2004-04 posts.

  1. 2004-04-07t04:21:00Z. RE: aaBlog. Bush. Chicago. Comic Art. Computers. Cyber Life. Elections. Engineering. Faith. Food. Games. Green. Interesting. Iraq. Kids. Martial Arts. Math. Media. Money. Science. Sex. Show Biz. USA. World.
  2. 2004-04-13t18:06:01Z. RE: 9/11 Commission. Chicago. Computer. Cyber Life. Elections. Engineering. Faith. Green. Health. Interesting. Iraq. Money. Photography. Science. Sex. Show Biz. US. Web. World.
  3. Sword-Gun-Weapon Rights. RE: Martial Arts. Sword Control. Gun Control. Politics.
  4. 2004-04-14t22:27:23Z. RE: 9/11 Commission. Bush. Computers. Cyber Life. Elections. Fun. Green. Housing Bubble. Images. Iraq. Money. Politics. Science. Sex. Show Biz. US. World.
  5. 2004-04-23t17:26:44Z. RE: 9/11 Commission. Bush. Comic Art. Cyber Life. Computers. Elections. Engineering. Faith. Food. Fun. Green. Images. Interesting. Iraq. Israel. Martial Arts. Math. Media. Money. Politics. Science. Sex. Show Biz. US. Web. World.
  6. Sword-Gun-Weapon Rights 2. RE: Martial Arts. Gun Control. Sword Control. Politics.

2004-04-07t04:21:00Z | RE: aaBlog. Bush. Chicago. Comic Art. Computers. Cyber Life. Elections. Engineering. Faith. Food. Games. Green. Interesting. Iraq. Kids. Martial Arts. Math. Media. Money. Science. Sex. Show Biz. USA. World.


  • I've fallen a few days behind on my regular blogging. Usually I fall behind because I have a life (work, family, martial arts, etc.), but this time I had another reason for procrastinating: Blogging itself. I've been working on a long post, currently called "Sword-Gun Rights", that I hope to post soon. The key lesson for me is this: A long stand-alone post is no reason to fall behind on my regular blogging because I can work on them asynchronously.
  • I'm going to try to reduce quoting the links so much. I was originally heavily quoting for several reasons.
    1. The content of some sites, like the New York Times, does not stay free forever.
    2. I like to comment on particular parts quotations.
    3. I wanted to stress which parts of the article I thought were important.
    4. I wanted some of the quoted content searchable on my site for my own future usage.

    Those are good reasons but I guess I want my blog to consist mostly of my words instead of quotations.


  • War Rationale: Version 10.0. Pretty funny.
  • BabesAgainstBush.com. I saw this site a long time ago but I'll post it again just in case it will get 1 more vote against Bush.
  • Bush is just so lame with this 9/11 Commission.
    • Why does Bush need Cheney to support him during his interview? Isn't Bush self-sufficient? Does he really need his ventriloquist with him all the time? Lame.
    • Still nothing really countering Dick Clarke's testimony. Lame
    • After all this resistance about Rice testifying, he's finally going to let her?  Lame. (Esp. considering that Rice is one smart chick and she'll probably do fine)
    • But if the Commission has additional questions, they can't ask other staff? Lame.
    • Bush dude: We want to know what happened and to make sure we're doing what we can to prevent it from happening again.
  • "This Isn't America" by Paul Krugman
    • 'Last week an opinion piece in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz about the killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin said, "This isn't America; the government did not invent intelligence material nor exaggerate the description of the threat to justify their attack." So even in Israel, George Bush's America has become a byword for deception and abuse of power.'
    • 'And the administration's reaction to Richard Clarke's "Against All Enemies" provides more evidence of something rotten in the state of our government. The truth is that among experts, what Mr. Clarke says about Mr. Bush's terrorism policy isn't controversial.'
    • 'This administration's reliance on smear tactics is unprecedented in modern U.S. politics -- even compared with Nixon's. Even more disturbing is its readiness to abuse power -- to use its control of the government to intimidate potential critics. '
    • 'On the terrorism front, here's one story that deserves special mention. One of the few successful post-9/11 terror prosecutions -- a case in Detroit -- seems to be unraveling. The government withheld information from the defense, and witnesses unfavorable to the prosecution were deported (by accident, the government says). After the former lead prosecutor complained about the Justice Department's handling of the case, he suddenly found himself facing an internal investigation -- and someone leaked the fact that he was under investigation to the press. '
    • 'Where will it end? In his new book, "Worse Than Watergate [Amazon]," John Dean, of Watergate fame, says, "I've been watching all the elements fall into place for two possible political catastrophes, one that will take the air out of the Bush-Cheney balloon and the other, far more disquieting, that will take the air out of democracy." '
  • Powell: Some Iraq testimony not 'solid'. No, freaking, duh! It's called unqualified intelligence, fudge, bull shit, deception, etc.
  • Letterman: "George W. Bush Invigorating Ameria's Youth".
    • Ha ha! There are 2 videos:
      • The first video shows a kid standing to Bush's right during a speech, but because it's such a long and boring speech he's yawning, streching, shaking himself, checking his watch, etc. That's pretty cute and funny.
      • The second video has Letterman showing 2 clips from CNN just after they showed his 1st video:
        • In the 1st clip, the CNN person says that the White House said that the kid edited into the video. Dave countered by saying that was a 100% lie.
        • In the 2nd clip, which aired later, the CNN person says that the White House kid was there at the event but not necessarily standing there behind the President. Dave countered by that was a 100% lie.
    • CNN later claimed that they never did get a comment from the White House. That stinks too because then CNN was lying on behalf of the President? So whether or not the White House contacted CNN, CNN still lied for the White House. What losers.
  • Play with the "Dishonest Dubya" action figure. It would be more fun if it didn't hurt.
  • Cheney Tax Plan From '86 Would Have Raised Gas Prices. It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world.
  • A matter of trust: Evidence is growing that the Bush administration has misled the public. But most voters, so far, are inclined to forgive. Even more intersting than the article is the fact that it is from Economist.com, and they are usually pro-Bush! Perhaps the Republicans will start cannibalizing Bush. Note that its a Republican elephant running the Pinocchiometer test.
  • MichaelMoore.com has a photomosaic of Bush made out of US soldiers who have died in Iraq.
  • A special sense of humour.
    • 'I had to share this find. I recently purchased a high-quality computer sleeve from a small boutique manufacturer. I was checking if it could be washed. The photo is the attached tag with the washing instructions in both English and French. The English is exactly what you would expect and so is the French, for the first 6 lines. The last three lines of French are most interesting. "We are sorry that our President is an idiot. We didn't vote for him." Given recent strained relations between our two countries, it's good to see that not all Americans agree with the current administration. '
    • The comments say the bag was made by TomBihn.com, which, in any case, seems to make pretty cool looking bags.


  • The Untitled Project.
    • 'The Untitled Project is a series of photographs of urban settings accompanied by a graphical text layout. The photographs have been digitally stripped of all traces of textual information. The text pieces show the removed text in the approximate location and font as it was found in the photograph.'
    • I wouldn't have posted this link except that they're photographs of Chicago.

Comic Art


  • Sun's "Project Looking Glass" GUI: Overview and Details.
    • This looks cool but bottom line: I'd have to play with it to see how well it works.
    • I like the idea of rotating a window so that it takes up less desktop space but is still visible. This is currently achieved by resizing a window, but I presume that in Project Looking Glass you'd be able to do both.
    • The 3D icons for a window on the task bar window have a Mac OS X style, but the difference is that the icons are shrunken versions of the window itself so there is additional metadata. This will work well for documents that can be distinguished from each other when shrunk. I personally prefer the conciseness of minute application icons and application name plus document title that Microsoft Windows uses when windows are minimized onto the OS taskbar.
    • I like how they use the "back" and "sides" of windows to store standard as well as user-customized metadata: it's very intuitive.
  • POVRay Short Code Contest - Round 3. 'All images shown here were create with a scene file of no more than 256 characters!'
  • Sun Makes Peace with Microsoft, Restructures
    • 'In a series of bombshell announcements, Sun Microsystems said it accepted a $1.95 billion settlement to end its legal war with Microsoft and will cut 3,300 jobs as part of a restructuring. Under the truce terms, Sun ended patent and antitrust suits against the Redmond, Wash., software giant. The companies also signed a 10-year technology sharing agreement. '
    • Kissy, kissy! We liked them better when the fought. It would be bizarre if MS just outright bought the ailing Sun. After all they still have that $50 billion cash reserve.
  • ITConversations.com. 'Audio and transcripts of interviews and important events [in IT]. '
  • Gateway to shutter stores, cut staff
    • 'The company, based in Poway, Calif., will continue its direct-sales strategy but plans to shut its 188 stores on April 9. Gateway recently acquired eMachines, and following the closing of the stores, the combined company plans to lay off 2,500--38 percent--of its 6,500 employees.'
    • Gateway's still alive? And buying cheapMachines, I mean eMachine helps them how?
  • The Secret Source of Google's Power.
    • 'the story is about seemingly incremental features that are actually massively expensive for others to match, and the platform that Google is building which makes it cheaper and easier for them to develop and run web-scale applications than anyone else.'
    • 'Google has taken the last 10 years of systems software research out of university labs, and built their own proprietary, production quality system. What is this platform that Google is building? It's a distributed computing platform that can manage web-scale datasets on 100,000 node server clusters. It includes a petabyte, distributed, fault tolerant filesystem, distributed RPC code, probably network shared memory and process migration. And a datacenter management system which lets a handful of ops engineers effectively run 100,000 servers. Any of these projects could be the sole focus of a startup.'
    • 'Google is a company that has built a single very large, custom computer. It's running their own cluster operating system. They make their big computer even bigger and faster each month, while lowering the cost of CPU cycles. It's looking more like a general purpose platform than a cluster optimized for a single application. While competitors are targeting the individual applications Google has deployed, Google is building a massive, general purpose computing platform for web-scale programming.'
    • Holy crap! They're making Isaac Asimov's Multivac! Google is fast because their 100,000 server in essence a super computer and yet they aren't listed in Top500.org!
  • How to be a Programmer: A Short, Comprehensive, and Personal Summary

Cyber Life

  • Chatrooms separate the men from the boys
    • 'The research's abstract explains: "Conflict is an important social force among online communities, as it assists in the construction of hierarchies and social orders without the need for prior knowledge of individual participants or other forms of verification or trust in relation to the claimed identity of others." '
      • Exactly true.
  • A Microchip Makes Its Mark: VeriChip & the Beast. Yes, we have the technology to mark people with microchips. No, it is not Revelations 13.
  • Storage must be getting cheap since people are giving away Gigabytes. YouSendIt.com and Dropload.com.
  • Anything Google does is important these day. They redid their interface in a way that is hardly noticeable but fresh -- that's so typical of Google.
    • GMail.Google.com. Google is working on getting into the free email game but instead of the measly 2-4 MB limitations of Yahoo and MSN, Google is letting you store 1 GB! The premise is that you should be able to save old emails so you can search it and use it as a resource (which, of course, is what Google does best).
    • Google.com/Froogle. Froogle finds sites that sells items you search for. Froogle still doesn't quite work as well as it ought to yet. EG: A Froogle search for "gorget armor" brings up some links but a regular Google search will bring up more links (not all of which are commercial) and some of the links are better (EG: http://www.therionarms.com/reenact/armor.shtml). However when Froogle does get up to speed, it can have a tremendous impact on which sites people will choose.
    • Google.com/dirhp/. I can't believe they took the directory off of the front page. Tsk tsk.
    • Local.Google.com. Nope, this still isn't up to snuff.
  • The web won't topple tyranny. The virtual world will have a relatively small affect on the actual world until a critical mass of people are Internet integrated. Even the US probably has 2 generations to go.
  • Study: File-Sharing No Threat to Music Sales. Not that the music industry would believe it.
  • Judge: File sharing legal in Canada. Whoo whee!


  • KompressorForPresident.com. Even Kompressor would be better than Bush. His view on having children: "Do not have children, soon you have no money and the teenager hates you."
  • In the Heat of the Campaign
    • '"AN UNPRECEDENTED criminal enterprise designed to impermissibly affect a presidential election." That was the heated accusation leveled last week by the Bush campaign and the Republican National Committee against the Kerry campaign, an array of outside Democratic groups working to defeat President Bush and several big donors to those groups. The complaint, filed with the Federal Election Commission, involves groups created by Democratic activists to collect and spend the huge "soft money" contributions now off-limits to political parties. '
      • Ha ha! Who's buying this load of shit? Everyone know Bush is the one with the big money behind him. It's as if the GOP has gotten so used to lying that they think they can say anything.



