Tuesday, January 31, 2006

First the number all the animals

Animal ID Do you know the USDA is trying to sneak something sinister through our backdoor that will give the government complete control of our food supply? We are facing a serious threat to the freedom that small farmers have largely enjoyed until now. A federal government program, the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), originally introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy, will establish extensive government control over livestock. The animals included at present are: equines, alpacas and llamas, poultry, goats, sheep, cattle and bison, deer and elk, swine and some fish. In Texas even caged birds are included. The program will require that anyone owning even one of the animals included in the program register them with the federal government, have an identification number for each animal or group of animals, and report all animal movements and deaths within 24 hours or else. Additionally, all locations where animals are housed or handled will be registered and located by GPS. Small farmers and enthusiasts will have to tag or microchip each individual animal at their own expense. The NAIS is scheduled to become mandatory in Texas in July 2006 with penalties of up to $1,000 a day for non-compliance, and throughout the United States in January 2008. It’s already mandatory in several states. This government control is a serious threat to our freedom to raise our animals for food, pets and show. It also will make things difficult for small farmers, 4H-ers, and hobbyists, by requiring extra paperwork and fees to be paid for by the animal owners for registration and the tagging equipment. I think that small farmers and stockowners should band together to oppose this. An organization has recently been established to fight NAIS. The Web site www.stopanimalid.org has been set up to inform people of this threat to our freedoms. More information about the program, as well as ways to help oppose it, is available there, along with links to official government Web sites. I hope that more people, especially small farmers who are already at risk due to GMO liability laws, will protest NAIS now, while there is still time. Cathy Zeiler Byers [...] Animals and men...

for those who can't read

real audio about petrodollars and Iraq via info clearing house (cuts at 28')

food for thought

Wow, to think I missed this: STILLWATER, Minn. – May 16, 2005 – Cub Foods announced today that it is launching biometric payment technology in four of its Twin Cities stores. The new technology, provided by Pay By Touch, is free to shoppers and will allow them to pay for their groceries with a finger scan that is linked to their financial accounts. Eliminating the need to carry a wallet or checkbook in the store, the new system provides customers with greater convenience, security and speed at checkout. ... The Pay By Touch technology does not use actual fingerprints. It creates a set of 40 data points—based on unique heat sites on an individual’s finger—and cannot be reverse engineered into a fingerprint. The data points are encrypted and converted into a mathematical equation that allows for a secure identity match at the point of sale. The system is completely secure and customer information is never sold. Whilst we would have no doubt heard if this system had been broken I reckon it's a case of when not if. The so called 'security' of not being able to recreate a fingerprint from encrypted data is illusory as anyone breaking the system would only decrypt the data the system needs to function not an entire fingerprint of an individual. Presumably the most effective hack would be to create a link between a false fingerprint and someone's registered data within the database. And now that we have seen encrypted biometric data being accessed and decrypted you could presumably snaffle fingerprint data some other way and thus you can begin to see the networks of opportunity for 'identifier' theft jostling for a better view even before the biometric red carpet is unrolled to receive the flat footfalls of the emperor in his tomato ketchup splattered new clothes.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Missing Libraries in OS X

Your CATCHPA doesn't work because OS X does not ship with GD, and it won't compile out of the box on Tiger, so, what do you do? You go here and download a package and install it. And then maybe it works.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The OBL Effect

The bin Laden book club How the world's most notorious terrorist just launched an obscure left-wing American author into bestseller stardom. Watch out, Oprah Winfrey, Osama bin Laden has jumped into the book-promotion game. On Wednesday, the 72-year-old Washington author William Blum existed only on the fringes of the publishing industry. His 2000 foreign-policy diatribe, "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower," ranked No. 205,763 on Amazon's bestseller list. Today its number 28 on that bestseller list. His byline rarely appeared in print, he says. But then the world's No. 1 newsmaker, bin Laden, showed up Thursday on the Al-Jazeera network to promise another terrorist attack on America, ask President Bush to withdraw American troops -- saying: If you (Americans) are sincere in your desire for peace and security, we have answered you. And if Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book "Rogue State," which states in its introduction: "If I were president, I would stop the attacks on the United States: First I would give an apology to all the widows and orphans and those who were tortured. Then I would announce that American interference in the nations of the world has ended once and for all." Amazon or TPB "The OBL Effect". Stranger and Stranger!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Two Different Worlds

tiananmen - Google Image Search.

tiananmen - Google Image Search in China.

Everyone is bellyaching about Google censoring its service for the Chinese market.

I call bullshit.

If you were Sergei, what would you do? Let M$ run you out of China, or establish a foothold now with a reduced /censored service knowing that maybe in ten years China will open up completely and not censor anything, leaving you at the top in the most populous country in the world?

If Google plans to be here in ten years time, then they want to be in China when it becomes censorship free. The only way to do that is to get in there now, whatever the cost. It makes perfect strategic sense to the long term thinker.

People who whine about this should be paying FAR more attention to what is happening in their own back yards, instead of minding the business of complete strangers who they would not invite into that same back yard to escape the 'terrible lives' they are living 'over there'.

RIAA vs Downloader AND label

Canadian label/artist management group Nettwerk Music Group has announced it is taking on the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in the controversial battle over suing individuals for illegally downloading songs online via file-sharing networks. "Suing music fans is not the solution, it's the problem," Nettwerk CEO Terry McBride simply said in a statement. Teenager Elisa Greubel recently contacted Nettwerk client MC Lars, whose new track "Download This Song" tackles the file-sharing issue, on his Web site, writing, "My family is one of many seemingly randomly chosen families to be sued by the RIAA. No fun. You can't fight them, trying could possibly cost us millions. The line 'they sue little kids downloading hit songs,' basically sums a lot of the whole thing up. I'm not saying it is right to download but the whole lawsuit business is a tad bit outrageous." In response, Nettwerk has agreed to pay all legal fees for the Greubel's family, which is challenging the RIAA's suit. Chicago lawyer Charles Lee Mudd Jr. will represent the Greubels. Mudd has represented multiple individuals who have been sued by the RIAA since 2003. "Litigation is not 'artist development.' Litigation is a deterrent to creativity and passion and it is hurting the business I love," added McBride. "The current actions of the RIAA are not in my artists' best interests." http://www.fmqb.com/Article.asp?id=168427"


Clipmarks How much do I trust a developer whose website doesn't give you scrollbars - some of us need small windows!( DownThemAll... is THE Firefox download tool as far as I'm concerned. - Another study group member, Dr. William Turner, described studies done by American psychologist John Calhoun, in which Norway rats, under conditions of overcrowding, formed what were termed ``behavioral sinks.'' Here a pattern of extreme behavior changes emerged, such as cannibalism and rape, reminiscent of human psychopathology. This behavior emerged among 5% of the rat population. He indicated that similar effects might be expected of humans under crowded urban conditions. (research)

Firefox 1.5 is better than ever

Firefox is better than ever with 1.5, which i just autopackaged into my Fedora Core 4, since it hasnt shown up in up2date yet. These are the extenstions that I have just installed, which are great; some of the ones I already ran have been updated, like Session Saver, which is brilliant, and adblock. Adblock Plus With Filterset.G Updater The original Adblock extension isn't just popular; it's THE reason why some people switch to Firefox in the first place. Tab Mix Plus Firefox has spawned a whole category of extensions devoted to tweaking one of the browser's most popular and practical features: tabbed browsing. Download Manager Tweak Some extensions are so well-built, practical, and just plain smart that it's a pity they aren't built into Firefox itself. This is one of them: With Download Manager Tweak you can choose where the Download Manager opens, PasswordMaker The Firefox password manager is acceptable, but you can do better -- thanks to an extension based on some high-powered applied mathematics. The fact that PasswordMaker delivers this cryptographic complexity in a package even a head-injured monkey could use just makes it even more impressive. snarfed from here. And now, for the ones not from that page: Bugmenot is priceless, and they have a cool new page with AJAX fades....great stuff. X-Ray is a great extensino (yes, 'extensino') that shows you the markup in a page; its great when you want to debug some CSS that is screwing up. Clipmarks is like Higher Thought, but without the linking. Worth a mention, and not essential. And while we are at it... Mt-Daapd is a simply great way to serve up iTunes music shares from your Linux box. Forget running iTunes on Crossover as a way of sharing your music library from Linux, Mt-Daapd is the way to do it. It is totaly rock solid and ..... you can stream video from it also! It will scan and serve up all your mpg files so that you can watch them on your Mac iTunes...now that is REALLY cool. Its also very easy to set up, unlike all the other absurdly complex 'solutions' out there. Now, if only someone would solve the problem of printing TO a printer connected to a Linux box from a Mac/PC.

