has been excitedly reporting the tour of their youngest goodwill ambassador, the brilliant Chinese pianist Lang Lang, to Tanzania. Lang Lang is touring that country to promote the use of insecticide-treated nets. UNICEF has avoided repeated requests from our health NGO, Africa Fighting Malaria, for information on the cost of the Lang Lang tour. We do know however that in 2003 they spent the princely sum of $42,672 on new bed nets. Given the cost of travel in Africa and the publicity surrounding the piano-playing malaria crusader's tour, it is likely that UNICEF spent more on this stunt than on actual malaria control.
The world-renowned tropical disease expert, Bob Desowitz's facetious response to the Lang Lang malaria control operation was that “sending a Chinese pianist to combat (malaria) is ridiculous. Nothing less than the entire Beijing Opera company is required.”
Baaahhhh… U.N. Delenda Est!
There was a wonderful quote posted on Kim DuToit's website today:
“If you want to file your taxes on a form the size of a postcard, then you need a government with a list of powers closer to the size of the Constitution.”
— W. James Antle III
Sir Banagor has an interesting entry regarding the decision by one nation to build a wall to bar individuals from another nation entry.
Quick heads up here — the situation in Israel is not what I am talking about, there is no nation of Palestine. This wall is in Europe.
Here is the original story here
Just one month after the U.N. and EU launched a furious campaign against Israel's security fence, culminating in the International Court of Justice ruling that the fence is illegal, the EU announced it's planning to build a separation fence of its own, and invited Israel to participate in the construction.
The fence is being built to separate recently added EU members Poland and Hungary from their new neighbors – Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. The EU said the fence is necessary to “prevent the free movement of migrants seeking to enter” EU territory.
Israeli companies that specialize in the construction of fences and security systems will participate in tenders to build hundreds of miles of fences along the EU's new eastern border.
“It's incredible the EU has no problem building a fence just to keep illegal immigrants out, but when the Jewish State builds a security fence as a last resort for the purpose of keeping terrorists out and saving Israeli lives, we are blasted by them and the U.N.,” a spokesman for Ariel Sharon told WorldNetDaily. “Makes you think, doesn't it?”
Here are three paragraphs from Sir Banagor's commentary (click the link to read the entire article)
One doesn’t really have to wonder how deep the Eurabians are into appeasement with Arabs to see the hypocrisy in this stance. It isn’t that Europe really cares if Israel builds a fence to save themselves or not, as some would suspect; it all has to do with pleasing the Arab and Islamic world. Naturally, saving Jewish lives isn’t on their agenda – but then again neither is saving any lives after their own skin. Sometimes, observing the actions of Europeans, one could easily be led to believe that they hate Jews. I have written this on so many occasions and I still firmly believe that this is so. But it would appear that their hatred of Jews is no less than their apathy for everyone else in the world, else they would actually take decisive actions to stop the looting, burning, rape, massacres and pillaging in a dozen former Eurabian colonies.
Robert Kagan was so eminently correct when he described the Eurabian “Utopian” problems in confrontation with the real world when he pointed out that Europe no longer has the will, nor the power, to stand up on it’s own. Had it been able to, it may still never have intervened in the Bosnian war or in Kosovo without the United States pushing for military action after so many years. I still maintain that Europe has become the quintessential wimp of “multiculturalism” which has invaded every branch of Leftist thinking over the last few decades. But then, when threatened, they act only in their self interest and without ever backing anyone up with similar problems and solutions – especially when others are getting blown up. They would prefer to sell Israel to the dogs of war than to say that they are correct for choosing the security barrier, even though they themselves choose the same solution to their less pressing problems and needs.
Europe, naturally, expresses that they are not opposed to the barrier as such, but to the chosen route – conveniently forgetting that they don’t exactly have to defend any of their placid borders from raging madmen with body-bombs and hair-trigger fingers walking through their midst. Were they to experience such a feat of destruction as suicide bombers for Allah in their own towns and cities, one could only imagine the response they would scream for – paid by the United States taxpayer and the blood of American soldiers.
It will be interesting to see what happens in Europe in the next ten years or so. Their economy is having problems and their nice cozy socialist program of comfy pensions, short weeks and long vacations is causing further economic hemorrhage as there are fewer and fewer young workers entering the system to pay for this Ponzi Scam. (birth rate is down). To aggravate this, they have been spending very little on their own defense, relying instead on the U.S.A. to provide the bulk of the shield. The fact that we are leaving in the next few years will be a double-hit against their economy — lost jobs and increased defense spending.
And these are intellectual and nuanced people…
That'll learn 'em…
This is very cool - Epson announced that it has developed a “micro flying Robot”.
I had blogged about this sort of device here before but that device was a whopping 8.9 Grams.
The device reported here is 8.6 Grams.
Couple of things to note here though is that the previous unit needed a cable tether to provide power and it was unstable enough to require constant supervision. This puppy will lift a 3.7 Gram battery as cargo and uses a six-axis gyro to provide stability to the point where it will hover autonomously.
Very cool stuff - I would like to see this technology expanded to underwater applications. A mini-ROV might be a very cool thing to have.
Interesting local news from the Seattle P-I:
When state Fish and Wildlife agents recently found a black bear passed out on the lawn of Baker Lake Resort, there were some clues scattered nearby — dozens of empty cans of Rainier Beer.
The bear apparently got into campers' coolers and used his claws and teeth to puncture the cans. And not just any cans.
“He drank the Rainier and wouldn't drink the Busch beer,” said Lisa Broxson, bookkeeper at the campground and cabins resort east of Mount Baker.
Fish and Wildlife enforcement Sgt. Bill Heinck said the bear did try one can of Busch, but ignored the rest.