  • In 12th Book of Best-Selling Series, Jesus Returns.
    • 'Over the last nine years, the "Left Behind" series, which is based on Dr. [Tim] LaHaye's literal, bloody interpretation of the Book of Revelation, has become one of the biggest surprise hits in American popular culture. The first 11 novels have sold more than 40 million copies. The authors have unseated John Grisham as the best-selling novelists for adults and, in some places where evangelical Christians are common, the books rival the Harry Potter series in sales.'
    • Whoo whee! The radical religious right in full swing. However the book sounds interesting.
    • Related links:
  • TV show, film play part in man's killing of girlfriend, confession. Bah, the guy thinks he's saving his soul. Hmm... looks surprisingly like a co-worker of mine.
  • Re-enchantment: A New Enlightenment
    • 'Unfortunately, there has been a massive retreat from Enlightenment ideals in recent years, a return to pre-modern mythologies. There has been a resurgence of fundamentalist religions worldwide--Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, Roman Catholicism, and Orthodox Judaism. Added to this are occult-paranormal claims, which allegedly transcend the existing scientific paradigm. In the United States--the preeminent scientific-technological-military superpower in the world--significant numbers of Americans have embraced primitive forms of biblical religion. These focus on salvation, the Rapture, and the Second Coming of Jesus. Evangelical Protestant Christians have made alliances with conservative Roman Catholics and neo-conservative Jews, and they have captured political power--power they have used to oppose secular humanism and naturalism.'
    • 'In part such thinking is an understandable response to the two grotesque twentieth-century ideologies--fascism and Stalinism--that dominated the imagination of so many supporters in Europe and betrayed human dignity on the butcher block of repression and genocide. "After Auschwitz," wrote Theodor Adorno, we cannot praise "the grandeur of man." Surely the world has recovered from that historical period of aberrant bestiality. However, many intellectuals are still disillusioned because of the failure of Marxism to deliver on the perceived promises of socialism, in which they had invested such faith. Whatever the causes of pessimism, we cannot abandon our efforts at reform or at spreading knowledge and enlightenment. We cannot give in to nihilism or self-defeating subjectivism. Although science has often been co-opted by various military-technological powers for anti-humanistic purposes, it also can help fulfill ennobling humanitarian goals. '
    • See also: MetaFilter thread
  • "What America Can Learn From Its Atheists: Under God and Over" by Leon Wieseltier
    • The is a very important and very well written piece. Wieseltier watched the Supreme Court case of Elk Grove Unified School District v. Michael A. Newdow, where Newdow defended his lower court victory to have "under God" stricken from the Pledge of Allegiance. For some of the radical religious right, this case of "GOD ON TRIAL", but actually it is more like "America's honesty to itself about religion on trial".
    • 'I had come to witness a disputation between religion's enemies and religion's friends. What I saw instead, with the exception of a single comment by Justice Souter, was a disputation between religion's enemies, liberal and conservative. And this confirmed me in my conviction that the surest way to steal the meaning, and therefore the power, from religion is to deliver it to politics, to enslave it to public life. '
    • 'Some of the individuals to whom I am attributing a hostility to religion would resent the allegation deeply. They regard themselves as religion's finest friends. But what kind of friendship for religion is it that insists that the words "under God" have no religious connotation? A political friendship, is the answer. And that is precisely the kind of friendship that the Bush administration exhibited in its awful defense of the theistic diction of the Pledge.'
    • 'They were, many of them, Deists--which is to say, the United States was created in the very short period in history when it was theologically respectable to believe in a God that never intervenes in the world that He (the pronoun is ridiculous) created. In the matter of our religious origins, then, we were freakishly fortunate. No theology more convenient for a secular democracy ever existed. '
      • And boy do we Brights love to point that out.
    • 'The brief further notes that the introduction of God into the Pledge in 1954 had "a political purpose," which was to "highlight the foundational difference between the United States and Communist nations." (The brief does not cite some of the embarrassingly sectarian expostulations in that congressional debate.) It is certainly correct that the materialism of communist ideology offended many Americans; but the American dispensation differed from the Soviet dispensation in many significant ways, and it is foolish to impute all the evils of the Soviet Union to its godlessness. '
    • 'The distinction between religion and morality was championed by religious thinkers in all the monotheistic faiths, who worried that religion would be reduced to morality. Now we must worry that for many Americans morality is being reduced to religion.'
    • 'Newdow was right when he insisted that there is nothing paradoxical about a godless patriotism, when he ringingly concluded with the hope that "we can finally go back and have every American want to stand up, face the flag, place their hand over their heart, and pledge to one nation, indivisible, not divided by religion, with liberty and justice for all." '
    • 'To cherish religion for its political utility is to cherish it narrowly, selfishly, consequentially, because it allows you to accomplish one of your objectives, because it works. American conservatives love to chant Richard Weaver's old slogan that ideas have consequences; but if you are chiefly interested in the consequences, then you are not chiefly interested in the ideas. If you care primarily about patriotism or "national unity" or "civilization," then you will concern yourself with the practical impact of the phrase "under God" and not with its theoretical implication. You will neglect religion even as you denounce others for doing the same. '
    • 'Breyer suggested that the God in "under God" is "this kind of very comprehensive supreme being, Seeger-type thing." And he posed an extraordinary question to Newdow: "So do you think that God is so generic in this context that it could be that inclusive, and if it is, then does your objection disappear?" Needless to say, Newdow's objection did not disappear, because it is one of the admirable features of atheism to take God seriously. Newdow's reply was unforgettable: "I don't think that I can include 'under God' to mean 'no God,' which is exactly what I think. I deny the existence of God." The sound of those words in that room gave me what I can only call a constitutional thrill. This is freedom. And he continued: "For someone to tell me that 'under God' should mean some broad thing that even encompasses my religious beliefs sounds a little, you know, it seems like the government is imposing what it wants me to think in terms of religion, which it may not do. Government needs to stay out of this business altogether."
    • 'There are two words in the phrase "under God." Each of them is indeed descriptive--but it is not our history that they describe. They describe our cosmos. Or rather, they purport to describe our cosmos. They make a statement about the universe, they paint a picture of what exists. This statement and this picture is either true or false. Either there is a God and we are under Him--the spatial metaphor, the image of a vertical reality, is one of the most ancient devices of religion--or there is not a God and we are not under Him. Since 1954, in other words, the Pledge of Allegiance has conveyed metaphysical information, and therefore it has broached metaphysical questions. I do not see how its language can be read differently. During the deliberations at the Court, only Justice Souter conceded that a cosmological claim, a worldview, is being advanced by the allusion to God in the Pledge.'
    • 'To recognize the plain meaning of the words "under God," and the nature of the investigation that they enjoin, is to discover the philosophical core of religion. This is not at all obvious to the modern interpretation of religion, and not to the American interpretation of it. After Kant explained that we can have no direct knowledge of the thing itself, and certainly not of God, religious statements have tended to be not propositions of fact, but propositions of value--expressions of inner states that are validated by the intensity of the feeling with which they are articulated. Certainty weirdly became an accomplishment of subjectivity. Kant thought that he secured religion by placing it beyond the bounds of knowledge. But this was a false security, because the vocabulary of theism continues to point to more than emotion or experience or tribe or culture.'
    • 'Theology, if it wishes to be regarded as more than a cerebral fantasy, cannot be content to have its basis in the imagination; it must appeal to the authority of philosophy if it is to continue to speak about what is true. Many modern believers, and modern commentators on religion, resent this. A recent historian of atheism, a Jesuit scholar, laments that in modern theology "religion was treated as if it were theism," as if it had no resources of its own to guarantee anything generally binding and true. But if religion is not theism, if its ground is not an intellectually supportable belief in the existence of God, then all the spiritual exaltation and all the political agitation in the world will avail it nothing against the skeptics and the doubters, and it really is just a beloved illusion. '
    • 'There is no greater insult to religion than to expel strictness of thought from it. Yet such an expulsion is one of the traits of contemporary American religion, as the discussion at the Supreme Court demonstrated. Religion in America is more and more relaxed and "customized," a jolly affair of hallowed self-affirmation, a religion of a holy whatever. Speaking about God is prized over thinking about God. '
    • 'For this reason, American unbelief can perform a great quickening service to American belief. It can shake American religion loose from its cheerful indifference to the inquiry about truth. It can remind it that religion is not only a way of life but also a worldview. It can provoke it into remembering its reasons. For the argument that a reference to God is not a reference to God is a sign that American religion is forgetting its reasons.'
  • SourceryForge.org. A wiki for wikkans! Actually its a wiki for esoteric subjects.



  • Reflections [Flash]. Fun geometric game playing with lasers, reflections, and refractions. I spent a few minutes on it and only go to level 8. I'll try it again later when I have more time.
  • LittleFluffy.com. Site linking to all sorts of games or printable activities.
  • Sesame Street 35th Anniversary Trivia Game. This game is actually for grown ups.
  • KaplaWorld.com. 'Building sets such as Leggos, K-nex, Lincoln logs, etc. all require careful sorting and planning from dozens of different pieces before building can begin. Imaginations are often frustrated by the limited number of specialized pieces in a set and the wasted time searching for them. KAPLA, on the other hand, uses just one versatile building plank shape. This means that building begins at once with no meticulous sorting and planning. Creativity can flow as the artist grabs another handful of planks and continues the creation. '


  • Soya-powered planes promise greener air travel
  • Imagining a $7-a-Gallon Future
    • 'Adherents of the "peak oil" theory warn of a permanent oil shortage. In the next five or 10 years, they maintain, the world's capacity to produce oil will reach its geological limit and fall behind growing demand. They trace their arguments back to the geophysicist M. King Hubbert, who in 1956 accurately predicted that American oil production would reach its apex around 1970. In a recent book, "Hubbert's Peak," Kenneth S. Defeyes, an emeritus professor of geology at Princeton, wrote that "Global oil production will probably reach a peak sometime during this decade." Current prices, he adds, "may be the preamble to a major crisis."

      In "Out of Gas," David Goodstein, a professor at the California Institute of Technology, also argues that world oil output will peak "most probably within this decade" and thereafter "will decline forever."

      For Americans rattled by current prices, this theory holds out the unsettling prospect of gasoline prices at $5, $6, $7 a gallon and higher still. In the face of such a grim prospect, $1.76 - last week's national average - fades in importance. '

    • I've talked about peak oil before but it's good to get it from the press to. Also I believe it will occur around 2050 instead of 2015. You can't rely on finding more oil -- it will eventually run out. So why wait? Invest in alternatives now. This is where public policy should overtake private policy. Capitalists will suck the earth dry when it isn't necessary. There needs to be non-free market pressure to force the conversion from oil.


  • How to fold clothes [video 3.5 min]. OMFG! This link is important. It's in Korean or something but this is an ingenious way to fold clothes 50% faster! I'm saving this video, replaying it until I've go it right, and then I'm going to use it so that the technique becomes a permanent part of my life.
  • Nazi and East German Propaganda Guide Page
  • http://www.artshare.com/trixie/. The Trixie Update. OK, most baby sites have cute kids but most of them are really only of interest to the relatives. In contrast this site also does some interesting charting and telemetry. People raising babies know that sleep is rare and extremely important. My wife and I have charted feeding and diaper usage. As far as sleep, we assume that we just won't really get much until a kid is say 3 years old.
  • Kansas Killer Resurfaces After 20 Years. Creepy. The BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) strangler returns. More in depth link: All American City.
  • SamsToyBox.com.
  • Eudaemonia, The Good Life
  • Envelope and Letter Folding. Actual images of how to fold origami-like envelopes. 3 coincidences:
    1. I've been folding envelopes for my daughter to use so we don't waste regular envelopes.
    2. This guy is GHH.com, which is not too far from georgehernandez.com. (No, GH.com is not available).
    3. This guy is part of the Albion School of Defense (which does historical stage combat), while I am part of the ChicagoSwordPlayGuild.com (which does historical combat).
  • Obscura.tabias.com. 'But my weakness is old photographs; the older, the better. Strangers, frozen in history, peerin' out from old paper. Mine for a buck or less.'
  • StudioTanuki.com and TanukiDesign.com. Some weirdo French company that does games, graphic design, in a Japanese anime style.
  • The Harbin Snow and Ice Festival. Awesome ice sculptures.
  • GFXArtist.com. Some very good work in 3D Modelling, Drawing, Painting, Photo Manipulation, Photography, and Design by a large number of artists.
  • Greenway.org.
    • 'Walkers, cyclists, and other trail advocates have joined forces around an audacious project, a 2,600 mile traffic-free path linking East Coast cities from Maine to Florida. Launched only 10 years ago, this vision for an urban alternative to the highly popular Appalachian Trail is quickly becoming a reality.'
    • Perhaps I should skip rope the entire trail.
  • After Life -- Streatham Cemetary [interactive Flash]. Sort of soothing and yet eerie.
  • Police stop short of calling abduction a hoax
    • 'For example, Seiler told police that after taking her at knifepoint, her captor used duct tape, rope, cold medicine, a gun and a knife to keep her under his control. Although those items were found in the marsh where she was found, buttressing her account, police obtained videotape Thursday that showed Seiler entering a store in Madison and buying those items, he said. '
    • Silly girl. Sounds like she did it for kicks or she's messed up.
  • Ian's Shoelace Site. How to tie your shoes: basics and some fancier stuff.
  • SandwichGirl.com. Gee, there's fun, adventure, science, and girls in bikinis in Antarctica! (Just forget that it's friggin cold and makes Chicago feel like a day at the beach). Don't go looking for Artic sex.
  • The Three Faces of Victim. 'Victim-hood consists of three positions outlined by Stephen Karpman, a teacher of Transactional Analysis, on what he called the "Drama Triangle". .... I call it the "shame machine" because through it we unconsciously re-enact our vicious cycles, thereby creating shame. Every dysfunctional interaction takes place on the Drama Triangle! Until we make these dynamics conscious, we cannot transform them. Unless we transform them, we cannot move forward on our journey towards re-claiming our spiritual heritage. Karpman named the three roles on the Drama Triangle Persecutor, Rescuer and Victim and placed them on an upside down triangle representing the three faces of victim. Even though only one is called Victim, all three originate out of and end up back there. Therefore they are all stopping places on the road to victim-hood. We each have a most familiar, or what I call, starting gate position. '
  • Photos of Luminous Organisms
  • Funny how the fire breathing site all basically start with "don't try this"
  • Mexican Woman Performs Own Caesarean to Save Baby. Incredible! Now that took guts! (no pun intended)


  • Enraged Mob in Falluja Kills 4 American Contractors.
    • The extremists in Iraq want to kill, mutilate, burn, and hang Americans; the moderates think it's sufficient to just kill or expel Americans.
    • And now we've surrounded the entire town.
  • Iraqi intellectuals flee 'death squads' ' "Iraqi universities have lost 1315 scientists who hold MA and PhD degrees," al-Ani said. "This number constitutes eight per cent of the 15,500 Iraqi academics.'
  • Chalabi: A Questionable Use of U.S. Funding and WMD claims: US to probe charges against Chalabi. 'US Congress investigative arm -- General Accounting Office -- is opening an inquiry into whether the Iraqi National Congress, led by controversial financier Ahmad Chalabi, used US taxpayers money and broke the law to prod US into war on false pretenses, a media report said today. '
  • Lookout: Let's Make Enemies
    • 'At the end of March, building on his Order 39 of last September, Bremer passed yet another law further opening up Iraq's economy to foreign ownership, a law that Iraq's next government is prohibited from changing under the terms of the interim constitution.'
    • 'The CPA has also confirmed that after June 30, the $18.4 billion the US government is spending on reconstruction will be administered by the US Embassy in Iraq. The money will be spent over five years and will fundamentally redesign Iraq's most basic infrastructure, including its electricity, water, oil and communications sectors, as well as its courts and police. Iraq's future governments will have no say in the construction of these core sectors of Iraqi society. '
      • Ah, yes White Man's burden. Heaven forbid that the ignorant natives rebuild their own country.
    • 'Bremer has issued an executive order stating that even after the interim Iraqi government has been established, the Iraqi army will answer to US commander Lieut. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. In order to pull this off, Washington is relying on a legalistic reading of a clause in UN Security Council Resolution 1511, which puts US forces in charge of Iraq's security until "the completion of the political process" in Iraq. Since the "political process" in Iraq is never-ending, so, it seems, is US military control. '
      • If I were an Iraqi this sounds like the US invaded and now the US rule Iraq and the June 30 hand over is just imagery.
    • 'Taken together, these latest measures paint a telling picture of what a "free Iraq" will look like: The United States will maintain its military and corporate presence through fourteen enduring military bases and the largest US Embassy in the world. It will hold on to authority over Iraq's armed forces, its security and economic policy and the design of its core infrastructure--but the Iraqis can deal with their decrepit hospitals all by themselves, complete with their chronic drug shortages and lack of the most basic sanitation capacity.'
    • 'Few seem interested in the question of whether the invasion has made Iraqis feel safer, which is too bad because the questions are intimately related. As Khamis says, "It's not the war that caused the hatred. It's what they did after. What they are doing now." '
  • Modern Mercenaries on the Iraqi Frontier.
  • Eight U.S. Troops Killed in Shiite Uprising: Occupation Forces Battle Cleric's Followers As Widespread Demonstrations Erupt in [Baghdad,] Iraq [2004-04-04 Sun]
    • 'The day's events constituted the most serious challenge yet to the U.S.-led occupation by an element of the country's majority Shiite population, which for most of a year has observed a broad tolerance of the United States and its allies. '
      • O great. Now we've got both the minority Sunnis (like in Falluja) and the majority Shias (like in Baghdad) steaming at us.
  • A Young Radical's Anti-U.S. Wrath Is Unleashed
    • 'For months, as American occupation authorities have focused on a moderate Shiite leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a radical young Shiite cleric named Moktada al-Sadr has been spewing invective and threatening a widespread insurrection. On Sunday, he unleashed it. '
  • The battle the US wants to provoke: Bremer is deliberately pushing Iraq's Shia south into all-out chaos
    • 'Sadr is the younger, more radical rival of the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and portrayed by his supporters as a cross between Ayatollah Khomeini and Che Guevara. He blames the US for attacks on civilians; compares the US occupation chief, Paul Bremer, to Saddam Hussein; aligns himself with Hamas and Hizbullah; and has called for a jihad against the controversial interim constitution. His Iraq might look a lot like Iran. '
    • 'Here's one possible answer: Washington has given up on its plans to hand over power to an interim Iraqi government on June 30, and is creating the chaos it needs to declare the handover impossible. A continued occupation will be bad news for George Bush on the campaign trail, but not as bad as if the hand-over happens and the country erupts, an increasingly likely scenario given the widespread rejection of the legitimacy of the interim constitution and the US- appointed governing council. But by sending the new Iraqi army to fire on the people they are supposed to be protecting, Bremer has destroyed what slim hope they had of gaining credibility with an already highly mistrustful population. On Sunday, before storming the unarmed demonstrators, the soldiers could be seen pulling on ski masks, so they would not be recognised in their neighbourhoods later. '