Mos Burger

Mos Burger: http://www.mos.co.jp/index.html Hmmmmmm!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

cello dolly

York International Cello Weekend

Friday 17 to Sunday 19 February


Saturday 18 February 2.00pm – 3.30pm


The Baroque Cello: Some thoughts on the history of the cello from c1530 until Beethoven including: the emergence of the viol and violin families; the five-string cello in the seventeenth century; the influence of the viol on early cello technique and expecially on the Bach suites. With excerpts from pieces by Simpson, Marais, Abel, Gabrielli, Bach, Boccherini and Haydn played on bass viol, five- and four-string baroque cello.


Saturday 18 February 4.00pm – 5.30pm


The Contemporary Cello: An informal recital and discussion looking at the broad range of contemporary and mid-twentieth century cello repertoire, including Xenakis, Jonathan Harvey, Kaia Saariaho and Morton Feldman; extented string techniques; aspects of improvisation and theatre. Zoë will also perform excerpts from her one-woman cabaret show, ‘Z Unleashed’ (featuring ‘a girl, a cello, a whip and a lot of digital playback’) to demonstrate how the aspects illustrated can be used to create a new medium. [...]

blindingly obvious

In the country of the blind, a one-eyed king is totally out of touch with the needs of the populus. .... Lately we have watched:

Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom

, by Ki-Duk Kim La Grande Illusion; Jean Renoir Les Quatre Cent Coups; Francois Truffaut Todo Sobre Mi Madre; Pedro Almodovar Une Femme est Une Femme; Jean-Luc Godard Jules et Jim; Francois Truffaut Cinema Paradiso; Guiseppe Tornatore X-men2; Bryan Singer The Simpsons; Season 5 Last night we made the best saag paneer I have ever tasted. It was a Madhur Jaffrey recipe, from this essential book. At the weekend we ate at Vanilla Black, and had tea and cakes at Betty's, and at home drank Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou 1996, Groot Constantia 'Grand Constance', Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose and a good Savenierres. Chateau of the earth of the beautiful pebbles! Mmmmmmm...

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Ultimate Weapon

The proposed Iranian oil Bourse The Iranian government has finally developed the ultimate "nuclear" weapon that can swiftly destroy the financial system underpinning the American Empire. That weapon is the Iranian Oil Bourse slated to open in March 2006.
Krassimir Petrov, Ph.D.
Abstract: the proposed Iranian Oil Bourse will accelerate the fall of the American Empire.

I. Economics of Empires

A nation-state taxes its own citizens, while an empire taxes other nation-states. The history of empires, from Greek and Roman, to Ottoman and British, teaches that the economic foundation of every single empire is the taxation of other nations. The imperial ability to tax has always rested on a better and stronger economy, and as a consequence, a better and stronger military. One part of the subject taxes went to improve the living standards of the empire; the other part went to strengthen the military dominance necessary to enforce the collection of those taxes.

Historically, taxing the subject state has been in various forms-usually gold and silver, where those were considered money, but also slaves, soldiers, crops, cattle, or other agricultural and natural resources, whatever economic goods the empire demanded and the subject-state could deliver. Historically, imperial taxation has always been direct: the subject state handed over the economic goods directly to the empire.

For the first time in history, in the twentieth century, America was able to tax the world indirectly, through inflation. It did not enforce the direct payment of taxes like all of its predecessor empires did, but distributed instead its own fiat currency, the U.S. Dollar, to other nations in exchange for goods with the intended consequence of inflating and devaluing those dollars and paying back later each dollar with less economic goods-the difference capturing the U.S. imperial tax. Here is how this happened.

Early in the 20th century, the U.S. economy began to dominate the world economy. The U.S. dollar was tied to gold, so that the value of the dollar neither increased, nor decreased, but remained the same amount of gold. The Great Depression, with its preceding inflation from 1921 to 1929 and its subsequent ballooning government deficits, had substantially increased the amount of currency in circulation, and thus rendered the backing of U.S. dollars by gold impossible. This led Roosevelt to decouple the dollar from gold in 1932. Up to this point, the U.S. may have well dominated the world economy, but from an economic point of view, it was not an empire. The fixed value of the dollar did not allow the Americans to extract economic benefits from other countries by supplying them with dollars convertible to gold.

Economically, the American Empire was born with Bretton Woods in 1945. The U.S. dollar was not fully convertible to gold, but was made convertible to gold only to foreign governments. This established the dollar as the reserve currency of the world. It was possible, because during WWII, the United States had supplied its allies with provisions, demanding gold as payment, thus accumulating significant portion of the world's gold. An Empire would not have been possible if, following the Bretton Woods arrangement, the dollar supply was kept limited and within the availability of gold, so as to fully exchange back dollars for gold. However, the guns-and-butter policy of the 1960's was an imperial one: the dollar supply was relentlessly increased to finance Vietnam and LBJ's Great Society. Most of those dollars were handed over to foreigners in exchange for economic goods, without the prospect of buying them back at the same value. The increase in dollar holdings of foreigners via persistent U.S. trade deficits was tantamount to a tax-the classical inflation tax that a country imposes on its own citizens, this time around an inflation tax that U.S. imposed on rest of the world.

When in 1970-1971 foreigners demanded payment for their dollars in gold, The U.S. Government defaulted on its payment on August 15, 1971. While the popular spin told the story of "severing the link between the dollar and gold", in reality the denial to pay back in gold was an act of bankruptcy by the U.S. Government. Essentially, the U.S. declared itself an Empire. It had extracted an enormous amount of economic goods from the rest of the world, with no intention or ability to return those goods, and the world was powerless to respond- the world was taxed and it could not do anything about it. [...]


