Radically Inept
Saturday, May 15, 2004
  The Wife's find

While I was out doing errands, the Wife went ahead and searched mushroom photos to come up with this: MycoFiend Photos - powered by smugmug, a Mutinous caninus, only the ones we have growing are more delicately colored, across the spectrum, and the transitions between shades is more gradual, and spread along the length of the stalk, starting about an inch up from the soil.

Note the olive drab material it's exuding. It is wet, but doesn't appear to have much of an odor, though my sense of smell is hardly keen. Now that I have the name, I'll take some time to find out its biology when I get the chance. 
  If you're thinking drugs, you ought to check out The Vaults of Erowid

Well, I stumbled on this link a few years ago, lost it, and found it again today trying to google some strange fungus growing in one of my tree beds. This is a great site to play around in, and if you're thinking at about playing with chemistry you should check it out: The Vaults of Erowid. And conveniently, they are featured in an article this month LA Weekly: Features: Don't Get High Without It: The Vaults of Erowid supplies the ultimate trip buddy: information
by Erik Davis"
Early last February, a 19-year-old sophomore dragged himself into the psychiatric emergency ward at a large American university hospital, complaining that his friends and family were plotting against him. Though the fellow knew his thoughts were irrational, he could not shake his bout of paranoia. He also told the receiving staff that six weeks earlier he had swallowed an unknown amount of 2C-I, a recreational drug that, in his case, produced bright colors and swirling patterns and a suffocating onslaught of cosmic dread. The bad vibes had recurred with increasing ferocity in the intervening weeks, until he finally decided to check himself in.

When a third-year medical student named Jack Ludlow showed up for his shift, the receiving staff were asking themselves the same question that probably just crossed your own mind: What the hell is 2C-I? Luckily, Ludlow knew something about the esoteric world of substance use and abuse among young adults, and identified 2C-I as a rare hallucinogenic phenethylamine. But his search of the usual medical databases for more detailed information turned up zilch. Then he aimed his Web browser toward The Vaults of Erowid (www.erowid.org), where he found data about the chemical structure of 2C-I and a link to the EU’s recent scientific review of the substance. “This information helped us to treat this patient’s symptoms,” Ludlow wrote in a letter thanking Erowid. “We expect that his symptoms will resolve completely.”

Ludlow’s tale is a conventional enough story of medicine in the age of the Internet, except that Erowid is not your conventional medical database. It is an independent Web site run by a couple of neo-hippie data geeks without Ph.D.s, institutional backup or government funding. Two longtime partners who go by the names Earth and Fire (she’s the Fire), they’ve built the most comprehensive encyclopedia of psychoactive substances online. Erowid holds 4,500 archived images and over 25,000 individual documents, including dosage charts, indexes of research articles, FAQs and legal briefs. You can feast your eyes on detailed pharmacological charts, JPEGs of freebase pipes and mushroom spores, a vibrant vault of psychedelic art, and thousands of links to everything from the Salvia Divinorum Research and Information Center to the DEA. But Erowid is more than a vast library of documents concerning those plants, powders and poisons that continue to bedevil and enchant the human nervous system. The Web site is also an example of online culture jamming at its most rigorous and mature.

The topic of psychoactive drugs is a many-headed beast, encompassing pharmacology and federal law, dirty needles and God. The structure of Erowid reflects this multidimensional approach: You open the vault for a single substance, like AMT or heroin, and from there branch out into chemistry, health, history, legal issues and personal testimonies. By far the most entertaining vault contains thousands of “experience reports” logged by psychonauts flying high (and taking notes) on exotic cacti, prescription pharmaceuticals, and newfangled phenethylamines like 2C-I. At once formulaic and bizarre, these reports provide details about dosage, timing and body load largely lacking in the hazy trip tales of yore. An individual going by the name of Fu, for example, reports that s/he consumed one gram of Harmala extract, followed 40 minutes later by 60 grams of fresh psilocybe cubensis mushrooms:

From 7:00-7:45 I began to progressively watch my ego disintegrate itself into the aethyr. This process of ego dissolution started out as a delicate web-like structure that appeared to be made of silver illuminating threads of silk emanating from the center of my field of vision. This web continued to increase in detail and otherworldliness as multi-colored translucent tentacles began to spiral around each silver thread of this “web.”

Strange and sometimes hilarious, these mad-science micro-memoirs recall nothing so much as 19th-century toxicology, when scientists routinely tested poisons and psychoactive compounds on themselves while systematically recording subjective effects.

Though Earth and Fire post many pieces themselves, Erowid is basically a collection of other people’s documents, many of which contradict one another. Psychoactives are a deeply confounding dimension of the human experience, and the site lets these loose ends dangle in plain sight, avoiding pat generalizations and absolute claims. They do not attempt to vet every wild and wacky claim, though they strive to maintain an overall tone of caution, pragmatism and healthy skepticism. Warnings of known dangers are prominently posted, but moralizing is abandoned in favor of fact and reasonable conjecture. The site will not tell you, for example, whether MDMA will damage your brain. What you will learn is that a guy named BJ Logan didn’t detect any neurotoxicity in randomly bred albino rats injected with 25 mg/kg MDMA, while another researcher found that Dark Agouti rats showed serotonin depletions at doses as low as 4 mg/kg. The rest, as they say, is up to you.
Of course, I'm still trying to ID the fungus growing in my yard. And granted, looks may not tell you much about the lethality of a plant, but I don't think I'd want to ingest anything that looks like this does. It comes up with a dry white 'cap', but then it breaks through the cap, and becomes this bright pink/orange (think pink of shrimp) tongue, or phallus shape. It grows out about 5-8", and the top 3-4" oozes a olive drab green substance. Looks like it was dipped in baby shit. Then it seems to collapse and die from the inside. Also, there were these strange beetles, with a yellow plate on their carapace with a dark spot in the center, mating in one of the fungi, and another ducked into one of the hollow stalks when it saw me coming. I wish I knew how to put graphics to the blog, I'd draw a picture. But, if anyone can figure out from my description what kind of fungus this is, let me know. I'll keep trying to google for it and hopefully find a link w/ pretty pictures.

  NPR : New Religions, Part III: Soka Gakkai

Well, the Wife and I were talking earlier, and she said she thought I'd like to know about a specific Buddhist sect that she'd heard about on NPR. Oh, and as much as I hate what has happened to NPR funding wise, and the increased begging and commercials, it still often seems to be a news source of choice for many of the people I know. I hear a lot of, "well, on NPR..."

So there was my NPR plug.

So, the Wife remembers enough of the name of this Buddhist sect, and gets close enough in spelling, that she googles it first try. Okay, but google did offer the correct chice option, so that gets at least partial credit. And then it got interesting, because we get here:
Welcome to SGI-USA.ORG:
"Soka Gakkai International (SGI)-USA is an American Buddhist association that promotes world peace and individual happiness based on the teachings of the Nichiren school of Mahayana Buddhism. Our members reflect a cross section of our diverse American society, representing a broad range of ethnic and social backgrounds "
Which sort of summed up the gist of what the Wife remembered about the group, and is pretty cool. So then we looked to see how they presented themselves in other regions like A Warm Welcome to SOKA GAKKAI (JAPAN)--Official English Site, and then got this:New Religious Movements Page: Soka Gakkai:
Beliefs: Both aforementioned co-founders contributed pieces to Soka Gakkai's belief system. First, Makiguchi is accredited with the connection between Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shoshu (Metraux, History 22). He maintained that the each individual's ultimate goal is happiness (individual and societal), and only through the teachings of Nichiren as rendered by Nichiren Shoshu could one achieve such a goal.

Makiguchi outlined two crucial elements in understanding life and the external world: cognition (truth) and evaluation (value). While truth is empirically accepted by society, the individual makes his or her own value judgements (Metraux, History 25). The two must be fully understood and respected equally. Each individual controls his or her own destiny and must be able to distinguish between good and bad for him or her specifically. Individuals can achieve happiness and societies can achieve peace only through Nichiren's teachings (Metraux, History 26).

Toda Josei, the second president of Soka Gakkai, gave the organization its current character and direction. He is said to have reached enlightenment in prison, and he was to guide everyone to peace and prosperity (Metraux, History 34). He redefined Makiguchi's religious ideas and focused on the reformation of the human spirit (Metraux, History 23). In a world of bad karma (violence, greed, destruction), Soka Gakkai aims to lead humankind away from certain destruction and towards a peaceful world (Metraux, History 1).

