March 31, 2006

"Let the prisoners pick the fruit."

Well, that sounds like an intelligent discussion of immigration "reform."

Posted by duver001 at 2:13 PM

Evidence of the lack of effect of prayer

What a surprise! No effect if the prayer subject doesn't know about it, and a slight negative effect if they do know about it. Truly I think we could have used some simple logic to show this as well.

Posted by duver001 at 2:03 PM

Chuck Taylor all-star villain

An interesting biography, including escaping from prison in Mass. Worst part? Election slogan, "“He killed my ma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him." Wow!

Posted by duver001 at 1:05 PM

March 30, 2006

Mila on the Morning Show (Minnesota Public Radio)

Listen here.

And see the video here. Yup, video of the radio performance.

Posted by duver001 at 5:13 PM

March 28, 2006

Snakes on a plane?

The quote tracker.

Posted by duver001 at 10:03 PM

March 27, 2006

March 26, 2006

Billions more for big oil companies

You can divide the number by the number of American households yourself to figure out how much money you're sending directly to the oil plutocrats. Do the same for Haliburton if you want to feel ill.

Posted by duver001 at 11:07 PM

Give it a positive name, but no money, and see what happens

"No child left behind." The narrowing of school curriculums is one nasty consequence of the federal law. I see it in my twins' school, every focus is on the standardized test scores.

Posted by duver001 at 10:23 PM

March 24, 2006

Bluffers guide to math

"If a five-piece jazz band can play 'Honeysuckle Rose' in six minutes, you might think a ten-piece could play it in three minutes. In fact, it would take at least 12, because everybody's got to have time to take a solo."


A physicist and a Mathematician were asked the same question:

Suppose you walked by a burning house. Next to the house is a hydrant and a hose laying on the ground not connected to the hydrant. What would you do?

Physicist: I would attach the hose to the hydrant, turn on the water, and put out the fire.

Mathematician: I would attach the hose to the hydrant, turn on the water, and put out the fire.

Then they were asked this question:

Suppose you walked by a house (not on fire) and also saw a hose connected to a hydrant. What would you do?

Physicist: I would keep walking, as there is no problem to solve.

Mathematician: I would disconnect the hose from the hydrant and set the house on fire, I would therefore have reduced the problem to a previously solved form.

Posted by duver001 at 2:12 PM

I haven't kept up with Hitchens that well since he left the Nation

But I definitely enjoyed his spirited defense of Denmark, the free press, and democracy. And I think we can safely ignore his praise of the Iraq War. I am impressed that he's remained steadfast in his opinions, hmmm..., despite evidence that they're wrong?

Posted by duver001 at 11:56 AM

Dubya presidential library may be built on land swindled from the elderly

How appropriate would that be?

Posted by duver001 at 11:46 AM

Not just casinos any longer

Another approach to South Dakota's attack on women's rights. Indian Reservation Planned Parenthood clinics. It's so simple and elegant, I can't believe it hadn't been mentioned before. Okay, I searched, and it's been mentioned plenty of times, including in this omnibus article.

Posted by duver001 at 11:38 AM

By religion, who supports torture?

No great surprise that secular folks are least likely to support torture. But why do Catholics support torture more readily than others? I'd love to go with a good joke on the Spanish Inquisition, but will have to settle for considering The Passion of the Christ and Opus Dei instead.

Posted by duver001 at 11:33 AM

Nature & Encyclopedia Britannica

The Nature study which compared the Wikipedia and Britannica is criticized by the latter party. It's an interesting business, was looking at the pdf's from both organizations attacking and defending the study (follow links at the Beeb site to find this bits). No conclusions from me exactly, but there certainly looked like an intellectual divide as much as anything else. See what you think.

Posted by duver001 at 11:09 AM

Cell phones in movie theaters

I personally like the water pistol idea near the bottom of the article. Though of course the physicist in me is more interested in paints that absorb efficiently in the cell bands.

