Thursday, February 28, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
This is a much needed first step in preventing Italian men from trying to touch my crotch. From the Guardian:
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
From the NY Times:
LONDON (Reuters) - Killer robots could become the weapon of choice for militants, a British expert said on Wednesday.
Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield said he believed falling costs would soon make robots a realistic option for extremist groups...
"How long is it going to be before the terrorists get in on the act? With the current prices of robot construction falling dramatically and the availability of ready-made components for the amateur market, it wouldn't require a lot of skill to make autonomous robot weapons."
Monday, February 25, 2008
Something happened last night and it was really important. If you somehow missed it you must feel like a total idiot because it was awesome. The Academy gave out golden statues to really important people and beautiful women wore stuff. Expensive stuff. AND I WAS THERE IN FRONT OF THE TV WATCHING SOME OF IT! The really important people were actors and other people who make entertaining things that forever change the world. Travolta was there! And some woman wore a shiny dress! And the shoes! Don't get me started on the shoes. They were so expensive and beautiful I cried a bit when I saw them. There were also necklaces and earrings and really fancy hair and some of the people appear to have had cosmetic surgery! Can you believe it? I SAW SOME OF THESE AMAZING THINGS ON THE TELEVISION! It was like awesome. It would have been so cool to have been the person outside who asked them what they were wearing. I wish it was me because I like to ask questions like that. And then we could laugh at something and it would just be so wonderful.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Ralph Nader has decided that he can just jump into the middle of the Marathon Race To The White House. With 260 days of running to go and most of the public taking a break from watching, Nader thought he could just sneak in at the half-way point and take advantage of the fact that his competition is getting tired. He is also putting The Boxing Gloves on. From the NY Times:
''The issue is do they have the moral courage, do they have the fortitude to stand up to corporate powers and get things done for the American people,'' Nader said. ''We have to shift the power from the few to the many.''
Easy there, tiger: those are fighting words. And, by the way, Edwards had some courage to stand up to corporate powers and it really worked out for him. The corporate-owned media really liked his message and went out of its way to bring it to the people. Before him, Dean was pretty good at talkin' that talk and the media really promoted his ideas. It even showed his war-scream for several weeks straight on every network. My suggestion is to scream until you are on TV and then say something nice about the corporations so that you can stay on TV. Also, don't mention your previous racing experience.
(creative commons photo attributed to wickenden)
Saturday, February 23, 2008
The Pentagon has discovered how to make global warming an issue Republicans can embrace. While the pansy hippies are concerned about the polar bears having to swim when their ice melts, the manly men are looking at the totally awesome possibility that there will be nuclear armageddon when the shit starts melting, baby. You want fear? We got fear that makes the terrorists look like pussies. Keg stand! From the Guardian:
Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..
A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.
The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Neatorama did a post about Kent Rogowki's book "Bears" and the comments people have left on his website. My brother received this book for xmas and we dared him to open it on his flight home and pet the pictures and say things like "there, there" and "god still loves you." He refused.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
While working in a library when I was in high school, I came across an oversized book that had been stored above a bookcase for years gathering dust. Upon opening it and realizing what it was all about, I had one of those feelings I sometimes get when talking to a crazy person who is nevertheless on to something. Paolo Soleri is on to something.
In 1976, Newsweek declared: “As urban architecture, Arcosanti is probably the most important experiment undertaken in our lifetime.” “Undertaken” being the key word — then and now. Completion has legendarily eluded Arcosanti. Built in stages and chronically underfinanced, the place exists in a permanent state of half-doneness.
What was once the future of intelligently designed communities has morphed into something less optimistic: a stalled revolution in urban planning or a moldering relic of impractical idealism, depending on whom you ask. Often enough it's referred to as Mr. Soleri's “desert utopia,” and as with all utopias, reality doesn't always match the blueprints...
...But aging visions of the future have a singular appeal, and at Arcosanti, it's possible to enjoy the hopefulness without betraying it. It is not cynicism to find a special beauty in what hasn't yet come to pass.
(creative commons photo attributed to Flickr user CodyR)
From the NY Times:
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The iconic Camel cigarette pack has undergone its first makeover since it hit store shelves almost a century ago, as R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. tests new ways to market its biggest brands in a lagging market for smokes.
