Monday, September 29, 2003

Protest the protest of the protest: "The following is an excerpt from a conversation [psychologist Gustave] Gilbert had with [Nazi Hermann] Goering in his cell on the evening of April 18, 1946.

Goering: 'Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war, neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.'

Gilbert : 'There is one difference. In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.'

Goering: 'Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.'

Goering's statement should send a chill up your spine. Two phrases in particular merit underscoring: 'tell them they are being attacked,' and 'denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism.'"

America is fighting an open-ended war against an invisible enemy with no clearly defined means of telling if or when we've won. Our leaders repeat "The Big Lie" constantly. Now, I'm not saying our leaders are Nazis. But when it gets this obvious that they're using the same playbook, I worry.

Iraq, 9/11 still linked by Cheney: "THE ALLEGED meeting in Prague between hijacker Mohamed Atta and Iraqi Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani was the single thread the administration has pointed to that might tie Iraq to the attacks. But as the Czech government distanced itself from its initial assertion and American investigators determined Atta was probably in the United States at the time of the meeting, other administration officials dropped the incident from their public statements about Iraq.

Not Cheney, who was the administration’s most vociferous advocate for going to war with Iraq. He brought up the connection between Atta and al-Ani again two weeks ago in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in which he also suggested links between Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks.

Cheney described Iraq as “the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault for many years, but most especially on 9/11.” Neither the CIA nor the congressional joint inquiry that investigated the assault on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon found any evidence linking Iraq to the hijackers or the attacks. "

From: The Big Lie is Bush's Most Powerful Weapon: "The propagandists who wield The Big Lie never try to refute the truth. They simply repeat their lies, over and over again, until everyone forgets the truth. The first step to peace is to bring back the truth, to repeat it as often and as loudly as we can.

Truth: This is not a war between good and evil. It is a political struggle between two forces with competing goals. There is no evidence that Al Qaeda wants to impose its way of life on us. They just want us to stop imposing our way of life on them. However, current U.S. political and economic goals require domination of the Muslim world. Bush administration officials have admitted that they have no hope of ending terrorism. But now they have an excuse to put the U.S. military, and U.S. picked leaders, wherever they want them.
FBI bypasses First Amendment to nail a hacker: "The Bureau recently sent letters to a handful of reporters who have written stories about the Lamo case -- whether or not they have actually interviewed Lamo. The letters warn them to expect subpoenas for all documents relating to the hacker, including, apparently, their own notes, e-mails, impressions, interviews with third parties, independent investigations, privileged conversations and communications, off the record statements, and expense and travel reports related to stories about Lamo.

In short, everything.

The notices make no mention of the protections of the First Amendment, Department of Justice regulations that restrict the authority to subpoena information from journalists, or the New York law that creates a 'newsman's shield' against disclosure of certain confidential information by reporters. "

Maybe you missed it, or maybe you were deceived, but you should know that hackers, just like drug dealers, are TERRORISTS!!! and should be exterminated. Except when you need to leak sensitive information for political purposes...

Sunday, September 28, 2003

An Oedipal Necrophile: "Anyway, the point is that the defendant is doubtlessly a disturbed individual, and the necrophilia charge seems relatively superfluous in regard to the admitted chain of events. But maybe that doesn't matter, because they'll probably try to blame the whole thing on Marilyn Manson somehow."

There's something Freud should say about my Oedipal complex, but it escapes me. All I have to say is fuck her first -- corpses are inanimate.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Red Lobster Endless Crab Offer Gobbled Up Chain's Profits: "'It was kind of the worst of all worlds,' one senior Darden executive remarked as the casual-dining giant said Red Lobster management had badly miscalculated how many times customers would take the chain at its word and eat all they wanted - at a time when crab costs were going up.

'It wasn't the second helping on all-you-can-eat but the third,' said company chairman Joe R. Lee. 'And maybe the fourth,' added Dick Rivera, company president and chief operating officer, on a conference call after the market Wednesday."