“He didn't like that (Busch) and consumed, as near as we can tell, about 36 cans of Rainier.”
A wildlife agent tried to chase the bear from the campground, but the animal just climbed a tree to sleep it off for four hours. Agents finally herded the bear away, but it returned the next morning.
Agents then used a large, humane trap to capture it for relocation, baiting the trap with the usual: doughnuts, honey and, in this case, two open cans of Rainier. That did the trick.
“This is a new one on me,” Heinck said. “I've known them to get into cans, but nothing like this. And it definitely had a preference.”
Baker Lake is on the other site of Mt. Baker from us - the lake is one of the reservoirs maintained by Puget Sound Energy for hydroelectric generation for the City of Seattle.
According to this story from Yahoo/AP, Costco is starting to test-market a new product line:
CHICAGO - Whether you're in the market for a good night's sleep or the eternal kind, there's now a discount store somewhere that has you covered.
On Monday, Costco Wholesale Corp., better known for bulk chicken and cases of soda, started test marketing caskets along side mattresses at a North Side Chicago store and one in suburban Oak Brook.
In his latest column in The Telegraph he says:
As Stephens points out, European countries now have attitudes in inverse proportion to the likelihood of their acting upon them. They're like my hippy-dippy Vermont neighbours who drive around with “Free Tibet” bumper stickers. Every couple of years, they trade in the Volvo for a Subaru, and painstakingly paste a new “Free Tibet” sticker on the back.
What are they doing to free Tibet? Nothing. Tibet is as unfree now as it was when they started advertising their commitment to a free Tibet. And it will be just as unfree when they buy their next car and slap on the old sticker one mo' time. If Don Rumsfeld were to say, 'Free Tibet'? That's a great idea!
The Third Infantry Division go in on Thursday', all the 'Free Tibet' crowd would be driving around with 'War is not the answer' stickers.
So sad and so true…
This one is a bit obscure so please bear with me. There is a museum of “medical curiosities” located at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, PA (The Mütter) and the Director just passed away this month.
Her Obituary is here
I have visited this place and if you are ever in Pennsylvania, it is very much worth a detour to check out.
Saddam agents on Syria border helped move banned materials
Saddam Hussein periodically removed guards on the Syrian border and replaced them with his own intelligence agents who supervised the movement of banned materials between the two countries, U.S. investigators have discovered.
Two defense sources told The Washington Times that the ISG has interviewed Iraqis who told of Saddam's system of dispatching his trusted Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) to the border, where they would send border inspectors away.
The shift was followed by the movement of trucks in and out of Syria suspected of carrying materials banned by U.N. sanctions. Once the shipments were made, the agents would leave and the regular border guards would resume their posts.
“If you leave it to border guards, then the border guards could stop the trucks and extract their 10 percent, just like the mob would do,” said a Pentagon official who asked not to be named. “Saddam's family was controlling the black market, and it was a good opportunity for them to make money.”
Interesting - we already knew about the truck convoys that left for Syria just before coalition forces invaded but this fact, that Saddam removed the normal Iraq boarder guards and replaced them with his own IIS people only furthers the suspicions that the WMDs are alive and well and living in Syria.
Interesting news item on Yahoo/AFP this morning regarding ticket sales for Olympic events:
IOC officials, worried by the television images being flashed around the world of athletes competing in near empty stadiums, have told the Athens Games organizers to give tickets away for free if necessary.
On Saturday, the first full day of competition, weightlifter Nurcan Taylan became the first Turkish woman to win an Olympic gold medal but her feat was achieved in a near empty stadium.
On Sunday, tennis superstars Venus Williams and Andy Roddick, used to playing to packed courts, began their Olympic quest to vacant stands.
The story (from the web site):
The Kerry campaign ran a much-hyped “Band of Brothers” photo of Kerry with 19 other fellow Vietnam Swift Boat commanders, which implied all 19 support Kerry’s bid for the presidency. All 19 did not support Kerry – only two did.
Today, Iowa Presidential Watch has received information from Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth (www.swiftvets.com) that states: “We have new information that Ralph Dobson in fact considers Kerry unfit.”
So, now Kerry is down to just one of the 19 Swift Boat commanders supporting him.
We have updated the photo-graphic to show the truth about Kerry’s amazing photo fraud.
Check it out… They show the original photo and then have circles and arrows pointing to who was not available (four), who was deceased (two), who was a Kerry supporter (one) and who thought that John Kerry was unfit for the post of President (twelve)
Twelve out of nineteen people — I would call that a big majority…
Given all the other stuff that's cropped up (Christmas in Cambodia, etc…) I'm beginning to wonder what the Democratic Party was thinking when they gave Kerry the nod. Maybe they should give their crack pipes a rest for a few days.
Wretchard at the Belmont Club writes about an interesting development in Najaf:
News that the Iraqi police have ordered all journalists out of Najaf and are enforcing it, strongly suggests that an operation against the Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf is imminent.
Interesting… Looks like the gloves are coming off finally.
There is more:
The principal damage inflicted by the War on Terror has not been to material objects or to human lives, although there have been enough of those. Compared to the tens of millions killed during World War 2 or the millions killed during the Cold War (more than 100,000 Americans in Korea and Vietnam; over a million NVA alone), the current losses have barely nudged the Satanic scale. But the damage inflicted against the fabric of civilization has been immense.