Martial Arts

  • Marines' weapon loaded with 'scream'.
    • 'US troops are to be armed with a stun gun that uses a baby's high-pitched scream to bring the enemy to its knees.'
    • 'While the sound gun will normally be fired at just 110 decibels - a level that causes the human skull to vibrate - it can travel as far as 300 yards at 145 decibels. The human threshold of pain is usually between 120 and 130 decibels.'
    • Ha ha! Wouldn't this be cruel and unusual? Doesn't this go against the Geneva convention? This device could be used to deter teen pregnancies if used in sex ed classes! The megaphone should be shaped to look like the head of a crying baby.
    • Related link: Holosonics.com.
  • Stick Figure Fight Club [animation]. I've seen this before but it's still fun.
  • Inside camp of troubles. We knew the military was using depleted uranium but it is unbelievable that we used it in a way that was unsafe for our own troops!


  • The Sound of Mathematics. 'This site has GM MIDI files of algorithmic music determined by mathematics and the musical preferences of a human.'


  • The Clear Channel Controversy, One Year On (Why Howard Stern's Woes Are Your Woes, Too)
  • AirAmericaRadio.com.
    • Progressive media finally hit the radio a few days and I've been listening almost every day! The thing is they don't need to reach me, they need to reach other Americans who need to hear the other side of the issues.
    • Air America shows are like antidotes to the Conservative media (like Rush Limbaugh). Hopefully there will be conflict between the 2 camps about the issues. I would also hope that if 1 side is caught in a mistake or a lie, that they would just own up to it. It's pretty serious but entertaining stuff.
    • It's sort of fun listening to them working out the kinks, the mechanics, of actually producing a radio show. It makes you appreciate the operational smoothness of shows that have been on longer.
    • Current stations:
      • New York (WLIB AM 1190)
      • Los Angeles (KBLA AM 1580)
      • Chicago (WNTD AM 950)
      • Portland, OR (KPOJ AM 620)
      • Inland Empire, CA (KCAA AM 1050)
      • San Francisco, CA (soon)
    • Current line up. Times shown are EST. EG: In Chicago the O'Franken Factor is on 11-2.
      • Morning Sedition, Weekdays 6am-9am
      • Unfiltered, Weekdays 9am-noon
      • The O'Franken Factor, Weekdays noon-3pm, Repeat: 11pm-2am
      • The Randi Rhodes Show, Weekdays 3pm-7pm, Repeat: 2am-6am
      • So What Else Is News?, Weekdays 7pm-8pm
      • The Majority Report, Weekdays 8pm-11pm
      • The Laura Flanders Show, Saturdays 7pm -- 10pm; Sundays 6pm -- 9pm
  • http://www.marumushi.com/apps/newsmap/newsmap.cfm.


  • WorkLessParty.org. I'm all for working less! I don't want to work, I want to bang on the drum all day.
  • Turning Bangladesh's Beggars Into Businessmen
  • GrossInternationalHappiness.org.
    • 'The Gross International Happiness Project ('GIH') is based on the insight that conventional development concepts such as GNP and Per Capita Income do not properly reflect the general well being of the inhabitants of a nation. In order to develop real progress and sustainability and to effectively combat trends which compromise the planet's natural and human ecosystems, GIH aims to develop more appropriate and inclusive indicators which truly measure the quality of life within nations and organizations.'
    • Yes! People, planet, profit dudes.
  • How India is saving capitalism
  • Retired Truck Driver Claims $239M Jackpot. Sweet. Always take the lump sum, esp. if you're older.
  • Drug Policy: Prohibition v Legalization: Do Economists Reach A Conclusion On Drug Policy? [PDF]. It seems that some major economists and a majority of economists are for drug legalization and decriminalization.
  • U.S. March job growth strongest in 4 years.
    • Yay! 308,000 jobs instead of the Wall Street prediction of 103,000. So last month was almost Clinton-like growth. I guess when growth gets so bad, sometimes the next month looks good in comparison.
    • Unfortunately unemployment went from 5.6% to 5.7%
    • Don't forge that Bush's forecast (upon which he's based his glorious economic plans) assume 320,000 jobs a month and 2.6 million jobs in 2004.
  • There Goes the Neighborhood: Why home prices are about to plummet--and take the recovery with them
    • 'There are many strange things about the choppy recovery we're in, but among the most curious is that it is being fueled largely by consumer spending. Why consumers should continue to spend, and why they've done it throughout the recession, is not immediately obvious. ... Economists have advanced two main reasons. One is that Americans have so lost their moorings that they've had few qualms about going deep into debt. ... But there's another reason, too: Americans have been using their homes as ATM machines, refinancing their mortgages in order to fund their spending.'
    • 'Greenspan has played enabler to this boom. But with the Fed fund's rate at 1 percent, the chairman can't do much more to sustain it. Tens of millions of Americans have already refinanced their mortgages, and at current rates, can't be induced to do so again. This small window is closing, fast: For six months, refinancing has been tapering off, and economists expect it to narrow further--many economists have argued the gains from refinancing are likely to halve ths year. Moreover, as soon as interest rates rise (as Greenspan himself has said they will within the next year), virtually all refinancing will cease. '
    • 'Let's assume for a moment that enough people get fooled, and the refinancing boom gets extended for another year. Then what? The real problem hits. Because if you think Greenspan's being cagey on refinancing, the truth he's really avoiding talking about is that we're in the midst of a huge housing bubble, on a scale only seen once before since the Depression. Worse, the inflated housing market is now in an historically unique position, as the motor of the rest of the economy. Within the next year or two, that bubble is likely to burst, and when it does, it very well may take the American economy down with it. '
    • 'Truth is, in most of the country there's no housing bubble. Perhaps the crucial ratio from which economists determine whether housing markets are out of whack is the ratio of home prices to annual income. In most of the country, it is modest, 2.4:1 in Wisconsin, 2.2:1 in Kentucky, 2.9:1 in Illinois. ... Only in about 20 metro areas, mostly located in eight states, does the relationship of home price to income defy logic. The bad news is that those areas contain roughly half the housing wealth of the country. In California, the price of a home stands at 8.3 times the annual family income of its occupants; in Massachusetts, the ratio is 5.9:1; in Hawaii, a stunning, 10.1:1.In California, a middle-class family with two earners each making $50,000 a year now owns, on average, an $830,000 home. In the late 80s, the last time these eight states saw price-to-income ratios this high, the real estate market collapsed. '
    • 'By other measures, too, the market is badly bloated. One index of housing inflation is the difference between house prices and rents. In a healthy market, driven by demand, rents and sale prices ought to track roughly together. But while sale prices have soared, rents have stayed flat; and in some of the most overheated markets, like San Francisco and Seattle, they have actually been declining. Such a gap, the economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has written, suggests "that people are now buying houses for speculation rather than merely for shelter," evidence that he called a "compelling case" for a housing bubble. "Within the next year or so," The Economist argued in a May 2003 editorial, these regional "bubbles are likely to burst, leading to falls in average real home prices of 15-20 percent" across America. And, of course, in the most heated markets the drop is likely to be steeper yet. '
    • See also: The Housing Bubble Continues to Inflate
  • Confessions of a Welfare Queen: How rich bastards like me rip off taxpayers for millions of dollars. I've never felt much sympathy for folks who build houses next to beaches and forests and then cry about it when nature takes its course. It's one thing if you've built inland and a hurricane hits but those other folks are just losers.


  • PandasThumb.org. 'The Panda's Thumb is dedicated to explaining the theory of evolution, critiquing the claims of the anti-evolution movement, and defending the integrity of science and science education in America and around the world.The Panda's Thumb is dedicated to explaining the theory of evolution, critiquing the claims of the anti-evolution movement, and defending the integrity of science and science education in America and around the world.'
  • Methane on Mars could signal life. Wow! We were looking for water and we found, but methane?! That's astounding.
  • Livermore Scientists Team With Russia To Discover Elements 113 and 115
    • 'Now, a joint American-Russian team has found two new elements--numbers 113 and 115 on the periodic table--hinting at an impending breakthrough in creating novel forms of matter that will test our understanding of atomic behavior.'
    • Whoo whee! It's been years since we've had any new elements! On the other hand it's not like they discovered Carbon or something but still it's pretty neat.
    • I noticed that WebElements.com has kept up with this but ChemicalElements.com is slacking.
    • Related links in: Discover, Nature, New Scientist, and PhysicsWeb.



Show Biz



  • Why Terror? If he were alive today, how might Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest apostle of non-violence, challenge Osama bin Laden's worldview?
  • T-Shirt Travels
    • Last night I saw an excellent PBS documentary called T-Shirt Travels. T-Shirt was a heart-wrenching, thought-provoking film on Zambia's woes that uses a seed topic of the phenomena of second hand clothes sales in Zambia and Africa in general.
    • Much of the clothes that we Americans donate to charity are eventually sold as second hand clothes in Africa where they are the largest import to that continent. T-Shirts uses the oddness of this situation to explore the history, problems, and future of Zambia/Africa.
      • Zambia was agrarian but self-sufficient.
      • In 1889, Zambia was taken and ruled by British colonialist and industrialists, esp. copper mining. A country is essentially raped as White Man's burden.
      • In 1964, Zambia acquired independence from Britain. Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda implemented a socialist government. EGs: mining was nationalized, public schools and health care, farmers were subsidized.
      • In the 1970s, oil prices went up, copper prices went down. Zambia had to borrow money from the IMF (International Money Fund) and WB (World Bank). The lenders have dictated that the country should be run via "structural adjustment programs," or free market reforms. It has been downhill since.
        • Local industries were stripped and sold: so Zambians became poor.
        • Schools and health care were no longer free: so Zambians became sick and under educated.
        • Farms lost subsidies: so Zambians became malnourished.
    • Clearly it is not a matter of "public v private" but a matter of balancing "private and public" partnerships. Kaunda was overly public-oriented. The lenders were overly private-oriented. The second hand clothes industry has killed the local textile and clothing industries.
    • In the eyes of capitalists, certain people, pockets of people, and even entire countries may become zero, worthless, ignorable, liabilities in the global economy. Are people ever worthless?
    • Zambia is now like a desert island with no resources: It needs to find its inner waters. Zambia is in a terrible hole: It needs to fix itself and it needs some debt forgiveness. T-Shirt ended with people full of hopes and dreams, open-minded people who are willing to work hard and sacrifice.
  • Terrorists Don't Need States: The danger is less that a state will sponsor a terror group and more that a terror group will sponsor a state--as happened in Afghanistan
  • Ivory Coast peace effort is shattered. Aka Republic of Côte d'Ivoire.
  • APlaceInTheSun.ca. Some would like to make the Turks & Caicos Islands (east of the Bahambas) the 11th Canadian province. I'm all for it provided that the natives are for it, the natives truly benefit from this, and environmental preservation is kept in mind. This can be a very good win-win situation.
  • Senior US Officials Cozy up to Dictator Who Boils People Alive and Karimov: U.S. ally with poor rights record. Let's see one of the reasons we have a mess in Iraq (besides Bush) is because we "used" and befriended a villain like Saddam Hussein for short term goals. So now we're doing the same thing with Islam Karimov, the President of Uzbekistan? I guess we're doomed to repeat ourselves.
  • Ghosts of Rawanda. PBS does it again with a documentary on the 10th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide where 800,000 people were killed.
  • US fingerprints 'allied' visitors. If we do it then every country should do this with every other country as well.

2004-04-13t18:06:01Z | RE: 9/11 Commission. Chicago. Computer. Cyber Life. Elections. Engineering. Faith. Green. Health. Interesting. Iraq. Money. Photography. Science. Sex. Show Biz. US. Web. World.

9/11 Commission


  • City worker took leave to serve prison term
    • 'A former accountant for the Public Building Commission of Chicago rose to assistant finance director and doubled his salary in five years, despite taking off six months to serve time in federal prison for fraud, commission officials said Monday.'
    • Ha ha! Talk about doing double time!


Cyber Life

  • Soople.com. Exploit Google in a fast and friendly way.