It wasn't like it was cheap, and some restaurants jacked up the price, too. People in the food service industry should be able to project consumption, but don't try and convince an American that they shouldn't eat all they can eat.

UPDATE: Is this why my girlfriend summoned me to a Crabfeast Saturday night? Hmmm... I'll have to get her drunk...
Science weighs in on 5-second rule: "So, the good news: Chances are the floor beneath your fumbled Oreo doesn't contain E. coli. The bad news: If it does, your cookie is contaminated and shouldn't be eaten. "

They mention the low bacterial count on most floors initially foiling the tests, and how they circumvented this by inoculating flooring with E. coli. They also mention how dogs generally beat the 5 second rule, while kids generally don't. Of course, if you've already inoculated your flooring with E. coli, your results may vary. In any event, it appears the time factor is irrelevant.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

South Texas ISD board decides against book ban, grants alternative: "Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is a satire about a dystopia where babies are born in laboratories, people pop 'happy pills' like candy and sex is a casual act. 'Huxley's (book) wasn't to promote suicide, drug use or contraceptives,' senior Justin Garcia said in his defense of the books. 'It was a cautionary tale of a sad and lonely future, because a society decided to sacrifice physical uniqueness between people, love between people, to sacrifice great works like Shakespeare that made people passionate about life, because it would be safe.

"But it is through the loves and passions of our lives that individuality and passion are defined. That was the point Huxley was trying to define, not for us to use the book as a manual for contraceptives, or to learn how to escape life by suicide. He proposed a dystopia and it is for us to question it so we do not fall into that mainstream of society."

Some people don't understand that when you take advanced placement courses, you may be encounter material that challenges you. Some people understand that is the point. Some people want their kids to be "special" but don't want them challenged in any way. I think that protecting children from any discussion of these topics constitutes child abuse.
A back door to Poindexter's Orwellian dream : "DARPA's dreaded Total Information Awareness (TIA) program, formerly administered by convicted felon and Republican hero John Poindexter of Iran-Contra fame, may have been de-clawed by Congress, but it lives on at the state level in an incarnation called, ominously, the MATRIX (Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange).

There's a lot to dislike in this new end-run around Congressional oversight. For one thing there are federal dollars behind it -- four million from the Department of Justice -- which makes it clear that the Feds will be expecting a payoff. "

So the company doing the work is headed by a man implicated in drug smuggling 20 years ago. As El Reg notes, this makes him a perfect fit for Poindexter. He served as an informant and witness in several trials, and was identified by other FDLE informants as someone who provided police protection for smuggling operations.

Crooked cops taking Federal money to circumvent Congressional restrictions. Oh, and Seisint technology has been demonstrated for Vice President Dick Cheney and Gov. Jeb Bush.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Wired News: Garage Doors Raise DMCA Questions: "Skylink Technologies manufactures a universal garage door opener that can be used to open and shut any type of garage door. Its competitor, the Chamberlain Group, claims that Skylink violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, by selling such a product. "

Interoperability is now a criminal offense. Lexmark has also used the DMCA to keep a competitor from making toner cartridges that work with Lexmark printers.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Hollywood Faces Online Piracy, but It Looks Like an Inside Job: "But the early debut of 'Hulk' was not the work of the armies of KaZaA-loving college students or cinephile hackers. The copy that made its way to the Internet was an almost-complete working version of the film that had been circulated to an advertising agency as part of the run-up to theatrical release. And 'Hulk' is not alone.

According to a new study published by AT&T Labs, the prime source of unauthorized copies of new movies on file-sharing networks appears to be movie industry insiders, not consumers. The study is 'the first publicly available assessment of the source of leaks of popular movies,' according to its authors.

Nearly 80 percent of some 300 copies of popular movies found by the researchers on online file sharing networks 'appeared to have been leaked by industry insiders,' and nearly all showed up online before their official consumer DVD release date, suggesting that consumer DVD copying represents a relatively minor factor compared with insider leaks."