So the most terrifying effect of the War so far has been in the slow destruction of taboos and imperatives which collectively allowed civilization to function. One writer observed that although Britain has possessed nuclear weapons for nearly 60 years no one worried about a UK attack on New York city. He might have added that no one in London lost any sleep over the prospect of an American nuclear strike on Picadilly Circus. The electronics, physics and rocketry check out fine; it was civilization that held them back. The concept of asymmetric warfare was supposed to exploit the “fact” that transnational terrorist organizations operating in areas of chaos could strike at a civilization hamstrung by constraints. They could attack orphanages and then seek shelter in the Church of the Nativity; they could fly wide bodied aircraft into Manhattan, then seek shelter in “sovereign” Afghanistan; they could call for the death of millions from the pulpits of Qom; they could fire mortars from the Imam Ali Shrine and never expect the favor to be returned. But the logical flaw in this conception was that civilization could put aside these constraints in a moment. Hiroshima and Dresden are reminders that it could.
One of Wretchards commenters for this story sums it up succinctly:
Sir, you say— “The second is the guaranteed access of the Western press to the battlefield.” Like that is a bad thing. The “journalist” in your last post was released and thanked his captors. Big Media is the friend and ally of terrorists everywhere. The media has done this to themselves. Like Peter and Eason, they have sold their souls for a story. The journalists in Najaf were only a mouthpiece for Sadr's demands, and a biased lens for the rest of the world. The Iraqis were right to count them among the enemy.
Very true - pig Sadr, in fact, the whole lot of these swine, would be in a far less powerful bargaining position if the Western media had not been so fawning over them in their reporting.
I was listening to Garrison Keillor's monologue this weekend where he recounted a story about his mother's trip out west in the Summer of 1935. The trip included a visit to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a very good story, but since Garrison said the story was about his own 89-year-old mother (and not about one of the many wonderful characters from “Lake Wobegone” that he usually talks about) I assumed it was supposed to be a true story.
On the other hand, the Golden Gate Bridge wasn't finished until 1937. A visitor to the Golden Gate in 1935 would have witnessed the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, which is even more more memorable than seeing the bridge itself, and surely would have been mentioned if the story was indeed true.
The reason I bring this up is because Garrison Keillor is now advertising himself as a Democrat (a celebration of liberalism as the “politics of kindness.”).
Like other Democrats, Garrison Keillor seems to be better at making up stories and presenting them as fact than he is at describing the world that actually exists.
I appeal to people of the World; Please, Please, Please hear the true voice of the Iraqi people. We are facing a terrible conspiracy. The people of the South are being persecuted and massacred, not by the Americans, not by the Iraqi Army and Iraqi police. The gangs of the “Mehdi” army financed and recruited by the Iranian security forces and others, this has become amply clear, are massacring the people, right now as I am writing these lines. As one caller to the “Fayhaa” T.V. station is saying right now from Kut, for the first time in history the Wahabis, the Iranian hardliners and the Baathists have formed an alliance against the people of Iraq and particularly against the Shiaa people. Horrifying stories are emerging from the South.
Emphasis mine - here's more:
The greatest danger is not in Najaf, but in Basrah where the main oil wealth of the country is being jeopardized (and so is the world economy and the security of the entire free world), and placed at the mercy of Gangs financed and employed by the Iranians, Al Qaeda and the Baathists. So much for the much-vaunted success of the British at controlling the region, they have allowed the thugs to gain control of the area. Basrah is in grave danger , Basrah, Basrah, Basrah; not only us but the whole free world is threatened. Can anybody understand, will anybody hear?
Read the entire thing - the gloves need to come off now.
Wretchard at The Belmont Club has an update on the resumed hostilities in Najaf. His closing comment is one that echos my thoughts to a great deal:
I have no “hatred” towards people from the Middle East.
I have had the exceedingly great pleasure to know a number of people from that area and culture and have found them to be consistently some of the most gracious people in the world. (some — not all; there are some bad apples there too, just as we enjoy in the USA).
I once wrote to a reader that I hated the Pied Pipers that led simple and ignorant people down the road to destruction. These photos showing Sadr's “fighters” brought it home. Twisted ammo belts, mismatched calibers, museum piece M1919 machineguns, one magazine in a rifle, no tactical comms. How could he? How could he? Damn you Sadr.
NOTE: The “These photos” site will take a while to download if you are on dial-up but it is worth it. This is the Children's Crusade all over again only these kids have been very much seduced to the dark side — fighting for their 72 white raisins and yearning for martyrdom instead of learning about the internet and figuring out what they want to do with their lives…
So many of these lives lost for such and old and worthless quest.
The babies here are all in their 60's
A bank had a problem with some money being misplaced a few years ago.
It turned up though, in a rather unexpected place. Associated Press has the story:
A cache of cash found in the Columbus landfill was the result of a bank error, police said.
The money — more than $46,000 — was found on July 23 by a backhoe operator who was digging through mounds of garbage at the Pine Grove Landfill. That was about the same amount of money a Columbus bank official told the local FBI office in July 2002 the bank had misplaced.
Bank officials alerted police about the possibility the money belonged to the bank after the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported the backhoe operator's find.
Police proved the money belonged to the bank because remnants of bank wrappers were mixed in with the misplaced cash.
The last line is great (emphasis mine):
The money was returned to the bank Friday. Officials asked police not to reveal the bank's name.
Allah (no, not that one) has an interesting set of stories and links about the current Olympic games and the presence of various Islamic nations there as well as a revealing insight into Islam's reaction to athletics…
Bob Costas isn't the only one paying attention to the dearth of female athletes on certain countries' Olympic teams. From mullah-stomper Amir Taheri:
A circular from the Ministry of Islamic Guidance and Culture in Tehran asks TV editors to make sure that women's games are not televised live: “Images of women engaged in contests [sic] must be carefully vetted,” says the letter, leaked in Tehran. “Editors must take care to prevent viewers from being confronted [sic] with uncovered parts of the female anatomy in contests.” . . .