  • The Heavyweight Sea Snail.
    • 'Scotland, like many other European areas, must comply with regulations requiring that a mandatory percentage of the energy it uses comes from renewable sources. For Scotland, this percentage will be 18% in 2010 and 40% by 2020. In "Tidal farming's new wave," Red Herring explains this why Scotland is very supportive of Ian Bryden's sea "Snail" program. The Snail is a 30-ton anchoring device which uses hydrofoils -- wings that "fly" in the water -- to generate enough power from tidal waves to service 10,000 homes by 2007. '
    • And does the US have a similar requirement about mandatory renewable resources? No? We like being dependent upon foreign oil? We want other countries to get the jump on the technology?
    • photo of the Scottish Sea Snail which generates electricity from waves



  • Speech Accent Archive. 'This site examines the accented speech of speakers from many different language backgrounds reading the same sample paragraph. Currently, we have obtained 329 speech samples.'
  • Papers won't run PETA ad linked to Pickton case
    • 'One section of the ad that was to have run Thursday, reads: "They were drugged and dragged across the room... Their struggles and cries went unanswered... They were slaughtered and their heads sawed off... Their body parts were refrigerated... Their bones were discarded." '
    • ' "PETA has just released a print ad that illustrates the well-established connection between animal abuse and acts of severe violence against people, and compares what is done to animals on factory farms and slaughterhouses to the ways in which accused serial killer Robert William Pickton apparently dealt with his human victims," says the press release. '
    • I have nothing against eating a reasonable amount of meat, but I think we should raise and slaughter these animals in a way that dignifies the sacrifice they make. If it costs a little more to treat our farm animals more humanely, then so be it. The only difference between killing a pig is and killing your pet dog is that you know the latter more intimately. People should occasionally kill the animals they eat because the experience (tactile, visual, audio, time exposure, etc.) makes you appreciate the sacrifice more. The difference between the small time farmer (who kills with his hands) and the corporate ranches (that kill en masse with machines) is like the difference between stabbing someone and pressing the button to deliver an atomic bomb.
  • The latest fashion must-have: eyeball jewellery. It looks better than having your tongue forked.
    photo of jewelry implanted onto an eyeball
  • William Hung, the reject from the American Idol TV show, is rocking on! His CD, Inspiration [Amazon], is actually hitting the charts! He may have no particular talent but he's persistent and sincere and that, my friends, is valuable.
    the William Hung CD
  • SubservientChicken.com. This is a pseudo-commercial Burger King. It looks like there's a web cam of a guy in a chicken suit, and you can type what you want him to do and he'll do it. My kids and I loved it!
  • Doing the dance machine with one leg [video]. Awesome dude!
  • Chinese logic game [Flash].
    • To start: Press the blue circle to start.
    • Objective: Get everyone across the river.
    • Rules:
      • 1-2 people may cross at a time.
      • At least 1 adult must be on the raft.
      • Dad cannot be with a girl if Mom is not present.
      • Mom cannot be with a boy if Dad is not present.
      • The prisoner cannot be alone with a family member.
  • The Geek Hierarchy. This has become a classic. Here's the abridged version 2.0.
    the infamous Geek Hierarchy chart
  • The Tutu. With my daughter in ballet, I may need to know the history of the tutu. Related links: picture; Making the tutu; tutu measurements; finished tutus; Design Scene: The Making Of A Tutu; From Russia with Love
  • N [download Flash game]. 'play as a ninja trapped in a world of well-meaning, inadvertantly homicidal robots'
  • The bitch cheated on me [video]. It's a commercial but still a sweet little story.
  • Archaeologists cross the Rubigen
  • Egads. Here be Camel Spiders!
    photo of some huge Camel Spiders
  • Where Dungeons & Dragons Fails Video Games
    • 'an examination into the flaws behind transitional Computer RPG (CRPG) that attempt to convert their rules from classic Pencil/Paper RPG (PPRPG) derivatives.'
    • Interesting for those who are into game design. It also has some Artificial Intelligence applications.


  • Holy city of Najaf not under coalition control: Rumsfeld.
  • Pictures of the killed, mutilated, burned, and hung Americans.
  • Plea to lift siege as toll mounts
    • 'Two hundred and eighty people have been killed since the start of the siege and 400 more injured, said Tahr al-Issawi, the director of Falluja's hospital on Thursday.'
    • 'US helicopters and snipers are firing on ambulances and civilian vehicles trying to take the wounded to clinics or the hospital, the correspondent said. "One civilian car trying to reach a clinic hoisted a white flag but still came under fire," he said.'
    • Yep, Bush definitely puts the "terror" in "terrorism". Bush is churning out more terrorists every day.
    • Do you feel safer? Are there more Iraqis that hate Americans now than before the invasion?
    • photo of an Iraqi baby killed this week
  • Will Falluja be leveled?
    • 'Iraq analysts fear that the U.S. is about to commit a war crime by laying siege to Falluja and punishing its citizens by disallowing shipments of food and water. With no independent reports from Falluja, Iraq analysts warn the world could be kept in the dark about scores of civilians likely to be caught in military confrontation between U.S. forces and Iraqi resistance. '
    • 'Iraq is entering a perilous phase as Iraqis begin to realize that the freedom they were promised was a thinly-veiled farce aimed at extorting the country of its mineral and oil wealth. There is open revolt in the south of Iraq where the young cleric, Muqtada Sadr, has declared that negotiating and/or exercising democratic tools like protests and demonstrations has not worked with the Coalition. His Mahdi army has seized several police stations throughout the south of Iraq. U.S. forces retaliated by seizing a Sadr office in Kirkuk. As the first anniversary of the fall of Baghdad arrives, the fall of Iraq into absolute anarchy seems imminent.'
  • White House Blames Minority Extremists in Iraq but [thousands of] Iraqi marchers break through US roadblocks in bid to relieve rebel bastion. Something aint right.
  • A U.S. journalist's firsthand account from inside Fallujah [2004-04-11]. 'Nothing could have been easier than gaining the good-will of the people of Fallujah had the Americans not been so brutal in their dealings. Now, a tipping-point has been reached. Fallujah cannot be "saved" from its mujaheddin unless it is destroyed.'
  • Seeds of the Revolt: U.S. Targeted Fiery Cleric In Risky Move
  • 'Damn the US and damn the resistance'
  • The delusions of war. 'There is no word more hateful than 'intractable'. The idea that a problem cannot be solved, no matter how hard good and intelligent people try to solve it, feels itself like a negation of goodness and intelligence. The options are resignation and cynicism. At the moment, a year after the fall of Saddam, these are the sentiments that are winning out.'
  • New nationalism that unites Iraq. 'Tony Blair and George W. Bush must come to grips with the fact that they are not fighting 'terrorism' in Iraq, they are fighting nationalism - a struggle they will lose sooner or later.'
  • 'Expect Snipers on All Minarets'
  • One Year After Saddam. 'A whole year has passed now and I can't help but feel that we are back at the starting point again. The sense of an impending disaster, the ominous silence, the breakdown of most governmental facilities, the absence of any police or security forces, contradicting news reports, rumours everywhere, and a complete disruption in the flow of everyday life chores. '
  • Iraqi Battalion Refuses to 'Fight Iraqis'
  • Powell Calls U.S. Casualties 'Disquieting'.
    • Ooh. What's this? Someone in the administration is actually admitting it?
    • 'This is Bush's 33rd visit to his ranch since becoming president. He has spent all or part of 233 days on his Texas ranch since taking office, according to a tally by CBS News. Adding his 78 visits to Camp David and his five visits to Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush has spent all or part of 500 days in office at one of his three retreats, or more than 40 percent of his presidency.'
  • Talking points memo- by joshua micah marshall april 10, 2004
    • 'General Kimmet is wrong if he thinks that he will destroy the Badr brigade or Sadr Army as a military organization because there isn't really one ... he will disperse them into small, highly armed teams of friends and ... voila! Al Qaeda-Iraq or Hezbollah-Iraq will be borne in numbers we will not be able to control. '
    • 'The correct answer is to back off, leave Sadr alone and start to throw lots of money into jobs projects and utilities for the south before this summer's electricity and gas shortages ... will that work? Probably not. But we have just antagonized the core of the Shiite resistance and putting them to work is better than letting them fight us 24/7. General Sanchez is right about one thing ... this is not Vietnam ... Oh no, its not that easy. I refer you to Israel humiliating defeat in Southern Lebanon by Hezbollah's armed resistance for a reference to our potential future. '
  • Iraq - What To Do: Drop The Hammer Now. I'm not too sure about this one.
  • Don't let Iraq's tempest in a teacup rattle you. 'The Iraqis will go with the winning side. And, though the Americans had a bad week last week, the insurgents had a worse one, losing as many men in seven days as U.S. forces did in the last year. The best way to make plain you're the winning side is to crush the other guys -- and rattle their teacups so loudly even CNN can't paint it as a setback.'
  • What Should Bush Do? The President must decide how to stabilize Iraq. A diplomat, a Senator and a general weigh in on the options





Show Biz

  • Sound and fury seeking a tale
    • 'So, when I add that the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy is, as a work of cinematic art, ham-fisted, shallow, bombastic and laughably overrated, don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking Jackson and his hard-working team. The larger issue is Hollywood and the degraded state of big-budget movies.'
    • 'Talking about the theatre of his time, Greek philosopher Aristotle listed the elements that go into a good drama. The least important, he argued, was spectacle - the staging, fancy costumes and special stage effects (such as the deus ex machina) the Greeks used in their theatres. Most crucial for intense dramatic experience was an effective plot and interesting characters. Except for the technology escalation, not much has changed in 2500 years.'
    • Yep, the movie's good but the book is better. Stars, sex, and special effects are not enough: We want stories!
  • Pootie Tang Screen Test [see the 4 minute video]. Whoo whee! The belt-whippin' brother does some Capoeira! Pootie Tang in IMDB, trailers, and Amazon.
    the Pootie Tang DVD
  • A Grand Unified Theory of Filesharing. 'The theory says that the net effect of filesharing on CD sales is roughly zero, because of a balance between the negative impact of the Free-riders and the positive impact of the Samplers. '
  • Spider-Man 2 [see the Quicktime trailer]. It's usually very hard to beat the original but from the trailer, it looks like this will be an awesome sequel! It looks like they're using multiple classic Spider-Man themes: Peter Parker's job suffers because of his moonlighting as Spider-Man, PP wants to give up being Spider-man (but you know he can't), someone attempts to unmask Spider-man, multiple adversaries (Osborne & Doc Ock), etc. The special effects look even better but the key thing is they have a story source that is very rich and many years long.
    Spider-Man 2 is coming soon!




2004-04-14t17:14:55Z | RE: Martial Arts. Sword Control. Gun Control. Politics.
Sword-Gun-Weapon Rights

Australia is enacting some sword control measures. This may seem like a distant event because Australia's so far away from the US and because crimes committed with a sword are almost unheard of in modern times. However, this event has caught my attention for two reasons. One, I'm a swordsman. Two, sword control has some clear analogies with the more infamous issue of gun control.

Effective this July in Victoria, Australia those "caught using, possessing or carrying a sword will face penalties up to $12,000 or six months in prison". Swords are defined as "a cutting or thrusting weapon with a long blade, a hilt, and one or two sharp edges". (Hmm. This doesn't seem to cover thrusting swords like some rapiers but they'll probably amend that.) Swords won't be banned, but they will be moved from the controlled weapons list (like knives and machetes) to the prohibited weapons list (like guns, ninja stars, and nunchakus). Also Victorian sword owners will become like their Australian gun owner counter parts because they will have to store their swords in a safety-approved manner, register their swords at Aus$135 (US$101) every 3 years plus Aus$30 any time they added or deleted a sword from their collection. Violators could face penalties up to Aus$12,000 or 6 months in prison. Sword vendors would have to register each sword at point of sale. Insurance companies will probably make registration a requirement for coverage. Queensland is working on similar laws and other Australian states will probably follow suit.

The sword control issue is analogous to the gun control issue but there are significant differences.

  • There are many more gun owners than sword owners.

  • Guns are much easier to conceal than swords.

  • It is much easier to kill with a gun than a sword.

  • It is easier to order a sword over the Internet than a gun.

  • People who intend to batter are much more likely to use a gun (or a car, bat, knife, etc.) instead of a sword.

The biggest difference between Australian gun control and US gun control is prices. Firearm licenses are much cheaper in the US. EG: In Chicago, Illinois the state FOID (Firearm Owner's Identification) card is only US$5 for 5 years and the annual Chicago firearm registration is only $20 for 1 firearm, $25 for 2-10, or $35 for more than 10.

Before I go on, I'd like to quote from the thread on the Australian sword control issue at the Sword Forum International. It's a very long thread so I've selected a few quotations that are representative of the posts. This helps me get a broader view on the topic.

Post 1

Umm as an aside, many firearms are already illegal in Oztralia. So the idea of a swordsman going up against a gunman is unlikely because the only legal handgunners in Oz are probably Cops. Australia bought into the modern gun-control mantra that fewer guns mean fewer crimes. The problem is that its a false premise. The criminals that want to commit armed robbery (and can't get illegal guns) just switch to other weapons like knives or swords. The people that want to kill lots of folks build bombs, or use poison, or commit arson. The crime rate basically stays the same. Oops. Turns out the problem really is bad people, not weapons availability. But the government can't admit it did wrong so its making the next weapons-control mistake "oh we need to go farther cause our last plan didn't work." So they're becoming more repressive in hopes it will do something. In this case its sword-control. Hope you pro-gun control pro-sword people realize that you are shooting (or stabbing) yourself in the foot. The US has done similar stupid things. You may have read that criminals are using better handguns these days. Do you know why? Because of Saturday Night Special laws of course. You can't get the crappy cheap guns so they save their money and buy better, more effective, more reliable weapons. Well thats much better for the person being robbed isn't it?

This guy does a very poor job of arguing against gun control.
  • If gun control converted the weapons used in armed robberies from guns to other less lethal weapons, then there would be fewer deaths and gun control succeeded.
  • Explosives, poison, and other like weapons are a separate issue from gun control.
  • If gun control got rid of Saturday Night Specials, then there would be fewer death and gun control succeeded.
  • If someone has to save money to buy a gun, then they're not getting a gun on impulse are they? Thus gun control succeeded.
Post 2

If someone wants to kill THEY WILL, regardless if the weapon is hard to obtain or if it isn't. No amounts of legislation will stop this. It shouldn't be about making weapons hard to obtain because you can ALWAYS get them illegally AND you can ALWAYS make your own weapons :S.  ... I have been offered, by many people on many occasions, un-registered hand guns, rifles and other illegal items like tazors. This goes to show you that the only people who suffer from such bans are legit owners/collectors.

If someone is determined to kill, it will be harder for them to kill if gun control is in place. A truly determined person may succeed in killing anyway but gun control would have saved some lives. If someone is deteremined to go through a red light, they will do so regardless of the law. Does that mean we should legalize going through red lights?

There is, however, some suffering by law-abiding gun owners and it is a significant issue:

  • They have to pay fees. The US is OK with fees but the Australian fees are outrageous.
  • They have to go through the hassle of registrations. Fairly trivial.
  • They have to submit private information to a government agency. Loss of privacy? Hardly since we already do this all the time for other licenses and whenever we pay our taxes.
  • They may have restrictions on transportation and concealed carry. A hassle but only criminals would consciously violate this. However there is the self-defense issue. The laws are looser if you're in your own home or land but still, it's a tough call.
  • Certain models may be illegal to even obtain. I could understand strict control over items like machine guns, sawed off shotguns, armor piercing bullets, but outright banning is harsh. Most Chicagoans can't have handguns even in their own homes!

Post 3

However i do have a bit to say about sitting down and accepting this as a done deal. If we as an intrest group do nothing then this will be jamed down our throats and we will all be poorer for the loss. I have read all the posts about criminals getting weapons and doing what ever they will. I accept this as a given and we are just going over old ground with this. Talking without acting is being a victim, sorry guys but that is how it is. ... The one thing that i have learnt about politicians is that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. and that thoughfull non confrontational lobying will achieve our ends. ...