"Screeners" have always been the best source for pirate videos. Whether it's a pre-release copy for ad agencies, or a free copy sent to woo AMPAS members before Oscar voting, these copies often end up being sold or traded.
Artists blast record companies over lawsuits against downloaders: "'Lawsuits on 12-year-old kids for downloading music, duping a mother into paying a $2,000 settlement for her kid?' said rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy. 'Those scare tactics are pure Gestapo.'

'File sharing is a reality, and it would seem that the labels would do well to learn how to incorporate it into their business models somehow,' said genre-busting DJ Moby in a post on his Web site. 'Record companies suing 12-year-old girls for file sharing is kind of like horse-and-buggy operators suing Henry Ford.'"

Fixing this problem will require that the record companies wake up and remember what business they're really in, and get back to producing, manufacturing, and distributing an entertainment product in a form that the consumers want to buy.

Of course, it also means delivering quality product in quantity, both of which have been problems for the recording industry for years. When you release 25% fewer titles than the previous year, and your revenues drop 15%, it's hard to blame file sharing for your problems.

Get rid of the suits who think that selling more of less for more is what the music industry ought to be about.
New Terror Laws Used Vs. Common Criminals: "Federal prosecutors used the act in June to file a charge of 'terrorism using a weapon of mass destruction' against a California man after a pipe bomb exploded in his lap, wounding him as he sat in his car.

A North Carolina county prosecutor charged a man accused of running a methamphetamine lab with breaking a new state law barring the manufacture of chemical weapons. If convicted, Martin Dwayne Miller could get 12 years to life in prison for a crime that usually brings about six months. "

First, roll back legislative protections enacted after prior incidents of law enforcement abuse. Second, create a vague and nebulous category of "terrorism" and *POOF* everyone becomes a terrorist! Good morning, I am an evildoer.
High-Tech Heroin: "The Information Age will not be remembered by the fun, high-flying and overwhelmingly feel-good Dot Com days despite the ongoing presence of Dot Com-developed technologies. Rather, the Information Age will be remembered as a period when 12-year old girls from New York slums, senior citizens, and innovative college students are harrassed by greedy cartels seeking to scare their future customers into submission; when the profit goals of high-tech vendors determine how client businesses and people are organized and interact; when everyone is presumed a potential criminal until proven otherwise according to oppressive industry-defined criteria; when a once-awesome revolution in global communications became converted into a cesspool of unsolicited and offensive marketing messages; when knowing how to do something that's illegal is just as illegal as actually doing something that's illegal; when the legal protections over freedom of speech are trumped to preserve corporate secrets or market share while hiding vulnerabilities that endanger the public; when our lives are monitored and dissected by marketing firms looking for the best way to sell us things we don't need or want; and when technology's promise and alluring capabilities are used to surreptitiously entrap and willingly imprison members of the information-age society instead of truly empowering them. "

Fresh from the department of run-on-but-relevant sentences comes a paean to Dostoevsky.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Should Net surfers be licensed?: "So why not institute mandatory education before people can go online? After all, motorists must obtain licenses before they can legally hit the road, and computers are much more complicated."

Second entry in the "stupidest thing I've seen today" category. I saw this one first, but Creation Science is stupider. Besides, they recognize this one themselves -- the online poll lets you choose between "good idea, great idea, and stupidest thing I've ever heard" -- stupid is currently leading with 85%.
Creation Science Fair 2001: "Jonathan Goode (grade 7) applied findings from many fields of science to support his conclusion that God designed women for homemaking: physics shows that women have a lower center of gravity than men, making them more suited to carrying groceries and laundry baskets; biology shows that women were designed to carry un-born babies in their wombs and to feed born babies milk, making them the natural choice for child rearing; social sciences show that the wages for women workers are lower than for normal workers, meaning that they are unable to work as well and thus earn equal pay; and exegetics shows that God created Eve as a companion for Adam, not as a co-worker."