Last year, the Tehran Municipality presented a plan to provide sports facilities for women. A model stadium was set up with 12-foot-high walls to make sure that no one could see the women from the outside. The stadium was to operate with an all-female staff, including coaches and administrators. The plan was scrapped last February, when critics claimed that the proposed stadium was located close enough to an airport that women in the stadium might be seen by men flying above them in jetliners and helicopters.
At times, fear of women doing sports causes major headaches for Islamic governments. The Islamic Republic in Iran, for example, has agreed to host the Muslim Women's International badminton games next year. Although all the participating athletes have agreed to wear uniforms that cover them from head to toe, the organizers are still worried that men might sneak in to have a look at what is going on. To solve the problem, the authorities have decided to hold the games in a remote mountain resort. The only road leading to the resort will be sealed by an all-female unit of the paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The games will be organized and supervised by exclusively female staff and recorded by an all-female TV crew.
Strange culture… BTW, his comment about Bob Costas refers to a dialog between him and Katie Couric:
[Saudi team enters]
Couric: I love when the athletes wear their traditional clothing. This is not traditional, this is worn still in Saudi Arabia.
Costas: Since the wakeup call of 9/11, Americans have become more aware of aspects of Saudi society beyond the oil and their nominal status as a U.S. ally. Those aspects include widespread religious extremism and an antipathy towards women's rights, and here in Athens, there are 21 members of the Saudi delegation. None are women.
Couric: [Silence. For nine seconds.]
Nine seconds of dead air is a definite no-no anywhere. On a prime-time like this, it's unforgivable…
One of the better companies out there for MIDI interfaces just got bought out by the proverbial 300-pound gorilla… Yahoo has the story.
Avid to Acquire M-Audio
Avid Technology, Inc. today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Midiman, Inc., doing business as M-Audio - a leading provider of digital audio and MIDI solutions for electronic musicians and audio professionals. At closing, Avid will pay approximately $80 million in cash, issue approximately 2 million shares of Avid common stock, and assume all outstanding M-Audio stock options. The deal also includes earn-out provisions, which would be payable to M-Audio's equity holders based on the successful achievement of certain financial milestones. Under the terms of the agreement, M-Audio will become a business unit of Avid's Digidesign audio division and market its line of computer audio peripherals, PCI sound cards, keyboard controllers and control surfaces, microphones, speakers, and distributed software and proprietary sound libraries alongside Digidesign's award-winning digital audio workstations for the professional and home/hobbyist markets.
Avid has a division called Digidesign that manufacturers software called ProTools which is used by most recording studios. It's good but fairly pricey for what you get and the formats and the hardware are proprietary for the most part.
I can see that Avid might like to get a share of the low-end home studio market but I'm really wondering if they will leave well enough alone or will their corporate culture start creeping into the feature sets of the M-Audio line. I hope it doesn't…
Midiman's website is here
Some of the cool stuff they do:
Keeping my fingers crossed…
Kerry was being interviewed on ABC's This Week and he said that he had a plan to deal with Iraq but that he would not say what it was.
Turns out, it involves the French and the United Nations…
Denis Boyles has more in this article: Top Secret; What a “sensitive war” looks like.:
Remember John Kerry's “secret plan” for dealing with Iraq? He announced it on ABC's This Week. Everybody wanted to know what it was. It turns out it was just like the “secret plans” I had back in high school when I'd take girls to the drive-in: Once the wraps came off, everybody felt pretty stupid.
Kerry's secret plan, it finally emerged, was to convince France and the U.N. to help us get out of Iraq. To you and me, asking France to help you win a war is like asking your mother-in-law to help settle a family quarrel. But according to Kerry, asking France to help win a war makes the war “sensitive” because, as everyone knows, France is more sensitive than the United States, just as liberals are more sensitive than conservatives. In fact, to be liberal is to be French, even if only in spirit.
For a good example of how a sensitive, Frenchified foreign policy works, let's look at the warring, unhappy natives in faraway Darfur, a dusty stretch of the Sudanese way-outback. According to the U.S. Congress, there's a genocide going on in Darfur, and if we apply John Kerry's secret plan, it's all being handled just right.
Dennis goes into what is happening in Darfur (“ethnic cleansing” which is French for mass slaughter of innocent Christian men, women and children by Islamists) and proposes that this is because the nation of Sudan is fairly oil-rich and that the French want it — Oil for Corpses and all that good imperialist stuff…
Read the article - he provides links to the original reports and his comments are pretty much spot on.
One of the nastier Islamofacist pigs in Iraq is the “cleric” Muqtada al-Sadr.
He is a known murderer (Religion of Peace indeed) and the paper trail uncovered so far links him to Iran and the Arab states promotion of radical Fascist Islamism. He has been holed up in Najaf causing no end of grief to Iraqi citizens as well as Iraqi military and the Coalition forces.
He has declared truce several times during our campaigns to delete him, each time, this truce has been broken.
The concept of truce in the West is quite different from the concept of truce in the Middle East - there, the truce is called “Hudna”
Hudna is an Arabic term which means a temporary ceasefire for tactical reasons
The Shafi'i school of Sharia (Muslim jurisprudence), which is the dominant Sunni school of jurisprudence in the Levant, teaches that “if Muslims are weak, a truce may be made for ten years if necessary, for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made a truce with the Quraysh for that long, as is related by Abu Dawud” ('Umdat as-Salik, o9.16).
These people have no honor. They attack civilians from a sacred Mosque knowing full well that people will hesitate to return fire. When they start taking more casualties than they like, they declare truce and during the truce they re-supply only to find some trivial reason to break the truce and continue fighting as cowards.