  1. education, find out as much as we can about the proposed legistlation in all the states. find out what amendments that pertain to us are in place and what definitions are being used. education is the key here. we must apear knowlegeable and rational when we talk to the powers that be. that last is the most important
  2. find out who we have to talk to in our relivent states. Once we have done that we can look further. I am not sure how it is in the other states but the queensland police force is the place to start here in my state. they may not have all the answers but will be able to point you in the right direction.
  3. open a dialogue with the responsable individual and remember one thing. They are human and respond to positive influences. As stupid and kneejerk this legistlation is we must remain logical and without passion. I understand that this will be dificult with dealing with the less gifted members of our country but nothing will be gained if we go in with guns blazing and a damn you all attitude.
  4. continue the dialogue.
  5. continue the dialogue
  6. continue the dialogue and don't lose your temper
OK now this guy is doing good and is telling people to stop whining and do something like utilize the democratic process! Way to go! (On the other hand his spelling's lousy)
Post 4

basically you are seemingly willing to surrender your freedom and make no mistake that's exactly what a ban or even "regulation" is doing for the illusion of safety. Follow the line of reasoning being used to its obvious conclusion. Guns are dangerous - ban them. Swords are dangerous - ban them. Cricket bats are dangerous - ban them. Rocks are dangerous - ban them. You could save yourself a lot of time, if you wish to be "protected" in that way why not just have yourself locked in a nice safe cell somewhere? Sure you don't have a lot of the freedoms that you had, but after all you will be safe. ... There's no such thing as a dangerous gun, sword, knife, frying pan etc. There are only people that use them in a dangerous or ALREADY ILLEGAL manner. I don't know a lot about Australian law but I assume that severing someone's hand etc. will already buy you jail time. The crime is no more or less illegal now then it was before the ban. So what have you really accomplished by such a ban? Well you have made thousands of otherwise law abiding citizens criminals unless they surrender up their possessions to the government or pay some as yet unspecified protection money for the privilege of keeping something that formerly was theirs for free. You have insured that a crimininal armed only with a sword will still be better armed then your average house holder. You have insured that fewer people will be likely to join any aspect of our hobby because of the hassle. Oh yes, but children can not buy swords anymore... how many children were buying swords again?

I'm surprised this guy didn't pull out the cliché of "guns don't kill people: people kill people". The thing is that cricket bats, rocks, kitchen knives, axes, etc. have other uses. Handguns and swords are designed for killing people.

A better argument would have been to argue for our freedom, our right to protect ourselves. But gun control doesn't ban guns, it controls them. Or at least it should. It is unfair that criminals can obtain cooler toys than we can.

The protest against paying for a privilege is fair. Price gouging is unjust.
Post 5

Here in Australia our economic and political systems tend to be based on the philosophical doctrine of 'British Utilitarianism'.

This 'British Utilitarianism' advocates a policy of doing things for the benefit of the 'majority'. The 'majority' of people are not firearms owners (not here in Australia they're not). Therefore it is acceptable to prohibit firearms, because only the minority will be affected. Similarly with regard to swords the same argument will be used by politicians and economists (and this is the sort of thing that economists do some headscratching over), only a 'minority' are interested/collect swords, there we can ban them.

So why not ban lots of other things like kitchen knives? Well they're weapons too are they not? No. Precisely because they're not perceived that way, they are kitchen 'tools'.

I have long wondered why motorcycles are legal on the road. They kill/maim lots of people annually. But they are not 'weapons'. They're modes of transport. Guns and swords are designed to 'kill'. That's the truth. I have to accept that, much as I like swords.

In the United States the philosophy is more along the way of a 'rights based' one (as opposed to British Utilitarian). In other words the individual's rights are held to be paramount, even if this disadvantages society as a whole.

And so there you see how the system here in Australia works. Yes gangs get hold of swords. Yes swords are objects. Ues people and not objects kill.

But .... swords are 'weapons', weapons are designed to 'kill'. Only a minority of the population are interested in swords, therefore if we ban them, only a minority will be disadvanted.

I'm so excited: He said "Utilitarianism"! This guy is going along the usual lines of different ethical systems (Mill's Utilitarianism v Kant's Categorical Imperative in this case). He is not saying that the Australians system is more or less democratic than the American system, instead he is stressing an emphasis: "The good of the many above the good of the few" versus "The good of the few above the good of the many". Or to put it another way, it's a matter of balancing private rights and safety versus public rights and safety. The question is: Can gun control be implemented in a way that protects society but does not take away a gun owner's rights?
Post 6

So the Victorian government is going to ban swords because they are used as weapons in an offensive manner? When will people learn? Banning something only increases its appeal. Take drugs for example. Cocaine has been illegal in America for decades, yet its use is at an all time high. (no pun intended)

Bah. Lame attempt to use the forbidden fruit argument. Does making it illegal to yell "FIRE!" in a theater increase its appeal? Perhaps but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be banned. Plus we're not talking about banning but controlling weapons.

The drug analogy has problems with the target of harm issue: basically guns harm others whereas drugs harm yourself. Plus certain drugs  cannot be used safely by most who attempt to use it.

Post 7

All that is accomplished by banning or placing restrictions on the purchase and possession of F*$%arms, swords, etc. is to inconvenience law abiding people or strip them of their rights altogether. It is profoundly illogical. To prevent criminals from hurting people we are going to place restrictions on non-criminals? How does that make sense in any way, shape or form?

As to the crack question, it's a semi-clever bait and switch, except for one thing, it is not possible for law abiding people to use crack, heroin, crystal meth, coke, XTC, etc. in a responsible, non-destructive manner, and they CAN cause people to do things they would not otherwise do by removing the moral and ethical behavioral blocks we impose on ourselves. So that's a bogus argument.

As to reducing crime, there are a number of methods that work. People raised with strong moral value systems, either religious or secular, tend not to be prone to criminal behavior. People raised in disciplined environments were personal responsibility is stressed are less prone to cmiiting crimes. Children from solid two-parent homes, are less prone to crime. Children who participate in disciplined sports and hobbies that require extensive focus and self-mastery are far less prone to crime. One example that would shock you: children who engage in disciplined marksmanship training and competition are FAR less prone to crime and violence even than those who engage in disciplined competitive sports like football, baseball and basketball. And let's not even get into ice-hockey. Why is that? Because marksmanship, just as swordsmanship, requires extreme self-control at all times to achieve effectiveness while maintaining safety. That level of self-control carries over to other aspects of life. Competitive archers, shooters and martial artists are not exactly known for popping off and killing people, even though any of them would probably be quite efficient at it should they choose to be. By contrast, a lot of NHL hockey players, NFL football players, NBA basketball players and Pro Baseball Players are constantly in trouble with the law, or should be. A lot of the garbage that goes on on the playing field would get someone arrested on the streets.

Bottom line: weapons control laws have been proven to have no affect on crime rates, none at all.

The difference between a law that "inconveniences" and a law that "strips rights" is enormous.

The affect of weapons restrictions on non-criminals is not negligible. If it is a hassle for criminals to get a gun, then some of them will use something else and almost everything else is less dangerous than a gun.

Good counters to the silly analogy of guns and drugs.

Fair points about upbringing affects behavior but the laws in question don't cover upbringing.

I like the emphasis on martial arts v sports. However it should be noted that many martial arts are more sports oriented and have so many rules that life and death is not as big an issue as in true martial arts. Plus while martial artists have more concerns with battery-issues, it does not necessarily make them more trained in ethics than anyone else.
Post 8

Remember, 9/11 was carried out by guys with BOX CUTTERS. ice picks, hammers, axes, forks, kitchen knives, campng gear, fountain pens, chopsticks from last night's takeout, chains, pieces of rebar and pipes- Where I grew up, I saw all of the above used in fights and brawls- not once did I see or employ a sword or gun. A weapon-free world is a world made of NERF. Next, we should do something about the "number two pencil" problem that has our schools under a "reign of graphite terror". I'm sorry- disarmament is right up there with censorship as far as an infringement of democratic rights. There's a reason that Hitler supported weapons registries and weapons seizures. ... The best thing to do at the grass-roots level is amass data. find out how many crimes are commited with swords as opposed to other weapons/tools. Once you have the data, you need to put it in the form of a formal complaint to your legislators, along with a petition. The only thing you can do in the Parliamentary system is try to educate the legislators in the hopes of encouraging them to take a course of action that in some way displays some measure of intelligence

More of the usual "anything can be a weapon" argument as covered before.

He does however compare "disarmament" with infringing on free speech. Again, disarmament should be different from control. And speech is largely free (and I'm against censorship) but there are limitations of libel and slander. However, it is people to have the right to largely free speech and the right to have weapons of self-defense. Even on a global scale countries should have the right to controlled defense.

Post 9

Whenever restrictions on any form of weapon are discussed it immediately seems to polarize into "left" and "right" with the same tired old arguments pushed out by each side of the debate.

On the left we have people arguing that weapons are inherently dangerous tools and its quite reasonable for those tasked with public safety to know where they are and what they can expect to be out there. The theory behind this is, on its face, quite rational - namely that if weapons are registered its harder for them to go missing and end up in the hands of people not supposed to have them. There is not usually any claim, except in politicians hyperbole, that such measures will get illegally held weapons off the streets altogether but as a measure to partially dry up the source of those weapons and potentially in the long term make weapons harder to acquire illegally it seems to make sense. However this argument only works if the people who administer such a scheme (and their successors, and the politicians who control them) can be trusted to do so properly 100% of the time. They cant be. Thats why we get the "slippery slope" response from the other side of the debate.

On the right of the debate it usually only takes a millisecond or two before the "inanimate object" argument appears. It is self-evidently true that almost any object can be pressed into service as a weapon and even those things explicitly designed with that function in mind do not generally attack folks on their own. Clearly, therefore, the problem is not weapons but criminals and the correct solution to the problem is to properly enforce the existing laws against the crimes rather than try and cut off law-abiding citizens access to items that could be used in a criminal activity. Like the argument from the other side of the fence this also makes sense but it has one more thing in common with the other argument too - It only works if the people in charge of administering this system (and their successors and the politicians who control them) can be trusted to do so properly 100% of the time... Of course they cant be trusted any more than the other bunch.

So what do we have? Simply two different opinions over how best to guarantee a law-abiding citizens rights, the only difference between them being whether a right to own a weapon of any description is given higher priority than a right to not be subject to armed attack by criminals. The methods chosen to guarantee these rights by either side fail under the same real-world conditions but, this being a clearly dividing political issue, the politicians on both sides blame the policies of their opposite numbers for this failure rather than owning up to the fact that nobody has a real solution. Of course, the end result is that both sets of politicians forge blindly ahead giving us the disadvantages of each method but never achieving their supposed goal. Since their real goal is simply to get reelected I suppose that isnt too surprising.

Excellent broad overview, but leaving the issue with no "real solution" is not very satisfying.

I will now attempt to summarize the essential points of the sword or gun control issue. I'll put each essential point in separate quotations.

The key conflict is between those who love weapons (sword, guns, etc.) and those who don't have that affinity. This is similar to "It's a Black thing" or "You're a man and you wouldn't understand". Those who don't have this affinity for weaponry may say they understand collectors and such but they can't truly see it from our perspective. As a martial artist I have a keen appreciation of all manner of weaponry.

Legislation that even hints at threatening any person's passion, will tend to get a quick rise out of that person.

Many weapon lovers use the argument which is most often expressed as "guns don't kill people, people kill people". The idea is that inanimate objects don't injure people by themselves. This idea is also strongly coupled with the idea that we already have laws covering assault and battery and such.

The inanimate argument should not be used by weapon lovers. There is sensible legislation covering all kinds of inanimate objects that improve safety. Think bumpers on cars, lead paint, seat belts, proper materials for constructing houses, poison, electrical wiring, etc.

A distinction should be made between restricting and outright banning.

Almost nothing should ever be outright banned. Often times the more you try to ban an idea, a concept, a dream, a possibility, the stronger it becomes.

There are a very few things that should be severely restricted. EG: Nuclear weapons in general cannot ever be used safely and should be severely restricted. EG: Crack is a kind of drug that is addictive upon first use and cannot be used safely in a recreational manner.

The right to properly use weapons is the best argument for the weapon lover. This includes the following:

  • Hunting. Most legislation does not interfere with hunting. Obviously most people find the concept of hunting with AK 47s ridiculous and laughable.
  • Collecting. Legislation conflicts with collecting when certain items are outright banned even in the privacy of your own home.
  • Self-Defense. Legislation most frequently conflicts with self-defense.
    • The outright banning of weapons in the privacy of your own home
    • Restrictions placed upon weapons outside of your own home, esp. conceal-and-carry.
    • An armed citizenry to defend against foreign invaders.
    • An armed citizenry to defend against a government gone insane or on martial law. In which case the registration of weapons would make weapon owners vulnerable. Personally, if the citizenry could foresee the direction the government was taking, then the citizenry should acquire weapons via the black market so registration should not be an issue.

Private rights and personal rights need to be balanced. This is probably the largest conflict in the weapons control issue.

  • Banning.
    • I'm incensed that a Chicagoan cannot own a hand gun in the privacy of his own home! This is just wrong. People would be driven to buy illegal and cheap weapons.
    • Banning certain items like machine guns and and armor piercing bullets just drives these items to a black market, and thus this sort of legislation is stupid. More severe restrictions on this sort of thing would be better.
  • Restrictions
    • Registration. While the right to privacy is understandable, it must be weighed against how registration helps law enforcement track weapons used in crimes. All unregistered weapons should be confiscated. Besides we register our cars and homes. Personally, I'm all for registration.
    • Waiting Periods. Any proper user of weapons should not mind this restriction.
    • Training and Testing Requirements. Any proper user of weapons should not mind this restriction and yet this sort of restriction is hardly every required! How fucked up! More testing and training is required for driving a car than owning a gun. People need to know how to safely store and use their weaons. They also need to know their legal restrictions, obligations, and liabilities.
    • Conceal-and-Carry. There should be registered conceal-and-carry. It is simply unjust and unfair that a criminal might conceal-and-carry, but a law abiding citizen cannot. The down side is that this increases the probability that law enforcement may be facing an armed irate citizen. Of course (registered or not) performing conceal-and-carry with intent to harm in non-self-defense situations would still be illegal. Of course weaponry should be barred while on airplanes.
    • Requiring that weapon are non-functional during transport. Except for conceal-and-carry, this helps prevent accidental injuries and death, as well as avoiding spontaneous weapon-usage.

Weapon lovers must deal effectively with the public and the legislative process.

  • Taxes and fees. It takes money to implement these laws so reasonable taxes and fees should be imposed. Australia seems to be gouging their citizens instead of merely collecting the necessary amount of money. This sort of gouging is either unfair taxation or a government's attempt to influence behavior via taxation. In either case this should be publicly discussed. EG: If the fees are a deterrent against owning weaponry, then only the rich will have weapons or it will encourage a weapons black market.
  • Non-insane presentation. When dealing with the public and the legislative process, weapon owners must present themselves in a rational, law-abiding, sociable manner.
  • Political bodies. Citizens who feel that their rights are being infringed should form political bodies like the NRA.org. Such organizations also have an obligation to keep public safety and rights in mind.

2004-04-14t22:27:23Z | RE: 9/11 Commission. Bush. Computers. Cyber Life. Elections. Fun. Green. Housing Bubble. Images. Iraq. Money. Politics. Science. Sex. Show Biz. US. World.