First entry in the "stupidest thing I've seen today" category.
Zevon Found Humor, Song In Everything: "In November, I had dinner with him in Beverly Hills. We talked about dying, but we laughed a lot more than we cried. At one point, I asked him if he ever hoped for a miracle, hoped that he'd wake up one morning cured. I don't recall the exact wording of his answer, but the essence of it was that he'd feel as if he was letting everybody down. He laughed after he said this, but I don't know that he was entirely kidding."

Finally, someone with both a personal friendship and a sense of humor weighs in. Now if someone can send me a real translation of the Russian verse in Turbulence from Transverse City...

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Hopping mad fans get to 'Jump Around' at game: "Concerns about the effects of jumping on stadium construction caused Athletic Director Pat Richter to make a last-minute decision not to play the song, Wiley said, and he isn't second-guessing that.

But a structural safety review this week by architects and engineers confirmed Camp Randall is stable despite the noticeable swaying of the upper deck that makes some fans uneasy, Wiley said. "

I remember the Comet at Hershey Park. After years of skimping on maintenance, the upper track would drift noticeably when the coaster went 'round. When they finally rebuilt it, they modified it to retain the drift. The upper deck at RKF stadium in DC also moves noticeably when everyone jumps around. Drift is sometimes a good thing, or at least entertaining.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

New York, new hedonists: "Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology at the University of Washington and author of Everything You Know About Love and Sex Is Wrong , says that sex is a natural, physiological response to catastrophe. 'There really is a third 'F' to the 'Fight or Flight' theory that no one mentions,' she says. 'In times of upheaval and terror, people look for confirmation of life, and there's no more obvious antidote to death than sex. It's a way of saying: 'I'm functioning, I'm alive and I'm not alone.'' "

Flash back a year, and then consider the trend. Is this traumatic reaction to terrorist attack, or a natural side effect of 'guns and butter'? Guns and bugger? I hope so...
MS' Linux obsession - time to call in the shrinks: "This week's 'Windows is cheaper than Linux' story comes to us courtesy of Giga Research, which with the aid of Microsoft funding has produced a study indicating that it is cheaper to create a portal using Windows and Microsoft development tools than using Linux and Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) tools. The study is apparently to be used by Microsoft's new kinder, gentler and more fact-based GM for platform strategy Martin Taylor in his campaign to convince customers that nine out of ten cats who expressed a preference reckoned that Linux is pooh. And in this campaign, he has the best facts money can buy. "

As El Reg says in their tease: "If you need to keep proving yourself, people wonder about the size of your..." Yes, if you're operating in a licensed Windows environment, if you own and are familiar with Microsoft development tools, and you know nothing about Linux or Java, it's cheaper to develop for Windows. Who knew?

Monday, September 08, 2003

Warren Zevon: Lessons in leaving: "Zevon, who titled one best-of compilation 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead' and put a picture of a skeleton smoking a pipe on another, talks on VH1 about how he's always been interested in writing about death and dying. Circumstances gave him a perspective few, if any, active artists have shared.

"I'm looking for a woman with low self-esteem," he sings, "to lay me out and ease my worried mind, while I'm winding down my dirty life and times."

Lawyers, guns, and money won't help him now, he's dead. The obits are way too reverent, maybe the appreciations that come later will have the guts to be funny. As Warren himself said, 'enjoy every sandwich'.
How to destroy your computer!: "This article will explain to you, the user, the most common ways by which you can cause your computer to cease to function. Follow the instructions carefully and you will shortly find yourself making appropriate contributions to the all-important service sector.

First, it is essential to be incorrectly prepared."
Soundless Music Shown to Produce Weird Sensations : "'Some scientists have suggested that this level of sound may be present at some allegedly haunted sites and so cause people to have odd sensations that they attribute to a ghost -- our findings support these ideas,' said Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in southern England."