Though the enduring image of the Camel has not changed in the updated packaging, the animal is surrounded by a fresh look -- rounded graphics to highlight the oasis scene, larger and clearer pyramids in the distance, darker lettering emphasizing the Camel name, and color-coded ribbons to identify the style.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
From the Telegraph (UK):
Hardened criminals in the Netherlands become less aggressive and have fewer fights when exposed to the scent of oranges, a study has found.
Rotterdam police said the four week study suggested that criminals, many of them violent drug pushers, are calmer and more malleable when the perfumes are circulated through cell air vents.
The head of police social services, Herma Heester, said: "It's amazing, fighting in the cells has been dramatically reduced and we are using 10 per cent fewer sedation drugs".
From the Guardian:
High seas may force the US navy to postpone an attempt to shoot down a failed spy satellite, the defence department said this afternoon.
The USS Lake Erie, a cruiser that has the job of firing missiles at the satellite, is caught in bad weather in the north Pacific.
"We don't anticipate the weather being good enough today," an officer told the Associated Press.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Fiidel Castro has announced his resignation today. I am glad he is leaving office in this manner rather than being assassinated by the CIA. While his rule may have been characterized by the infringements of civil liberties it also saw a vast improvement in literacy and health care. With the United States attempting to overthrow his government at every turn, Castro did all he could to provide his nation with the autonomy that it deserved. Gone were the American businesses that stole all the wealth and land, but gone too was much of the wealth. I hope Cuba remains its own nation and does not turn into a Disneyland or Cancun, and I wish Castro a well-deserved rest.
Monday, February 18, 2008
It seems two scientists at Los Alamos have been busy trying to figure out a way to lessen global warming while keeping the oil companies and automobile manufacturers happy at the same time. Instead of asking humanity to change its destructive ways, for governments to mandate cleaner technology, or for corporations to begin seriously investing in expensive alternative energy sources, we may be able to just keep doing what we're doing while new nuclear-powered factories pull greenhouse gasses out of the environment and convert them into gasoline and jet-fuel. From the NY Times:
The scientists, F. Jeffrey Martin and William L. Kubic Jr., are proposing a concept, which they have patriotically named Green Freedom, for removing carbon dioxide from the air and turning it back into gasoline.
The idea is simple. Air would be blown over a liquid solution of potassium carbonate, which would absorb the carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide would then be extracted and subjected to chemical reactions that would turn it into fuel: methanol, gasoline or jet fuel.
(photo from creative commons-attributed flickr user destro 100)
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Friday, February 15, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Fearing the falling satellite may hit populated areas and leak toxins on those it does not crush, the Pentagon has announced plans to shoot missiles at and hopefully destroy it. Also of concern is the technology that the spy satellite could still have intact when it crashes - technology that the evildoers want. Mostly, though, this is a good opportunity to test antiballistic and anti-satellite weapons that make evildoers uncomfortable. From the NY Times:
Republicans, frustrated that anyone would even want to discuss warrantless wiretapping instead of just signing the damn legislation, stormed out of Congress today. They want the government to be able to spy on its citizens for another six years and want to make sure telecommunications companies will happily help them without worrying about the stupid hippy tree-huggers suing them. The Republicans know that the only way to keep freedom and democracy alive is to create a police state. Article here
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Europe is considering plans to spend more than £5bn on a string of giant solar power stations along the Mediterranean desert shores of northern Africa and the Middle East.
More than a hundred of the generators, each fitted with thousands of huge mirrors, would generate electricity to be transmitted by undersea cable to Europe and then distributed across the continent to European Union member nations, including Britain.
Billions of watts of power could be generated this way, enough to provide Europe with a sixth of its electricity needs and to allow it to make significant cuts in its carbon emissions. At the same time, the stations would be used as desalination plants to provide desert countries with desperately needed supplies of fresh water.The method is pretty interesting. Giant mirrors direct sunlight to towers of water, which produce tons of steam that turn turbines and produce electricity. The steam is desalinized salt water by this time and can be used as much needed drinking water for the local communities. Pretty cool. Even if it takes £200 billion and 30 years, it sounds like a great investment.