Wretchard at The Belmont Club has an interesting analysis of al-Sadr's latest and why it may be his undoing:
I personally think Sadr has adopted the wrong negotiating strategy in this face-off. A Kim Il Sung type strategy of making outrageous demands may work on the Korean Peninsula, where Seoul is held hostage, but it may fail miserably in Iraq. By presenting Allawi with a list of extreme demands in public, Sadr is throwing down the gauntlet before a man, who must at all costs, be seen as the strongest in Iraq. It is hard to see how Allawi could keep his standing among Arab heads of state, in his own country and among the Shi'ites themselves if he groveled before Sadr. By posting his position in the press, Sadr has “anchored” his position; in other words, drawn a line in the sand and dared Allawi to cross it. Moreover, the demands constitute a virtual usurpation of Ayatollah Sistani's position in the Shi'ite clerical hierarchy. As constituted, they make enmity with Sistani the price of amity with Sadr.
Whoever had the bright idea of organizing a descent of Shi'ite sympathizers on Najaf may have failed to reckon with the fact that it lights a fuse and introduces a time element that may work against Sadr. Allawi knows that he must settle accounts before the cleric can turn Najaf into an international media carnival. With the fuse hissing in the background, Allawi is constrained to courses of action that will complete before it reaches the powderkeg. Sadr may not like what those are.
This will be fascinating to follow and I hope it will serve to encourage any future Islamofacist pigs who hope to carve out some territory of their own…
Victor Davis Hanson nails it with today's essay:
On Loathing Bush
It’s not about what he does.
For now Americans seem to be split 50-50 over the reelection of George W. Bush. Such a hotly contested election is hardly new. We saw races just as close in 1960, 1968, and 1976. Had Ross Perot not run in 1992 — and perhaps even in 1996 — Bill Clinton (who didn't receive a 50 percent majority in either of his presidential races) may well have found himself in the same predicament as Gore did in Florida, 2000 — struggling to win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote to George Bush Sr.
One can argue that the post-bellum reconstruction of Iraq was unforeseeably messy and fouled-up. Or, one can argue that it's striking that after a mere three years the United States has liberated 50 million and implemented democratic reform in place of what were the two most fascistic governments in the world — all without another 9/11 mass murder.
Furthermore, our troubles with Europe can be seen as either provoking tried and tested friends or lancing a boil that was growing for years as a result of our different histories, the end of the Cold War, and the utopianism of the EU. We could all disagree further about education, illegal immigration, energy policy, taxation, and a host of other issues.
But what is not explicable in terms of rational disagreement is the Left's pathological hatred of George W. Bush. It transcends all contention over the issues, the Democratic hurt over the Florida elections, and even the animus once shown Bill Clinton by the activist Right. From where does this near-religious anger arise and what does it portend?
George Bush is a traitor of the most frightening sort to his class: He is not an ideological tribune like Roosevelt or Kennedy, but someone far worse, who seems to dislike the entire baggage of sophisticated, highbrow society. An Eastern blueblood who initially did all the right things — Prep School, the Ivy league, Skull and Bones — he then, accent and all, not only went back to rural Texas, but embraced a popular culture antithetical to the preppie, wonkish, aristocratic world of the East Coast elite.
So Bush suffers additional invective not accorded his father, whose cadre of Wall Street stockbrokers, Council on Foreign Relations pin-stripers, and State Department sober and judicious insiders could assure the liberal establishment that, well, here was a man like us who believed in noblesse oblige, sent his kids to our schools, and simply had a smidgeon less compassion for the down-trodden.
He closes with this observation:
September 11 cooled the furor of these aristocratic critics, but Iraq re-ignited it. bq. Not voting for George Bush is, of course understandable and millions in fact will do precisely that. But for those haters who demonize the man, their knee-jerk disgust tells us far more about their own shallow characters than it does anything about our wartime president.
And there is a great danger in all these manifestations of pure hatred. We are in a war. And in these tumultuous days, the Left's unhinged odium will resonate with and embolden not only our enemies abroad, but also the deranged, dangerous folk here at home.
Microsoft Research labs has something new that's really cool…
Here is the article.
“Hey dad, can I go outside and play?” That's what most kids say to their parents. But one day Michael Cohen's daughter said, “Hey, dad, can I go into my picture and play?” And he said yes. He sliced time and space to let her swing on the monkey bars in the playground her imagination had designed.
This software will take input from a camcorder and turn it into a cartoon. You need to check every 15-20 frames or so to make sure that everything is OK but the bulk of the process is automated. Very very cool stuff…
Unfortunately, they are not planning to release it as a product anytime soon.
I used to work at MSFT and saw a bunch of cool stuff disappear down the rabbit hole - I hope this one doesn't…
Very interesting comment over on Derek Lowe's website:
I have a weird job. I feel safe in saying that, not least because I'm supposed to discover a drug that can be sold to sick customers, and I haven't even come close to doing that in fifteen years of work. (No, it's not just me.) Another thing that makes me sure that my line of work is abnormal is that nothing I've ever worked on has ever quite gone the way I thought it was going to.
For instance: we make a compound, and it works in the first assay - it binds tightly to the protein target. Then it works in living cells, so we make more of it and we put it into mice. And it works there - not wonderfully, not really good enough yet, but enough to show that we're on the right track. So we go back and start changing the structure of the compound and making new analogs, which is the whole point of a medicinal chemist's job. You try to find something better.
He continues talking about the give and take of developing something that looks promising and then having it fail at some point. Derek then closes with this pithy comment:
This is why I roll my eyes when I come across moonbat conspiracy theories about how the drug companies have all these secret cures that we're sitting on, see. . .hah. Secret cures, my colon. Some days we go home unsure if we're capable of boiling an egg.
It took a while (been busy) but finally made it out to see I Robot.
Excellent excellent film. It is a comment on the quality of Computer Graphics these days that we can now have CG characters act on screen. Golum was the first CG character to do this and now, Sonny (one of the Robots) is another.