Don't call GhostBusters, just install a low pass filter! Now I know why my subwoofer scares people! They're good at explaining the phenomenon, but poor at explaining why it might appear around haunted houses.
Dance topless and get yourself a hubby
: "Lined up in rows, the maidens danced topless before the king for three hours, undeterred by blustery winds or last year's controversy surrounding Mswati's choice of three teenage reed dancers as his latest queens.

'I am tired of being poor. I want to be a queen. I hope the king sees me,' said 17-year-old Nomsa Gama, wearing the traditional dance costume of a small piece of beaded fabric around her waist."

With choregraphy, too. I wanna be king. Of course, like Martin Mull, I also wanna be god.
N. Korean cheerleaders a hit in South: "The 300 statuesque beauties of the North Korean cheerleading squad bounded up the stairs of a soccer stadium here, prompting ecstatic applause from the South Korean crowd. Wearing outfits that were part Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, part Red Army, the women, who were handpicked and rigorously trained under the auspices of the North Korean government, strode to their places and flashed matching smiles."

Don't get your hopes up, the article goes more political than cheescake.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Will Bush Backers Manipulate Votes to Deliver GW Another Election?: "Harris managed to obtain the source code that is used in Diebold's electronic voting system simply by searching the Internet.

Harris told Democracy Now! that she recently uncovered another file on the Diebold site that she says "may very well be the smoking gun that brings this thing down."

"It is impossible for this file to have existed if there wasn't some sort of illicit electronic communication going on for remote access," Harris said.

"It's against the law to start counting the votes before the polls have closed. But this file is date and time stamped at 3:31 in the afternoon on Election Day, and somehow all 57 precincts managed to call home add them themselves up in the middle of the day. Not only once but three times," Harris said. Technically, under the Diebold system that means it is possible for someone who has access to the system to monitor the progress of the voting results throughout the day and to potentially manipulate them. "

Back into the spin zone somewhat, but the technical details make it pretty clear that this is not a system to be trusted. Between insecure wireless links, violations of law in practice, and obvious susceptibility to fraud -- this isn't how I want my votes counted.
What can happen if America fails to invest in its infrastructure?
: "The condition of our nation's roads, bridges, drinking water systems and other public works have shown little improvement since they were graded an overall D+ in 2001, with some areas sliding toward failing grades. ASCE's 2003 Progress Report for America's Infrastructure examines trends affecting the 12 categories evaluated in the 2001 Report Card for America's Infrastructure -- and the findings are not good. "

Who says so? The American Society of Civil Engineers. Example: investments in power transmission capacity dropped below $2B last year, as compared to $5B in 1975. No, those numbers are NOT adjusted for inflation.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Shock rocker barely makes stir in St. Paul court: "Though Manson's act has been described in Rolling Stone magazine as creating 'a powerful concoction of Satanic imagery, face-splitting guitars and performance spectacle that has drawn the ire of countless keepers of the public good,' prospective jurors saw only the Brian Warner who quietly drank a Coke in the hallway during a break. The Brian Warner who, cutting a surprisingly tall, thin figure, stood and offered a polite 'hi' when Frank introduced him and the other parties in the lawsuit to prospective jurors.

"None of the 18 prospective jurors first questioned registered a visible reaction when Frank revealed Warner's stage identity. All said they would not hold his controversial stage character or outlandish appearance against him."

Oddly, whether on Politically Incorrect (RIP) or in Bowling for Columbine, Manson often ends up being the voice of reason. Just because Marilyn gets all the press doesn't mean Brian is any less packaged a product, just a more insightful one much of the time.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

A Truck Accessory, Bulls Balls, Bumper balls, Cohones, Monster Trucks: "What is the ultimate accessory to any truck, car, motorcycle or buggy? BUMPER NUTS!! Just look how a set of Bumper Nuts turn this ordinary Subaru into an awesome driving machine. Nothing shows that you got a pair like hanging some nuts from your bumper! "

Notice they've censored all the license plates in their pics. Notice they cost $25 per pair. Don't forget the kids!