Posted by duver001 at 11:06 AM

March 23, 2006

On a typical day we'd condemn genocide, unless you want to advertise

Oi! It's a long, sad tale of how the New York Times printed an eight page advertising supplement which cites the virtues of the Sudan and the Sudanese government. The same government which works overtime to slaughter non-Muslems in the south of the country. Plastic lays out the story, and some of the comments clarify how advertising supplements are sold. It's weird that US Christian religious leaders are perpetually up in arms about the "oppression of Christians" in Wyoming, but not the genocide of Christians in the Sudan. Ooops! Wait a second, those Christians in Wyoming are white, right?

Posted by duver001 at 12:59 PM

March 22, 2006

Further consequences of the Patriot Act

You need to report to the government if you take your chicken to the vet. Huh? This is smaller, less intrusive government? And it's weird!

Posted by duver001 at 12:22 PM

"Stay off of my lawn, darned kids!"

So he shot and killed the kid?

Posted by duver001 at 12:19 PM

Heck, do our leaders even pay attention to the real world today?

"Cheney, in an interview on the CBS program Face the Nation, was challenged on his statement three years ago that 'we will be greeted as liberators' and his assertion 10 months ago that the insurgency was in its 'last throes.' He insisted that in both cases his facts were right, but that the news media has created a different perception with vivid imagery of killing." On the other hand, the Iraqi leadership says "It is unfortunate that we are in civil war." [Ayad Allawi]

Posted by duver001 at 12:08 PM

Do we remember three years ago?

When Bush actually took an unscripted question, what did he do? Invoke 9/11 and lie. "[W]e worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose. We were around then, it was only three years ago, remember? That isn't what happened! When the resolution was passed, Hussein allowed in the inspectors and the US went ahead with the war anyway.

Is Bush completely delusional? Or he figures that no one will call him on his lies? Or does he really believe his own propaganda version of what didn't happen? It just boggles the mind.

Posted by duver001 at 12:03 PM

ETA calls it quits

The Basque separtist freedom fighters/terrorists have called a permanent ceasefire. The Islamist bombings in Madrid have essentially made future ETA bombing campaigns untenable. Over eight hundred people have been killed by ETA over the four decades of its operation.

Posted by duver001 at 11:51 AM

Mila pod cast

Check it out... This is leading up to their April 1st CD release party at the Walker Art Center sculpture garden. See their web site for more details.

Posted by duver001 at 11:40 AM

Child "bride" in Afghanistan

One of the more painful stories that I have ever read. Married off at age four, beaten, starved, scalded, abused for years. Finally escaped.

Posted by duver001 at 9:53 AM

March 21, 2006

Bush claims that Iraq is not in civil war

As the civil war claims 50-60 lives each day. In the US history analogy, this is worse than the (Bloody) Kansas salvary fight, but nowhere near as bad as our Civil War (3000 deaths per day on average) and only some fraction of the Revolutionary War (~100 per day) totals. Looking around the world, the Congo sees a shocking 2500 deaths per day. Still, this one is our fault and what to do in the Congo???

Note also buried in the story is news of another coverup of US military killings of civilians.

Posted by duver001 at 4:09 PM

Outsourcing to North Korea?

Ick! South Korean firms are moving some manufacturing across the DMZ to employ North Korean workers who officially get 1/10th to 1/20th the salary of South Koreans, but the money goes to the North Korean government, not the workers. And the factory owners want to have the products labeled as made in South Korea.

Posted by duver001 at 11:22 AM

Evolution in action

Two strains of the Bird flu. It evolved. Can we say that here, or will the "intelligent design" folks object?

Posted by duver001 at 11:17 AM

March 20, 2006

Before and after Abu Ghraib

This unit of the US military tortured and abused prisoners. "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it." Camp Nama continues the pattern of abuse and violation of international laws that has already cost the US generations worth of good will and has rightfully earned us a place among the filthy dictatorships and sqaulid miltary junatas of the world.