9/11 Commission


  • President Addresses the Nation in Prime Time Press Conference [2004-04-13, official transcript]
    • I saw this live. The official transcript does not convey all his stumbling and delays.
    • Same old talking points like "Stay the course". Yes, yes, of course, we have to finish what we started there.  Yes, yes, of course Hussein was bad and that a democratic Iraq is good. Yes, yes, of course we support our troops and we appreciate their sacrifice and courage. But none of this explains why we had to invade exactly when and how we did.
    • We also appreciate the help from the other Coalition members, but we're still essentially in there alone in blood and money for essentially forever. What a plan!
    • Parts I liked:
      • He can't really think of anything he did wrong.
      • He ducks why needs Cheney to appear with him before the 9/11 Commission.
      • He passes the buck... o wait: that's the whole speech.
      • He ducks the question on.. o wait: that's the whole speech too.
      • He was scared shitless once the questions started.
  • A Busy Person's Guide to the Bush Press Conference. Beautiful job! Even pro-Bush people would have to agree with this condensed version.
  • I'm done blaming Bush. He can't help that he's an idiot. From now on I'll blame the people who support him. I'll blame myself and others who think he sucks for our inability to convince people that he sucks.
  • Instapundit has collects lots of reviews on last night's speech
  • Press Briefing Live Blogging Thread. Boy they must type fast.


Cyber Life

  • LittleGreenFootballs or late German Fascists? (the LGF quiz)
    • 'I was inspired to build this quiz when I noticed that comments on LittleGreenFootballs.com  (a popular warblog) tended to be indistinguishable in tone and content from the writings of Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and the other architects of the "final solution." '
    • Ha ha! LGF.com has always been a hateful, self-righteous site.
  • 10 Rules for Corporate Blogs and Wikis.
    1. Be authentic
    2. Be an unmatched resource
    3. Once you start, don't stop
    4. Keep it relevant
    5. Measure your effectiveness
    6. Monitor other blogs
    7. Trust your employees
    8. Use blogs for knowledge management
    9. Use wikis for employee and customer collaboration
    10. Develop an organizational content strategy now
  • Insert Snarky Title Here. Hehe. Clever little thing.




Housing Bubble





  • Consumer Prices Jump, Trade Gap Narrows. 'U.S. consumer prices logged an unexpectedly sharp rise in March as the cost of energy, clothing and lodging jumped, according to a government report on Wednesday suggesting long-dormant inflation may be rearing its head. '


  • The 2004 Jefferson Muzzles. 'the Jefferson Muzzles are awarded as a means to draw national attention to abridgments of free speech and press and, at the same time, foster an appreciation for those tenets of the First Amendment'


  • Spacecraft to measure Earth's drag on space-time. 'A spacecraft set to test Einstein's General Theory of Relativity is now on the launch pad, with the world's most accurate gyroscopes stowed away inside.'
  • No Time for Bullies: Baboons Retool Their Culture. 'In a study appearing today in the journal PloS Biology (online at www.plosbiology.org), researchers describe the drastic temperamental and tonal shift that occurred in a troop of 62 baboons when its most belligerent members vanished from the scene. The victims were all dominant adult males that had been strong and snarly enough to fight with a neighboring baboon troop over the spoils at a tourist lodge garbage dump, and were exposed there to meat tainted with bovine tuberculosis, which soon killed them. Left behind in the troop, designated the Forest Troop, were the 50 percent of males that had been too subordinate to try dump brawling, as well as all the females and their young. With that change in demographics came a cultural swing toward pacifism, a relaxing of the usually parlous baboon hierarchy, and a willingness to use affection and mutual grooming rather than threats, swipes and bites to foster a patriotic spirit.'
  • Scientists Create "Water" That Isn't Wet. 'A new chemical [called Sapphire] concocted by scientists at the Tyco's Fire and Security Division looks and acts just like water except for one thing... it doesn't get things wet.'
    TV immersed in Sapphire


Show Biz

  • 'The Cleansing of the Temple': Beliefnet's exclusive excerpts from the script for the next Mel Gibson movie
  • Liberal radio stations silenced. Supposedly Air America bounced some checks but we'll see how it goes. And I was really enjoying listening to it too.
    • 2004-04-15 UPDATE: A nit-picky reader of this site pointed out that Air America has some details on their site. I also noticed this a few minutes after I posted. The shut downs in Chicago and LA are not an indication that Air America is in financial trouble because they're still running in other cities. It seems that Arthur Liu (of Multicultural Broadcasting which owns the Chicago and LA stations in question) is jerking around with Air America. It would be a fun conspiracy if he did it because of some right-wing heavies, but most likely he's just a jerk and he's missing out on a great opportunity with Air America. And yes, I'll continue to listen to it online!



  • Pakistani Tells of North Korean Nuclear Devices. 'Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist who sold nuclear technology around the world, has told his interrogators that during a trip to North Korea five years ago he was taken to a secret underground nuclear plant and shown what he described as three nuclear devices'

2004-04-23t17:26:44Z | RE: 9/11 Commission. Bush. Comic Art. Cyber Life. Computers. Elections. Engineering. Faith. Food. Fun. Green. Images. Interesting. Iraq. Israel. Martial Arts. Math. Media. Money. Politics. Science. Sex. Show Biz. US. Web. World.

9/11 Commission


  • Trust, Don't Verify: Bush's incredible definition of credibility. Even if you like Bush, follow the methodology of his thinking. Bush thinks in a way that is more convoluted then what you would find in Wonderland.
  • George and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamtie. I was going to ignore Bush's wardrobe malfunction but this is a well written piece that moves well beyond the tie.
  • MrNobody.us [Flash]. Yep, nobody has any responsibility for 9/11.
  • Statement on the Nomination of Allen Weinstein to Become Archivist of the United States
    • 'We are concerned about the sudden announcement on April 8, 2004, that the White House has nominated Allen Weinstein to become the next Archivist of the United States. Prior to the announcement, there was no consultation with professional organizations of archivists or historians. This is the first time since the National Archives and Records Administration was established as an independent agency that the process of nominating an Archivist of the United States has not been open for public discussion and input. We believe that Professor Weinstein must--through appropriate and public discussions and hearings--demonstrate his ability to meet the criteria that will qualify him to serve as Archivist of the United States. '
    • Why would you ever trust Bush to handle the documentation of his administration? I would hope that even pro-Bush people would want the truth preserved for the historical record. Why does Bush consistently pick such dirty people? Is it possible that Bush is people picking people like himself?
    • Related links:
      • The Haunted Archives. 'Who should control access to the archives of the 9/11 Commission after it closes up shop in August? The commission's records will go to the National Archives. On April 8 the Bush Administration quietly pushed the current archivist, John Carlin, a Clinton appointee, to step down. To replace him, Bush will nominate Allen Weinstein, a historian who has been criticized for failing to abide by accepted scholarly standards of openness (more details will appear in an upcoming Nation profile). Weinstein headed, until recently, the Center for Democracy, a think tank whose board is studded with GOP heavyweights, including Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and Richard Lugar, House Republican whip Roy Blunt and Henry Kissinger. '
      • Allen Weinstein Bio
  • Plan of Attack, book by Bob Woodward [Amazon]

Comic Art


  • Graphic artists have been using pen tablets for years to interact with image editing software. A pen tablet is an input device that uses a pressure sensitive pad and pen-like stylus. The problem is that usually the pen tablet is on the desk while the user's eye's are on the monitor.

    A more recent development are tablet PCs. These are laptop computers where the screen is also a pen tablet and the screen can be manipulated to more configurations than merely flipped up. To put it another way, a tablet PC is like a combination laptop and PDA.

    However, I have yet to see a tablet PC, operating system, and editing software that is fully integrated. A graphic artist should be able to apply pressure-effects directly onto the image and monitor. That is, a graphic artist's pen should be on the image where his or her eyes are (just like people who work with physical mediums) and not off to the side on a pen tablet.

    Hopefully Mac or somebody is working on this idea because it would be so intuitive, so much better. It would really drive graphic artists to buy tablet PCs. I just haven't had a whiff of anyone else thinking about this but it's such an obvious idea.
  • Using Visual Basic and ASP with XML to Generate Excel 2003 Workbooks
  • A, B, C, ... D! The Programming Language
    • 'For years the development scene has been dominated by the C family of languages, primarily C itself and its immediate successor C++. Recent years have given rise to other C-descendents, however, such as Sun's Java and Microsoft's C#. Nowadays we here lots of hype about .NET and J2EE, lots of propaganda about how both C# and Java are "The Way of the Future." But as we all know, sometimes the real gem is the unsong underdog, the one that don't have full page ads in tech journals. And today I'm going to take a look at one such gem: The D Programming Language. '
    • This could be fun. Lot's of geeky arguments about garbage collection, multiple inheritance, and such, but the only real issue is acceptance and that can only arise if programmers play with it and really like it.
    • It's hard to ignore that D is like Java and C# but without the virtual machine and thus can be used to write system code.
    • In any case it's good for programmers to think about evolving new languages. What we really need is some way to work as "low" as possible while staying as "high" as possible, i.e. the ability to do the gutter work without getting dirty, but I'm afraid that's generations away.
    • Related links:
  • http://www.denso-wave.com/qrcode/aboutqr-e.html. 1D barcodes are so passe! QR Code is the latest of post-barcode 2D data encoding like PDF417, DataMatrix, and Maxi Code. Industries need to get hip with these standards for the sake of international trade.
    diagram distinguishing 2D bar code from 3D code
  • http://www.hamar.sk/sphere/. Another 3D UI for the OS. Looks lame in comparison to Sun's Project Looking Glass that I blogged about before.
  • PC HabiCase. Pretty neat. I would not assume that they've solved the problems of heat and noise upon the pets or the problems of pet generated debris upon the computer.
    picture of a combo PC case and hamster home
  • What? They cut WinFS??. Yep, Microsoft announced earlier that they are delaying release dates as well as cutting back on features. Can you say "vaporware"?
  • The SCO(R) Group, Inc. Receives Request From BayStar Capital II, L.P. to Redeem [20,000] Shares of Series A-1 Convertible Preferred Stock. Ha ha ha! Everybody hates SCO so I'm glad to see that even some of their share holders hate them too. All the other share holders should pull their stock too because SCO is going down hard.

Cyber Life

  • A9, asinine. It's just a freaking Amazon search engine over Google. Others will follow. Get over it already.
  • Hypulp.com. 'Hypulp documents the influence of the internet on print design.'
  • BoingBoing.net and other sites are starting to use a trackback-like feature of Technorati.com. Basically a link with an URL of this syntax http://www.technorati.com/cosmos/search.html?sub=mtcosmos&url=URIhere will open up a page at Technorati that lists which blogs are pointing to the specified URI.
  • Can e-mail be saved? 'Battered by junk and reeling under makeshift fixes, e-mail is ripe for reinvention. Here's how six of the industry's most provocative thinkers envision a brighter day'
  • Archive.org.
    • 'The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) public nonprofit that was founded to build an 'Internet library,' with the purpose of offering permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format.'
    • Their most famous feature is their Wayback Machine" Essentially you search to see if they've archived the contents of an URL and a time period that you specify.


  • DrivingVotes.org. 'Driving Votes helps you register voters in swing states to beat Bush in the 2004 election. We provide everything you need to take your friends on a road trip to register voters. You'll have an unforgettable time while helping to put the brakes on Bush. '
  • Kerry's Iraq Policy Makes the War Issue Bush's to Lose
    • ' Bush's decision to take the United States to war in Iraq and his management of that war could undo his presidency. Polls are showing declining support for his policies. But if Bush is ousted at the end of his term, it will more than likely be because Kerry's accusation of mismanagement rings true to voters than because Kerry has outlined a boldly different platform. '


  • FanPants. Great invention for guys with no butts like me! Ha ha ha!
    figure of fan pants



  • I was doing a Google search on "Thais using chopsticks" to verify that Thais don't use chopsticks in general (it's true: they don't). The first link to come up was Chopsticks vs Knife and fork, a large message board thread on the topic. I found it amusing because I did a little piece on Fork v Chopsticks just last month! One more shred of evidence that I'm not insane to write about such things.
  • Cicada: The Other, Other White Meat
  • KBS Beer Bottle Collection. I'm sure that this is 1 of many beer compendiums but 2,246 beers sounds like a lot.
  • FoodFromSweden.com.
    • 'Swedeness: is to mean what you say and to say what you mean; to use the earth not abuse it'
    • A very well rendered site too.
    • Personal connections:
      • I love Ann Sather, a lovely set of Swedish Chicago restaurants. (They catered my wedding too!)
      • I grew up near Andersonville, a decidedly Swedish neighborhood in Chicago. (And it's hyper-hip now too!)
      • Yes, I've eaten at Ikea too.


  • Shop.StarWars.com. The official store has just launched. I would've thought that such a thing was already out there. I can't believe that Lucas wasn't milking this line of revenue already.
  • Naive.it [Flash]. Games, cartoons, illustrations.
  • The Gaslycrumb Tinies online. This old set of ABCs by Edward Gorey has been around for 50 years. "A is for Amy, who fell down the stairs" was particularly amusing because that's going to be the name of our 3rd child.
    drawing by Edward Gorey
  • Kill Bill [Flash game]. It's from the Czech Republic but you can figure it out. Her thrusts are faster than her cuts but the thrusts are more impressive.
  • Misys gives Pecker head job: Rudi Pecker assumes position in top slot in Asia
    • ' After 14 years inside Misys in Europe, Rudi Pecker has been elevated to the financial technology company's Singapore office, to become head of Asia Pacific sales. In this role, Pecker will head all Misys' strategic and commercial activities in the region, aiming to grow the business and enter into long term relationships. Pecker's breadth of experience, with over 20 years in the financial services industry, will enable him to rise to the challenges of growing the business in Asia, a region fertile for expansion.

      "The Asia Pacific region is very important to the Misys business, so having the right person at its head is crucial to our success, both there and worldwide," says Andy White, CEO of Misys Wholesale Banking Solutions. "We are delighted that Pecker will be leading the way"

      Misys systems cover solution in trade finance, international banking, treasury and capital markets, confirmation matching, continuous linked settlements, ebanking, middleware and financial messaging.

      Pecker will continue reporting to Armin Holst, Global Sales director for Misys Wholesale Banking Systems. "We are certain that [Pecker's] experience will help to significantly strengthen and ultimately grow, our business in Asia," says Holst. '

    • I'm sorry that I've quoted the entire article, but the whole thing is so short and so pun-rich that I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if the content became unavailable in the future. Surely this is a case of the English translators pulling one over their Asian employers.
  • Radar clocks Mini at Mach 3 speed. See! It is possible for those radar guns to be faulty.
  • NosePilot.com [Interactive Flash]. A visual treat, sort of like a story.
  • TheWritingsOnTheStall.com. Public submissions of discovered bathroom graffiti. EG: "I fucked your mom" followed by "Go home Dad, you're drunk".
  • WorldDominationLLC.com and VillainSupply.com. Some of the sites that we Evil Overlords like to visit. Very reminiscent of the classic EvilOverlord.com.
  • Khaaan.com. Yes, this site will come in handy on certain occasions. 
  • Jay Maynard's TRON costume. We should all be fortunate enough to follow our healthy eccentricities.
    photo of a TRON costume by Jay Maynard
  • Sportka Evil Cat Commercial [see the video]. Not as good as their anti-bird version but you have to see them all.