The country of the blind

no room for debate. Debate is fine, and always has been. What we absolutely detest is when our food is permanently poisoned without debate. What we detest is being forced to take medicines against our will without debate. If there were honest debate, and as a consequence, real choice, there would be no problem. I very much doubt that anyone involved with the GM testing that has poisoned the environment (for example) would have been stopped by simple honest debate, because the people who want to do the tests don't consider that anyone other than them has a grasp on the entire picture, hence they troll out sniping and pointless straw man examples like that breakdown of tea, designed to illustrate the 'ignorance' of people who have not studied chemistry. The GM equivalent is the straw man that humans have been breeding plants for thousands of years. Utterly irrelevant in the context of GM crops. Then they go right ahead and spill thier filth on everyone's food without any avenue of redress when it all goes wrong, like it has done. This is unnaceptable to any decent human being. Everyone knows that the origin of a product is not necessarily related to its toxicity; you can be killed by eating an organically grown mushroom and be as dead as if you had swallowed a cup of bleach. That isn't the point of people's rejection of artificial products, and the chemists know that. They are being disingenuous when they bring out these childish and stupid PR tricks to reclaim their high status in society. People have cast them down and are rejecting their artificial products and medicines because they want to live in nature, not in opposition to it. This is why companies like 'The Body Shop' and others are so sucessful. You can wash your hair with products that are not in opposition to nature, and have hair that is just as clean and sweet smelling as if you used artificial surficants manufactured by Unilever. Everyone now realizes that there is no extra utility/value to be gained by heeding the words of chemists and buying thier poison. The fish love it better. The animals who don't get tortured to see if the doses are correct love it better. It makes sense. It's more human. Thats why the world is changing and turning its back on brute science. What is nauseating to us is that when the public has spoken with its money, ie, not buying products from Beyer and Unilever et al, these vermin turn to the law to FORCE everyone to eath their medicine - they lost the debate, and like sore losers are trying to break the rules of the game. This is why they are lobbying the EU to have vitamins restricted to such an extent that they are for all intents and purposes banned. They did this by trying to legislate the dosages that you are permitted to be sold. Absurd, criminal and unjustifiable by any reasonable person. It would be ok if all they did was debate and spout nonsense, like the absurd tripe statement about St Johns Wort being no good because the active ingredient has not been isolated. The problem is that they then turn to the law to coerce the public to obeying their will, to submitting to their dogma; all of which is centered on measurement, reductionism, and the microscopi quantifying of everyting without exception. Those ways of thinking, to a chemist, are good - anything that is unmeasured, unquantified, not standardiszed is bad. Thats ok. You believe whatever you want; that is your right. But you do NOT have the right to poison my land, force me to take only the medicine you prescribe and othewise control my existance. cyclopian views In the country of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

rising to the bait

The image “http://www.partybox.co.uk/data/images/troll1.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Without going on too much, the main point of the Observer article appears to be, to me ...

In short, says the report, published by the charity Sense About Science, there is a wide mismatch between the public's attitudes to man-made and natural substances. People think the former lead to cancer and are responsible for many of society's woes. As a result, they try to lead a chemical-free lifestyle. The idea is nonsense, says the report. 'Claims that products are "chemical free" are untrue.'

Research chemist Derek Lohmann points out: 'If someone offered you a cocktail of butanol, isoamyl alcohol, caffeine, geraniol, 3-galloyl epicatechin, and inorganic salts, it sounds pretty ghastly. Yet it is just a cup of tea.'

By contrast, there has been a steady increase in uncritical acceptance of natural products. When read in context, it does not come across as a "Science is God" puff-piece. Straw-man posts (to coin a phrase) like below are exactly what they claim to be attacking - cyclopian views with no room for debate.

Microwave fetishists

"Heating the bottle in a microwave can cause slight changes in the milk. In infant formulas, there may be a loss of some vitamins. In expressed breast milk, some protective properties may be destroyed." ... Valentine asked himself: If an established institution like the University of Minnesota can warn about the loss of particular nutrient qualities in microwaved baby formula or mother's milk, then somebody must know something about microwaving they are not telling everybody. (From here) Dr. Lita Lee of Hawaii reported in the December 9, 1989 Lancet: "Microwaving baby formulas converted certain trans-amino acids into their synthetic cis-isomers. Synthetic isomers, whether cis-amino acids or trans-fatty acids, are not biologically active. Further, one of the amino acids, L-proline, was converted to its d-isomer, which is known to be neurotoxic (poisonous to the nervous system) and nephrotoxic (poisonous to the kidneys). It's bad enough that many babies are not nursed, but now they are given fake milk (baby formula) made even more toxic via microwaving." ... According to Dr. Hertel, "Leukocytosis, which cannot be accounted for by normal daily deviations, is taken very seriously by hemotologists. Leukocytes are often signs of pathogenic effects on the living system, such as poisoning and cell damage. The increase of leukocytes with the microwaved foods were more pronounced than with all the other variants. It appears that these marked increases were caused entirely by ingesting the microwaved substances. ... Of all the natural substances - which are polar - the oxygen of water molecules reacts most sensitively. This is how microwave cooking heat is generated - friction from this violence in water molecules. Structures of molecules are torn apart, molecules are forcefully deformed, called structural isomerism, and thus become impaired in quality. This is contrary to conventional heating of food where heat transfers convectionally from without to within. Cooking by microwaves begins within the cells and molecules where water is present and where the energy is transformed into frictional heat. ... From the twenty-eight above enumerated indications, the use of microwave apparatus is definitely not advisable; and, with the decision of the Soviet government in 1976, present scientific opinion in many countries concerning the use of such apparatus is clearly in evidence. From here Now, I am not entirely happy with my inability to find a proper research paper from a peer-reviewed publication, but the simple fact that proteins and nutrients are being broken down into less useful forms is all the convincing I need. But likewise I'm also not entirely happy with my inability to find proper studies proving that microwaving nutrients is harmless. Now let's look at the wikipedia entry: Cooking food with microwaves was discovered by Percy Spencer while building magnetrons for radar sets at Raytheon. This article makes no mention of the synchronous (not uncommon by any means) discovery in Germany of the technology. There is a great deal of technical talk afterwards, which I won't quote here, and under the "dangers" all we get are how microwaves have a tendency to be incompatible with metal. This rather violent reaction however doesn't really seem to make any connect in the writers' head about the fact that this strong force is also being applied to things we ingest into our bodies. Oh SNAP, am I sounding like a HEALTH NUT? Better get the straight-jacket and haul be away to the funny farm! Sounds like Barrie is going against SCIENCE! Some people claim that there exist more subtle dangers than the ones listed above associated with cooking in a microwave oven. Admittedly they give a decent amount of space to this topic but it's all annulled by one simple sentance: Here are some examples of anti-microwave websites. Most claims made on these websites lack any scientific value, such as their explanations of electromagnetic radiation. Yeah, shit, there's no scientific value in anyone who doubts technology. Those anti-microwave zealots. That is basically a brush of the hand, a roll of the eyes. "disregard those kooks." This is exactly the kind of attitude displayed in the story Akin quotes in his last post. This is the fetishization of technology. It's sophisticated and convenient, it HAS to be good for us, regardless of the fact we disregard any kind of investigation into its true effects. This kind of thinking just further convinces me to ignore my microwave and reject the convenience. It's not that big of a deal in the long run. Food tastes better when it's reheated in my simple toaster-oven, anyway. Bah.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

We are God, Nature is Death

Trust chemicals, beware of nature From make-up to medicine, scientists warn that people are wrong to think natural must be best [...]
The Guardian up to its pay for play PR tricks again. Translation: We are your Gods. Only what we prepare for you may you eat. All else is outside of Science and is therefore sin.
Research chemist Derek Lohmann points out: 'If someone offered you a cocktail of butanol, isoamyl alcohol, caffeine, geraniol, 3-galloyl epicatechin, and inorganic salts, it sounds pretty ghastly. Yet it is just a cup of tea.' [...]
This is of course, a lie. Tea is a leaf that you steep in boiling water, nothing else. You take the tea that you reqire. It does not need to be subjected to brute reductionism, deconstruction, analasys or any other useless procedure so that you can make a straw man point. Go back to your place of work and do somethign for the good of humanity instead of trying to destroy everything that does not conform to your false religion.
Henry also warned about the use of traditional medicines such as St John's wort: 'There is no doubt that it can be effective for treating depression, but it is difficult to administer. We do not know what its active ingredient is and that means you cannot assess its dosage.' [...]
This is typical; because we cannot measure it, you should not take it. This is total and utter rubbish, and a fundamental part of their dogma. I've got some news for these people, NO ONE is buying anything they have to say anymore. THEY are responsible for the large scale ills of the world; building factories that leak pollutants without a single care for human safety (Bhopal for example) and they have never been made to account for this and the many other crimes they have comitted. Even now, the EU has drafted a law allowing food to be marked as Organic even though it has been accidentally contaminated with GM material. If scientists were responsible human beings with due care for their fellow man, they would never have conducted these GM crop trials in the open air where they could despoil nature. This is pure arrogant evil at its worse, and no paper begging the public to trust these people will change the truth; they are fundamentally UNTRUSTWORTHY and indeed trust must be EARNED and not granted after wimpering please and straw man logic. My advice to these people; stop planting these amaturish PR exersizes designed (badly) to change public perception of what you and your religion are. Abandon your relgion and join the human race; that is the only way you and your crimes will be forgiven. If you carry on as you have been doing, you will be shut down completely and no amount of PR will be able to rescue you.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

a formula for life



To me a scientist is a man who works hard in his lab examining liquid and chemicals. He has a long white coat open. He is fixing his glasses so he can see better. He has pockets full of pens and pencils.