Toda stressed not only the importance of education and understanding, but also the fundamental role of religious practice on the path the ultimate happiness. Presently, little reference is made to Makiguchi's value judgements. Instead, the emphasis in on the fact that individual salvation leads to universal happiness, and this salvation can be achieved through the daimoku and the Daigohonzon (Metraux, History 33). Daimoku refers the the chant, "Namu Mhoho Renge Kyo," which translates to "'I devote myself to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra'" (Metraux, History 6).

The Daigohonzon is the mandala that Nichiren composed in the tenth month of 1279 (Metraux, History 14), and is said to contain the Three Great Secret Laws. This symbolic object of worship is said to produce the salvation of humankind and was enshrined in Sho Hondo from 1972 to 1998(Metraux, History 14). As of April 1998, the sacred object is enshrined in the Hoanden building at Nichiren Shoshu's Head Temple at Taisekiji.

Soka Gakkai shares foundations with former "parent sect" Nichiren Shoshu in the teachings of Nichiren, a thirteenth century Buddhist monk. After all the reference to the teachings of Nichiren, here is a brief description of his major Buddhist concept upon which Soka Gakkai beliefs are based. Nichiren discovered the "ultimate truth" in the Lotus Sutra, which outlined two main points. All individuals are manifestations of Buddha nature, and he or she can achieve Buddhahood at any time (Metraux, History 8). The sutra embodies a human's only escape from the sufferings of this world.

Size of Group: Esimated at 8 million internationally at the time it was excommunicated from Nichiren Shoshu in 1992." [all emphasis mine]
Which comes across a little differently, and then this site includes this:
What led to such hostility and seperation? There are two sides to every story, and of course, Nichiren Shoshu has a different version of the events that surrounded the November 1992 excommunication of Soka Gakkai. According to the General Administrator of Nichiren Shoshu, Rev. Nichijin Fujimoto, Ikeda's problematic arrogance began with the 1972 completion of Shohondo. He documents Nichiren Shoshu's view of events that led to the split. One profound event in the series of accusations from Nichiren Shoshu is the "1977 Incidents" in which Ikeda is said to have seriously strayed from the "correct doctrines" of the Nichiren faith. He formally asked for forgiveness during a December 1977 service, and Soka Gakkai subsequently formally reaffirmed Nichiren Shoshu Doctrines. Despite efforts, this period marked only the beginning of frustrations and disputes between the two groups.

Such turbulence seemed to gain intensity and in 1990 Soka Gakkai launched formal complaints about Nichiren Shoshu's authoritarian abuse of power (Hurst 122). Around that same period the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood removed Soka Gakkai's Chairman, Ikeda Daisaku, from his position as a representative of the priesthood's lay groups (Astley 167). Soka Gakkai subsequently accused Nichiren Shoshu of spending the lay organizations money on expensive foreign cars and the like while not doing their job properly (Astley 168). Soka Gakkai saw themsleves as a vehicle for Nichiren Shoshu's teachings and focused on the ultimate goal of world wide dissemination (Astley 169).

Allegations flew in both directions, and in February 1991 rumors surfaced in the news about Nichiren Shoshu's plans to sever ties with the lay group (Hurst 122). Speculation concurs that President Ikeda and President Nikken of Nichiren Shoshu had a falling out over slanderous comments captured on tape. President Ikeda maintained that the taping was secretive and the comments taken out of context (Astley 169). Nichiren Shoshu officials also claim that Soka Gakkai failed to comply to three conditions for their incorporation.
And, that site is just plain interesting reading. And, on we travel to this:Welcome to SokaCult.com which is a seriously bizzarre site, I think it has something to do with their style of presentation:
Jealous Lies of Corrupt Journalists

What is the mainstream press saying about Soka? They love us and praise us because we are such a great, humanistic organization. However, some corrupt newspapers have printed lies about Soka. Soka has many enemies who are angry and emotional and only wish to destroy true Buddhism. Here is a sampling of their falsehoods. You must not believe a single word, except where we are praised.
Then this, but now I'm lost as to which order this was supposed to come in, but"Welcome to SokaCult.com:
"Maybe you sense that something is off or just not right about SGI, and maybe you have noticed cult-like aspects. Do not be alarmed. There is a simple explanation. It is because of the difference between 'American' culture and 'Japanese' culture. What many Americans do not like about SGI is really just Japanese culture. For Americans to criticize Japanese culture is racist. Other problems in SGI can be explained as the difference between 'village' culture and 'ocean' culture. One is closed and suspicious, while the other is open and friendly. SGI has multiple personalities, but this is only natural since we are an organization of human beings. If you think SGI is a cult, you must learn to be more tolerant of your fellow humans. Soka wants to be your friend!

World domination is not our aim. Rather, we seek to establish a harmonious global family of humanism under the banner of Soka that will lead the world for 10,000 years and more, creating waves of peace and Buddhist Democracy. Is that so wrong? If you dedicate your life and fortunes to this cause, you will be living the noble life of a human being. Otherwise, you will not be able to fulfill your dreams. It's only logical. Buddhism is reason."
And, after all that we find the NPR story that had started the quest:
NPR : New Religions, Part III: Soka Gakkai:
"As part of our series on new religious movements, NPR's Mandalit del Barco explores a modern version of Buddhism known as Soka Gakkai. It's an import from Asia, brought to the United States by Japanese war brides. In the 1960s, it caught on with anti-war hippies. Now it has more than 300,000 adherents in the United States, most of them middle class, from all ethnic groups."
It's provides yet a different reality to the group. {I can't seem to get direct link to the audio file, so due to my ineptness, you'll have to go the site and link from there}

Well, so what can you wind up believing after all that? I think it just reinforces my belief that a way to sound good mental health is to avoid to the degree possible contact with organized religion. Seems to me, as soon as they organize they all think they have 'the truth', and then spend all their time trying to get you to give them your money so they can finance more...What? Truth? Why should truth cost money? Why do I need other people to believe what I believe? Look, if you can't get past the crap and see the truth that's not my problem. I haven't actually found 'THE truth' yet, but then, I don't really expect that there is a 'THE truth'. I look forward to ever increasing complexities of ambiguity.

It's late, but I think I'll come back to this topic sometime over the weekend. 
Friday, May 14, 2004
  Teaser Yeah, I think I got a post coming up based on an NPR spot on Buddhism. But, I got to go do some more laundry. And then there's the dishes. But, I'll be back. Hopefully. Got errands to run tomorrow morning, and when I get back, the Wife wants us to clean. I think we should just get a house so small and where everything is so close, that with each movement your jeans/dress/shirt sleeve is effectively dusting/cleaning something. Or, just have less stuff/space or worry less about the stuff and space...Less stuff, less space...Less worry...

Consider this a continuation of the previous post.

The management thanks you. 
  What I did in school today

Well, I didn't actually do anything, but I did pick up the forms to teach in my county's/state's school system.

In explanation, I think a short philosophy course is in order. Might be more for my benefit than your's, but bear with me.

When I was around thirteen, I found myself worrying about things. Like grades, girls, my appearance, what other people think, did I have enough money, girls, did my car look cool, was I up on the latest rock n roll, girls, did I drink the right beer, girls, etc. Well, one night I thunk to myself that all of this worrying was kind of pathetic. It was like I was worrying about binary equations that didn't exist. If number 1 was the coolest, well I couldn't be number 1, 'cause even the people that were number 1, were only number 1 for about three months. And as to 0, well, hell, you can only go one directon from there, besides, if you have four or five good friends, hell, even one or two, you can't sum out at zero. And, well, who the hell gave a shit anyway? The idea was to be yourself. At least it was in the seventies, now though, maybe you are supposed to be someone else.

It wasn't working for me. I thought worrying just felt like a drain, and it didn't really do anything to make me feel better. So, I established a new rule:
If you think you have a problem, solve it. Get active, make it go away. If it is something you can't control, you are just a victim of other forces on a particular issue, well, it might be worth worrying about. But you shouldn't 'over' worry. So, I decided to save all my worrying up for Tuesday nights at mid-night (which if you're paying attention, you'll realize doesn't exist), and if I wasn't asleep, or too drunk, or otherwise occupied, I would devote one hour to worrying about all of my problems that were beyound my control.
It worked very well. I still had 'problems', but I didn't worry about them. Much. I don't recall...