Posted by duver001 at 12:03 PM

Welcome to the brain of the Don

The Donald Rumsfeld that is. Plastic has an excellent resume of web links from his halcyon days in the Nixon and Ford administrations to leading two failed wars (see what sort of freedom and democracy has brought to Afghanistan?) for Dubya.

Read his own words, justifying what has been accomplished in the past three years in Iraq. Believe any of it? Like Rummy's $50 billion dollar and 5 week estimates of the war costs and length? And what's up with his comparisons of very and sundries with Hitler? Do we really fear that a 1000 year Venezualan Reich is right around the corner? Or is he projecting a bit?

Going back to the resume, we have to reflect on his successful running of the Office of Economic Opportunity under Nixon and his back-room efforts to help get the US out of the Vietnam War. For that he was shuffled off to be NATO ambassador. Then triumph as chief of staff and defense secretary under Ford, fighting against the whole nastiness of detante. Off to the private sector until Dubya decides to bring the Nixon crowd all back to the White House. The epic Shinseki-Rumsfeld fight seems now to be a footnote in the story, but certainly marked part of the White House team's decent into unreality.

Afghanistan. Iraq. Some investigations into what Rumsfeld has wrought.


Posted by duver001 at 11:39 AM

Finally the airport "no-fly" terrorism lists actually caught a terrorist

Who had just left the White House. It does remind us of how terrorists (here a man who ordered the murder of many people) morphs into a distinguished political guest.

Posted by duver001 at 11:35 AM

And backrupting the US

As Hegel pointed out. He was thinking of the financial cost of a $2 trillion war, but there is the moral backruptcy as well.

Posted by duver001 at 11:31 AM

Which is more secure, voting machines or slot machines?

Well, obvious it would be slot machines since we know from at least 2000 that voting machine fraud is a big business. Heck, it's a big business that has sworn to deliver elections to their favored party. And thus far, have kept their promise. You can follow the efforts to stop "black box" voting at the blackboxvoting.com website.

Posted by duver001 at 9:33 AM

In a war based on lies...

...we have the "largest air assault since the beginning of the Gulf War Part 2" a so-called Operation Swarmer. We're still being lied to. This was merely a propaganda operation timed to coincide with additional bad news from Iraq and with the 3rd anniversary of the start of US offensive operations. Even Time magazine concludes "not a shot was fired, or a leader nabbed."

Posted by duver001 at 9:27 AM

March 17, 2006

The debt

Well, it now stands at about $27,000 for each person in the country. Or about 65.7% of the GDP. Over $8 trillion. What's going to happen when the Baby Boomers retire? It's rather a mess that those spend and borrow (not tax) Republicans have gotten us into financially.

Posted by duver001 at 3:25 PM

Embarassing news comments on the Iraq War

Hard to believe how far wrong these people were. Though truth be told, those I opposed the war from the start, I actually thought it would go okay. Silly me.

Posted by duver001 at 12:36 PM

Where the tax money goes

A kinda cute graphic for death and taxes. Zoom in and scroll around...

Posted by duver001 at 12:34 PM

V for Vendetta

Okay, so it's hard to imagine how any film could be more apropos today in the US than a film version of Alan Moore's warning about fascism. On the other hand, there's the movie business making disposible imitations of movies. the net result, well, I haven't seen it yet, but it sounds moderately good or at least worth a watch. Now on to the real task of nipping the jack-booted republicans before they install the ovens.

Posted by duver001 at 12:29 PM

Bird flu outbreak in Israel

One of the few things that seems to be able to get the Israelis and the Palestinians talking. Dead birds.

Posted by duver001 at 11:04 AM

March 15, 2006

Spring Break 2006

So, for part of my Spring Break, I'm visiting my folks down in Northern Georgia for a few days, then going to try to get a little R&R in back home. Maybe work on my home network...there are a couple of additional machines to network and I've been meaning to get my wireless network back up. (For months now!)