Some people think that (scientists) are just some genius nerds in white coats, but they are actually people who are trying to live up to their dreams and learn more. No two scientists are exactly alike. So, if you want to be a scientist, be like these wonderful people and live up to your dreams.


sounds of science fiction

Science 'not for normal people'
Einstein lookalike under a bike stunt (IoP)
Images of professors cut off from the real world prevail
Teenagers value the role of science in society but feel scientists are "brainy people not like them", research suggests.

Around 70% of the 11-15 year olds questioned said they did not picture scientists as "normal young and attractive men and women".

...'Big glasses'


Among those who said they would not like to be scientists, reasons included: ...

"Because they all wear big glasses and white coats and I am female".




The scientist has big square-shaped glasses and a big geeky nose with brown hair and blue eyes. I see a scientist working in a lab with a white lab coat . . . holding a beaker filled with solutions only he knows. Scientists are very interesting people who can figure out things we don't even know exist.

My picture of a scientist is completely different than what it used to be! The scientist I saw doesn¹t wear a lab coat. . . . The scientists used good vocabulary and spoke like they knew what they were talking about.

A great piece.

I want you to read this.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Tough on Crime

I find it quite incredible that the post Akin quotes himself from is two years old now - it's still something I think of rather often. While I agree with pretty much everything there I do feel I need to pipe up over something, and that would be the "tough on crime" attitude towards the end of the post. Obviously crime like this is horrible, and especially horrible will be the use (abuse) of it as an excuse for a Total Information Awareness society. However I disagree with the simple policy of rounding up all the criminals and locking them up for good. This is the kind of policy that sounds incredibly similar to Reagan's idea of "tough on crime." Gather up the criminals, put them away, then do nothing within your own society to prevent such crimes from happening again. Basically what you end up with is more and more prisons stretched to the breaking point and less and less resources allocated to the rehabilitation of inmates, because while criminals are being removed from the streets simply more are being made. If we want to scrap rehabilitation and just lock them away, then all the inmates should just be killed to prevent any further drain on the State. After all, if they are "sub-human," is there no problem in their wholesale slaughter? This is something I find appalling but when one is "tough on crime" Reagan-style it (seems to me) a logical follow-through. Now, the UK and Canada's "Wussy on Crime" policy works just as poorly, in my opinion. It is quite horrible because not only is the rehabilitation not there, but the parole system is completely ridiculous, letting out criminals who the board strongly reccommends not be released, purely on a technicality. There has to be a better way to approach this situation. I'm no criminologist, so I'll shut up now. This issue is on my mind right now because one of the prime-ministerial candidates in the Canadian federal election right now, Harper, advocates a "tough on crime" approach that is vapid and devoid of any kind of progressive solution to the problem of crime (gun crimes in particular in Canada) aside from promising to lock people up for longer. (nub: if anyone here has been paying attention to the Canadian election you will notice that it has been so devoid of actual issues as to be wretch-inducing. Truly a shoddy example of the democratic process.) Coming up next: I talk about microwaves

'Blue Oyster Cult' or 'How they Will Snare Everyone With Cards'

Pledge to catch lawyer's killers
One of the suspects wanted for questioning over the murder
One of the suspects used Mr Rhys Pryce's Oyster card at Kensal Green
Police have pledged to leave "no stone unturned" in their pursuit of the killers of Thomas ap Rhys Pryce.

He was murdered by robbers near his home in Willesden, north-west London, on Thursday night despite having apparently handed over his belongings.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur said the "gratuitous" attack had left Mr Rhys Pryce with "truly appalling" injuries.

Earlier that evening two men carried out a robbery at a nearby Tube station.

New CCTV images of the suspects were released, including that of a black man, who attempted to use Mr Rhys Pryce's Oyster card at Kensal Green station at 1000 GMT, on the day after the murder.


This is the scenario I wrote about before, two years ago to the day:
...Imagine; you get stopped by the police, for a "routine check". You put your thumb into his portable scanner, which is attached to his mobile phone. He immediately has all of your details. ALL of them. You have an Oyster card, but you are smart' you know that Oyster tracks all of your movements on public transport, so you opted to get the �3 "anonymous" version. It doesn't make a difference. Your face is photographed every time you use a bus or tube station. The police officer simply asks for your photo to be checked against the Mayor of London's database of all Oyster users that are not full users. They find you entering Embankment Station on the occasion of your first use of the card. They correlate your face with the number on your Oyster card. They now know everywhere that you travelled on both the busses and the underground since you bought the card, and can retrieve pictures of you entering and leaving each station if they want to. The police officer asks you where you were on such and such date. You don't remember? That is suspicious; your Oyster data says you were in a place where there were some crimes. Down to the station while we "exclude you from our enquiries"...
YOU SEE? Precisely the scenario that I outlined has come to pass. This time, the system was used to catch a thieving murdering sub-human animal, and this is the cause they will give you to roll out total surveillance of everyone in the UK, "we can use this system to catch murderers 'paedos' and other villans". Then, what will happen next is that they will use it to catch everyone for every 'offence', against both the law and private regulations like the parking scenario the great M2 outlined below. We only need look to the widespread abuse of the new 'anti terror' laws, that can be carried out even in the very presence of the Prime Minister his lying self, and his cabinet of pigs, such is the magnitude of the belief they have in their invulnerable position. They will abuse this system on a wide scale, that is guaranteed. You will be fined automagically, like I said in another, earlier post. You will be made to pay whatever charges and taxes they like arbitrarily and automagically. Your every movement both here and abroad will be recorded. Your every purchase will be marked down. Like it was in Soviet Russia, where all photocopiers were audited so that people couldn't publish informal magazines 'Samizdat', now in the 21st Century, every single machine, person and thing that can be bought will be audited. That is, if we allow the ID card system to be rolled out with our compliance by enrolling in it willingly. M2 makes my case again about how money is the only thing that they understand, the only power that they respect. The window within which everyone can act to withold it is closing as a 100% electronic cash economy is being gestated right before our eyes. After that, the only way that people will be able to bring down the system would be a massive refusal of work itself, quite apart from that meaning that no one will be paid, making such an action almot impossible to imagine taking place, we all know that in the UK, organizing 'secondary action' is in iteslf illegal - in other words, this action is alredy precluded...not that that will stop anything should the momentum be great enough, but you can see that they are cordoning off all routes of escape and resistance bit by bit. The answer to the crime problem is to flood the streets with police, reduce their powers to 1950 levels and lock up all vermin like this mugger for life on the first conviction. Every undergroundstaton should be policed, both on the platform and at the station exits. There would then be no need for CCTV on the underground period. There is a small minority of violent criminals that are responsible for all crime in the UK. Remove them from circulation permamently and crime will dissapear. What we cannot continue to do is release murderers after ten years in gaol, and then punish every non criminal non violent person with the imposition of a surveillance society because crime is not going down.

