April 28, 2006

C for Cookie

The Sesame Street characters meet V for Vendetta. What if the government restricts our freedom to cookies?

Posted by duver001 at 11:38 AM

April 27, 2006

Darfur & Biafra

Been thinking about the big rally being held this Sunday, April 30th at the State Capital. "What did you do to try to stop the Darfur Genocide?" Been thinking about Biafra in light of what is happening now (and heck, for years now) in the Sudan. Got a book on the Biafran War a few days ago. Hadn't thought about it in quite some time. Anyway...there's not a lot of good material (at least that I could find quickly) on Biafra online, but you can try these to start:

So, what to do?

Another take on Darfur, from two years ago.

Posted by duver001 at 8:39 PM

Best of the Twin Cities

Best local website. Cursor.

See all of the listings online.

A special thrill was seeing Outsiders and Others be selected as best Art Gallery. My little ones have had their art hung there and they just held a most excellent sale and silent auction there last Saturday. Darn it, it looks like I wasn't the high bidder though...

Posted by duver001 at 2:31 PM

Peak Oil

The Economist has an interesting piece arguing that Peak Oil is quite a ways away. I thought one of the more interesting bits was the estimate of the prices at which alternate fuel technologies would be cost compeditive. Biodiesel was the highest priced option at $80 per barrel (oil equivalent). We're just about there.

Posted by duver001 at 2:23 PM

The Republican plan to fight energy costs?

Send everyone a check for $100 and add the total to the national debt. Brilliant.

Posted by duver001 at 2:21 PM

The tangled web of chick lit publishing

Plot and characters written, and then an author is found.

Posted by duver001 at 1:57 PM

April 26, 2006

Build your own Iraqi police/death squad

It's pretty cheap, and the cool mullahs are doing it. Guns, uniforms, bulletproofed cars. All available for cash transactions.

Posted by duver001 at 12:35 PM

Standing room only airlines

As seat pitches decline again on many airlines, my 6' 6" body is bound to face more abuse from the airlines. But standing on flights?

Posted by duver001 at 12:21 PM

Twenty years ago, Chernobyl

We're doing nuclear physics in the class I'm teaching at the moment. There's been a lot of news recently in the public fights over the deathtoll (the UN vs. Greenpeace estimates for example).

Posted by duver001 at 12:19 PM

April 25, 2006

A pyramid in Bosnia?

Well, I have to admit I was initially excited about this possibility. A buried pyramid in Bosnia? Built perhaps 1200 years ago? There was a bunch of uncritical news coverage:

The archeologists have a website here where they post updates on the pyramid. Okay, fair enough, the project seems to be led by a Semir Osmanagic who is a resident of Houston, TX, and an amateur archeologist. Looking further, we find that this is a controversial claim and professional archeologists are greatly concerned about damage that this excavation will produce on real archeological sites:

Ouch! What to make of this? Well, let's look at a summary online. Looks like pros and cons. Investigating a little further, we find that this "archeologist's" book on the Maya is available online in English translation. It's called The World of the Maya and it's a ridiculous pile of pseudoscientific babble. Let me quote:

  • "The Maya are creatures of the light. And the cosmic expressed through sacred codes in geometry, color, musical notes and alphabet."
  • "Maya is a key Hindu philosophical term meaning “creation of the worldâ€? and “the world of illusionâ€?. In Sanskrit “Mayaâ€? is connected with the concepts of “greatâ€? “measureâ€? â€?mindâ€? and “motherâ€?. For this reason, it may not surprise us to learn that Maya was the name of Buddha’s mother. The Veda tell us that Maya was the name of a great astronomer and architect."
  • "And the Galaxy can be described as a vast unending flow of energy… in which sets of numbers are pulsating and radiating."
  • "The Maya were informed about the Cosmos. Wherever they went they carried this information with them. Throughout the planets they were able to establish a two-way flow of galactic information."
  • "When the “heavens openâ€? and cosmic energy is allowed to flow throughout our tiny Planet, will we be raised to a higher level by the vibrations… to overcome the age of darkness which has been oppressing us?"