  • AP: Book Alleges Secret Iraq War Plan. 'President Bush secretly ordered a war plan drawn up against Iraq less than two months after U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan and was so worried the decision would cause a furor he did not tell everyone on his national security team, says a new book on his Iraq policy. '
  • Help U.S. Marines Equip TV Stations in Iraq. Good idea but why wasn't this sort of thing put in when we first invaded? There's nothing wrong with a pro-US station as long as they many media choices via the free press.
  • Likely Ambassador
    • 'Bush administration officials are saying the likely candidate to be ambassador of Iraq is John Negroponte, the current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.'
    • Why does Bush have to pick such a dirty guy? What will it take to convince people about Bush?
  • Retired general assails U.S. policy on Iraq
    • 'Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni wondered aloud yesterday how Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could be caught off guard by the chaos in Iraq that has killed nearly 100 Americans in recent weeks and led to his announcement that 20,000 U.S. troops would be staying there instead of returning home as planned. '
    • 'For years Zinni said he cautioned U.S. officials that an Iraq without Saddam Hussein would likely be more dangerous to U.S. interests than one with him because of the ethnic and religious clashes that would be unleashed. '
    • ' "I've been called a traitor and a turncoat for mentioning these things," said Zinni, 60. The problems in Iraq are being caused, he said, by poor planning and shortsightedness, such as disbanding the Iraqi army and being unable to provide security.

      Zinni said the United States must now rely on the U.N. to pull its "chestnuts out of the fire in Iraq."

      "We're betting on the U.N., who we blew off and ridiculed during the run-up to the war," Zinni said. "Now we're back with hat in hand. It would be funny if not for the lives lost." '

    • ' "In the end, the Iraqis themselves have to want to rebuild their country more than we do," Zinni said. "But I don't see that right now. I see us doing everything. '
  • http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2004_04_11.php#002845
    • 'Why are things spinning out of control in Iraq? Why are we losing the struggle for hearts and minds in the country? Because we stand for freedom. And the terrorists hate freedom. And they're attacking us because we're bringing freedom to Iraq. And terrorists hate freedom. Therefore they hate us. And since they hate us so much of course they fight us.

      That was the substance of the president's message last night. And the blurb from Forbes is more of the same -- words that can mean anything or nothing and which are being strung together before our eyes to avert our gaze from the fact that the decisions of our policy-makers have not had the effect that they said they would.

      Quite evidently, the "forces of good" have had their heads handed to them any number of times when they had no clue what they were doing. That's obvious. Only a fool doesn't realize that. Falling back on such meaningless statements is precisely what people do when they find themselves unable to reconcile their expectations with what their eyes are showing them.

      And this is the point: What we're grappling with here is whether we can be both resolute and sure we're pursuing a sound strategy. But neither is possible unless we remain willing to see what our eyes are showing us. Otherwise, there's no basis to evaluate whether our strategy is sound or whether we need to correct it.'

  • Iraq War More Serious Than Vietnam-EU's Patten
    • " The comparison... that Iraq could become as difficult an issue as Vietnam is misplaced, because I think it is arguably much more serious ... If things go wrong in Iraq we will be living with the consequences for a very, very long time." -Chris Patten, the European Union's external relations commissioner.
  • The Pentagon as Global Slumlord and Planet of Slums
    • 'Faced with intransigent popular resistance that recalls the heroic Vietcong defense of Hue in 1968, the Marines have again unleashed indiscriminate terror. According to independent journalists and local medical workers, they have slaughtered at least two hundred women and children in the first two weeks of fighting. '
    • 'This tactical "Israelization" of U.S. combat doctrine has been accompanied by what might be called a "Sharonization" of the Pentagon's worldview. Military theorists are now deeply involved in imagining how the evolving capacity of high-tech warfare can contain, if not destroy, chronic "terrorist" insurgencies rooted in the desperation of growing megaslums. '
    • 'The occupation of Iraq has, of course, been portrayed by Bush ideologues as a "laboratory for democracy" in the Middle East. To MOUT geeks [Militarized Operations on Urbanized Terrain], on the other hand, it is a laboratory of a different kind, where Marine snipers and Air Force pilots test out new killing techniques in an emergent world war against the urban poor. '
    • So this is the promised land that Bush is leading us into. I see massive deaths on both sides (esp. of innocents), a war that never ends (ala Israel and Palestine), the continuous creation of more "rebels". In a war of the mighty (US & Israel with WMD) versus the feeble, why wouldn't the feeble resort to guerilla war and terrorism? Wasn't the Revolutionary War between the mighty (the British) and the feeble guerillas (the Americans)?
    • How many times can we say "police action" instead of "war"?
  • U.S. deaths from enemy fire at highest level since Vietnam. No duh considering the in-city guerilla that I and others warned about. We'd need to outnumber them 20-to-1 to dominate. Our technology will not help us as much here.
  • Soldiers Choose Canada: Facing Iraq duty, two U.S. G.I.'s head north to seek asylum.
    • Soldiers shouldn't go AWOL. Soldiers have made a promise, a commitment. Besides, it's not as if they were drafted. I promise you that some of the smarter citizens in the US are trying our damndest to stop this US madness.
    • Related links:
  • Senator says US may need compulsory service to boost Iraq force
    • No surprised. I posted this link in 2003-12: Oiling up the draft machine?. And that "madman" Noam Chomsky had warned of it too.
    • The army has a large number of reservists but why would they reenlist and who the hell is going to volunteer now? Americans aren't cowards: it's just that the war is based around lies and wasn't necessary. Iraq is nowhere near bin Laden.
    • Is this war starting to sound like Vietnam at all?


  • U.S. backs Israeli plan
    • 'Palestinians, who played no role in the U.S.-Israel discussions over the settlement plans, warned that Bush's statements would spell the end of peace efforts and fuel further violence. They described the Bush position as a disturbing shift, noting that previous U.S. administrations had called the settlements obstacles to peace. '
      • OMFG. Another huge nail in the Muslim perception that the US is engaged in a holy war. Bush is creating more terrorists again.
    • 'There are about 7,800 Israeli settlers living among 1.3 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and the small, densely packed area has been riddled by violence as the current Arab uprising, or intifada, has lingered on. There are about 230,000 Israelis in West Bank settlements, some of them large, self-contained communities. There are 2.3 million Palestinians in the West Bank. '
      • In other words the Gaza Strip is 0.6% Israeli and the West Bank is 10% Israeli.
  • The End of the Road
    • 'As the Reuters story notes, the statement overturns in one stroke almost 40 years of official U.S. policy -- a policy Shrub's father actually showed a fair amount of political courage in defending. '
      • Yes, Bush is totally fucking up like how his pre-emptive policies were a total change from US policy. What planet did Bush come from and why can't people see past his rubber mask?
    • 'It also negates the fundamental premise of UN Resolution 242 -- the bedrock of all peace efforts over the past 40 years -- that territory will not be acquired by force. '
    • 'Consider the Orwellian implications of that last statement. If the Israeli government says the wall is merely a temporary security measure, then that's what it must be -- no matter where it runs or how long it stays up. '

Martial Arts

  • No Chip in Arm, No Shot From Gun.
    • An interesting possible technical twist in the gun control issue. It could help cut down on illegal guns.
    • ' Once the technology is accepted, legislation could follow to encourage the use of smart guns. New Jersey already has passed legislation that will require smart-gun technology on all handguns sold -- three years after the state attorney general certifies that smart guns are available in the marketplace.

      The National Rifle Association opposes the legislation because of potential problems with smart-gun technology, but gun safety advocates argue that the technology could encourage gun ownership with the newfound sense of security.

      "It seems that guns are the only product that haven't followed a path of development that leads to greater safety for the user. The only real change we've seen is to make them more lethal and smaller so they can be more easily concealed," said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. "This is one of the steps that hasn't been taken, and we think this debate is one that needs to take place." '

  • I did my first test-cutting with a sword a few days ago on 2004-04-18 Saturday.
    • Almost all the cuts were done with long swords although there were a few cuts with a single-handed side sword.
    • What was cut.
      • Water-filled milk jugs. The majority of the cutting was done on milk jugs.
      • Water-filled 2 liter bottles. These got batted around a fair bit but people were able to cut them. I believe the difficulty had to do with the lighter weight, the rounder shape, and tougher material.
      • Water-filled detergent bottles. There were a few of these but I only saw 2 of them up on the pole. They were batted around and then used for practicing thrusts. I think the toughness of the material was the big factor.
      • Water-soaked rolls of tatami omote (sheets of rush for covering Japanese tatami mats. See Tameshigiri.com). These had the advantage of being spiked into place, whereas the previous targets were simply set on top of the stand. However, these rolls were much harder to cut then the milk jugs. There were a large number of cuts that only went part way through or the roll got batted away or both.
    • My cuts.
      • I'm a novice in swordsmanship compared to the others, I had to mind my 2 kids, and I was trying to take photos so I let the others do most of the cutting. However I did manage to cut 2 milk bottles and 1 roll, using a different sword each time. I have only had a few days of cutting practice all together but I cut through the milk bottles pretty easily. I got 3 cuts out of first and only 1 cut out of the second.
      • After my successful milk jug cutting, I entertained the fantasy that I would cut through the roll cleanly. I had a similar fantasy when I first fired a rifle: That I'd be a natural and would get a bunch of bull's eyes without any need of training.
      • Any how, back to reality. It was certainly deflating to not cut a roll through cleanly and have the roll start sagging on the stand. I eventually managed to hack the roll to nub but it was not a pretty process. As an excuse at 1 point I had to hold the roll and sever a piece that was dangling and I noticed that the sword was not cutting very well so I think the sword was relatively dull.
    • The top 3 cutters.
      • Jim did not use pretty stances or anything but he did cuts in rapid succession and he did his cuts very cleanly, surely, and naturally. I was impressed.
      • Jesse had had very nice form and he did a large variety of different kinds of cuts. Good stuff.
      • Dan was like "Yan Can Cook" out there. Slicing and dicing, easy as pie. I suspect that he has the advantage of "sureness of stroke" with an instrument since he's done a lot of carpentry.
        photo of dan cutting a milk jug
    • Next time.
      • By next year I expect to have done a lot more empty air cutting. I don't know if I will get a sharp long sword before then, so I don't know if I will get any practice on a target.
      • I want to try thrusting at targets with a rapier.
      • I want to try cutting as if there were multiple attackers. We had 3 stands, I don't see why we couldn't use all 3 at a time.
      • I want to covering a targets with cloth and another target with leather to see how it affects the cuts.
      • I want to try distinctively different weights of swords on the same kind of target. In theory a lighter sword would have a sharper edge and could be moved faster but it also seems that a heavier sword would have a sufficient edge and once it got moving it would hack better. Just visualize hacking a chicken with a filet knife versus a cleaver.
      • I want to cut through the roll cleanly.



  • Air America restored in Chicago. 'In a rapid reversal of fortunes, Air America Radio won a temporary restraining order Thursday requiring the owner of its Chicago affiliate to restore the fledgling, liberal talk-radio network's broadcast, one day after it was thrown off the air in Chicago and Los Angeles.'


  • Sun Microsystems reports $760 million loss
    • 'Sun Microsystems Inc. posted a larger-than-expected loss in its fiscal third quarter as the computer and software maker continued to lay off workers and reorganize amid blistering competition from rivals.'
    • In just 1 quarter?! Microsoft may have a $50 billion reserve but Sun only has a $1.5 billion. Sun aint no Apple either with a highly dedicated user base. Sun needs to move to total open source before they just outright die. At least that way they might hit back at Microsoft posthumously.
  • With interns, you get what you pay for. It's a long standing tradition to have apprentices and such work for free as far as artisans and martial artists are concerned.


  • Divided We Stand... Still
    • 'From the New York Times Bestseller List, I selected political books as starting points for 'snowball sampling'. Two books are linked in the network if they were purchased by the same person -- "Customers who bought this book also bought: ". Many of the books have changed from last year but the overall pattern is the same. The pattern reveals two distinct clusters with dense internal ties. Similar patterns of extreme clustering were found by researchers looking at the links amongst web sites that cover topics with divergent views. These political books are preaching to the converted. The extreme book titles on both sides reveal a focus on hate, instead of debate. In a year of presidential election, is this the new arms race? 'diagram of the political schism in book buying
    • Related links:
  • ClintonPresidentialCenter.com v CounterClintonLibrary.com.
    • Ask Bush and Clinton the same set of questions and see who comes up with intelligent, insightful, innovative, detailed answers. Of course Bush will need Cheney to coach him on the answers.
    • Gee those corporate sponsored conservatives have money to throw around.
    • Some other presidential libraries: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush.
  • IOP Political Personality Test. It's sort of like your usual political self-test but this one compares your results with that of college students across the nation and the result is put on a grid of Liberal v Conservative AND Religious v Secular. Here are the results as of today [2004-04-21] (I was a Traditional Liberal).
    graph showing political personalities of American college students
  • The schism in U.S. politics begins at home: Growing gaps found from county to county in presidential race [invasive login required]
    • 'American democracy is based on the continuous exchange of differing points of view. Today, most Americans live in communities that are becoming more politically homogenous and, in effect, diminish dissenting views. And that grouping of like-minded people is feeding the nation's increasingly rancorous and partisan politics. '
    • 'By the end of the dead-even 2000 presidential election, American communities were more lopsidedly Republican or Democratic than at any time in the past half-century. The fastest-growing kind of segregation in the United States isn't racial. It is the segregation between Republicans and Democrats. '
    • ' Since the early and mid-1970s, the American political scene shifted almost completely from the independent-minded, ticket-splitting, non-partisan landscape Broder documented:'
      • 'Voters have grown more partisan.'
      • 'Voters have become less independent.'
      • 'The parties have become more ideological.'
      • 'Congress compromises less often.'
      • 'Voters cast more straight party tickets.'
    • Fascinating stuff. I tried for a long time to have political discussions with my Right-wing friends and I think both sides felt we were talking to walls over the email. Our in person discussions were much better and we found that we agreed on many things. But in the end it seems that we've stopped having political discussions because they were non-productive. A shame.
    • So what happened in the US from the mid 1970s to 2000? One guess is the rise of the Radical Right since they are dividers, xenophobic, "Us v Them" kind of folks, whereas the Left is more inclusive, "Can't we just get along" sort of folks.
    • Related link:
      • The cost of political uniformity: People becoming more extreme versions of what they were before [invasive login required]
        • ' The American system was set up to encourage wide-ranging debate, University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein says. It was also designed so that "people in one community have an obligation to listen to others and do what's in the interest of the nation."