Anyhow, it's been warm, definitely Spring here in Hartwell. The daffodils are almost all passed already. While the heaviest snow of the season falls in the Twin Cities... (Though there should still be some left for me to shovel when I get home.)

It's nice seeing my mom with email and web access too!

Posted by duver001 at 3:57 PM

March 10, 2006

"The winter of our discontent"

Bush's poll ratings continue to fall as civil war looms in Iraq. Looks like he's still more popular than Nixon was in the middle of Watergate, which goes to show you that most Americans don't follow the news that well.

Posted by duver001 at 2:18 PM

March 9, 2006

Japanese shirt folding?

Posted by duver001 at 4:01 PM

Iraqi rights abuses increasing

According to the US State Department, which ignored abuses in Guantanamo, and of prisoners of the US authorities in Iraq and Afghanistan. The report does say that the United State's "own journey toward liberty and justice for all has been long and difficult, and it is far from complete." And getting farther.

And now with the US running the show, they even have a death penalty though it was intended mostly for a certain former president of theirs.

Posted by duver001 at 10:10 AM

March 8, 2006

Boy George cocaine charge dropped


And now you know what he looks like after all these years since Karma Chameleon.

Posted by duver001 at 12:43 PM

Syrofoam-eating bacteria

The bane of biodegrading may be no longer.

Posted by duver001 at 12:41 PM

March 7, 2006

Aviation leak on a possible two-stage-to-orbit military spaceplane

One would need to take it all with a grain of salt, but the chronology would make some sense. Might this also be Aurora?

Posted by duver001 at 4:38 PM

File an FOIA request to see if you've been illegally spied on

Do read the FAQ and all before doing anything with this. And be aware that the NSA isn't likely to respond, but the FBI might.

Posted by duver001 at 4:19 PM

Deceased

Posted by duver001 at 4:17 PM

Do what we say, not what we do

So, Dick Cheney says that Americans should save more and fund their pensions while Bush has stopped making payments to the Federal Employees' Pension Fund and begun borrowing from it as the US hits the debt ceiling.

Posted by duver001 at 12:54 PM

If there was any doubt that the Iraq War was manufactured

We have Bush telling Blair about a plan to relabel US planes as UN planes. Have Iraq shoot at them. And justify a war that way. Remember, the German invasion of Poland in September of 1939 was a response to Polish-uniformed German troops "attacking." All lies.

Posted by duver001 at 12:51 PM

Wal-Mart bloggers

Wal-Mart press releases and other PR/propaganda are being distributed via blogs. So, blog for Wal-Mart. Hmmm...does it pay well? Hey, I could write positive comments about how Wal-Mart helps out state economies by forcing its workers onto public assistance. Or how it improves the trade deficit with China. Or how much electricity is consumed to make the cheap injection-molded plastic crap. Or how much CO2 is emitted in generating that electricity. Or...

Posted by duver001 at 12:34 PM

By the time we get to South Dakota

The folks in South Dakota are pretty confident in how Alito and Roberts will vote. Stopping at the Rainbow grocery store in uptown Minneapolis, was reminded of this last night. Next door is Planned Parenthood of Minnesota and South Dakota. The state's one abortion clinic in Sioux Falls handles about 800 per year. Legislation in Missouri and Mississippi is moving forward with the same goal.

Posted by duver001 at 12:17 PM

March 6, 2006

A roll of 100 stamps and some wasted time

Just about breakeven without accounting for time used. Or the domain name...

Posted by duver001 at 3:16 PM

Car popularity by how long it sits on the lot

Okay, I admit it, one of my most stereotypically guy traits is a unhealthy interest in cars. No, no, no, I didn't mean like Rachel in V. I mean, in reading car magazines and the like. A Maserati? What sort of insanity is that. I've deliberately not had a car section in my blog also, but here's an entry that would fall into that, if I had such a category.