CG characters used to either fly about so fast that you really didn't catch the visual discrepancies (unless you got the DVD and examined the action sequences frame by frame) or they just stood there and looked really sleek and cool and impressive.
Now, they are fully interacting with their human counterparts both physically and emotionally.
Good stuff - if you have not seen this film, check it out in a theater — it uses the large screen very well…
Swallow whatever you happen to be drinking before reading this — I will not be responsible for any liquid damage to your keyboard or monitor…
Jen and I read some forums that are specific to country life and farming. One of them Homesrteading Today had this post and it's really worth giving a wider audience:
My wife Toni is fond of saying that my last words on this earth will be something akin to, “hey y'all, hold my beer and watch this!” Well, I have outdone myself once again. No doubt you will see this true story chronicled in a LifeTime movie in the near future. Here goes.
Last weekend I spied something at Larry's Pistol and Pawn that tickled my fancy. (Note: Keep in mind that my “fancy” is easily tickled). I bought something really cool for Toni. The occasion was our 22nd anniversary and I was looking for a little something extra for my sweet girl. What I came across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse-sized Tazer gun with a clip. For those of you who are not familiar with this product, it is a less-than-lethal stun gun with two metal prongs designed to incapacitate an assailant with a shock of high-voltage, low amperage electricity while you flee to safety. The effects are supposed to be short lived, with no long-term adverse affect on your assailant, but allowing you adequate time to retreat to safety. You simply jab the prongs into your 250 lb. Tattooed assailant, push the button, and it will render him a slobbering, goggle-eyed, muscle-twitching, whimpering, pencil-neck geek. If you've never seen one of these things in action, then you're truly missing out—way too cool!
You can imagine what happens next…
There is a wonderful set of posts at Stefan Sharkansky's Shark blog.
Shark posted an entry criticizing some of the views of Alice Woldt, a pacifist candidate for the WA State House of Representatives.
Well, today, Alice's son Tim wrote back to Stefan. The email he sent is worth looking at just for the number of basic spelling errors and horrible grammar not to mention that Tim says:
“If your such a tough guy who likes picking on little old woman who go to peace vigils, pick on me. I'm 22 years old and I will teach you how to bleed like a bleeding heart liberal.”
Was cleaning out some files and ran into this entry from an old Seattle newsie - Lou Boyd. He writes under the name Mike Mailway and has an amazing collection of trivia…
If it's flavorful, it's “sipid”
If it's splotchy, it's “maculate”
If it's sinful, it's “peccable”
If it's planned, it's “promptu”
If it's alive, it's “ert”
If it's tense, it's “chalant”
If it's affluent, it's “digent”
If it's unrestrained, it's “hibited”
If it's significant, it's “ane”
Yet you and I, who never use these positive words, regularly use their negatives…
Fun stuff to think about.
Lou is retiring - here's the Seattle PI article from August 7th of this year
Divine justice at work in this news article from MLive (Ann Arbor, Michigan):
Two Howell teenagers were injured Monday when one of the commercial-grade fireworks mortars they were using to blow up mailboxes exploded in the cab of their pickup truck, authorities said.
The explosion blew out the back window and damaged the front window of the truck, Livingston County Sheriff's officials said. The explosion caused minor injuries to the driver and unknown injuries to the passenger.
Finally got on the ball and installed Jay Allen's excellent MT Blacklist.
If you run a Movable Type weblog, this collection of PERL and CGI will allow you to remove existing comment spam from your system as well as block any incoming new ones.
There is a new Zombie movie being filmed. CNN/Entertainment has the details including one very interesting aspect — read on:
You might have thought that Chernobyl was off-limits, closed to the outside world behind a rigidly patrolled exclusion zone since reactor No. 4 went into catastrophic meltdown April 26, 1986, spewing radiation to the four winds.
Not a bit of it. The reactor's deadly core was buried in a concrete and steel sarcophagus, but the adjoining reactors carried on producing electricity until they were finally decommissioned a couple of years ago.
A rotating staff of some 6,000 specialists and technicians still work at Chernobyl's scientific center. Hundreds of journalists, diplomats and tourists have been here in the past six years since the place was opened up to paying visitors, once safe areas away from the isolated and still highly radioactive “hot” zones were identified
But wait - there's more:
Now, for the first time, a Hollywood feature film — the zombie movie “Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis” — has gained access to the infamous site.
Ukrainian-born producer Anatoly Fradis is proud — despite the obstacles and the cost. “Up to a couple of days before we began shooting, it was touch-and-go whether they would let us in, and I had to pay more than I had budgeted to secure the permission,” Fradis says, standing inside Chernobyl's first checkpoint inside the zone.
“Chernobyl is very spooky and serves our purpose — we are shooting in all these abandoned towns and villages, with rusting equipment lying around everywhere,” Fradis says.
Might be a movie to see just for the location shots… I bought Robert Polidori's book of photographs and was very disappointed with it. The few images I saw before buying it were the best and the remainder are just one abandoned building after another. Same, same, same, saw that one already, next, etc…
An interesting report from AFP as reported by Yahoo News:
Remnants of plants that could be several million years old have been discovered in samples of mud recovered from the bottom of Greenland's three-kilometre-deep (two-mile-deep) ice cap, the head of a group of international scientists said.
“There is a big possibility that this material is several million years old — from a time when trees covered Greenland,” Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, who heads a team of international scientists involved in the North Greenland Ice-core Project, said in a statement.
“Reaching bedrock, frozen reddish mud was recovered with several centimetre-sized fragments of organic material looking like pine needles or pieces of bark,” Dahl-Jensen said.