Shoot! I had been hoping that this would be a cool story. A new pyramid, in Bosnia of all odd places. An old civilization that built bigger things than people thought they had. Instead it's a desecration of actual archeological sites by someone on a higher mission. A mission to sell books with kooky ideas in them. Cosmic consciousness and Vedic this and that, not an actual dig for discovery. The coverage appears to have been especially uncritical, according to this report, in Bosnia itself where a nationalistic furvor over the "discovery" has obscured the problems.

Posted by duver001 at 1:29 PM

Finnish folk music

Lordi is representing Finland in the Eurovision festival. This is the event that launched Abba and Celine Dion and is one of the campiest things actually broadcast by big television corporations. Think of it as public access for really dreadful music. Wikipedia waxes nearly poetic on the discrete charm of Eurovision.

Posted by duver001 at 12:14 PM

Computer upgrades...

Don't go to the big box store! This link is a funny cartoon, but has sound, so don't do it at work...

Posted by duver001 at 12:12 PM

April 24, 2006

The United States of Prison

In 1980 there were 1,118,097 on probation; 183,988 in jail; 319,598 in prison; and 220,438 on parole.

In 2004 there were 4,151,125 on probation; 713,990 in jail; 1,421,911; in prison; and 765,355 on parole.

The numbers of people on parole, in jail, in prison and on parole are all more than 3 times what they were, while the population has increased less than 30% over the same 24 year time period (from roughly 228 million people in 1980 to 293 million in 2004).

Posted by duver001 at 2:09 PM

Nails in the head

Who would have guessed that a suicide attempt using a dozen nails from a nail gun would be unsuccessful? We did know that it would make for a good medical article and some odd news online.

Posted by duver001 at 12:35 PM

Condi leaks classified information

The junior Pentagon official who did the same was sentenced to twelve years in prison. What fate for Ms Rice?

Posted by duver001 at 12:27 PM

Life (as a sex slave) in the new Iraq

Even Time magazine can find the horror stories of post-"Mission Accomplished" Iraq.

Posted by duver001 at 12:18 PM

Ignorance (of the law) is a valid excuse now?

A woman badly hurt her child shaking it in order to banish "evil spirits" from it.

Posted by duver001 at 11:57 AM

April 21, 2006

One man's effort to pursue Iraq contractor fraud

...and how the Bush regime is preventing it from going ahead. Those fraudulent contracts, skimmed overhead, and no-bid contracts must be providing political donations.

Posted by duver001 at 12:41 PM

Hard drive historical pricing

The commercial history of desktop computer hard drives on one page. The first hard drive I had was a 5MB Radio Shack castoff (when the 20MB drives became available from Corvus.) My first PC hard drive was an 80MB (when 40MB drives were more common). It was an MFM drive as the RLL interfaces (which gave about a factor of 1.5 in storage space) at that time were flakey. The last drive I bought was a 250GB in a firewire enclosure.

Posted by duver001 at 11:56 AM

Bush, the nuclear blunders

It's clear now how the Iraq distraction has harmed us in the pursuit of bin Laden, with North Korea's nuclear weapons, and now with the standoff with Iran. The US is immeaurably weaker today than when Bush decided to launch a war of aggression with Iraq.

Posted by duver001 at 11:46 AM


JACK: Well, your A. Buttle has been confused with T47/215, an A. Tuttle. I mean, it's a joke! Somebody should be shot for that. So B58/732 was pulled in by mistake.

SAM: You got the wrong man.

JACK: (a little heated) I did not get the wrong man. I got the right man. The wrong man was delivered to me as the right man! I accepted him, on trust, as the right man. Was I wrong? Anyway, to add to the confusion, he died on us. Which, had he been the right man, he wouldn't have done.

SAM: You killed him?

JACK: (annoyed) Sam, there are very rigid parameters laid down to avoid that event but Buttle's heart condition did not appear on Tuttle's file. Don't think I'm dismissing this business, Sam. I've lost a week's sleep over it already.