So, sorta' getting back on topic, 'don't worry, do something'. 
  Are you an elitist? I think I might be. But, I am a Southerner. Sorta' East Coast. Went to JSU and Tech though, not Harvard or Yale

You know, I wonder if these guys have a mailing list, that like notifies me when they add a new panel? I doubt I'd sign up for it if they did, but I might, just to get on their case about the lag time between new panels. I'm sure they'd appreciate/benefit from, an irrate subscriber. But their humor is so spot on, I guess I'll just keep checking back every few weeks, and we'll both avoid any stress: www.mnftiu.cc | get your war on | page thirty-four 
  Who is Harry Braun, and why is he running for President?

Well, I got this email this morning concerning Harry Braun for President. This is from his web site:
"A Statement of Candidacy
As a technical analyst and author of The Phoenix Project: Shifting from Oil to Hydrogen, I am seeking your support for my independent campaign for president because I am the only candidate who has proposed a multi-trillion dollar integrated energy, economic and environmental plan that will supercharge the economy by making America 100% energy independent of all fossil and nuclear fuels by 2010. This 'transition of substance' will be accomplished by employing millions of Americans to mass-produce wind-powered hydrogen production systems, including sea-based 'Windship' systems, whose deployment will also provide a vast sanctuary for the remaining ocean ecosystems that are in the final stages of being driven into extinction from oil and chemical spills and destructive fishing practices.

A ccording to a number of recent scientific studies published in the Journal Nature (May 15, 2003), over 90% of the large commercial fish in the global oceans are now gone, and the remaining 10% are so contaminated with mercury, a neurotoxin emitted from coal plants, they are unfit to eat.

According to recent data from EPA (The New York Times , Feb. 5, 2004) roughly 630,000 babies (I in 6) are now at risk each year for developmental disorders from the mercury contamination found in the mother's womb. If that were not bad enough, recent studies have shown that the farm-raised fish that most consumers now eat also cause cancer.

Moreover, it's not just the large fish that are being contaminated and hunted into extinction. Unregulated 'free market' ocean trawlers use weighted nets that operate like football field-sized underwater bulldozers, which are devastating the very ocean habitats on the seabed floor that are needed to replenish the fish populations. Given this scale and rate of mass-destruction , without extraordinary efforts, the remaining ocean ecosystems will be exterminated well before 2010. As such, as President, I will have the U.S. Navy and Air Force assigned to assume the responsibility of protecting the remaining ocean ecosystems and managing the development and deployment of the Windships like the Liberty Ships of World War II."
Also, he apparently runs this web site:Home Page of The Phoenix Project: "THE PHOENIX PROJECT: Shifting from Oil to Hydrogen with Wartime Speed".

Now, personally, this sort of gets to several areas where I find myself unconvinced and undecided. First, I'm not totally sold on hydrogen. Actually, let me back up just a second. We can not generate or capture energy for our use without having an effect on the environment. If you use wind, you are capturing energy that could affect the weather. If you try to harness ocean waves, you change how much erosian waves 'normally' cause to a beach or coast. You also change the environment for animals that live where ocean meets the land. Solar panels block the sun light to the land below the panels. So, we have to be cognizant of the of the trade offs we make in any energy system. Oh yeah, nuclear energy leaves you with that wonderful by-product called nuclear waste (at minimum) which we have strewn across the country, and now want to place in a hole in a mountain that experiences a fair amount of geological pressures and movement. And fossil fuels, whether or not we are at peak oil production, cause their own form of environmental problems from spills to VOCs to green house gasses.

So, I'm not convinced that any single fuel source is the 'best' fuel source. I think you have to see what you're getting out of the system in the form of energy, measure the disturbance to the eco system with in which it operates, and decide if it's a viable trade off. How many coastal creatures are we willing to lose when we harness wave energy? How many birds get killed tin the blades of a wind turbine? How much hydro energy is worth how many stocks of salmon.

But, this isn't some enviro rant. The other thing I'm not convinced about is John Kerry, and the only thing I am conviced on is that I don't want four more days of Baby Bush, much less four more years.

Harry Braun for Prez? I'm not even sure this is really a bid for election, and not just a marketing ploy for wind farms, so I'm going to reserve my judgement. Besides, I have no loyalty to either major party. I don't believe that our current two party system serves us all that well. Several of the founding fathers (I'm not going to look up which ones, right now) where afraid of a two party system developing, and we got it. I'd prefer a multiparty system. No, it most certainly isn't more efficient, but than government is not a business, and hence economic efficiencies are a poor measure to use on government effectiveness. But, what a multiparty system does, is make corruption more expensive. That's why I like it. If you are an industry player, rather than give a few thousand to each of two parties and a couple of their candidates, you'd have to give out several thousand dollars to five, six, or even ten parties and their individual candidates. It starts to get expensive, and it becomes almost impossible to bribe everyone or even hold any of the receivers of your largesse to the 'bargain' of support for your issues.

So, Harry Braun for Prez. I don't know. I'm not convinced. But, I'll watch and see. I have until Nov to decide. 
Thursday, May 13, 2004
  A memory hole

I'm going free hand here, so I may come back to edit this later.

I'm sitting here looking at the first thing I ever stole. Ah ha! You say, you probably stole before that time. In answer? No, what is now before me is the first item where I have conscious memory of 'planning the theft, including the use of deception, to knowingly violate moral precepts of property ownership'. I mean, I knew that what I was doing was 'wrong', and did it anyway for personal gain.

It's a little black figurine of a bear cub. Standing erect with what appears to be a 'pondering' or 'curious' expression. It stands, maybe three inches, and weighs, maybe, I don't know, say ten - fifteen quarters, US currency? There are wear points on the ears and 'elbows' of the figure where the black enamel has been worn off, and possibly bronze (?), metal shows through; it looks like a copy of a common tourist figure I used to see in shops in West Berlin, but the bottom says 'Made in Austria' with a mark of mirror image 'R's in a box. Value? Not much.

But I did steal it. And I was about three years old at the time. We were on a trip to visit friends of my parents. You tend not to go visiting on your own at three. Well, the memory is not a film. It's a serious of stills, in time order. I remember the exterior, new Bauhaus style apartment buildings (well, box-like anyway) with short trimmed lawn, sidewalks and no trees. You saw alot of that in West Germany in the early '60s. And than, a typical German apartment living room, with odds and ends displayed. And, of course, all of the adults congregating in the dining room, leaving a three year old to his own devices. I don't think I'd have suspected larceny from a three year old either.

Well, of all the objects in the living room, this little black metal bear was somehow captivating. So, I opened the window and threw it out on to the lawn three stories below next to the foundation of the building. And then I pretended for the rest of the visit that I had no guilt - not that I would have understood it in those terms, but I knew that my acts were contrary to what I had been taught.

When we left, I remember a slight panic when I jumped from the car as we were loading to leave for home, and I told my parents I had left something by the building. It was still broad daylight, which probably means it was summer time between 6pm and 10pm. I picked up and slipped the little black bear into my pocket and ran back to the car figuring they wanted to get home. I remember worrying about being caught, and planning my lie.

It's sitting here in front of me. A little black metal bear cub, made in Austria with mirrored 'R' in a box as a maker's mark. Forty give-or-take years later, across the Atlantic a couple of times, and probably thirteen or more states later, here it sits.

Kinda' cool though - having the first thing you ever stole. Now, if I just knew whether it was a talisman or an omen, that might help.

I don't steal anymore. In fact, oddly enough, my integrity has grown over the years. I haven't reached Kantian perfection, or become the moral authority on 'rule utilitarianism', but I have become a fairly staunch contractarian.  
  Email Reputation Service? SenderBase?

Well, don't know much about this: SenderBase, but they say this in their "What is SenderBase?" page:
"SenderBase is a free email reporting service designed to help email administrators research senders, identify legitimate email and block spam. SenderBase does not send email - we simply provide information about email senders. You are viewing a report on the top senders of email on the Internet based on data provided from over 28,000 organizations that receive email.

Email administrators - To learn more about SenderBase, please see our help page.

Consumers - If you are a consumer who found SenderBase after receiving spam, you can report the spam to your ISP or send complaints to us at abusesenderbaseorg. To get more information on SenderBase, you can also see this Financial Review article,"
but it has very intriguing research potential for just about anyone.