This is very cool. We already have archaeological record that Greenlanders were growing Grapes for wine back in the 900's - this directly corresponds with the 400 year cycle of warming and cooling that we have been experiencing.
At present, we are leaving the cooling period and entering a 400-year cycle of warming.
“Known as “liquid crack,” for its reputation for wreaking more mental havoc than the cheapest tequila. Something in this syrupy hooch seems to have a synapse-blasting effect not unlike low-grade cocaine. The label insists that the ingredients are merely “citrus wine & grape wine with artificial flavor & artificial color,” but anyone who has tried it knows better. Tales of Cisco-induced semi-psychotic fits are common. Often, people on a Cisco binge end up curled into a fetal ball, shuddering and muttering paranoid rants. Nudity and violence may well be involved too. Everyone who drinks this feels great at first, and claims, “It's not bad at all, I like it.” But, you really do not want to mess around with this one, because they all sing a different tune a few minutes later. And by tune, I mean the psychotic ramblings of a raging naked bum.
Heh… BumWine is worth checking out for the reviews of such fine products as Cisco, MD 20/20, Night Train, Thunderbird and Wild Irish Rose.
Reading the local paper this morning and found a great story about the Republican candidate for State Auditor in the upcoming elections.
The GOP was hurting for a candidate to fill that position and Will Baker from Tacoma came forward and volunteered to run. They accepted and sent off a letter to the State Election Board notifying them of Will's candidacy.
It later came to light that Will has been in jail 19 times.
The full story is here (Bellingham Herald)
Republican leaders were happy to have a contender for state auditor when they accepted Will Baker as an eleventh-hour candidate.
They didn't worry too much about who he was or how he spent his time - until they realized a considerable amount of his time was spent in jail.
Baker, a 41-year-old roadside flower salesman and self-styled political activist, has been booked into the Pierce County Jail at least 19 times since 1992, mostly for disrupting city and county council meetings.
And what's more:
Party leaders scrambled Friday to remove Baker as a candidate, days after naming him as the Republican choice to challenge popular state Auditor Brian Sonntag, a Democrat seeking a fourth term.
State election officials denied the request. Such a move would require court action.
A story of a boy and his X-Box at CNN News:
Authorities in Deltona, Florida, have arrested and charged four people in the killings of six people in a rental home, Volusia County's sheriff said Sunday.
Sheriff Ben Johnson said the murder was organized by a man who was angry because he believed his Xbox video game system and some clothes had been stolen.
Jen and I spent a wonderful day today here
This was the Puget Sound Antique Tractor and Machinery Association's annual show with several hundred tractors, steam engines, one-of-a-kind homebuilt devices, all running. The tractor pull was a fun event - tractors were graded by weight so the competition was an even one.
Check out their photos page if you are interested.
We will definitely be back next year…
Totten is on a roll - he has another article today that is worth linking to.
Michael starts by linking to this AP News Item:
In an extraordinary assault, gunmen in the city of Fallujah stormed a kidnappers' lair and forced the overmatched militants inside to flee, freeing four Jordanian truck drivers held captive, local officials said Wednesday.
He then goes on to show the inherent bias in reporting in this article and closes with this wonderful observation:
Oh, and just for the record, this hostage rescue wasn't carried out by the army. The anti-terrorists in this particular battle were ordinary Iraqis - basically a posse of pissed-off locals.
From the AP news article:
Sheik Haj Ibrahim Jassam, a tribal leader, said he received word late Tuesday that the men were being held in a house on the edge of the city. Local leaders gathered together armed residents, who raided the house, freeing the hostages and chasing out the kidnappers, he said.
This is huge. Terrorists are now getting their asses kicked by the locals in the biggest hotbed of violent activity in Iraq. They are not Mao's famous fish who swim in the “sea” of the people. They are hunted by the people.
There is a very interesting observation at Michael J. Totten's blog:
It’s too bad someone like Sen. Joe Biden didn't run in the Democratic primary. (It would have helped even more had he won it, but that's another discussion.)
Michael then proceeds to quote from a New Republic article that quotes a speech Biden gave and comparing it with Kerry's puff-piece:
Biden started by correctly naming America's enemy. Unlike Kerry, who mentioned “terrorists,” “antiterrorist operations,” and “a global war on terror,” Biden never mentioned the “T” word. Instead, he spoke of the “death struggle between freedom and radical fundamentalism.” The difference is more than semantic. Terrorism, as commentators have pointed out, is a tactic. Sri Lankan suicide bombers who blow themselves up in the name of Tamil independence are terrorists—but we are not at war with them. If militants in Iraq shoot only at American soldiers and not at civilians, they are not technically terrorists—but they are our enemies nonetheless. Radical Islam is an ideology, and calling it the enemy implies that America is fighting a war not just of national interest, but of ideas. “Radical fundamentalism,” Biden said, “will fall to the terrible, swift power of our ideas as well as our swords.”
It is a bit lengthy but well worth reading.
I am not particularly fond of G.W. Bush but I fall into the anybody-but-Kerry camp. He would be a disaster for our country.
He lived a nice long life and was able to live doing what he wanted but still…
CNN has a nice Obituary:
Legendary French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, who traveled the world for more than a half century capturing human drama with his camera, has died at age 95.
Cartier-Bresson shot for Life, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar magazines, and his work inspired generations of photographers. Cartier-Bresson became a French national treasure, though he was famously averse to having his own picture taken or to giving interviews.
The French Culture Ministry said Cartier-Bresson died Monday and that funeral services were held Wednesday. Media reports said he died in l'Ile-sur-Sorgue in the rural Vaucluse region in southeastern France.
“He was perhaps the greatest photographer of the 20th century,” said John Morris, who first met Cartier-Bresson at the door of Paris' Hotel Scribe five days after the Germans left the city at the end of World War II.