Cars that sell right off the delivery truck, and cars that sit for 302 days on average! (A crossfire sounds like a mechanical problem with an engine rather than something one might want to own IMHO.) Some surprises, common Honda Civics sell off of the lot very quickly while the very cool Mazda RX-8 takes months to sell. Interesting little article.

Posted by duver001 at 1:05 PM

Barnard Park music

Ah, news from near where I grew up. Beautiful Barnard Park in Hartford, CT. Drugs, prostitutes, and now a proposal to use classical music to reduce crime. Play Bach and soothe the inner beast. Beethoven and reduce the need for ultraviolence. There's also the beginnings of a discussion of this on plastic.com.

Posted by duver001 at 12:59 PM

Nuclear power redux

NPR devoted an hour recently to nuclear power, though it wasted some of that time with a cold fusion bit. Got to have that "on one side" and "on the other" thing going.

I'm certainly in favor of sensible ways of cutting back greenhouse gases which would include nuclear power, but a British panel looking into this concluded that building new plants would not yield a significant carbon dioxide benefit to outweigh its risks. It's an interesting argument---the risks included not only the obvious, and vexing, long-term waste problem but also the rigid hierarchical power-distribution structure from nuclear power at a time when micro-generation seems to be increasing.

Posted by duver001 at 12:30 PM

Voices from Guantanamo

Some of the declassified interrogation reports of the inmates. Makes for interesting reading, some dedicated opponents of the West and some people imprisoned for having a name similar to those of Taliban leaders. And little effort being made to prove any of the accusations against them.

Posted by duver001 at 12:19 PM

March 3, 2006

Blogging for CENTCOM?

So, the US military hires people to look at blogs, add entries that try to lead people to official propaganda, and "engage" those that post information that does not agree with the propaganda line. Okay, Goebbels would have approved of those efforts, but they're just beginning efforts, aren't they? Eventually "incorrect" information could be replaced. That would just be a little hacking. And the "incorrect" information provider could be "removed." After all, they hate the freedoms that we used to have.

Posted by duver001 at 1:39 PM

I spent too much time yesterday thinking about this blog

Could you tell? I sat in my office typing and searching on it while one of my students edited a document on the other side of my desk. Thought I'd skip a few days and spend the time on something more work-productive, but then...more coverage of global warming...here the accelerated melting of the Antarctic ice cap. Remember, that ice is sitting on land, not floating, so it contributes directly to ocean levels, unlike the Arctic ice which is floating and hence doesn't increase ocean levels when it melts. See, 3rd grade science was useful!

Posted by duver001 at 9:53 AM

March 2, 2006

Your photography rights

With a just a quick glance, I found two blogs online that document photographer problems with "the law" (typically actually with incorrect and paranoid interpretations of the law). Photo Permit and Freedom to Photograph.

What are your rights indeed? Well, they can be paraphrased as follows: you can almost always photograph anything in public unless there is a specific law otherwise (like attempts to ban photography in the New York subway system). Film or flash memory cannot be confiscated except with a court order. Take a look at Bert Krages, Attorney at Law's excellent summary and the pdf document of your photographer's rights. Put a copy in your camera bag!

Another, longer pdf is also available online which lays out the same points in a slightly different manner. And you can also look at the model release FAQ for information on commercial uses of photos with recognizable people or owned things. The National Press Photographer's Association has a memo on photographer rights up online.

There's an NPR piece from last June as well.

Posted by duver001 at 4:01 PM

Mine safety violation penalties? Being reduced.

With the mining deaths in the news, you might think that the government would follow up on mine safety. Or make companies pay the fines they've been assesed. You'd be wrong. In the interests of corporate subsidy, fines for violations of the law are being reduced and not collected. Makes sense to me. If the mine owners continue to contribute to the GOP, heck, they can have Iraqi slave labor working in the mines before long. Ooops! Did I give them any ideas?