Note: No Instructions Provided
[This is another one that I suggest readers play around in, and get a feel for the kind of information that is available].

  Who pays the people at Tech Central Station?!

Found this piece on TCS via Chris C Mooney, and it appears they have sunk to wasting ever more time creating science. Creating, as in creating an impression, which has no bearing on the truth. I've posted on TCS here and here, but here the latest from Deltoid : Tech Central Station flunks Physics:
"Tech Central Station flunks Physics
I wrote earlier correcting Ross McKitrick's false claim that there is no such thing as Global Temperature. Unfortunately McKitrick's claim has been adopted and spread by people ignorant of basic physics. For example, consider this review of Essex and McKitrick's book Taken by Storm at (where else?) Tech Central Station, by Paul Georgia. If you look at Georgia's biographical details, you will see that he has studied political economy and economics and there is no evidence that he ever studied physics and it certainly shows in his review.

Before I examine what Georgia wrote in his review, I'd like to give Wikipedia a plug. I thought I'd have to quote passages from basics physics texts, but Wikipedia has accurate and careful explanations that I can link to.

Georgia writes:
No Physical Meaning
Essex, who studies the underlying mathematics, physics and computation of complex dynamic processes, raises some very fundamental scientific issues with regard to global warming. Take, for instance, the 'average global temperature,' which is the primary statistic offered as evidence of global warming. The problem with this statistic is that it has no physical meaning. Temperature is not a thermodynamic variable that lends itself to statistical analysis, nor does it measure a physical quantity.
If you read the Wikipedia page on temperature you will discover that it does have a physical meaning and also that it is a physical quantity. And that there is the whole field of statistical mechanics based on the application of statistics to temperature. Go figure.
Tim Lambert goes on to cite several more examples of Georgia's BS.

Of course, if TCS is looking for writers who are a little better at prevarication and deception, I might be available if the pay scale is good. Hell, I just need a job. 
  Check out BushFlash.com

Found this via Drunken Monkey Style Blogging yesterday, but the net was moving so slow at that time, that I didn't link to it: BUSHFLASH ANIMATION FEATURES Make sure you check out the one top center, "Idiot Son of an Asshole". Tis funny. Tis sad. Tis accurate.

And, well the whole site appears to be a fun place to browse around, and they have free stuff, like political banners. Oh, and there's this really cool media section. I don't know how much bandwidth this site has, but they have a lot of animation. 
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
  Like we aren't up to our ass in alligators already? Via comes Via MaxSpeak, You Listen!comes thisMaxSpeak, You Listen!: WHAT WE REALY NEED ARE MORE WARS which of course links further, to this:
Americas Program, Lifting the Cap: Bush Administration Seeks to Expand U.S. Military Personnel in Colombia:
"Last month the Bush administration announced plans to deepen U.S. involvement in Colombia by doubling the number of U.S. troops and private military contractors stationed there. The move came in the midst of an energetic public-relations campaign by the U.S. State Department and the Colombian government. Both administrations attempted to paint U.S. policy in Colombia as an assured success. However, statistics show a stable presence of cocaine on the U.S. market, and there's evidence of continued ties between members of the Colombian military and brutal right-wing paramilitary groups.

Four years ago the U.S. Congress voted overwhelmingly to pass a $1.3 billion aid package known as Plan Colombia. The support of moderate Democrats and Republicans hinged on a number of safeguards included in the legislation, which they hoped would keep the United States out of the 'quagmire' of Colombia's internal conflict. Congress has restricted the number of U.S. troops and private military contractors allowed on the ground to 800 total and limited their mission to anti-drug efforts, legislating that no intelligence, training, or equipment be used to assist Colombia in its war against left-wing insurgents. Congressional supporters also promised that the U.S. commitment in Colombia would last no more than five years.

Human rights groups, drug reformers, and some members of Congress warned repeatedly that military aid would pour fuel on the flames of the long and brutal conflict involving the Colombian government forces, right-wing paramilitary allies, and left-wing insurgents. Many critics, including current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, also argued that attacking drug production at the lowest level of the supply chain - the poor farmers who grow drug crops in Colombia’s rural areas--was an inhumane approach that would ultimately prove futile.

Despite these grave concerns, Plan Colombia was signed into law. The Republican congressional leadership touted it as a reasonable policy that was limited in scope but which would help bring an end to America’s drug problem. Following September 11th, however, the policy began to transform. The Bush administration and congressional allies broke promise after promise made in 2000, and skepticism of the policy grew in Congress."
These people can't even manage the wars we're already in, at the levels of commitment we're currently at, much less add crap to the missions. This crew is truly inept, or operating on some hidden agenda. Really. They are either as stupid as I fear, or as cunning as I fear. Either way, I'm getting more and more fearful. 
  A wiser look at the issues confronting us today

Oh, just go by and take a read. It is fun, and they've several posts on current events.

Fafblog! the whole worlds only source for Fafblog. 
  Alright, here's a decent look

Morat, of Skeptical Notion, posits this in the comment section of pandagon.net - half the age, twice the smart (Okay, I admit it, it is more ironic this way):
I think there's another angle here. Look at it from the PR perspective, and understand that the primary is Iraqi and Arab.

We're grabbing random Iraqis, from their own country, and sticking them into a prison where -- as they've long known -- we inflict the worst and most shameful acts possible on them. Acts that a large number of Iraqis consider worse than death.

This guy yanks up an American, an "invader" in a country he doesn't belong, and they offer him a relatively swift death. They don't torture him, they just kill him. It wasn't quite as pretty as lethal injection, but it wasn't a knife-in-the-guy left to die over three days death, or a "burned alive" death, or "tortured to death over many days" sort of thing.

In other words, they offer him a merciful and swift death, even though he is an invading infidel. Whereas the invading infidels offer more shame and humiliation than a man can stand in life.

Who comes off looking better to Arab eyes?

As a nice bonus, American reactions are reversed. We see the killing as far more brutal than the still photos of abuse. It's a nice piece of PR designed to inflame Americans -- and thus lead to more atrocities -- and inspire Iraqis to join up to fight against us.

Posted by Morat at May 12, 2004 01:17 PM
I just liked the comment.

And, of course, I threw in my two cents:
Excellent post.

And some pretty excellent comments. I think Ken and Morat provide some range on the possibilities.

But, I wonder if there is still more here. For instance, this prison thing was either stupid, or it wasn't.

If it was stupid, well than some people need to be fired. Now.

On the otherhand, if it wasn't stupid. If some player, for political gain or financial profit, or for some extreme religious conviction (see Passion of the Christ here), or just because they don't like 'ragheads', wanted the US to inflame the enemy, really get a crusade going, well, you couldn't have done better than we have this week.

So, I think the question is really fair, on the subject of the US side and the consternation the photos caused, "Was it truly a mistake, or was someone achieving a goal?" I know, tin hat, but after wag the dog, Iran Contra, and hell, a host of crap, I've ceased to believe anything just because 'that could never happen'.
Just so you know.

[Added 6:15pm]

It dawns on me, that in fairness, I should broaden my thinking on possible motivations. So, let's include the possibility, and I think you always should, that there is more than a single isolated incident (it appears it might well be prevalent w/i our security culture], but there might also be many players who contribute to the 'process' i.e., making decisions (choosing either 'oversee' v 'blindeye' as a policy choice comes to mind). Yet, it could well be that some 'one', and possibly more people/groups of individuals, had as their motivation the desire to bring this to public attention. So, you have a few forces at play, those that might think they are aiding in escalation of the conflict and those that believe they're accomplishing almost anything else.

I really doubt the idea of any sort of single grand conspiracy theory. It just doesn't really seem to fit. Various groups competing for control of resources and 'market' share are also in competition with single issue groups and funds, which are often operating at cross purposes but can wield an enormous amount of political and economic muscle, but one must also include the entire range of potential idealogues, each w/ their own axe. But I think it is fair to recognize the chaos of influences that brought this to a head at this time.
  Damned Canadians After all those nice things that Canuck wrote and I commented in The Canadian view - It's a family thing were just cover. I got sucked in by his wile ways. Here's what the real Canadians are up to:The New York Times, Foreigners Control Fifth of Mineral Wealth in American West, Study Shows:
"About 20 percent of the mineral wealth of the American West is claimed by foreign companies, most of them Canadian, according to a new analysis and online database released Monday by an environmental organization."
Now if we'll just pass a few environmental laws with some teeth in 'em, we can just pocket the money and come out like gangbusters on the deal. 
  A seemingly rare exception

I just want to say to the folks at www.blogger.com, that I am so glad to see an up grade in an interface system improve. Thanks. It seems like everytime I upgrade an interface elsewhere, and RealPlayer - Real.comcomes to mind, I wind up losing features that I liked and used, and only wound up getting more advertising. So thanks again for actually improving the interface. 
  This General is...