Later when Morris was executive editor of Magnum Photos, Cartier-Bresson worked with him. They remained lifelong friends.
Gary Knight, managing director of the cooperative photo agency, VII, called Cartier-Bresson one of the most influential photographers of all time.
“He inspired people, and he defined photography at that crucial period when small cameras were coming into fashion and its entire nature was changing,” Knight said.
Whether recording the funeral of Mahatma Gandhi in India or Henri Matisse at home, Cartier-Bresson sought to render the feeling of the moment with his distinctive classical style and penchant for geometrical composition.
“In whatever one does, there must be a relationship between the eye and the heart,” he once said in a rare interview. “With the one eye that is closed, one looks within, with the other eye that is open, one looks without.”
With his uncanny sense of timing and intuition, Cartier-Bresson captured the presence of places and the cultures of people as distinct as William Faulkner and Chinese revolutionaries.
He disdained arranged photographs and artificial settings and said photographers should shoot accurately and quickly.
His concept of photography centered on what he described as “the decisive moment” — the moment evoking the ultimate significance of a given situation as all the external elements fall perfectly into place.
Cartier-Bresson shot with a Leica, the quietest of cameras, working only with black and white film, and notably, without a flash. Thrusting a subject in the limelight, he once said, was a sure way to destroy it.
He also opposed cropping pictures, saying it diluted the picture's meanings.
While most of his international fame was generated from worldwide exhibitions and publications including Harper's Bazaar, Cartier-Bresson gained recognition from two documentary films he made about medical aid to the loyalists in the Spanish Civil War and about French prisoners of war returning home at the end of World War II.
Cartier-Bresson was born August 22, 1908, in Chanteloup outside Paris to a wealthy textile family.
The eldest of three children, he was interested mainly in painting. At 20, he turned his back on the lucrative family business to study art.
In 1930, with a brownie box camera, he started dabbling in photography. Two years later, armed with his Leica, he began a series of photo expeditions to the French Ivory Coast, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Germany and Italy.
After publishing photos from his travels in several major magazines, Cartier-Bresson had his first exhibition in Madrid in 1933. Later that year he had the first of several major shows in New York.
The brilliant, pioneering shots of the 1930s captured the urban scene, trapping momentary visual delights of life in motion.
Critics said his most brilliant photograph was “Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare,” which depicts a man leaping over a puddle and frozen in mid-air, with his shadow forming a symmetrical V contrasting to the vertical fence above the railroad tracks.
“Rue Mouffetard,” a poignant shot of a grinning youngster carrying two bottles of wine down the Left Bank market street, became one of his most sought-after photos.
Cartier-Bresson also was drawn to the cinema and worked as an assistant director to esteemed French director Jean Renoir on his classic “The Rules of the Game.”
He then turned his documentary talents to the Spanish Civil War. At the outbreak of World War II, he was drafted into the French army where he was a corporal in a film and photo unit captured in the Vosges Mountains in June 1940.
After nearly three years in German prison camps, Cartier-Bresson escaped and made his way back to Paris where he divided his time between commercial photography and transporting ex-prisoners for the French underground.
His work during and after the war had the feel of his documentary films, and his pictures emerged as a stunning reportage of the underground resistance and the political drama of postwar Europe.
In 1945, under the aegis of the U.S. Office of War Information, Cartier-Bresson directed “The Return,” a highly praised documentary on the homecoming of French prisoners of war.
In 1947, he joined Robert Capa and David Seymour in founding Magnum.
Since then, his photos have been featured in one-man shows in major museums and galleries worldwide. In 1979, the cream of his work was shown at New York's International Center of Photography and then toured for three years to 15 cities in the United States and Mexico.
Among the most famous of his dozen books is “The Decisive Moment,” published in 1952, which Cartier-Bresson prefaced with a quote from 17th century writer, Cardinal de Retz: “There is nothing in this world that does not have its decisive moment.”
In the last 25 years of his life, Cartier-Bresson largely turned away from photography to embrace his first love, painting. By 1988, he was spending most days sketching in pencil or charcoal at his Paris home or at his retreat in southern France.
His Leica, protected by a handkerchief, was never out of reach.
In 1937, Cartier-Bresson married a Japanese dancer named Ratna Mohini. In 1970, he married Martine Franck with whom he had one daughter, Melanie.
I quoted the entire CNN article because they suffer from Link Rot after a few weeks. Associated Press retains the 2004 copyright.
As some of you know, we have moved about two hours away from Seattle.
We are now in the process of selling our Seattle home.
Someone turned me on to this link — it's photos that home inspectors have found of possible violations of good building practices and code.
I love the electrical panel in the shower - sure there was a gasketed door and a sheet of plastic covering it. Safe, really really safe…
Hat tip to Allah
As reported by Florida TV station WKMG:
A Central Florida woman was fired from her job after eating “unclean” meat and violating a reported company policy that pork and pork products are not permissible on company premises, according to Local 6 News.
Lina Morales was hired as an administrative assistant at Rising Star — a Central Florida telecommunications company with strong Muslim ties, Local 6 News reported.
However, 10 months after being hired by Rising Star, religious differences led to her termination.
Morales, who is Catholic, was warned about eating pizza with meat the Muslim faith considered “unclean,” Local 6 News reported. She was then fired for eating a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, according to the report.
One of the comments on Allah's website states that the phones are not being answered. Morales has retained a lawyer and is suing the company.
There is a nice writeup of the recent Blackhat/Defcon 12 conference in Newsforge.
These two conferences are held each year in Las Vegas and represent the cream of the publicly visible crop of computer security and hacking… The Newsforge article goes into some nice detail on some of the sessions and provides links for further reading.