music videos

I was passed this link of someones top 50 videos of 2005. All the videos are viewable. Also they sent me Music for one apartment and six drummers. I saw this originally as a short in a cinema and wondered if I would cross paths with it again.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Mr. Peter Atkinson (Hexham) (Con): I am grateful for the opportunity to have a short debate on what has become an important matter. After I applied for this Adjournment debate, The Mail on Sunday exposed the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency for selling the names and addresses of many tens of thousands of motorists, and since then the issue has moved up the political agenda considerably. From my point of view, the issue arose in a small way when Tesco opened a new store on the edge of Hexham, the main town in my constituency, which was recently voted the best market town in the UK. Leaving that aside, Tesco has a large car park in the centre of the town, adjacent to the council car park where charges are made, and in order to protect its car park it introduced a parking control system. Much to our surprise, little yellow signs went up around the car park with an illustration of a camera on them, saying that if people overstayed their welcome in the car park, which was three hours, their registration numbers would be photographed and the company would apply to the DVLA for their names and addresses and they would then be asked to pay a charge of £70, which would be given to charity. That caused a certain amount of outrage in the community as most of us felt that this was an abuse of the powers of the DVLA. We were amazed that a company such as Tesco—or probably its parking contractor—was able to obtain names and addresses in this way. As a consequence of that and a certain amount of local publicity, I wrote to the Minister, who replied courteously and quickly, in rather unconcerned terms. He wrote to me on 10 November explaining that under regulation 27 of the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2002, the DVLA was free to give the names and addresses of car owners to anyone who could demonstrate a reasonable cause for their request. He pointed out that: "'Reasonable cause' is not defined in law but release is normally associated with road safety, the direct involvement of a vehicle in road traffic incidents, the enforcement of road traffic legislation and the collection of taxes." ... TWFY

kicking a dog when it is down

UK cuts Ethiopian government aid By Jinaro Mburu/Agencies ( Thursday, January 19, 2006) The UK has suspended all aid to the Ethiopian government over concerns about its commitment to human rights. The £50m ($88m) will instead be given to aid agencies or local authorities, UK Development Minister Hilary Benn announced on a visit to Ethiopia. Do you see what the government has done? It's the only language they understand! They don't like what is being done with the assistance of their money so they withdraw it - because that's an effective thing to do. - F4J et al: ...Mr Field's concerns over the CSA's performance were laid out in a letter sent to the prime minister earlier this month which claimed more than £3bn of uncollected maintenance was still owed to parents... Wow that's the size of Debenham's!

immaculate perception

Monday, January 16, 2006


this 5.8 billion could be spent on the train system, hospitals and other infrastructure A relative tells me that from April all Scots pensioners will be able to travel anywhere in Scotland on public transport for free. (Obviously the true costs of this must be gigantic but at least it's something worth subsidising). And the Scots have said they won't have ID cards, hmmm, levavi oculus meos in montes!!!

Begging letters in the Observer

Drop this costly ID scheme Leader Sunday January 15, 2006 The Observer The government's decision to push on with its plans for ID cards in the face of overwhelming opposition becomes increasingly perplexing. Tomorrow peers will attempt to amend the bill to ensure that the phenomenal costs of the scheme are independently audited and understood. True, this is a government which takes pride in being stubborn, but its undiminished appetite for a national register is curious. At a time when all departments are tightening their belts, an unpopular project which, by the government's admission, will cost at least £5.8bn over its first 10 years seems a candidate for the chop. Factor in concerns from the London School of Economics, that costs will run much higher - and an egregious history of public-sector IT projects running vastly over budget - and the determination to go ahead is unfathomable. The government claims that imminent changes to the passport system, foisted on the UK by Europe, make the case for ID cards convincing. This is not so. Yes, there is a need to make the new generation of passports incorporate biometric technology such as fingerprints or iris scans. But this does not justify making it mandatory for everyone to possess a piece of plastic with so many other biometric components. As for ID cards being needed to combat social ills, from terrorism to identity fraud, there is a stronger case that directly targeting resources at al-Qaeda or internet hackers would yield better results. The inescapable conclusion is that the government has been seduced into championing ID cards by the hundreds of companies now bidding for a slice of the lucrative pie. It is we who will ultimately pay. For whenever a company accesses the register to check someone's details, the costs will inevitably be passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices. Sceptics in Westminster are right to fear that the scheme could become Labour's poll tax.
[...] My emphasis. Dear oh dear; "internet hackers". "Internet hackers" - how EXACTLY do these people blow up people and builings? Honestly, the illiteracy of these people is breathtaking. And need we say yet again that THERE IS NO ALQAEDA. Lets see how it SHOULD have read. ... perhaps this 5.8 billion could be spent on the train system, hospitals and other infrastructure; we all know that far more than this is being allocated to instruments of war and the stationing of troops that are the cause of terrorism. Perhaps we should permanently exclude ourselvs from international shenanigans so that the blowtorch of the hatred of innocent and honourable people will no longer lick us and these shores. The solution to 'terrorism' is to stay out of the affairs of other people. The solution to document fraud does not include the creation of a huge database that collects information on everyone in the UK.... Something like that. And notice too, that there is no mention of the rights of the British people not to be numbered and monitored like animals. In other words, no mention of the database, which is the true evil behind the façade of the card. Really, the Observer in this and anything to do with technology is blind, and the Guardian is asleep at the gate. None of that matters however. If you want to be free you have to take charge of your data and your communications, and make it your personal responsibility not to silently and compliantly go along with every Soviet style machination that these venal monsters come up with. Writing leaders that amount to widely distgributed begging letters will do nothing. The Independent is the chief criminal in this respect, with its endless articles about how the way of life is being eroded but never making a call to action to stop the rot. Either lay down the gauntlet and champion real and total civil dosobedience or shut up and act like a sheep. Writing trash like this is pointless...its part of civil obedience, that sheeple think which allows your money to fuel war unimpeded. And this brings us directly to Iran. Everyone should now be up in arms (!) about the call to bring Iran to the Security Council. This is precisely how Iraq was illegally annexed; don't wait untill the troops are removed from Iraq, rested and ready to depoly in Iran, the time to act is right now. Iran should not, under any circumstances, be brought to the UN. It is a prelude to unjustified war...another unjustified war. The time to stop a giant snowball from smashing your village is when it is a pea at the top of the mountain. Hmmmm lets see what Stop War has to say about it....


TONY BENN leads a campaign to investigate breaches of The Nuremberg Charter and Geneva and Hague Conventions during the Iraq War and occupation

Read reply from UN Secretary-General's office: "your letter raises matters which are of extremely serious concern"


"I think the politicians should be held to account ... my view is that Blair should be impeached." General Sir Michael Rose, who led the UN forces in Bosnia.

quoted on "Iraq: the failure of War" to be shown on Channel 4 TV, Frid 13 January 2006, 19.30

Support the Parliament Square Protestors

From Monday 9th January Bow St Magistrates Court (Covent Garden Tube)

On 1st August 2005 the government brought in the "exclusion zone" around Parliament and Whitehall under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act. The act criminalises unauthorised protests within the area. The Stop the War Coalition called a protest for that day. 5 people were arrested for taking part. At least 21 people have now been arrested under the act. On 7th December, anti-war activist Maya Evans was the first person to be convicted of this new offence. Four of the activists arrested on 1st August go on trial from Monday 9th January. People are encouraged to come and show their support outside the court from 9.30 and/or to attend the hearings. These are currently scheduled to last 3 days or more.

Mobilise for international demonstrations on March 18-19 2006, the third anniversary of the war and invasion, calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops and an end to the occupation.



Details to follow soon

[...] http://www.stopwar.org.uk/
Just as I thought; the same nonsense on a different day, while the pea has been set rolling at the top of the Matterhorn. Punishing Bu$h and or Bliar is irrelevant. All concentration, all effort, all power should be placed on the permanent removal of USUK's ability to create false war. If this were achieved, and part of the price was to let these two mass murdering war criminals free, well, its worth that for sure. Iraq is a lost cause. It should be the final lost cause. The mechanisms to permanently de fang the war machine should be everyone' total priority. Its obvious!

bing bong

"An illusory reassurance that a better life is possible" Neophilia well summed up in today's Grauniad. There is also an interview and photo of TopMan (low-priced tween-age UK disposable fashion giant) design director, Gordon Richardson. I'm afraid he is a shocking example of the male equivalent of mutton dressed as lamb.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


And GoogleEarth is now out for Mac. As long as you're running 10.4 that is.

the chances of it?...

