Wednesday, June 30, 2004

["uhhh... my dog ate it", BushCo style] The Bush administration is offering a novel reason for denying a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the Justice Department's database on foreign lobbyists: Copying the information would bring down the computer system.

"This was a new one on us. We weren't aware there were databases that could be destroyed just by copying them," Bob Williams of the Center for Public Integrity said yesterday. The watchdog group in Washington, D.C., made the request in January.
The Letters of Gary Benchley, Rock Star. Getting the Band Together [Part 1] [Part 2]
I should not be able to say the following things about America (Onion)

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

New Japanese toy helps you control what you dream.
How did I miss this site? Forthright's Phrontisery has great lists of lost and unusual words, as well as specialty lists for such things as fabrics and cloth and an index to lippograms in fiction (where the writer intentionally omits letters, such as 'e' from entire works)

Monday, June 28, 2004

[Imbeciles 101] In an irony-of-all-ironies strategy, George Bush employs images of his ideological soulmate, Adolf Hitler, in a bizarre attack on Kerry (?!) (NYTimes)
President Bush's campaign Web site is featuring an advertisement casting Senator John Kerry and his allies as a "coalition of the wild-eyed," blending clips of former Vice President Al Gore, former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont and the filmmaker Michael Moore shouting about Mr. Bush. Interspersed twice are images of a shouting Hitler, drawn from a Web spot that, the Internet advocacy group that runs anti-Bush advertisements, briefly posted months ago in a contest for advertisements about the president.
The advertisement ends with upbeat music and the written message "This is not a time for pessimism and rage."

Torture, Financial turmoil, greed, cronyism, environmental collapse, and radical dementia perhaps, but not pessimism.
The Mayday Mystery
Every year since 1981 a strange ad has appeared in an Arizona student newspaper, perhaps pointing to a treasure for anyone who can figure it out.
The Sneaky Pitch (NewYorker)
During the so-called Dead Ball Era, prior to 1920, the name of the game was deception. Pitchers routinely did whatever they could to get an edge. They’d spit tobacco juice on the ball, rub it in mud, scuff the seams, anything they could think of. Then, in 1920, the spitball was banned, Babe Ruth went to the Yankees, home runs became much more prevalent, and the whole nature of baseball became more about great displays of power, on the part of the pitcher and the batter both. This is a vast oversimplification, and, in fact, the knuckleball probably was at its popular peak in the two decades or so after the spitball was banned, when pitchers needed to find ways of compensating.
Strangest state tax laws
If you want a deck of cards in the state of Alabama, be prepared to shell out an extra dime. The state government has levied a 10-cent tax on the purchase of a playing deck that contains "no more than 54 cards". If you object to this, get your playing cards in a different state, or buy a deck with an extra joker. The Blunt Edge of High Technology
For people interested in building their own windmills, waterwheels, converting flashlights to LED, or running a hamster-powered alternator
These guys test their stuff so you don't have to.
Questions for Ronald P. Reagan (NYTimes)
If you are going to call yourself a Christian -- and I don't -- then you have to ask yourself a fundamental question, and that is: Whom would Jesus torture? Whom would Jesus drag around on a dog's leash? How can Christians tolerate it? It is unconscionable.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Hatebeak: A Deathmetal band with a parrot on vocals.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

John Kerry released his plan on technology, research, and education today
100 best albums of the 70's on pitchforkmedia today.
What's the future internet going to look like? DNS inventor Paul Mockapetris predicts (BBC)
Although he says we're currently in the Bronze age, he plays it dull-n-safe and makes no striking claims here (no phones? big deal).
Politics are getting to be a drag... Back to my favorite kind of story: Gorilla on the loose!

