2004-04-23t17:26:44Z | TAGS: 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.
2004-04-23t17:26:44Z

9/11 Commission

Bush

• 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?
• 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. '
• NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE
• Allen Weinstein Bio
• Plan of Attack, book by Bob Woodward [Amazon]

Comic Art

• http://www.candlebone.com/mp3s/oldtincan.mov. This animation composition was done while someone was deeply stoned. Good for Halloween!
• Doonesbury's B.D. Loses Leg in Iraq.
• OMFG. I read Doonesbury everyday and for the past few days the strip has been shown, from D.B.'s point of view, that D.B. was hurt but I didn't know how far they were going to take it. This will bring the Iraq Invasion War home to Americans in a powerful and yet "safe" way. Excellent job  Trudeau, very powerful stuff and an excellent use of the medium and the power of your syndication. FYI: This is the first time we've ever seen B.D. without a helmet on.

Computers

• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.

Elections

• 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. '

Engineering

• FanPants. Great invention for guys with no butts like me! Ha ha ha!

Faith

Food

• 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.

Fun

• 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.
• 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.
• Sportka Evil Cat Commercial [see the video]. Not as good as their anti-bird version but you have to see them all.

Green

Images

Interesting

Iraq

• 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.
• '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.
• 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?

Israel

• 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.
• 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.

Math

Media

• 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.'

Money

• 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.

Politics

• 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? '
• 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).
• 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.
• 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
• RedVsBlue.com

Science

• Big Bang glow hints at funnel-shaped Universe
• 'Could the Universe be shaped like a medieval horn? It may sound like a surrealist's dream, but according to Frank Steiner at the University of Ulm in Germany, recent observations hint that the cosmos is stretched out into a long funnel, with a narrow tube at one end flaring out into a bell. It would also mean that space is finite.'
• Cosmology is fun. Of course the goofy anti-science folks will see this stuff and say "See? Science is goofier than religion." The difference is that science has theories and postulations open to testing, not just statements that simply say this is the way the universe is.
• Related link: Department of Theoretical Physics - Frank Steiner's Group
• Evolution.Berkeley.edu
• Quake to hit LA 'by Sept 5'
• ' Russian-born University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) professor Vladimir Keilis-Borok says he can foresee major quakes by tracking minor temblors and historical patterns in seismic hotspots that could indicate more violent shaking is on the way. And he has made a chilling prediction that a quake measuring at least 6.4 magnitude on the Richter scale will hit a 19,300-square-kilometre area of southern California by September 5. '
• ' "It is not specific," said Susan Hough, a seismologist for the US Geological Survey based in Pasadena, near Los Angeles. "They've made three predictions and two of them have been borne out."

Keilis-Borok himself acknowledged the caution expressed by some of his colleagues. "Application of non-linear dynamics and chaos theory is often counter-intuitive, so acceptance by some research teams will take time."

But if his latest prediction that the earth will move in the area around Los Angeles within the next five months proves accurate, his research could end up saving lives and transforming seismology. '

• Imaging the brain solving problems through insight and Neural Activity When People Solve Verbal Problems with Insight
• Oldest Jewelry? "Beads" Discovered in African Cave.
• 'Humans may have been wearing jewelry as far back as 75,000 years ago, about 30,000 years earlier than previously thought, if 41 shells found at Blombos Cave in South Africa prove to have been used as beads.'
• DNA Folds Into Paired Pyramids. 'The octahedron has two advantages over other artificially-formed three-dimensional DNA shapes, according to the researchers. First, because the structures are triangular, they're relatively strong. Second, like a three-dimensional paper airplane made from a flat piece of paper, the octahedron is made from straight DNA strands. The three-dimensional shape forms when one long DNA strand and five shorter strands are mixed and heated.'
• World in the Balance. A really good PBS Nova piece on world population. EG: Human Numbers Through Time [Flash interactive] looks at population growth across the globe over time.
• Analysis: 'Bounce' rock's cosmic portent
• 'A few days ago, on its slow roll across the Martian terrain at its landing site at Meridiani Planum, an iron-oxide-rich area near the planet's equator, Opportunity's controllers noticed an odd-looking, football-shaped rock lying in the red dust. They named the rock "Bounce," because the lander most likely hit it as it bounced along the surface, cushioned by its airbags, before coming to rest inside the little crater called Eagle.  ... The results stunned the NASA team. ... Bounce's chemical composition exactly matches that of a meteorite that hit the ground in Shergotty, India, on Aug. 25, 1865. Called the Shergotty meteorite -- and the source name for a class of meteorites called shergottites -- its chemical composition is a "matching fingerprint" to Bounce, said David Grinspoon, professor of planetary science at the University of Colorado in Boulder. ... So far, no one has broached the bigger implication: Bounce provides conclusive evidence not only of Martian meteorites on Earth, but also of the possibility of cross-seeding.'
• Brain Studies Reveal Where Aesthetic, Insight Reside
• Science Women Get Cinematic Boost. That is Rosalind Franklin (Ms. DNA) and Hedy Lamarr (Ms. Spread Spectrum)
• Medical Mood Ring. 'MIT mechanical engineers Harry Asada and Phillip Shaltis have developed a "ring sensor" that monitors the wearer's temperature, heart rate, and blood oxygen level. About the size of a class ring, the device is equipped with two light-emitting diodes that beam pulses of red and near infrared light through the user's finger.'

Sex [Assume anything in this section is possibly NSFW]

• Where Having Sex is a Crime: Criminalization and Decriminalization of Homosexual Acts (2003). EG: Zanzibar outlaws homosexual acts.
• HIV scare calls halt to porn shoots
• 'Several adult movie companies - including the industry's largest, Vivid - said they would stop filming after two stars [Darren James and Lara Roxx] tested positive for HIV.'
• I always assumed the big names in the industry (at the very least) had some medical screening process because otherwise it would interfere with business. This sort of slip up has probably happened before but, thanks to the Internet, now we can hear about such things, which, btw, is what's the real story.
• Oh So Natural: Sexual selection, the Good Book and why gay is good
• ' I have replaced "sexual selection" with "social selection." In social selection, animals are organized differently. Their organization is arranged to control access to reproductive opportunity, which includes everything they need to reproduce: food, nesting sites, mates. Animals use their resources as bartering chips to buy help from others. Sometimes this leads to cooperation and sometimes to competition. And this creates all kinds of familial relationships. Under certain circumstances, that means monogamy, but under others, that means polygamy and polyandry. Not only are there many types of family organizations, there may even be more than two genders. '
• Problems with sexual selection does not kill evolution. Social selection can fit into Evolution.

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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.

US

• 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.

Web

World

• 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.'