...Oh, so fired?
Via MaxSpeak, You Listen! comes this MaxSpeak, You Listen!: FORGET THE PICTURE, WATCH THE FRAME [LINK CORRECTED AT 4:47 PM] which links to this summary Lessons of a by-the-Book Soldier (washingtonpost.com) that includes this:
"And so the general did not flinch from contradicting one of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's closest aides -- Cambone, who insisted that a Nov. 19, 2003, order placing Abu Ghraib under the 'tactical authority' of military intelligence officers did not mean that those officers had authority over the military police guarding the prisoners.

Taguba's report said the opposite. Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) asked the general point-blank if he still felt that way, given that the senior brass has disagreed.

'Yes, sir,' Taguba answered.

His testimony drove home the idea that there are legal orders and illegal orders. There is proper training and lax training, effective leadership and weak leadership, clear chains of command and dangerously confused chains. The problems at Abu Ghraib, in his view, stemmed from poor training, weak leadership, confused command -- all resulting in illegal orders.

Taguba gave a good example of the other sort of order in his opening statement.

'As I assembled the investigation team,' he said, 'my specific instructions to my teammates were clear: maintain our objectivity and integrity throughout the course of our mission in what I considered to be a very grave, highly sensitive and serious situation; to be mindful of our personal values and the moral values of our nation; and to maintain the Army values in all of our dealings; and to be complete, thorough and fair in the course of the investigation.

'Bottom line,' he summed up, 'we will follow our conscience and do what is morally right.'"
If we only had a few more Generals like that...It'd be nice to have that level of leadership and integrity all the way up the chain of command.

'Course, with this crew's history of dealing w/ honest people concerns me. Does he get fired for telling the truth? Vilified in the press as having some special agenda? Will Filipino jokes come into vogue? Can they out his wife? Have his children arrested? It's like a trend has been established... 
  CEOs shouldn't run wars

Chocolate Morphine alerted me to this news item: War Management Follows the Wrong Corporate Model (washingtonpost.com):
"Or think of it this way: The reason the world's only superpower is stuck in the mud in Iraq is the same reason Xerox got into trouble with accounting, why Wall Street analysts and investment bankers didn't blow the whistle on WorldCom and Enron, and why much of the magic has gone out of Disney's Magic Kingdom.
Such generalizations are dangerous. But over the years I've noticed that companies that get into trouble, or lose their edge, have many of the same characteristics at the top: an overemphasis on hierarchy and orderliness; a penchant for secrecy and keeping decisions closely held; an instinct to discount information or dismiss views that don't comport with the company line; a habit of pronouncing rather than engaging intellectually with those outside the inner circle; an unhealthy arrogance and sense of entitlement.
When something goes wrong, the all-too-typical corporate response is to downplay its importance or bury it in bureaucratic processes. And if that doesn't work, the next line of defense is to pin it all on a few 'bad apples' and move aggressively to 'put the issue behind us,' without ever really admitting serious error.
That should sound familiar to anyone who has watched Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and John Snow on C-SPAN, or read Paul O'Neill's account of his ill-fated attempts to warn of the budgetary fallout from a second tax cut, or heard what Richard Clarke told the 9/11 commission about warnings of terrorist attacks that fell on deaf ears. It also describes to a T the process by which the administration has dealt with Iraq, from the original decision to go to war to the handling of the prison scandal.
Here's a little test: You are president of the United States and revelations about abuse of Iraqi prisoners has created the biggest crisis since Sept. 11, inflaming the Arab world, undercutting support at home and undermining our moral authority in the world. How do you spend the weekend?

If you answered "spend it at Camp David as planned, then drop in at the Pentagon on Monday to praise the defense secretary for doing a superb job," you just flunked, along with George W. Bush."
I think the
army should be run by leaders and not CEOs, so to that extent I disagree Pearlstein. In fact, the whole 'military should be run like a business' model is a piece of shit. The military's role is not to be an efficient profit generator. It's basic purpose is to close with and destroy the enemy. The only efficiency that counts is winning. Whether you suffered high or low casualties or whether the enemy did, is not really all that significant. Did you win? No, no...Not the battles, did you win the WAR?

That is the problem we're now facing logistically. We've switched to all this new fangled business models, so we have no surplus supplies (which would no longer be surplus); we don't have enough parts on hand, nor the capacity to make new ones quickly, and we've privatized our support structure to the point where the military is dependent on for-profits for virtually all its support. Which obviously, only supply support at a profit, not based on the needs of the nation nor the mission of the military, but on profits.

Well, that, and we have the dumbest CEO of all running the show, so what would just be bad to poor, is now a quagmire to fiasco situation.

Paul Helgesen over at CenterPoint - A Centrist Weblog has this to say:
"Well, I say that it is time to tell President Bush and his entire entourage:

You're FIRED

Respectfully, you have had more than enough on-the-job training. Regretfully, this noble experiment simply didn't work - your learning curve has been nothing but disappointment - and now we need to put somebody in place who can plan and execute without having his staff spend the majority of their time cleaning up the President's messes."
Which, I guess is a different way to frame the same point, but I think it lacks my stridency. Well, he has more to say on the subject.

Note: He also brings up Hersch's role in getting the prison photos out into the open, which Tom Dispatch remarks on below. 
  Entertainment news, not! Okay, maybe a little.

This may involve a movie and global warming, but it's really about politicsThe New York Times, Global Warming Ignites Tempers, Even in a Movie:
"Any studio that makes a $125 million movie about global warming is courting controversy. But 20th Century Fox does not seem to have fully anticipated the political firestorm being whipped up by its film 'The Day After Tomorrow.'

Environmental advocates are using the film's release, scheduled for May 28, as an opening to slam the Bush administration, whose global warming policies they oppose. Industry groups in Washington are lobbying on Capitol Hill to make sure the film does not help passage of a bill limiting carbon-dioxide emissions, which many scientists say contribute to global warming.
Meanwhile on Tuesday Fox sparred with celebrity advocates who complained that they had been disinvited to the movie's premiere, only to be reinvited later in the day.

All this is occurring as the entertainment industry is on the defensive, with television networks acknowledging they are censoring themselves to avoid being accused of promoting indecency and the Walt Disney Company distancing itself from a film critical of the administration's foreign policy.
In a telephone news conference on Tuesday former Vice President Al Gore compared the exaggeration of the film's premise to the approach of the Bush administration to global warming.

'There are two sets of fiction to deal with,' Mr. Gore said. 'One is the movie, the other is the Bush administration's presentation of global warming.' He accused the White House of 'trying to convince people there's no real problem, no degree of certainty from scientists about the issue.' The news conference was organized by moveon.org, an Internet-based liberal advocacy group."
Okay, well maybe I will throw in a bit of entertainment news after all. I just came from the SaveRite, and at the check out, I noticed a copy of People Magazine in Spanish. Which is okay, I support keeping all people ignorant regardless of their ethnicity or language, and this is the kind of publication that aids in dumbing down the masses. Obviously, if you're reading this, you don't belong in that category; you'd be reading People at the checkout at your SaveRite. Anyway, why I bring this up, is I saw the English version of People in the rack nest to the other, and both versions had the same hook/theme. The world's 50 most beautiful people. Okay, that makes sense. But, none of the photos on the cover of the fifty most beautiful people were the same. So, I figure, there are the world's fifty most beautiful people, but there's really a hundred, and they don't overlap. English speaking people would never tolerate non-English speaking people to be beautiful, and the Spanish speakers feel the same about non-Spanish speakers. Or, it could just be the usual, mindless dribble that People specializes in. Personally, I think the National Enquirer is more informative, accurate and better written. And they have better photos. 
  War Crimes and Criminals

From TomDispatch comes this introduction:
"Oh, and here's another small but quite remarkable link between then and now, which, with (as far as I know) the exception of the New York Times' Frank Rich and the superb Paul Krugman, has not been seriously mentioned, no less highlighted in our press. The journalist who forced the story of the Abu Ghraib photos into the light of day -- after all, until CBS's 60 Minutes II heard that his piece was coming out in the New Yorker, they were still holding up their own report, as per the request of Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers -- and so brought the issue of war crimes to the very tips of American tongues, had done exactly the same thing back in that ugly year of 1969. Until Seymour Hersh, the former Associated Press reporter, published his piece on My Lai with the then-unknown Dispatch News Service, the massacre had moldered in cover-up and silence for twenty full months. (The Abu Ghraib cover-up, though noticeably shorter thanks to the permeability of the Internet and email, still lasted from January 13 to the beginning of May.) Hersh won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking the story then; and, to push this analogy into the future, he should win another for his New Yorker two-parter about Abu Ghraib.