(BTW: Any ape-related breaking news should be forwarded to my email account post haste)
The Unhappy Majority (Mojones)
Voters remain deadlocked in a partisan divide over which candidate to support, but this split is not indicative of the bipartisan discontent felt by most Americans, a new national poll by Mother Jones reveals*. Nearly two thirds of American voters say the country is "on the wrong track" and most -- including a majority of independents and even many moderate Republicans -- believe that they are personally worse off than three years ago on a broad range of issues, from their tax burden and job opportunities to their access to quality health care and schools. This "discontent gap" between party loyalty and the issues indicates a strategic opening for a candidate who promises real change.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

[McSweeneys] To celebrate the release of Nick Hornby's Songbook, several authors wrote in about their favorite songs. We will continue to update this section as often as we receive new essays. We invite you to write in about your favorite songs as well.
Are you a perfectionist? Take the Necker Cube test (BBC)
Gypsies to sue IBM over their role in the Holocaust. (Guardian/UK)
A Swiss appeals court yesterday ruled that the US computer giant IBM may have helped Adolf Hitler pursue mass murder more quickly and more efficiently than would otherwise have been possible, opening up the prospect of a $12bn lawsuit against the company by Gypsy organisations.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Robert P. Booth, of Wirtz, Virginia, designed and built the ass-kicker sometime around 1988. He has added several improvements to it over time and continues to maintain it
Instructions on how to make the world-record (time aloft) paper airplane at

Monday, June 21, 2004

A nice real-time online application for generating complimentary colors.
Flash movie on U.S. history in Iraq.
Genetic algorithms used to tune race car performance settings. (Wired).
According to simulations run with the best and most drivable cars, on various tracks, it is possible to shave 88/100th of a second per lap using genetic algorithms to tune the cars. In an industry where 1/100th of a second really matters, that's significant.
Universal is bringing the 3-inch cd single back from the dead (renaming it the "pocket cd")
If Velvet Revolver fans want to listen to their legally purchased CD on their legal iPods, they must become felons. Here is a more enlightened view on why DRM is bad for society and business from a talk at Microsoft (dashes/
Amateur space attempt today (sfgate)
The flight by SpaceShipOne is scheduled for 6:30 a.m. If all goes well, a larger carrier aircraft will ferry the 3-ton SpaceShipOne and its pilot to a height of about 10 miles. Then the carrier will unleash SpaceShipOne, which will fire its powerful engine and reach a height of 62 miles before returning to Earth.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Jade tikis from New Zealand

Friday, June 18, 2004

The idea is simple: People who are incompetent are also not competent to measure their own competency. Got that? In other words, people who are ignorant -- I mean really ignorant -- are less likely to see themselves that way and are more likely to fight for their mistaken beliefs. And the Internet has taken this effect to a whole new level because now we can have global discourse in which nobody involved knows what he is talking about. (PBS)
From an article on Microsoft's recent court behaviour

Thursday, June 17, 2004

A nice overview of digital camera technology from the TechLounge: Beyond MegaPixels [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

"The Bush people have no right to speak for my father, particularly because of the position he's in now," he said during a recent interview with Salon. "Yes, some of the current policies are an extension of the '80s. But the overall thrust of this administration is not my father's -- these people are overly reaching, overly aggressive, overly secretive, and just plain corrupt. I don't trust these people."
-- Ron Reagan, Jr. on Bush's opportunistic attempt to associate his administration's policies with Reagan's. (Salon. free one day pass)
Lone Star Justice: Alberto Gonzales' strange views of international law.
Even before he came to Washington as chief legal counsel to President George W. Bush, Alberto Gonzales demonstrated a penchant for finding ways around international law.
Fact: Iraq rejected al Quiada.

"Bin Laden is said to have requested space to establish training camps, as well as assistance in procuring weapons, but Iraq apparently never responded," the report said. "There have been reports that contacts between Iraq and al-Qaida also occurred" after bin Laden moved his operations to Afghanistan in 1996, "but they do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship," it said.

"Two senior bin Laden associates have adamantly denied that any ties existed between al-Qaida and Iraq," the report said.
Rights Watch: Face Recognition passports produced by December

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Perhaps in a bizarre tribute to Ronald Reagan's villianous attempt to classify ketchup as a vegatable for schoolchildren, the USDA this week classified frozen french fries as a "fresh vegatable".
"I find it pretty outrageous, really," said Elliott, who argued that the Batter-Coating Rule is so vague that chocolate-covered cherries, packed in a candy box, would qualify as fresh fruit.

"This is something that only lawyers could do," Elliott said, pointing to a stack of legal documents debating the French fry change. "There must be 100 pages there about something you could summarize in one paragraph: Batter-coated French fries are not fresh vegetables."