The Seante is looking into it. Well, some senators are questioning it anyway.

Posted by duver001 at 2:32 PM

A $7 Billion "word processing error"

That, heh heh, happened to benefit the il companies to the tune of $7 Billion of taxpayer money. Nope, has to be just an accident.

Posted by duver001 at 2:07 PM

Bill of Rights

Wow! 20% of surveyed Americans thought pet ownership was enshrined in the 1st Ammendment. Only one of the one thousand respondants could name all five liberties listed there. No wonder we're losing them.

  • Freedom of/from religion
  • Freedom of the press
  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of assembly
  • Right to court process

Let's see...yup, all of them are under concerted attack.

Posted by duver001 at 1:59 PM

There does seem to be someone for everyone out there!

And you can find them online.

Posted by duver001 at 1:38 PM

The end to ground-based optical astronomy?

Global warming and increased airliner travel.

Posted by duver001 at 1:13 PM

Atwood (yep, one and the same) makes long-distance signing (of books) a possibility

It's a pretty weird tale of an author tired of exhausting book signing tours. And a science fiction solution.

Posted by duver001 at 12:51 PM

Breaking the last undeciphered Nazi German naval coded transmissions

They aren't especially significant transmissions, but there still something quite cool with finally deciphering these M4 Enigma transmissions. Let me also note, that since I went through a phase a year or two ago when I did quite a bit of reading on the U-Boat operations during World War II, that the "knife-edge" of victory over the German submarines is a myth.

Even when the Germans were winning, they were barely able to sink ships faster than they were being built, and they never were intercepting more than a percent or so of the ships bound for England. Clay Blair's two volumes (Hunters (1939-1942) and are certainly the definitive works on the Battle of the Atlantic. No knife-edge. No near thing. The U-Boats were suicidal operations by 1942 and even when they were most successful, were a small effect. There never were enough submarines to have a serious effect on British transport. And with the radar and cipher advantages, and by 1942 with the US also in the war, the contest was extremely uneven.

How war is reducing adventure travel options

Nepal is getting harder, and no tourists have been in Chechnya in years. Last Summer I wasn't able to make it up to Srinagar (from Mumbai) due to the terrorist activity. Angola is getting questionable again, and Zimbabwe wouldn't be nearly as much fun as it was a decade ago.

Posted by duver001 at 11:53 AM

March 1, 2006

Good Americans?

We do ask where the good Germans were while the Nazis tortured and murdered first their political opponents and then their scapegoats. I'm afraid that we probably need to ask ourselves the same question. We can't plead ignorance, or plead that we were just following orders. I'm reminded of the tale of the investigative reporters in Explaining Hitler, Ron Rosenbaum's brilliant examination of the theories of Hitler. They worked at the Munich Post and revealed the evils of the Nazis all through the 1920s until 1933 when it became too late for peaceful resistance. It's a story that should be better known.

Posted by duver001 at 1:45 PM

Starbucks' Rwandan coffee

High-altitude, volanic soil coffee. Even I have to admit that not all globalization is bad.

Posted by duver001 at 12:31 PM

"By the time I get to South Dakota"

The already famous "Molly Saves the Day" blog entry for the women of South Dakota. And much of the rest of the country pretty soon now.

Posted by duver001 at 12:27 PM

As Gore Vidal pointed out, there was more to Timothy McVeigh than met the eye

Though parts of the story here seem off-topic, it is worthwhile to note how many oddities remain in the OKC bombing story. Though some parts are being declassified.

Posted by duver001 at 12:21 PM

Turning around...

Has to be seen to be believed.

Posted by duver001 at 11:50 AM

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

As many of the people haven't returned yet, it appears to mostly for the tourists. The most amazing statistics was the population drop from 500k to 200k folks living in New Orleans.

Posted by duver001 at 11:34 AM