Note, by the way, that in 1969, as now, the My Lai story was first pushed to consciousness by a GI whistleblower who distinctly knew right from wrong (Ron Ridenhour then, Joe Darby this time around); and, as now, that nightmare story was driven by horrific images splashed across the mainstream media. Those were, of course, the color photographs of Ronald Haeberle, an Army photographer who had helicoptered into My Lai with Charlie Company. ('Guys were about to shoot these people. I yelled, 'Hold it,' and shot my picture. As I walked away, I heard M16s open up.') Haeberle took many of his massacre photos back to Cleveland when he left the service and there, for a year, he showed them to civic organizations in a slide show of his own creation. ("They caused no commotion… Nobody believed it. They said Americans wouldn't do this.") Finally, after the Hersh story broke, Haeberle's horrific photos appeared in a famous ten-page spread in LIFE magazine (an issue with an African antelope on the cover), labeled "a story of indisputable horror -- the deliberate slaughter of old men, women, children and babies." Now… well, I hardly need describe the photos of this moment as more of them are reaching the front pages of newspapers and TV screens every day. Then, President Nixon called My Lai an "isolated incident." Now George Bush calls Abu Ghraib, "the actions of a few people" and Gen. Myers blames a bare "handful" of Americans (even as Red Cross reports of the widespread nature of these abuses throughout our penal system in Iraq spread daily).

War crimes proved unacceptable as a category for Americans back then and so, as I wrote in my history of American triumphalism, The End of Victory Culture (from which I dug out many of the above details): "Of all the charges of the antiwar movement, the ones that disappeared most quickly were those concerning war crimes -- and the people who made them were as quickly forgotten." (At least, that is, until John Kerry became the Democratic candidate for president this year.)

"Containment" of the crisis back in 1969 (as in 2004) meant doing one's official best to keep the story to one location which, in turn, was to be identified with a single aberrant event; though such crimes were far more widespread as witness the ones still leaking out so many decades later. After all, the Toledo Blade won a Pulitzer this year for its vivid coverage of a never-prosecuted "seven-month rampage" of horror in Vietnam's Central Highlands in 1967 by a platoon of the 101st Airborne known as the Tiger Force. And on the 9/11 commission, of course, is Bob Kerrey, whose Vietnam horror story only made it into the press in 2001. Containment, then as now, also meant keeping whatever prosecutions there were to as low- level individuals as possible. (Does this sound faintly familiar?)

War crimes. Such a nasty term. In everyday logic, in fact, not that far from an oxymoron. In 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War, when Hersh broke the My Lai story, the subject of war crimes burst on American consciousness (and there was quite a backlash against it). Right now, it's at the very edge of being spoken -- but only in the most limited way, only in relation to the abuses that can be seen on photos from Abu Ghraib prison and only for a few "bad eggs" at the lowest level of a procedure which should really make its way up, up the ladder of command. But rest assured, there's so much more to come, and not just all the new photos, videos, and even possibly audios, promised by Donald Rumsfeld either. Terrible as it may be, we're only at the beginning -- and the one thing we know is that digital cameras and computers are everywhere."
Which as I said is an introduction to this an excellent piece on the legal status and obligations of occupation forces and those so occupied. It also does a very thorough job of looking at the effects of various international treaties, including the Geneva convention, in determining what constitutes a war crime. Via TomDispatchcomes this piece by Mark LeVine:
"When I'm outside the US, whether in the Muslim world, Europe or almost anywhere else, people invariably ask me why Americans don't care that their country is violating the very principles of international law the U.S. helped design. Some might say it isn't fair that the occupiers, and not the occupied, are the only ones facing international condemnation and even prosecution for the violence. And in fact, while under international humanitarian law Iraqi civilians have no obligation of loyalty towards the occupying power, they are also prohibited by international humanitarian law from violently resisting the occupation or attempting to liberate Iraq., and according to Article 5 of the 4th Geneva Convention can in fact be detained by the coalition if they are 'definitely suspected' of engaging in violent opposition.

But however bloody or criminal the actions of the Iraqi insurgency, the onus is on the coalition, as Iraq's internationally recognized occupying power, to conduct itself strictly according to international law. In this context, expressions of 'disgust' or even apologies, however slow in coming, by President Bush or Prime Minister Blair, or promises of 'independent' investigations by people connected to the occupying powers are meaningless, while admissions that the abuses at Abu Ghraib are 'systematic' are misleading if the system referred to is only the prison system, and not the occupation as a whole.

As a matter of fact, the rest of the world is not just sitting back watching events unfold. There have already been attempts to indict U.S. military commanders in Belgian courts based on that country's law of 'universal competence,' although political pressures have prevented a case from proceeding. There are at least three other ways of bringing U.S., coalition (and let us not forget, Iraqi) perpetrators of war crimes to justice that are being considered by progressive international lawyers. If successful, these could severely damage American credibility for the foreseeable future.

The first would be the indictment of Tony Blair and other senior British officials at the International Criminal Court, to which Britain, unlike the United States, remains a signatory. Several international lawyers with whom I've spoken believe that President Bush and other American officials could actually be listed as co-conspirators and/or perpetrators of any crimes for which Blair and his subordinates might be indicted, based on Article 25 of the Rome ICC treaty, despite extensive efforts by the Bush Administration in the months before the invasion to force the EU (and other countries around the world) to grant "total exemption" from prosecution by the ICC to all American civilians and military personnel. The second would be to convince the UN General Assembly to convene a war crimes tribunal (or at least a Truth Commission) to investigate abuses by coalition and rebel forces. Finally, war crimes charges could be brought right here in the U.S. through Federal war crimes statutes. If the Justice Department (as is likely) refused to open such an investigation, plaintiffs could still sue in Federal court to compel it to do so. And if the Republican-dominated courts refused to order an investigation it would only further strengthen the worldwide sentiment that the U.S. operates by double standards in Iraq and the world at large.

Given the possibilities, why is the peace movement not moving on this issue? Certainly it can't be because it's not relevant to the larger issues of peace and justice in Iraq. As Voltaire reminded us over 250 years ago: "Those who can make you believe absurdities will get you to commit atrocities... As long as we believe in absurdities we will commit atrocities." In other words, as long as the occupation of Iraq is based on the absurdities sold to us by the Bush and Blair governments, its very structure will make atrocities a necessary part of the functioning of the system it's put in place. And as long as Americans continue to believe in the absurdities behind the much larger "war on terrorism," they will continue to be accomplices to international crimes, and to increasing violations of the rights of their fellow citizens as well -- and on a grand scale at that."
Personally, I would like to see Baby Bush go to trial for war crimes, mostly, because this war was totally unnecessary and has succeeded only in getting people killed and making profits for a few companies.  
  Science Monday [on Wednesday, I know]

All come via KurzweilAI.net.

But is it really teleportation?
Yahoo! News - Australian scientists claim breakthrough in teleportation:
"The team's leader, Chinese-born Ping Koy Lam, was building on work done by the university in 2002, when they teleported information using a laser beam.

But Ping described the latest achievement as 'a much more complex form of information teleportation in the sense that it involves multiple recipients.'

Teleportation is defined as the production, disembodiment and successful reconstruction of a signal, which in this case was a high frequency sound to three participants. The message in the future may be spoken or typed.

The researchers used crystals, lenses and mirrors to produce a pair of 'entangled' laser beams that are then used to carry fragile information in the form of quantum states.
'These quantum states cannot be measured or copied, making eavesdropping impossible,' Lance said in a statement released by the university. 'The transmission of the light beams constitutes a secret communication scheme with guaranteed security.'