Urban planning at Burning Man. (SFGate)
According to Perez, the city takes a month to set up and another four weeks to get rid of, and, he said, "that's the hard part." About 60 participants pick the camps clean of all garbage and refuse and ash, though, because Burning Man tends to attract what Perez characterized as a "pretty enlightened" bunch, the citizenry is remarkably good about following one of the city's cardinal rules: Take your trash with you. "It reinstills your hope in human nature," he said of walking through site after site with not so much as a love bead left behind.
Retrocrush's 50 coolest song moments of all time (via memepool)
[Meka-Godzilla, what hath thou wrought?] The huge database of japanese toys
Searchable by shows you've never even heard of. (heavy on robots, robot-like guys with pointy things sticking out of their heads/helmets)
How to make your own pirate radio station with an iPod (via Boing Boing)
"No question: John Ashcroft is the worst attorney general in history": Travesty of Justice (NYTimes)
But most important is the memo. Last week Mr. Ashcroft, apparently in contempt of Congress, refused to release a memo on torture his department prepared for the White House almost two years ago. Fortunately, his stonewalling didn't work: The Washington Post has acquired a copy of the memo and put it on its Web site.

Much of the memo is concerned with defining torture down: if the pain inflicted on a prisoner is less than the pain that accompanies "serious physical injury, such as organ failure," it's not torture. Anyway, the memo declares that the federal law against torture doesn't apply to interrogations of enemy combatants "pursuant to [the president's] commander-in-chief authority." In other words, the president is above the law.

Listen to the entire new Beastie Boys album (streaming, RealAudio,

Friday, June 11, 2004

Community College Buddha Master (McSweeneys)

Thursday, June 10, 2004

"Clear Skies" Allows More Deaths Than Any Other Air Pollution Plan (
Ledford pointed out that President Bush, prior to his election, promised to clean up power plant pollution. Instead, almost immediately after being sworn in, he reneged on a promise to require mandatory reductions in carbon dioxide.

The Bush administration has also delayed the deadlines for reducing ozone smog; delayed deadlines for removing fine particles from the air; delayed action to reduce haze in national parks; and delayed by more than 10 years reductions in toxic mercury emissions from power plants, the report found.
Why the FCC Should die: It's time to abolish the Federal Communications Commission.
The Swedish Visby stealth ship (BBC)
An index to all factory tours open to the public: Factory Tours USA (via metafilter)

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Reagan's Shameful Legacy

The lionizers are correct about one thing: Reagan was one of our most influential presidents since FDR, whose New Deal safety net he carefully disassembled. He pioneered policies now being implemented by George W. Bush: trickle down economics, corporate deregulation, radicalizing the courts, slithering around inconvenient laws and international treaties. On the domestic front, he unraveled America's century-old social contract. What the poor needed was a kick in the ass, not a handout, said a president whose wealthy patrons bought him a house and put clothes on his wife Nancy. National parks were to be exploited for timber and oil, not protected. The federal tax code, originally conceived to redistribute wealth from top to bottom, was "reformed" to eradicate social justice.
Just saw Bob Dylan, master poet (NYTimes), play last night in DE.
Hands-down the strangest ebay auction I've ever seen. Thanks, Rivets.
[Read every word] McSweeney's Daily Reason to Dispatch Bush

While campaigning in 2000, then-Governor Bush attended a fund-raising dinner in New York and told the crowd, "This is an impressive crowd — the haves and the have-mores. (Laughter) Some people call you the elite. I call you my base."
The Grey Labyrinth always has at least one unsolved puzzle available.
Project K++: Computer generated art (via slashdot)
Plan of Attack (Atlantic)
"We know we're killing a lot, capturing a lot, collecting arms," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld reportedly told a meeting of defense analysts and retired officers at the Pentagon last year, commenting on U.S. attempts to thwart the growing insurgency in Iraq. "We just don't know yet whether that's the same as winning."
Bad drivers clear roads (Nature)

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Machine Room is a site for retro computer enthusiasts that's even hosted on old machines (hence the slow page loads/missing graphics?). It's well worth it anyway.
Bush administration sanctions torture in 2002 memo.
"It is by leaps and bounds the worst thing I've seen since this whole Abu Ghraib scandal broke," said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. "It appears that what they were contemplating was the commission of war crimes and looking for ways to avoid legal accountability. The effect is to throw out years of military doctrine and standards on interrogations."