SAM: I'm sure you have

JACK: There are some real bastards in this department who don't mind breaking a few eggs to make an omelette, but thank God there are the new boys like me who want to maintain decent civilized standards of terrorist eradication. We've got the upper hand for the moment, but they're waiting for us to slip up, and a little slip- up like this is just the chance they're looking for.


Posted by duver001 at 11:34 AM

Al Franken for US Senate?

The last few actors in politics haven't done much for the notion, but Al might be different from Ronald, Sonny, & Arnold. And Minnesota did elect Jesse Ventura to statewide office...

Posted by duver001 at 11:21 AM

April 20, 2006

It's back! (Chicago-land specific blog entry)

Wild Chicago! With the original host even. Good stuff. Hmmm...a Minneapolis equivalent?

Posted by duver001 at 8:42 PM

A new lawsuit may open up the black world of the contract mercenaries in Iraq

It's an interesting read, how right-wing corporate types run the second largest military in Iraq. With no oversight.

Posted by duver001 at 4:25 PM

Priestly problems

This priest in Mexico killed and cut up his long term lover. They had been together since he met her at the age of 13. She was murdered after an argument following his Easter Mass. Their 18 month old daughter was not injured.

Priests allowed to keep their jobs (LA) even after abusing children.

Posted by duver001 at 3:36 PM

"All the good things about marriage"

Coloradans for Marriage, an anti-civil rights group, lists all of the good things about marriage. I suppose that they're really just looking out for gay people, to keep them from the problems we straights have. Isn't it sweet?

Posted by duver001 at 12:23 PM

Sonic Youth and Calvin Coolidge

The new additions to the Library of Congress's recordings of significant national interest. What a job! Deciding valuable recordings, preserving sound culture.

Posted by duver001 at 12:18 PM

April 19, 2006

Goodbye Scott, it's been surreal to hear you lie

Scott McClellan steps down and Karl moves (officially) from policy to Republican elections.

Posted by duver001 at 9:56 AM

Films for kids

They do mean film and not movie. Still, if they play near you...why not give it a try?

Posted by duver001 at 9:53 AM

April 18, 2006

The Republican plan for election victory

A new campaign to "re-liberate" Baghdad. Hmmm...might not work that well. I mean, wouldn't scheduling a major terrorist attack in the States be less risky? Oh wait, did I say that? I mean everyone saw right through the whole Reichstag fire, didn't they?

Posted by duver001 at 12:02 PM

$400 Million retirement package for Exxon executive

Well, at least those high oil and gas prices sent the money to someone who can truly use it. Both Lee Raymond and the Saudis thank you. Heck, the Iranian mullahs thank you also.

Posted by duver001 at 11:58 AM

Lost Japanese soldier from World War 2 turns up...

...in the Ukraine? Interestingly enough, he was only declared dead in 2000.

Posted by duver001 at 11:55 AM

April 14, 2006

(Another) >$100 Billion dollar tax giveaway to large corporations

That was a MIGHTLY big payoff for their political contributions.

Posted by duver001 at 12:11 PM

A sad and sober popular article on NASA's budget

We all know the shuttle and the space station are disasters and that science and exploration (by unmanned crafts) are the way ahead. This article also argues for an Earth-centric NASA mission. Studying the planet from space. Certainly the anti-environmentalist loonies in the Bush regime don't want to see much of the Mission to Planet Earth results, but as the article notes, the science would return significantly after the end of Dubya's constitutional terms.

Posted by duver001 at 12:02 PM

DEA agent shoots himself in foot

...while demonstrating gun safety to kids. Now he's suing the DEA for making him a target of laughter by leaking the video to the web. Just to help the laughter at this idiot continue, you can download the video here. Or watch it online here. Read more about it here in Snopes's urban legend department (NB: It's a true tale, not an urban legend.).

Posted by duver001 at 11:49 AM

On the flip side of memoir...

Colton Simpson is looking at prison for life, in part for the details in his memoir of jewelry thefts. "During a jewelry heist in 1986, he grabbed a $30,000 ring and shot a man who grabbed him from behind. He remembers the incident in his books: 'Yeah, some good citizen turned a simple theft into an armed robbery with attempted-murder charges. Gonna cost the citizens of the state a pile of money. Got himself put in a wheelchair. Stupid people complicating my life.' " Yep, sounds like a quality individual.