Monday, February 11, 2008
When fishermen touched it, their skin broke out in searing welts. Their lips blistered and peeled. Their eyes burned and swelled shut. Water that splashed from their nets spread the inflammation to their legs and torsos.
"It comes up like little boils," said Randolph Van Dyk, a fisherman whose powerful legs are pocked with scars. "At nighttime, you can feel them burning. I tried everything to get rid of them. Nothing worked."
Sunday, February 10, 2008
The last time I heard this story the great swath of plastic was estimated to be the size of Texas. The latest news is that there is what is describes as a "soup" of mostly plastic garbage twice the size of the United States in the Pacific Ocean. From the Independent (UK):
I still await the paper airplanes thrown from the international space station, but before I get the chance to catch one of them I'm going to be keeping my head up for a 5,000 pound U.S spy satellite that is predicted to fall to Earth in a month. If you see something falling towards you in early March you'll have about half an hour to panic. Story here
Friday, February 8, 2008
From the NY Times:
I put a new slideshow up over there --->
Thursday, February 7, 2008
I have to go to work every morning for a few hours, which means I have to get up around 7:30. It always feels early to me and I'm usually grumpy and difficult until I've had my coffee. Sometimes I can get through the rest of the day without collapsing, but I often give in to a siesta in the afternoon. On those days I find myself having difficulty getting to sleep at night and the next 7:30 feels even more unjust. I just woke up from one of said naps and read an article in the Guardian that convinced me that I've got to stop complaining about my lack of sleep and need of naps:
"...Skeates stopped breathing every 40 seconds or so during the night. He would briefly wake up, without properly regaining consciousness, and then fall back to sleep. And the process would begin over again... Doctors estimated Skeates was only actually sleeping for a few seconds at a time, and for less than 15 minutes in total every night."
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
From what I've been able to understand Clinton and Obama are very close in their race for the Democratic nomination, and McCain is way ahead of Romney (and Huckabee had a very good Super Tuesday return) in the Repulican race. I'm hesitant about any of this, though, as the system is insanely confusing. Some states use a fairly simple formula of delegates: there's a popular vote and however many delegates the state has go to the winner. If I'm right about this, sometimes the candidate gets all of the delegates, sometimes a percentage. Then there are states that have caucuses in which voters get together in groups to pick their pony. These seem to be states that can't afford voting machines. Finally we come to superdelegates, who don't have to pay attention to election results and can chose whomever they like, because they're super like that.
Whenever I'm near an ocean, sharks are mentioned. I literally cannot enter a large salty body of water without someone mentioning sharks. Its an irrational fear until you actually see one, at which point, yeah, I'd be scared. I always point out that over the years people have claimed that many more people die each year from falling coconuts than from shark attacks. Someone claimed that each year 150 people are killed by coconuts and this statistic, true or not, has been widely used to assuage fear. Instead, it made me nervous around palm trees. I watch them sway in the breeze and flinch when people walk under them. While snorkeling this past weekend, though, I suddenly panicked as I remembered a story from several years ago that makes fear of coconuts seem rational. From the Guardian (UK):
Carnival is over, and I survived by avoiding it altogether. Some friends and I discovered that the next state over with its beautiful Caribbean coast had had their celebrations a week early. They held their elections Sunday, and prohibit the selling of alcohol on election day as well as the day before. Forewarned, we stocked up on drink before crossing the border, though we ended up overestimating our need for alcoholic stimuli. Scooters were rented, snorkeling was had, beaches were laid upon, good food was eaten, and good times had by all. Even caught the second half of the Super Bowl.
Friday, February 1, 2008
We're celebrating Carnival down here in Mexico. No, I should say that Carnival is being celebrated down here in Mexico. Last year I was foolish enough to live half a block from the parade route and there was nothing pleasant about it. There were two giant stages set up within a block of my house with some very large speakers blasting dance music and the occasional exclamations of the parade commentators. The outcome was a noise that is probably pumped into cells in Gitmo as a form of torture. I mean enhanced interrogation technique. I would have admitted to anything to make it stop, and it went on for a week.