Open google earth. enter: 52°20'10.62" N 0°11'44.23" W what are the chances of seeing that over your house?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

tough on the cassius of crime

The Prim Minister, Tony Bliar, apologised yesterday for a series of policing targets and bureaucracy over the last 8 years which has led to a major reduction in frontline forces and focussing on performance related offences such as speeding fines. "I must apologise, as leader of the Government, for the policies which have led to a yob culture where young children can spit in the face of old ladies safe in the knowledge that the local police constable will be at a desk filling out a report or ten in order to justify performance related funding. Furthermore I take this opportunity to acknowledge the wrongheadedness of merging and centralising police forces which would exacerbate the current problems." He gushed forth (see picture). "I also recognise that in the wider picture these children have grown up almost entirely under my stewardship of the country and thus it is similar target-led education and social reforms of my Government which have been good on paper but failed many children and contributed to this situation." The Prim Minister promised to introduce no more new targets and measures until he resolved his addiction with power, which he has had treatment for for the last eighteen months pointing out that no new legislation had been introduced since parliament had gone into recess over the christmas holidays, Mr Bliar declined to elaborate when questioned - Radio 4 tonight, 21:00 Qineqt Connect looks at new surveillance technologies, advert or investigation? (archive link). And yes Q got a plug. Also on 'tomorrow' Today has an article about the Qinetiq sell-off


Hi Barrie That's a cool post, but that isn't the only Gibson model with a mic socket :) You might also be interested in this video of Robert Fripp recording sounds for the new version of Windows. He's using a very groovy Les Paul type guitar with his effects setup. You might need this if you are wanting to see this on a Mac.

Happy Birthday Albert

"By observing natural scientific discoveries through a perception deepened by meditation, we can develop a new awareness of reality. This awareness could become the bedrock of a spirituality that is not based on the dogmas of a given religion, but on insights into a higher and deeper meaning. I am referring to the ability to recognize, to read, and to understand the firsthand revelations 'in the book written by the finger of God,' as Paracelsus designated creation." Such observations make possible "revelations of the metaphysical blueprint of creation. They reveal the unity of all things living in a common spiritual primordial basis"

Digital Guitar

Welcome to the future, where you can rock out in many more ways than before. Sweet mother do I want one of these. From Gizmondo:

Live From CES: Gibson Digital Hands-On

gibsondigital1.jpg Gibson is twanging about its digital guitar, and we spent some time strumming it today. This thing is amazing. It’s a standard Les Paul axe with an RJ45-out instead of the usual amp line. Along with the classic pickups, it’s got a HEX pickup (patent applied), which is really six discreet pickups (one for each string). The pickups sense both up-down and side-to-side motion—for each string. They also claim there is a separate of up to 90dB between each string.

The signal is sent via a proprietary MaGIC protocol to a BreakOut Box that is the width of one rack space and half the rack space wide. The box has 8 outputs (1/4-inch jacks), one for each string, one for the classic humbucking pickup and a pass-through for a microphone. You do not need to plug this into a computer, although that will give you even more cool things to play with.


So, what can you do with all this? Add delay to each string. Then assign each string a different channel for surround sound—it’s true, I heard it. Another option is to use just the first and fourth inputs on the BreakOut Box which will assign the lower four to one channel, the upper four to the other channel and give you instant stereo.

This guitar does so much that even the guy on hand to demo it didn’t understand it all. There is a mic input on the guitar, for one. The Gibson Digital will be available this quarter and retail for around $3,900.

How could you do what you did to us?

{97389}{97485}How could you do|what you did to us?
{97509}{97605}The world was dying.
{97629}{97725}We took all that was good...
{97725}{97821}and made an oasis here.
{97821}{97893}We few, the rich,
{97893}{97965}the powerful, the clever,
{97965}{98013}cut ourselves off to guard...
{98013}{98109}the knowledge and treasures|of civilization...
{98109}{98205}as the world plunged|into a Dark Age.
{98253}{98325}To do this, we had to|harden our hearts...
{98325}{98421}against the suffering outside.
{98517}{98613}We are custodians of the past|for an unknown future.

Wise Onion Garlic is teh best

Potato Chip: 1853, Saratoga Springs, New York

As a world food, potatoes are second in human consumption only to rice. And as thin, salted, crisp chips, they are America's favorite snack food. Potato chips originated in New England as one man's variation on the French-fried potato, and their production was the result not of a sudden stroke of culinary invention but of a fit of pique.

In the summer of 1853, American Indian George Crum was employed as a chef at an elegant resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. On Moon Lake Lodge's restaurant menu were French-fried potatoes, prepared by Crum in the standard, thick-cut French style that was popularized in France in the 1700s and enjoyed by Thomas Jefferson as ambassador to that country. Ever since Jefferson brought the recipe to America and served French fries to guests at Monticello, the dish was popular and serious dinner fare.

At Moon Lake Lodge, one dinner guest found chef Crum's French fries too thick for his liking and rejected the order. Crum cut and fried a thinner batch, but these, too, met with disapproval. Exasperated, Crum decided to rile the guest by producing French fries too thin and crisp to skewer with a fork.

The plan backfired. The guest was ecstatic over the browned, paper-thin potatoes, and other diners requested Crum's potato chips, which began to appear on the menu as Saratoga Chips, a house specialty. Soon they were packaged and sold, first locally, then throughout the New England area. Crum eventually opened his own restaurant, featuring chips. At that time, potatoes were tediously peeled and sliced by hand. It was the invention of the mechanical potato peeler in the 1920s that paved the way for potato chips to soar from a small specialty item to a top-selling snack food.

For several decades after their creation, potato chips were largely a Northern dinner dish. In the 1920s, Herman Lay, a traveling salesman in the South, helped popularize the food from Atlanta to Tennessee. Lay peddled potato chips to Southern grocers out of the trunk of his car, building a business and a name that would become synonymous with the thin, salty snack. Lay's potato chips became the first successfully marketed national brand, and in 1961 Herman Lay, to increase his line of goods, merged his company with Frito, the Dallas-based producer of such snack foods as Fritos Corn Chips.

Americans today consume more potato chips (and Fritos and French fries) than any other people in the world; a reversal from colonial times, when New Englanders consigned potatoes largely to pigs as fodder and believed that eating the tubers shortened a person's life—not because potatoes were fried in fat and doused with salt, today's heart and hypertension culprits, but because the spud, in its unadulterated form, supposedly contained an aphrodisiac which led to behavior that was thought to be life shortening. Potatoes of course contain no aphrodisiac, though potato chips are frequently consumed with passion and are touted by some to be as satisfying as sex.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

lock it up tight

Another demonstration of US government trying to control events outside it's jurisdiction - it has absolutely no right to demand or unilaterally legislate in any territories it does not own on the Earth or off of it. Indeed. Check this one: Protecting the protectors The Canadian navy will spend about $4.5 million to install floating barriers around warships in Halifax Harbour and at Esquimalt, B.C. Known as force-protection booms, the barriers will stretch as far as 1.6 kilometres along the waterfront. The military hopes to have them in place by this summer. "They’ll be about 100 metres off the jetties," said Lt.-Cmdr. Scott Tofflemire, the Queen’s harbourmaster. "The desire would be to encompass the whole (HMC) Dockyard site from the Macdonald bridge south down to Karlsen’s wharf." The barriers are designed to prevent terrorist attacks similar to one in October 2000 when two al-Qaida suicide bombers brought a small boat alongside the USS Cole as it refuelled in Yemen. They detonated explosives hidden in the boat, killing themselves and 17 sailors, and blasting a huge hole in the American destroyer’s hull. "The threat is always there," Lt.-Cmdr. Tofflemire said. ..... And the barriers are built by a US company in New Jersey. Of course. I bet it's ugly too. My feeling is that this is a compromise with the US. We won't agree to the missile defence program, but to appease them, we will build fences around our navy. Though I don't understand why we should appease them at all. We are too generous a neighbour for them. They invite their problems to their country, and because of their proximity, they push their neurosies onto us. So lost and blind they can't open their eyes and see how their neighbours keep their house. Or is it arrogant and self-serving?