Posted by duver001 at 11:41 AM

Good news in Burundi

As the 34 year old curfew is lifted.

Posted by duver001 at 11:29 AM

April 13, 2006

Iceland is the broadbandest country in the world

The top countries for fast internet connections are all around 25% broadband connection. That seems like an interesting level. For about 1/4 of households, a fast connection is worth the money and available. I'd guess the available fraction of people in Iceland would be very high. Small country with the population concentrated in the city. But we get the same fraction elsewhere too.

Posted by duver001 at 12:38 PM

April 12, 2006

The profitable world of climate change denial

The Hall of Shame of scientists and journalists seduced by the money of the CO2 lobby. Hey, wait a second, instead of a living wage doing physics, could I too get money from the coal lobbies? I could mumble about solar cycles or something and try to minimize the crisis. Wait, that would be wrong.

This older Harper's article shows that the current cast of characters has been around for a while... Since 1995 at least.

You can also see them at work in the Wall Street Journal...spreading FUD.

Posted by duver001 at 4:39 PM

Interesting thoughts on the medical prayer study

Faith-based medicine in the NYT.

Posted by duver001 at 12:46 PM

Leaving more children behind

The $2M for deaf theater programs for kids mysteriously disappeared last year. No one knows you was responsible for cutting it.

Posted by duver001 at 12:40 PM

How Ronald Reagan invented gangsta rap

By illegally funding the Contras through cocaine imports into the US which funded the labels and on and on...
It's a beautiful figure. The interconnectedness of politics, drugs, and rap.

Posted by duver001 at 12:27 PM

Lied to again by the felon-in-chief

Two days after the secret intelligence team reported to the White House that those nasty Iraqi trailers had nothing to do with bioweaponry, Dubya announced "We have found the weapons of mass destruction." It was not only incorrect, it was a bald-faced lie, known at that point to be incorrect. The lies that got the US into the war continued in (mostly failed) attempts at justifying the growing debacle.

Posted by duver001 at 12:22 PM

"It is absolutely massive. I have seen its prints and they are huge, bigger than a deer. It is a brute of a thing."

It's a real-life curse of the were-rabbit! Grower Jeff Smith, 63, said: "This is no ordinary rabbit. We are dealing with a monster." The BBC thoughfully links to older rabbit stories and to Wallace and Gromit.

Posted by duver001 at 12:19 PM

April 11, 2006

Vampire killing kit?

For sale on ebay.

There are some more modern ones for auction as well.

Posted by duver001 at 4:33 PM

Simplely shocking that illegal campaign tactics were being run out of the White House

Karl? You home? Got any more suggestions for me? Karl?

Posted by duver001 at 4:20 PM

The Iranians add fuel to the fire

Surely they realize that they're playing into George's hand?

Posted by duver001 at 3:58 PM

"The Larch. An ancient Greek constellation made up entirely of stars too faint to see with the naked eye"

Interesting popular coverage of seeing things in telescope images...

"Intelligent observers see a cow in this picture."

Posted by duver001 at 3:30 PM

April 10, 2006

Understanding Scalia

And his hand jestures.

Posted by duver001 at 3:11 PM

As the US heads towards El Salvador...

We should at least see what happens when the "pro-life" movement criminalizes all aspects of abortion. Interesting how Opus Dei has been involved in the fight against women both here and in El Salvador.

Posted by duver001 at 12:21 PM

DIY Lasik???

Yup, Lasik at Home. Sign me right up to sculpt my cornea from the comfort of my living room couch.

Posted by duver001 at 11:57 AM

April 7, 2006

The clearest version of the Libby-Plame-Cheney-Bush leak of classified information

As if we needed additional grounds for impeachment... And you would note that the White House hasn't even bothered to deny this.