          As the nation's communities become more politically lopsided, however, "you get people who sometimes see their fellow citizens as confused or vicious, as not fully members of the same community, and that can make discussion and mutual understanding difficult," Sunstein said. "I think we've seen some of that. Some communities think extremely unfair things about the other side." '

        • ' A Democratic judge sitting with two Republicans voted more conservatively than she did when sitting on a panel with a Democratic majority. Republicans worked the same way, becoming more liberal on panels with two Democrats.

          And when three Republican judges sat together, they all voted more conservatively than when any of the three sat on a mixed panel. Democrats worked the same way.

          Federal judges are chosen for their ability to think critically, impartially. Yet even these men and women, people who have spent a lifetime weeding bias out of their thinking and writing, are affected by the power of the group. '

        • ' As parties became more ideologically pure, regions that were home to people with strong beliefs gradually became affiliated with a single party. Hispanics turned to the Democratic Party, so immigrant centers became Democratic. Rural voters aligned with the Republican Party, so vast reaches in the country's middle turned red on television maps. Single women affiliated with the Democratic party, so cities with large numbers of unmarried females trended blue. In other words, the parties moved to the people. '
      • http://bugmenot.com/view.php?url=www.statesman.com. To get non-invasive login information.
      • http://www.nationalatlas.gov/elections/elect14.gif
        map of the 2000 Presidential Election
      • RedVsBlue.com


Sex [Assume anything in this section is possibly NSFW]

Show Biz

  • TroyMovie.WarnerBros.com.
    • Release date: 2004-05-14.
    • Casting
      • Achilles, the Warrior: Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt may have the face and acting for it but I think he role needed someone bigger: Achilles is supposed to be a brute, invulnerable except for his heel. I had assumed that Brad Pitt was playing Hector or Odysseus or something.
        photo of Brad Pitt as Achilles
      • Hector, the Good Brother and Son: Eric Bana. I haven't seen him in The Hulk, but he has a good face for a good guy.
      • Paris, the Lover: Orlando Bloom. makes sense: He is after all a good archer in LOTR and that heel is a small target. (Don't give me any crap about spoilers because this story is 2800 years old.)
      • Agamemnon, the King of the Greek Kings: Brian Cox. He looks ugly enough for it.
      • Odysseus, the Crafty: Sean Bean. Sean Bean did a great job as Boromir in LOTR so I think he'll do fine as the crafty Odysseus, my favorite character in the entire epic. However, I think Brad Pitt and Sean Bean should have switched characters.
      • Menelaus, the Jealous Husband King: Brendan Gleeson. I haven't seen him in Gangs of New York, but he looks like he could play a tortured fellow.
      • Helen of Troy: Diane Kruger. I don't know who she is but her role is crucial. The bad thing about all the Troy movies so far is that they never get a Helen beautiful enough. The need someone who makes all the current super models look like wall flowers. Someone so inhumanly beautiful that thousands of people would die for her.
      • Priam, King of Troy: Peter O'Toole. Excellent casting.
      • Ajax, the Mighty: Tyler Mane. Tyler Mane, who was the huge Sabertooth in X-Men, was well cast as the might Ajax!
    • As much as I'm into swords, I hope that the show that the majority of the troops used spears since they were more prevalent for reasons such as spears were cheaper (they used less metal), had longer range, and were easier to train on how to use.
    • Related links:
  • Godsend
    • Release Date: 2004-04-30
    • Movie Summary: 'Following the death of their eight year old son on his birthday, Jessie (Romijn-Stamos) and Paul (Kinnear) are befriended by a doctor on the forefront of genetic research (DeNiro) at the height of their mourning. He leads the couple in a desperate attempt to reverse the rules of nature and clone their son. The experiment is successful and under Richard's watchful eye, Adam grows into a healthy and happy young boy, until his 8th birthday. As time goes by, the Duncan's gradually start to see small, subtle differences between the new Adam and the Adam they lost. At the time of the new Adam's eighth birthday, the changes in character are more pronounced. '
      • All the fiction that happens before the clone reaches 8 is frightening enough. I don't care much for the fiction that happens after the clone reaches 8.
    • Related links:
      • GodsendTheMovie.com.
      • GodsendInstitute.org.
        • This is a site marketing the movie but made to look like a real site. I like jokes, humor and cleverness but I hate April Fools and hoaxes. People have enough problems trying to find the truth. Fiction should aid in that search, not hinder it.
        • 'Since Dolly, several scientists have cloned other animals, including cows and mice. Now, at Godsend, we have pioneered a technique that allows a cell nucleus from a recently deceased child to be implanted within a human egg, allowing a mother to carry that child to term again. In theory, this new child would be identical to its predecessor in every way. By creating life from life, Dr. Wells and his crack team give nature a gentle push, and help to rebuild shattered families.'
      • SavingsAndClone.com.
        • I thought this might possibly be part of the same marketing scheme but a WHOIS check of the domain name registration does not show 'Lions Gate Entertainment' as a similar search for GodsendInstitute.org did.
        • 'the world's leader in the cloning of exceptional pets'
      • Hollywood takes a look at cloning -- and opens up a can of worms. The article points out that typing in "cloning" into Google will turn up GodsendInstitute.org as the top sponsored link. I don't find that funny or amusing. In fact it's so unfunny that I've decided just now to refuse to see the movie in the theater or buy the DVD. I'll borrow it or watch something else.


  • Army clears Guantanamo chaplain.
    • He porn at work but he wasn't a spy. I expect a lot of Guantanamo cases to come to a head soon.
    • Related link: Eat crow and wise up! 'Accused of espionage and aiding the enemy, Capt. Yee became instant fodder for self-proclaimed "protectors of America", 110% patriots (thanks S-Train for the term), and various other folks riding the treason SUV hard. Well guess what? No evidence was found and he has been vindicated. '
  • Justices question Bush administration's Cuba detainee policy
    • 'Several Supreme Court justices expressed skepticism Tuesday about the Bush administration's effort to block court hearings for nearly 600 foreigners who are being held at a military base in Cuba as part of an anti-terrorism policy. '
  • WatchingJustice.org. 'The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) plays a significant and singular role in shaping and enforcing the nation's policies through litigation, regulation, investigation, and implementation of laws. Watching Justice's mission is to keep a vigilant and long-term eye on Americans' fundamental rights and liberties by providing a forum for analysis, praise, and criticism of the department's actions. Watching Justice also monitors those offices in the Department of Homeland Security that were previously based in the DOJ.'
  • The Hispanic Challenge
    • 'The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves--from Los Angeles to Miami--and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril. '
    • Sounds sensible eh? But then you realize it's xenophobic racist shit.



  • Purported Bin Laden 'Truce' Is Rejected
    • 'A man identifying himself as Osama bin Laden offered a "truce" to European countries that do not attack Muslims, saying it would begin when their soldiers leave Islamic nations, according to a recording broadcast Thursday on Arab satellite networks. Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain quickly spurned what appeared to be an attempt to drive a wedge between Europe and America.'
    • Related link: Full text: 'Bin Laden tape'
  • Hurting our Arab friends
    • 'When King Abdullah II of Jordan pointedly postponed the visit he was scheduled to have today with President Bush, it dramatized a major drawback in Bush's siding with Israel last week to dictate key peace terms to the Palestinians. The Bush deal with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, endorsing the latter's unilateral "disengagement" plan, is a severe blow to moderate Arab leaders who are important to U.S. interests in that volatile region. '
      • Bush is becoming less and less clandestine about his efforts to make this a Holy War, i.e. this is not just a police action against terrorist criminals but a war against all Muslims. Bush is more dangerous to America than bin Laden.
  • UN Oil-for-Food-for-Oil Scandal
  • Howard's pledge on European constitution
  • Globalist: An ominous moment in Middle East turmoil
    • 'All this has forged among Arabs a perception of Israel and the United States as largely synonymous. Gaza blurs into Falluja because Muslims suffer in both at the hands of an all-powerful outside force. The administration's "strategy of freedom in the Middle East," laid out last November, has also stoked Arab nationalist fires because it is seen by some as a cloak for westernization undertaken in the name of a Christian God.'
    • ' "I have never been so discouraged about the Middle East," said Farhad Kazemi, a political scientist at New York University. "The president's word has lost its credibility in the region as the administration's policies have moved in the direction of an identification of America and Israel." '
    • ' The result, as Sullivan acknowledged, is that it is not easy to sell American policy in the Middle East. "There's a growing view in the Arab world of an American-Zionist conspiracy," he said. Nationalist ideologues in Iraq are finding it easy to sell the view that unless Iraqis fight they will end up bowing to the will of the United States and Israel, living in humiliating powerlessness like the Palestinians. '
    • ' As one exasperated European minister put it recently: "Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are now locked in as one. America has to see the danger of that." '

2004-04-25t20:32:58Z | RE: Martial Arts. Gun Control. Sword Control. Politics.
Sword-Gun-Weapon Rights 2

A friend of mine (who has asked to remain anonymous) responded to my recent post on Sword-Gun-Weapon Rights. I wouldn't be surprised if every room in his house had multiple weapons in it. Before I go on I want to say that I really appreciate this sort of feedback. He stays on topic, discusses the issue, and avoids ad hominem tactics.

(FYI: The 7 numbered quotes from my original post were made by my friend.)

1. If gun control got rid of Saturday Night Specials, then there would be fewer deaths and gun control has succeeded.

- Hardly. Gun control did eliminate SNS. You can't buy an inexpensive new foreign pistol today. You are limited to high-quality expensive (over $300) American brands. The gun lobby argument is that poor people cannot legally buy inexpensive ($50-$100) new guns for protection. Of course criminals steal most of their guns anyway, so this hasn't affected them.

The point is that gun control has indeed eliminated SNS which are crappy and promote dangerous situations. I don't see the price of guns as an issue (I think there should be affordable guns regardless of how rich or poor you are), rather I think the required registration is what should cut down on spontaneous gun purchases and usage. As far as black market or stolen guns, gun registration only helps to clamp down on that sort of activity.

2. They have to pay fees. The US is OK with fees but the Australian fees are outrageous.

- Recently there was an attempt by an IL politician, to drastically raise the price of the FOID. Huge outcries halted this. Doesn't mean it won't happen again. If $5.00 every 5 years increased to $500 annually (similar to what was proposed), we enter Aussie territory.

Absolutely. I'm all for paying appropriate fees and taxes but I don't like being cheated. We just have to watch the news and check sites like FirearmsLawCenter.org, NRA.org, and ISRA.org (for Illinois).

3. Certain models may be illegal to even obtain. I could understand strict control over items like machine guns, sawed off shotguns, armor piercing bullets, but outright banning is harsh.

- Armor-piercing bullets are Gun-Control Nut (GCN) propaganda. The concern is that armor-piercing bullets can penetrate police bullet-proof vests. So GCNs want to ban them. The problem is that vests will stop pistol bullets 9mm, .38, .45, .357, common handgun rounds a cop will typically encounter). Vests won't stop most rifle bullets (or knives for that matter). An armor piercing bullet ban would outlaw most deer-hunting and varmint rounds. GCNs know this but, no surprise, aren't too concerned.

Like I said I don't mind strict control but I dislike outright banning. EG: In the Chicago Municipal Ordinances Relating To Firearms, submitted to annually to the Illinois State Police by the Chicago City Clerk, they give fairly  explicit definitions. EG: 8-20-30(n) states this: ' "Metal piercing bullet" means any bullet that is manufactured with other than a lead or lead alloy core, or ammunition of which the bullet itself is wholly composed of, or machined from, a metal or metal alloy other than lead, or any other bullet that is manufactured to defeat or penetrate bullet resistant properties of soft body armor or any other type of bullet resistance clothing which meets the minimum requirements of the current National Institute for Justice Standards for "Ballistic Resistance of Police Body Armor". '

That doesn't sound like propaganda but some attempt to protect the lives of the Chicago Police. If the  definitions covering control of "armor-piercing bullets" happen to also fit deer-hunting rounds, then that would be problematic pro-hunting areas. It's almost understandable in Chicago (because there isn't much deer-hunting in the city) but what if I were a deer hunter who happened to live in Chicago?

Again, my real peeve, is the BAN on handguns in Chicago.

4. The thing is that cricket bats, rocks, kitchen knives, axes, etc. have other uses. Handguns and swords are designed for killing people.

-Designed for defense as well. Defense and hunting are other uses for handguns. I've personally hunted deer with a handgun (IL has a three day handgun-only deer hunting season - Jan 15-18) and I have carried a handgun in grizzly territory (as recommended by park rangers).

I stick with my statement: 'Handguns and swords are designed for killing people'. A sword can be used for hunting but its core purpose is to kill people. A kitchen knife can be used to kill people but its core purpose is for food preparation.

One of distinctions between the Platonic "idea" of a rifle and a handgun is that a rifle may have a core purpose of hunting and killing, but a handgun has a core purpose of killing --using a handgun for hunting is not a core purpose. However, I think the handgun as a back up weapon for defense is a fair use.

5. But gun control doesn't ban guns, it controls them.

-Maybe you are in favor of control in the true sense of the word. Most GC proponents are in favor of complete elimination of guns from the public. The leading GC group - name escapes me at the moment-routinely admit this.

I think it is important to make these distinctions of detail. If the discussion is reduced to the extreme opposites (Gun Banners v No Gun Control Whatsoever), then the argument is stupid and non-productive. (Much like many Right v Left political discussions)

6. The question is: Can gun control be implemented in a way that protects society but does not take away a gun owner's rights?

-No. Any GC will take some rights away from gun owners. And it is not necessary. Rather than controlling guns, control criminals. Use a gun in a crime and go to jail for a long, long time. We can do that but don't because we don't have jail space, court time and prosecutor time. GCNs should spend their energy fixing this problem (tougher judges, stricter sentences, more jails, decriminalize non-violent drug offenses, etc.).

Certainly some of the gun control laws are annoying and just not fair. But I think pro-gun people must have some degree of moderation. I'm all for owning guns but I think laws like registering guns (which may trace guns used in crimes), requiring training, and regulations covering safe storage and handling can save lives without restricting legal users.

And, of course, I'm all for enforcing current laws covering stuff like assault and battery (EGs: USC Chapter 7 Assault and Illinois Criminal Offenses (720 ILCS 5/) Criminal Code of 1961).

7. If it is a hassle for criminals to get a gun, then some of them will use something else and almost everything else is less dangerous than a gun.

-I don't think it is a hassle. Criminals don't fill out a FOID app, get it notarized, wait 6 weeks, go to a gun store, buy a pistol, wait 3 days, pick-it up, transport it unloaded in a case, store it with a trigger lock or put it in a safe, and use safety glasses and ear protection when committing a crime. Most guns in criminal hands are stolen. And with over 200 million guns in the country, most unregistered, they are not going away. Hassles won't stop criminals. GC laws only hassle the public. 10 year mandatory jail sentences, with no parole for crimes involving guns, will hassle criminals and drastically lower crime.

(Same answer as in #6). I think if we had no gun control whatsoever, then criminals would have an even easier time getting guns.

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