Get of of my space

The BBQ website promotes: Space tourists must be screened to ensure they are not terrorists, according to proposed regulations from the US Federal Aviation Administration[...] Another demonstration of US government trying to control events outside it's jurisdiction - it has absolutely no right to demand or unilaterally legislate in any territories it does not own on the Earth or off of it. And shame on the shameless BBQ for another uncritiqued Murder Inc press release masquerading as a news story. To be fair BBQ almost gets it right in allowing an opinion piece on overpopulation to get through. Even though it does manage to throw in the magic 3bn figure and is rather vague. When I get used to being in front of the computer/working quickly again I intend to write something on overpopulation/resource scarcity etc.

Monday, January 09, 2006


Ring a ring o' roses, A pocket full of posies, A-tishoo! A-tishoo! We all fall down

munch bunch

Walkers Snack Foods. Owned and backed by the world's biggest snack food company, PepsiCo, Walkers has eaten up market shares on the back of a highly successful advertising campaign fronted by former football star Gary "Salt and" Lineker.

Walkers controls over 50% of the £2bn crisps market in the UK. Britons now eat over 10bn bags annually, the equivalent of 100 packs for each person every year and more than consumed in the rest of Europe put together.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

"It's a secret." "Shhhhhut uuu-uup."

Seen on the Aquarius Records new arrivals list #230: ----} also upcoming, sooner or later v/a Conet Project II !!!!!!!!! This is good news but I don't recall any mention on Blogdial of this... shhhhhh

Friday, January 06, 2006

Minimalist Jukebox

If anyone here is in LA in March, you better be spending half your time with the LA Philharmonic. Check this out, this is INCREDIBLE:


Film Festival: Week of Jan 09, 2006 Music Festival: Mar 18 – Apr 02, 2006 Symposia: Mar 31 – Apr 01, 2006 Full festival calendar below.

In a groundbreaking first by a major orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic presents a wide-ranging survey of Minimalism. Under the watchful ear of Festival Director John Adams, Minimalist Jukebox reflects on where we've been, the current state of the art, and things to come. Run Minimalism's musical gamut from African drums to Branca’s electric guitars, from Riley, Glass and Reich to Andriessen, Pärt and Adams himself. Open your ears and expand your mind.

Seriously - Branca's Symphony for 100 Guitars? Steve Reich? Arvo Part? Just look at the calendar... awesome!

Cacaphony on the Edge of Town

Here is a great response towards this year's EDGE World Question Center (this year, "what is your dangerous idea?"). The Question Center this time around is not quite as good as last year's but still has fostered many stimulating responses. I have not finished the whole thing yet, as I am reading it at work when there is nothing to do (admittedly sometimes for an hour at a time... January is slow). This person's response seemed totally relevant and totally BLOGDIAL, perhaps because it criticizes the question posed, and exists outside any of the other responses I've read so far. Be sure to also check out Leonard Susskind's response. ALISON GOPNIK Psychologist, UC-Berkeley; Coauthor, The Scientist In the Crib

A cacophony of "controversy"

It may not be good to encourage scientists to articulate dangerous ideas.

Good scientists, almost by definition, tend towards the contrarian and ornery, and nothing gives them more pleasure than holding to an unconventional idea in the face of opposition. Indeed, orneriness and contrarianism are something of currency for science — nobody wants to have an idea that everyone else has too. Scientists are always constructing a straw man "establishment" opponent who they can then fearlessly demolish. If you combine that with defying the conventional wisdom of non-scientists you have a recipe for a very distinctive kind of scientific smugness and self-righteousness. We scientists see this contrarian habit grinning back at us in a particularly hideous and distorted form when global warming opponents or intelligent design advocates invoke the unpopularity of their ideas as evidence that they should be accepted, or at least discussed.

The problem is exacerbated for public intellectuals. For the media too, would far rather hear about contrarian or unpopular or morally dubious or "controversial" ideas than ones that are congruent with everyday morality and wisdom. No one writes a newspaper article about a study that shows that girls are just as good at some task as boys, or that children are influenced by their parents.

It is certainly true that there is no reason that scientifically valid results should have morally comforting consequences — but there is no reason why they shouldn't either. Unpopularity or shock is no more a sign of truth than popularity is. More to the point, when scientists do have ideas that are potentially morally dangerous they should approach those ideas with hesitancy and humility. And they should do so in full recognition of the great human tragedy that, as Isiah Berlin pointed out, there can be genuinely conflicting goods and that humans are often in situations of conflict for which there is no simple or obvious answer.

Truth and morality may indeed in some cases be competing values, but that is a tragedy, not a cause for self-congratulation. Humility and empathy come less easily to most scientists, most certainly including me, than pride and self-confidence, but perhaps for that very reason they are the virtues we should pursue.

This is, of course, itself a dangerous idea. Orneriness and contrarianism are in fact, genuine scientific virtues, too. And in the current profoundly anti-scientific political climate it is terribly dangerous to do anything that might give comfort to the enemies of science. But I think the peril to science actually doesn't lie in timidity or self-censorship. It is much more likely to lie in a cacophony of "controversy". direct link

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Closer and closer

Take a leap into hyperspace

  • 05 January 2006
  • Haiko Lietz
  • Magazine issue 2533
Fancy a trip through another dimension? New Scientist Space uncovers the curious tale of the rocket driven by quantum gravity

EVERY year, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics awards prizes for the best papers presented at its annual conference. Last year's winner in the nuclear and future flight category went to a paper calling for experimental tests of an astonishing new type of engine. According to the paper, this hyperdrive motor would propel a craft through another dimension at enormous speeds. It could leave Earth at lunchtime and get to the moon in time for dinner. There's just one catch: the idea relies on an obscure and largely unrecognised kind of physics. Can they possibly be serious?

The AIAA is certainly not embarrassed. What's more, the US military has begun to cast its eyes over the hyperdrive concept, and a space propulsion researcher at the US Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories has said he would be interested in putting the idea to the test. And despite the bafflement ...

The complete article is 2463 words long. [...] http://www.newscientist.com/channel/fundamentals/mg18925331.200 and here: http://news.scotsman.com/scitech.cfm?id=16902006 Every day there is another article like this bringing us closer to Full Disclosure. Like we have been saying all along; interstellar travel is a fact, and it has and is being done by aliens right now. Whats that you say?! Surely you aren't so stupid as to think that only humans could have come up with this technology? Honestly, that would be REALLY DUMB. It's almost time for the SETI Skeptics to get the salt shakers and cheque books out - they will need the salt to eat their hats, and the cheque books to pay off the thousands of dollars on their bets against the reality of ETI they are going to lose very shortly.

Here comes the new year, same as the old year

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Telegraph Online

Freedom fears as the DNA database expands
By Philip Johnston, Home Affairs Editor
(Filed: 05/01/2006)

The government was accused last night of compiling a national DNA database
"by stealth" as police reported a rapid increase in genetic profiling in
recent years.

New Home Office figures estimate that by 2008, the samples of some 4.2
million people - seven per cent of the population - will be contained on a
central criminal database, which is growing by about half a million a year.

The system, which held only 700,000 samples when Labour took office in
1997, now exceeds three million and includes 140,000 from people never
charged with any offence.   Proportionately it is easily the largest DNA
database in the world and is 50 times the size of the French equivalent...