The process of secret sharing is said to be a fundamental part of present day telecommunication, computer and banking practices.

'Such network communication can be enhanced using the laws of quantum physics to protect the information, a process called quantum state sharing.

'The benefit of this technology is that the encrypted message can only be decoded by a majority of recipients"

"For example, if an encrypted message was sent to a spy network containing 15 individuals, a minimum of eight agents would be needed to access the message - limiting the chances of the message being infiltrated or deleted by a double-agent."
Besides, I don't know if I know fifteen people I'd want to share any kind of a secret with.

My kind of government spending
Wired News: NASA Funds Sci-Fi Technology:
"For 25 years, Ross Hoffman has had a vision: to use tiny changes in the environment to alter the paths of hurricanes, slow down snow storms and turn dark days bright.

For most of those years, Hoffman kept his ideas largely to himself. His adviser at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology told him weather control was too outlandish for his Ph.D. thesis. The chances of a buttoned-down foundation or government agency funding such research were so slim, Hoffman didn't even bother to ask.

But, in 2001, all that changed. Hoffman stumbled upon a tiny, obscure cranny of the American space program -- the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, or NIAC. In this $4 million-a-year agency, Hoffman found a place where the wildest of ideas were not only tolerated, they were welcome.

Shape-shifting space suits? Step right up. Antimatter-powered probes to Alpha Centauri? No problem. Robotic armada to destroy incoming asteroids? Pal, just sign on the dotted line. Weather control seemed downright down to earth in comparison.

Hoffman is now wrapping up his half-million-dollar study for NIAC. But the agency is continuing to bankroll concepts for a future decades away.

Some space analysts wonder how long it can last, however. With NASA in turmoil, and a presidential directive to return to the moon, will a science fiction-oriented agency like NIAC survive?

"They're interested in taking some risks, unlike most other government organizations these days," said Hoffman, a vice president at Atmospheric and Environmental Research in Lexington, Massachusetts. "At NIAC, if it's not risky, it's not going to get funded."

Over the last six years, NIAC has backed 118 studies into the chanciest of propositions: interplanetary rapid transit, aircraft without moving parts, and radio signals bounced off of meteors' trails.

The idea, according to NIAC director Robert Cassanova, is to give concepts 10 to 40 years out a chance to grow, and then to pass those models on to NASA proper for further development."
Man, I'd love to get a grant to study this kind of stuff. This is where the fun is.

Hell, it's just junk, right?
In the News: 'Junk' DNA Reveals Vital Role:
"Geneticists have known for some years that there are critical sections of DNA aside from the much-acclaimed genes. A fair fraction of the mouse and human genomes, aside from protein-coding sequences, show strong similarities.

But ultraconserved segments are particularly unusual because they are 100% identical in man and mouse. Until now, some thought they were human DNA that had contaminated mouse samples. 'People had a hard time believing it,' Frazer says.

The presence of exact copies in different animals suggests that even tiny changes in the sequence of these segments destroy whatever they do, and have been weeded out during evolution. Non-essential regions of DNA, by contrast, tend to accumulate mutations so that the sequences vary in different organisms."
I wonder how much I share with my dogs? I mean, they're just like family.

Entertainment in 4-d
The New York Times, For the Viewer, No Escape Hatch in a Digital 3-D Film:
"Viewers of a new short 'Star Trek'' film that opened in the Las Vegas Hilton last month might find that sort of critical distance a bit more difficult to summon. A digital effects company in Santa Monica, Calif., has created a 3-D movie that not only gives the illusion of a world in front of you, but all around.

The visual technique created by the company, Threshold Digital Research Labs, surrounds the viewer with images in the same way that Dolby Digital 5.1-channel audio gives listeners a sense that they are enveloped by voices and effects: it's surround sound for the eyes.

The technique is being used in a seven-and-a-half-minute film that is part of 'Star Trek: Borg Invasion 4D,'' a 22-minute attraction at the hotel...[

]...The film's conceit is that the humanlike Borgs are trying to capture the space station that the attraction's audience is ostensibly visiting. As the station's crew fights back, viewers find themselves in the middle of the action. The floor of the theater moves, seat cushions inflate and deflate to simulate acceleration and impact, and at one point a mist of water is sprayed in viewers' faces.

The film combines 10 actors with 130 computer-generated figures. To shoot the live action, Threshold used two high-definition video cameras mounted next to each other. To change the sense of depth, the cameras' distances were varied."
You know, real life is in 4-d too. Why not try to find entertainment in your own life, rather than...You could go to Iraq for adventure. You could go sky diving, or learn to hang glide. No, rather sit in a theater and have someone else to the work, eh?

Of course they're hard to find. They're 'Dark'
www.iop.org News - Dark matter remains at large:
"The most sensitive dark-matter experiment in the world has failed to find evidence for the mysterious particles that are thought to make up almost one third the Universe. However, the team behind the CDMS II (Cryogenic Dark Matter Search) experiment -- which is four times more sensitive than other dark-matter detectors -- hope to improve the sensitivity of the experiment by another factor of 20 over the next few years. The detection of a dark matter particle would represent a major breakthrough in both particle physics and cosmology.

Dark matter was originally proposed by astronomers to explain why galaxies rotate much faster than can be explained by the amount of visible matter they contain. This mysterious form of matter does not emit or absorb electromagnetic radiation -- hence the name 'dark' -- and can only be detected by its gravitational influence on ordinary matter. Black holes and other objects are known to make up some of the dark matter in our galaxy. However, many cosmologists believe that galaxies also contain exotic particles left over from the big bang. These include so-called weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPS) and other particles not included in the Standard Model of particle physics."
Well, enough science for today. The web seems really slow today, and I'm getting tired of having to find the articles in alternative locations because the original sites aren't responding. So... 
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
  I've always thought the AK a better general use weapon

The M-16 rifle suffers from the same maladies that several of the WWII German made weapons suffered from: The tolerances are too tight for battlefield conditions. The AK-47 rattles when you shake it!! But, it's also capable of firing after being dug out of the mud or after a dust storm. The M-16 is a more consistently accurate weapon, but it doesn't help to be accurate if it can't throw the projectile down range. The AK is sloppy. But it will consistently throw slugs down range. 30 semi-poorly placed slugs v 0. At least the 30 have a chance of ricocheting, but really, the AK is not that inaccurate, especially on semi. So, I take interest in the following via pandagon.net - half the age, twice the smart: This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow: May 09, 2004 - May 15, 2004 Archives:
"From the Senate hearing on Iraqi prisoner abuse, a few moments ago:

All kinds of accounts are coming out now, many are fictitious I would suggest, one was about a guy being dragged out of a barbershop, this was in the Washington Post this morning, they talked about the person doing this had AK47s...are our troops issued AK47s?

LT GEN LANCE SMITH: They are not, sir.

Hah! Gotcha, lying liberal media! Here's the article, which Inhofe has clearly proven to be factually flawed, right?

Not exactly.

BAQOUBA, Iraq (AP) An American soldier stands at the side of an Iraqi highway, puts his AK-47 on fully automatic and pulls the trigger.


''We just do not have enough rifles to equip all of our soldiers. So in certain circumstances we allow soldiers to have an AK-47. They have to demonstrate some proficiency with the weapon ... demonstrate an ability to use it,'' said Lt. Col. Mark Young, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Infantry Division."
And I think the AK's the better 'war' weapon. 
  Well, it makes more sense than anything I've heard officially

I won't go through all the connections, but you can start here: lies.com:
"Scott Forbes follows up on a suggestion from a commenter at Billmon's Whiskey Bar weblog: Connecting the dots. It concerns James Yee, the US Army chaplain who was arrested with certain mysterious documents after returning from Guantanamo, paraded through the media for a few days with lurid charges that suggested he was some kind of al Qaeda mole, and then had the charges against him suddenly dropped for 'national security' reasons.