"If what Scooter Libby said to the grand jury is true, then this latest development clearly reveals yet again that the CIA leak case goes much deeper than the disclosure of a CIA agent's identity to the press. The heart and motive of this case is about the deliberate attempt at the highest levels of this administration to discredit those who were publicly revealing that the White House lied about its uranium claims leading up to the war. The Bush Administration knew that Iraq had not sought uranium from Africa for a nuclear weapon, yet they went around telling the Congress, the country, and the world just the opposite. When Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Valerie Wilson's husband, publicly spoke out with proof that the administration was not telling the truth on uranium, the administration engaged in an orchestrated plot, which now reportedly includes President Bush, to discredit Ambassador Wilson and dismiss any notion that they had lied about pre-war intelligence."

Can the President fire himself? Oh yeah, that's called resigning in disgrace. Bush could resign and get a Presidential pardon from Cheney. Wait, he'd then have to resign and get a pardon from the Speaker of the House. Wait, DeLay has already resigned due to his criminal behavior being prosecuted. So, would that be then the new speaker of the house? Or a newly appointed VP for Cheney? The possibilities!

Posted by duver001 at 12:41 PM

April is National Poetry Month & Math Awareness Month!

Comining the two...Fibonacci Poems!

Posted by duver001 at 12:13 PM

April 6, 2006

Luther Blissett

Posted by duver001 at 7:38 PM

Scott McClellan

Scott McClellan fully and truly skewered in Vanity Fair. "Press Secretary Scott McClellan's mangled sentences, flat-footed evasions, and genial befuddlement have made him the butt of a thousand blogs, as well as of an increasingly savage press corps."

"Every day, he's pulped, pummeled, spit upon for speaking White House untruths—or for not speaking them well enough.

It is so bad, and so constantly public—every misspoken word, every stutter, every repetition, repeated mercilessly across the information universe—that he can only hope that it's gotten bad enough for him to get a sympathy vote."


Posted by duver001 at 7:04 PM

DeLay's excuse?

A vast anti-Christian conspiracy. Huh?

Posted by duver001 at 11:58 AM

Walking to Siberia

These two guys walked across the frozen 56 mile Bering Strait crossing into Russia as part of a walk-around-the-world expedition. Then didn't register with the authorities in time and got arrested.

Posted by duver001 at 11:55 AM

Relaxing Passover restrictions

Baking powder kosher for Passover?

Posted by duver001 at 11:34 AM

April 5, 2006

April 4, 2006

Patent craziness

Wow! The mug with an artificial horizon is kinda cool, but, yeah, they're all crazy. Patent reform really soon now, please!

Posted by duver001 at 6:59 PM

Dancing is not constitutionally protected

And the number of cities or towns that allow couples to freely dance is down from ~1000 in the 1960s to about 300 today. Didn't Emma Goldman say something about this once?

Posted by duver001 at 2:42 PM

Thinking about Jill Carroll's story

It appears that if you detain folks, threaten them, possibly torture them, and force them to give statements under duress, those statements might not be truthful? Hopefully someone will let the military and the CIA know about this.

Posted by duver001 at 12:00 PM

April 3, 2006

The Taliban college experience in Pensacola

An unaccredited college for the looniest of the loons. Get expelled for "making eye babies!" That is, looking at a member of the opposite sex.

Posted by duver001 at 7:40 PM

"Thousands of mistakes"

Condi Rice admits "thousands of mistakes" in Iraq. Though the two main ones would have to be lying to Congress and the American people to initiate an illegal and immoral war, and then screwing it up so badly as to leave the country in civil war with tens of thousands of casaulties. She later clarified that she didn't mean literal errors, but rather figurative ones. Huh?

Posted by duver001 at 11:40 AM

The pirate fishing fleets

It's a visit to the bizarre world of decaying Chinese ships, Russian resupply, and desperate lives. All aimed at stripping the ocean of its valuables.

Posted by duver001 at 11:32 AM

Never again?

Genocide in the Sudan continuing with little coverage or excitement. Where are the religious commentators in the US who were up in arms about the Christian Afghan guy who was being tried? No trials for those about to be murdered in Sudan.

Posted by duver001 at 11:20 AM