But a spokesman for the White House counsel's office said, "The president directed the military to treat al Qaeda and Taliban humanely and consistent with the Geneva Conventions."

Monday, June 07, 2004

Washington National Cathedral has a Darth Vader gargoyle
Future Schlock: Alternet review of Wired's NextFest
Next to the canned orchestra is the Intel pavilion, festively adorned with banners proclaiming that "In the future, you will not have to learn about technology. Technology will learn about you."
"Technology will learn about me?" I ask the Intel rep.
"Yes," he beams.
"Sounds like a nightmare," I answer. There is one of those awkward moments.
"Yes, there is an element of that," he answers, smile still frozen in place.
Finally: how to tattoo your goat
Pay phone booths are getting to be a rarity. New york's are losing the battle to cell phones.
Mojave phone booth is a fansite for a lone, remote booth in the desert (which has been removed). Mother Jones did an article on their vanishing.
Telephone Tribute has links galore, as well as info on how you can get your own phone booth. Where is 2600 going to meet when these things go away?
Venus transit visible from East Coast today/tomorrow.
NASA is taking pictures if you don't have your own scope.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Get ready to kill for oil profits, kids! We've got lots more of these to fill up.
Uncle Sam wants Me?
Although neither bill has passed yet, the Selective Service System (SSS) recently received an extra $28 million from the Bush administration for its 2004 budget, and the Pentagon has kicked off a low-key campaign to fill the 10,000-plus open positions on the nation's draft boards. (Granted, these posts are required by law to be filled, but haven't been for decades.) The SSS is scheduled to report to the president on March 31, 2005, on the readiness of the draft system, and the system could be up and running as early as June 15, 2005. The draft proposal includes both women and college students this time, and the Smart Border Declaration signed between the U.S. and Canada in 2001, requiring a "pre-clearance agreement" of people entering and departing each country, would hypothetically prevent today's draft-dodgers from fleeing to Canada.
Rice vs. Anti-Rice

Thursday, June 03, 2004 has always been the place to go for those interested in the historical and cultural significance of New York's subway system. Our absurd rights-assault-in-the-name-of-security is threatening the site's content. Last week, the Transit Authority proposed a ban on anyone taking pictures of subway cars. Violators will be treated as terrorists and questioned. Ever in the shadow of New York, Jersey Transit is going to do the same thing.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Date set for first private spaceflight - June 21st. (NewScientist)
The craft's sole sponsor Paul Allen, a co-founder of software giant Microsoft, says: "Every time SpaceShipOne flies we demonstrate that relatively modest amounts of private funding can significantly increase the boundaries of commercial space technology."
The Monkey Shakespeare Simulator.
"The current record is the first 16 letters from "King Richard II"
A guy hooked a video camera up to his front bumper and filmed his car trip from LA to Oregon. You can see the trip sped up to Mach 9.
Trip: 695.3 miles in 9.5 hours
Movie: 6 minutes (95 times faster)
Speed: 6953mph, mach 9.13

Reading, Writing, Landscaping: How Teachers make ends meet. (Mojones)
When teachers are forced to tend the yards of students' homes, to clean houses, or to sell stereos on nights and weekends, the quality of education is diminished, the profession is disrespected, and we parody the notion that we hold our schools and teachers in the highest regard. Teachers with two and three jobs are tired, their families are frustrated, and the students they teach, who want to—and should—consider their instructors exalted figures, learn instead to think of teaching as a part-time gig, the day job for the guy who sells Game Boys at Circuit City.
Junk food, sugary drinks and beer make up nearly one-third of the calories adult Americans consume daily, according to a UC Berkeley study released Tuesday. (SFGate)

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Think you're good? Take the album cover art challenge.
Tabootunes - gallery of the forbidden
Another good freak album cover art gallery. (Popcultmag)
Socialist Realism (via Bifurcated Rivets)
The Socialist Realism, an ideology enforced by the Soviet state as the official standard for art, literature etc., was defined in 1934 at the First All-Union Congress of Soviet writers. It was based on the principle that the arts should glorify political and social ideals of communism. Every artist had to join the "Union of Soviet Artists", which was controlled by the state. The paintings had to be idealisations of political leaders and communistic ideas.
The album cover art of Jim Flora.
With nice enlargable scans in the gallery at the bottom of the page. Another collections of Flora's stuff is here.