Telegraph Online

'Library' holds blood, hair and skin from three million people
By John Steele, Crime Correspondent
(Filed: 05/01/2006)

The national DNA database at the centre of controversy last night is a
"library" of samples of human material taken from around three million
people suspected of, or charged with, crimes.   Each sample - including
mouth swabs, hairs, scrapings of skin or blood - has been analysed to
produce a unique DNA, or genetic, "fingerprint", which is recorded in
digital form on a computer.

Physical samples, which are taken by doctors at the request of police, are
preserved by the Forensic Science Service (FSS), a government-owned agency
that is "custodian" of the database (NDNAD) and is based in Birmingham.

Each sample/profile - gathered under laws that allow samples to be taken
from children as young as 10 - is accompanied by details, such as age,
address or criminal record, supplied by police to identify the



DNA of 37% of black men held by police

Home Office denies racial bias

James Randerson, science correspondent
Thursday January 5, 2006
The Guardian

The DNA profiles of nearly four in 10 black men in the UK are on the
police's national database - compared with fewer than one in 10 white men,
according to figures compiled by the Guardian.
Civil liberties groups and representatives of the black community said this
offered evidence that the database reinforced racial biases in the criminal
justice system...


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   or send an explanatory email to 

Tools of the trade

For those of you on the mac and who are spending hours writing code I cannot reccomend Textmate highly enough. Its the best editor I have ever used, and I have run J-Edit, Ultraedit, BBEdit, Gedit, VI and some other, smaller editors, and Textmate trounces the lot of them. Take a look at this newly added Screencast'Putting Flickr on Rails' to see Textmate going through its paces. This tool is so good, I bought a licence.


RFID-Zapper What is the RFID-Zapper? The RFID-Zapper is a gadget to deactivate (i.e. destroy) passive RFID-Tags permanently. The development-team presently consists of two people. Goals are a proof-of-concept and the construction of at least one functioning and appealing prototype, as well as a documentation of the project, so that everyone can build an own RFID-Zapper. Why should I need such a thing? We have to expect to find RFID-Tags, serving many purposes, almost everywhere around us within the near future. The consequences of this development are discussed elsewhere; as far as the RFID-Zapper is concerned it is enough to know, that RFID-Tags are likely to further threaten and compromise the privacy of customers. To defend yourself against such measures, you might want a small, simple and relatively appealing gadget to permanently deactivate RFID-Tags around you, e.g., to deactivate RFID-Tags in recently bought clothes without damaging those. ... Thought this may be appealing to the DIYs in the group ...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


That means not paying tax. And not buying Government Bonds and other such investments.

ruby on rails

ruby on rails I had a look at it at around this time last year chris ... unfortunately, due to work / life commitments i didn't get beyond the 'wow this is really very fast i must look at it in greater detail' stage ... i bought 'programming ruby' and was taken by how beautiful the language seems to be, but haven't had time to use it ... i'd be interested to hear how you get on with it

I dont mean to pry but im....

justcurio.us There is this story on the BBQ: skye bridge fiasco. Whats poignant about this story is that it was the first PFI project started by the last conservative government and carried on by the current labour one. It is indicative of how all the hospitals and schools built under this deal are a sham and a fraud, using our taxes to line the pockets of private companies, instead of building them more cost effectively using public sector borrowing. This is another BBQ story about how a [flagship PFI] hospital local to me is nearly £20 million in debt and expects it to rise to £100 million in four years due to the set up of its PFI 'contract'. Is anybody using Ruby on Rails? If so, how are you finding it? Im involved in a project with a few online friends and all of us are beginners with it. We all have experience with php and some with perl so I cant see it being a steep curve but just wondered about others experiences with it. I had my birthday on sunday. I spent the day relaxing at home, finishing off reading 'Margrave Of The Marshes' [John Peel's semi-autobiography] and treated myself to what can be used as a music making device, namely a P5 gaming glove, even though I am lefthanded!:

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Americans Stirring

Did my ancestors eke out a bare existence on Plymouth Rock to practice their faith for this? Spying on ourselves as the Russians only could have in the most fevered dreams of the KGB. Did my ancestors fight and die for the American Revolution for this? Calling it necessary to stop terrorist attacks when all that was needed to stop 9/11 was strong doors and locks in cockpits. Did they fight and die on the battlefields of the Civil War for this? Even Lincoln suspending habeaus corpus was at least done in the open. Did my grandfathers fight in Europe and the Pacific for this? Inherant power under the Constitution to do this is beyond laughable. Has the entire last 400 years of struggle of my ancestors been utterly in vain? Has America forgotten utterly what it is? Have the darkest nightmares of George Washington and the dangers of party politics finally been realized? Why is all of the debate about the NSA spying revolving around it's legality? How is that even possible here? Can anyone see right from wrong anymore in America? Can anyone remember what it means to be an American? Where is the Spirit of America? Do not vote for any incumbent, Democrat or Republican, in coming elections, or it will be the worse for us all. They are both corrupt parties, fighting over power that they are loathe to give up. We The People are Sovereign here. The Republican and Democratic Parties are not Sovereign, and have no inherant right to exist. We The People ARE the Government of this Nation, and it seems to be long past time that we administered a refresher course in that lesson at the ballot box, to both of those old and corrupt parties. How is it that the rules to stand for office in this nation are so convoluted and nearly impossible to meet for anyone not personally wealthy or backed by the Republicans or Democrats? Does either of those parties truly even remember what those words MEAN? Have we truly become the worst in what we hate? How is unquestioned rule by one or the other different from unquestioned rule by one party? Does anyone understand what this program means? It WILL lead to abuses of personal power that make the 47 year rule of the FBI by it's first director seem tame and pale, and whomever grabs the reigns of such an apparatus will not easily give them up. Who in the Democratic party has already been blackmailed by data gathered by this program? If they haven't yet, give it at most one more election cycle. How would electing another batch of Democrats truly make things any different? What excuse would they grab hold of to do the same, and how long would that temptation of power take before they gave in to it? My God, what ever happened to the plain meaning of the text of the 4th Amendment? What ever happened to the plain meaning of the law being what it meant? What ever happened to individuals actually running for office and truly representing the interests of those around them in their communities? When was the last time that the outcome of elections for the House of Representatives was not almost entirely a foregone conclusion? It no longer matters if any individual candidate means well personally, if they are a member of one of the two major parties they are supporting a corrupt apparatus. Would you sell your birthright for a mess of potage? Do not vote for major party candidates if you still know what the Spirit of America is. If it still lives, prove it at the ballot box. Start write in campaigns for independent candidates, and do not donate to the two major parties. Vote with your wallet as well. Vote the two parties out of power while you still can, as electronic balloting will soon make anonymous voting a dream of the past, and it will then be too late. Ask these difficult questions, forward and post this message, and do not take excuses for an answer. -David Mercer Tucson, AZ This essay is public domain and may hence be distributed in any media with or without attribution, in whole or in part. [...] Posted on the Politech mailing list no less. Like I said before; even if bombs in London kill ten thousand in one year not a single one of our rights should be given up because of it. MILLIONS of people laid down their lives voluntarily so that we wouldn't have to put up with people like Bliar turning the UK into a police state.
it seems to be long past time that we administered a refresher course in that lesson at the ballot box
WRONG. The ballot box is the means by which they control the population, diffuse pent up indignation, transfer legitimacy and authority to themselvs and continue the relentless sham. The only thing that will stop the monster in its tracks is a withdrawl of all services rendered to the state by the iindividual. That means not paying tax. It's the only language they understand, and the last tool left to the millions of americans who want to have real, fine grained, direct control over what their government does. Anyone who says 'vote' is a part of the problem. The entire system needs to be dismantled and then reconstructed with even more controls and restrictions on government. Anything less is just a waste of time.