The conspiracy theory offered by the Whiskey Bar commentator is that Yee might have been carrying documentation of prisoner abuse at Gitmo. The whipsawing he received, followed by the abrupt dropping of charges (and the accompanying gag order against him), which seemed so weird at the time, and begged so strongly for some other shoe to drop, would then make perfect sense as a heavy-handed bit of intimidation intended to keep his story under wraps."
And, it does make a truly bit of twisted sense. Now, does it represent reality? 
  Wanted! Guards who don't mind torturing prisoners for fun

Okay, I did want to get this out, and I've discussed it over at Rogue Analyst, here and here, but it revolves around using information to end Baby Bush' War. If cameras 'broadcasting' to the WWW had been in place at these prisons, the scandel would not have occurred. This type of stuff only happens in secrecy in a democracy. Transparency would put an end to it, and now they are 'discussing' a more open prison system. But, they need to move beyond that if they want to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

Oh, this is also directly related to this prison fiasco. This is how and where concentration camp guards are created. Americans always wonder how the Germans could have allowed the existence of concentration camps. This is how. I was listening the the Cafferty file on CNN Programs - American Morning, and was amazed at the amount of mail excusing/justifying/rationalizing/defending the behavior of these guards. Who are these people that think electricuting a prisoner by his balls, or butt fucking prisoners with 'glow sticks' and broom handles is acceptable behavior for the US military? These are the kind of people we need to watch out for. Thay are the kind of people who live next door to concentration camps, and think whatever goes on is okay. Until they get arrested.

I made a comment over at Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal (2004): a Weblog on the topic back on Friday, and I think I can stand by it:The Fish Rots From the Head:
"You know, the only thing is, it looks like it was intended.
It could have been stopped. If command emphasis at any level above the guards had demanded fair treatment, I can assure the guards would have followed the line. Whether it was the company 1SG, the battalion commander, the Division HQ commander, just about anyone could have and many had command responsibility, at some level, to ensure their soldiers were behaving properly.

There appears to be more the result of a 'policy', written or not. And policies to not start at the bottom. There is something wrong here, and it appears to be the usual culprits. Various people working their own agenda, people becoming corrupted through power, and no leadership emphasis on mission and the good health of their soldiers.

It's a cultural problem."
And, it is in deed a cultural problem, but on Friday I was referring to the military culture, and now I'm worried about American CCulture in general, if so many people think this behavior is acceptable. 
  Religion, prophesies and synchronicity

Well, I had a question in the comments below concerning similarities between religious prophesies and current events. Well, I most certainly don't think all prophesies have to be wrong just because they are based on myths. It is still possible that they got something right.

So, for something a little interesting, let's take a brief look at the Mayan calendar: Mayan Calendar:
"End of the Mayan Great Cycle: December 21st, 2012 A.D.
Scholars today are recognizing that Mayan mythology is intimately related to the celestial movements of stars, the Milky Way and certain constellations. The sources of Mayan mythology are found in the sky, and the timetable of Creation Day is pinpointed by the end date of the Mayan Great Cycle. My research into the nature of this date reveals that a rare celestial alignment culminates on it. Generally speaking, what occurs is an alignment between the galactic and solar planes. Specifically, the winter solstice sun will conjunct the Milky Way, which is the edge of our spinning galaxy as viewed from earth. Furthermore, the place where the sun meets the Milky Way is where the 'dark-rift' in the Milky Way is - a black ridge along the Milky Way caused by interstellar dust clouds (See Diagram 1).

This is a feature of the Milky Way anyone can see on a clear midsummer's night, away from the light pollution of industrial society. At dawn on the winter solstice of A.D. 2012, the sun will be right in this dark-rift, and the orientation is such that the Milky Way rims the horizon at all points around. Thus, the Milky Way "sits" on the earth, touching it at all points around, opening up the cosmic sky portal. The galactic and solar planes are thus aligned. "Sky portal" is just a term to describe the "opened sky" scenario apparent when the Milky Way rims the horizon. This is not to be confused with the "dark-rift" itself."
I mean, I like the fact that they have a closed calendar. It ends. So, I'm waiting to see what happens in 2012.

On a more serious note, this particular star alignment apparently figures prominently in several other religions, including the Norse religion, with the 'Sky Portal' being the Bridge to Asgaard, and I think theirs a connection w/ the aborigines of Australia.

Why do I mention this? Well, I think there may be something to synchronicity. Where large, and diverse cultures all point to the same thing, it's possible there is something worth looking at.

If you're still with me, checkout: Global Consciousness Project -- consciousness, group consciousness, mind. Sort of a synchronicity meter.
The mind's extended reach remains to be fully defined in scientific terms, but research on human consciousness suggests that we may have direct communication links with each other, and that our intentions can have effects in the world despite physical barriers and separations. We are compelled by good evidence to accept correlations that we cannot yet explain. It appears that consciousness may sometimes produce something that resembles, at least metaphorically, a nonlocal field of meaningful information.

The Global Consciousness Project (GCP) takes this possibility as a starting point for a speculation that such fields generated by individual consciousness would interact and combine, and ultimately have a global presence. Usually, because we are busy with individual lives, there is little to produce structure in the field, so it is random and not detectable. But occasionally there are global-scale events that bring great numbers of us to a common focus and an unusual coherence of thought and feeling. To study the effects of a possible global consciousness, we have created a world-spanning network of devices sensitive to coherence and resonance in the mental domain. Continuous streams of data are sent over the internet to be archived and correlated with events that may evoke a world-wide consciousness. Examples that appear to have done so include both peaceful gatherings and disasters: a few minutes around midnight on any New Years Eve, the first hour of NATO bombing in Yugoslavia, the Papal visit to Israel, a variety of global meditations, several major earthquakes, and September 11 2001.
Ah, there's more, but I need to get to the job hunt. Expect Science Monday to be put off 'til tomorrow...
  Comment on new interface They've changed the blogger interface again, but this time I think it actually does look like an improvement. I'll have to use it a few days to decide, but so far, not bad. 
  Excuses, excuses

Well, here are mine for not posting since Friday. Saturday morning, got up early to do the errands, so I could wake up the Wife to go to her father's. Which we did, and had an excellent dinner and got home about 2:30AM. Way too late for me to be in the mood to post.

It was the first time I'd seen her father's new house since it was completed. It's up in Tate City, GA, and the sign says population +/- 32, but I think that's only in the summer when everyone comes up for a weekend. Year round population in the valley is probably more like 11. Here we go:Rabun County in the North Georgia Mountains,including Clayton, Dillard & Mountain City:
"Deep within this land of spectacular gorges and waterfalls is Tate City, located in a high mountain valley. Tate City is remote, and was difficult to reach in its boom days. It originally was a mining community, turned logging camp. Today the reclamation of this region has seen the return of the black bear and some sightings of cougar. The wealth of Tate City today, is in its solitude and the lack of population. What was once a thriving center of commerce, has given way to an isolated community of a few picturesque residential settings and natural forest lands."
Well, the house sits on a mammoth rock above the Tallulla River, and is the only house above the flood plain in the valley which is also at the rivers edge. The stars were nice, and I always like being up there after night fall, since here in Atlanta, the stars we see are moving at about 600 mph and either ascending from or descending to, Hartsfield airport. The amount of air traffic is crazy, and there's way too much ambient light to see much in the way of stars.

Sunday, got up early again to meet my folks and some friends of theirs at Maggiano's in Buckhead for Mother's Day brunch. It was nice, the chocolate cake was to die for, and it was comped by my parents' friends' daughter, who managed the dining room we ate in. Got back, spent some time with the Wife, and then we went out to the Mex place around the corner at Los Arcos for cheese dip and beer. Got home at 10:30 or so, maybe later. We were the last to leave.

Took the volvo in to the shop,European Specialists of Atlanta, GA [corrected link] yesterday because the service light had come on. $695+, to replace the timing belt ($490 by itself), and as long as it's there, go ahead and do the 120k service. Just didn't need that expense right now. Besides the dogs are due for all their shots this month, and that'll run somewhere close to $400 by the time all is said and done. So, I spent a good part of the day doing the job hunt thing, getting depressed and just plain blew off posting.

So, the cars in the shop now, and should be fixed by 1 pm, but I'll believe that if it happens.

So, I know I owe some science posts, but that may have to wait until tomorrow, because tonight is the Tuesday night Democratic Townhall in Exile at Manuel's Tavern.

Wish I could have made Manuel Maloof's 80th birthday party on Saturday, but well, I already told that story. Manuel was Dekalb County CEO, and still has the rep for being the Godfather of Georgia Democratic politics. Hell, I might could have found a job through the crowd that attended that one.

Well, enough for now...

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