Please note: the viewport design is copied from Steve Den Beste's excellent blog, USS Clueless. Used with permission.

Saturday, March 08, 2003  

via the dissident frogman, time to take sides! :: art against europpression

Cerebrospinal abnormality :: Anomalie cérébro-spinale

Still wondering what's wrong with the France-Germany Axis of Weasels?

I have a theory.

The dissident frogman has a new design -- Axis of Weasels' Syndrome, Cerebrospinal abnomality -- no room for balls -- and a new store, Buy your T-shirt! Click here!

posted by Gary Williams at 11:57 PM | link |

via Ribbity Blog


I'm pleased to see our old friend Mashtin Bakir is back. Bakir is occasionally to be found leaving messages on various chat-groups, and he has once again turned up on (I have deliberately not marked this as a link so as not to "give the game away" to the Beeb.) Previous appearances can still be found on newsid_1656000/1656035.stm and newsid_1857000/1857822.stm.

Why is Mr. Bakir so interesting? Well you see, in spite of its Arabic sound, "mashtin bakir" is in fact a Biblical Hebrew expression meaning "pisser against the wall". The term appears in the Hebrew bible in 1Sam 25:22, 34; 1Kgs 14:10, 16:11, 21:21; and 2Kgs 9:8. The good old King James of 1611 gives us the direct translation of "that pisseth against the wall", but the more prissy (and less pissy) Revised Standard Version (various revisions from 1881-5, 1901 and 1946-52) insists upon translating "male".

Anyhow, I am delighted to see that Mr. Bakir is once again enlightening us with his insights into local issues, and I hope that he shall remain as ever the same prolific fountain of wisdom.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:51 PM | link |


Colby Cosh talks Turkey

Colby "Evil" Cosh speaks the truth when it comes to Turkey. I was in denial too long. Perhaps we need the Turks & Hinduvata types as our allies against Islamic terrorism, but we should never forget what they truly are....

The Europeans might be two-faced dweebs, but there's a reason they want to keep the EU a "Christian Club"-30 or 40 million believing Muslims flooding their cities and breeding like rats.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:17 PM | link |

via A Voyage to Arcturus

Possible New Pro-War Slogan

Make Baghdad livable!

While that's going on, Gary Farber batters his way through SpamArrest to point me to "these pro-war voices of the left" -- Leon Wieseltier and E. J. Dionne and Paul Berman, and notes "an alarming -- though I hope still unlikely -- possibility, along with some further observations I make from this WaPo piece." He appends a general plea to read his stuff, which if I am to comply will certainly help exercise my time-management skills. Why am I bothering? That way-cool reference to flash crowds in the "alarming possibility" piece, that's why.

posted by Gary Williams at 8:44 PM | link |

via Psychscape

Using the Internet to Treat Jet Lag

A Brief Report in the March 2003 issue of Psychiatric Services discusses the use of the Internet to automate and facilitate treatment. Daniel Z Lieberman, MD of George Washington University conducted a study of 20 participants who followed an automated treatment regimen for jet lag and tracked their treatment via the website. Although the number in the study is small, Dr. Lieberman points out that “over an eight-month period, more than 4,600 individuals visited the site, which suggests that interest can be generated by simply making a treatment publicly available He avoided the security issues by not asking for any personal information. He points out that the project was designed to highlight some of the issues involved in delivering treatment over the Internet. “The management of jet lag was chosen because calculating a complex light-exposure schedule is well suited to a computer” and the risks minimal.

Although there are numerous shortcomings in this brief study, the concept is fascinating and clearly others will follow. Dr. Lieberman discussed these findings in a presentation entitled "Internet Treatment of Jet Lag" May 2002 at the American Association of Technology in Psychiatry meeting in Philadelphia.

Dr. Lieberman's site

posted by Gary Williams at 8:03 PM | link |

via Living Code - Biology & information. Corante

Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu

All rock links aside, the combination of influenza and pneumonia is the 6th leading cause of death in the world. While either can be harmful by itself, the terrible synergy of the influenza virus and Streptococcus pneumoniae is due to the action of a viral protein, neuraminidase (NA). The Strep form of the enzyme is not very active. This enzyme rapidly removes a protective layer of sialic acid, a sugar derivative, found on lung cells. Without this molecule, the cells are vulnerable to infection, increasing the chances for developing pneumonia.

An Oral Drug

Using an NA inhibitor called, ostelamivir, a group of researchers at St. Jude's Research Hospital demonstrated that they could greatly reduce the activity of the influenza virus in infected mice and significantly protect these animals from pneumonia. Even if they waited 48 hours AFTER the initial infection to provide the drug. Here is a nice quote:
Untreated mice developed pneumonia earlier than treated mice and died. In treated mice, even when infection spread, the progression of the disease was slower than in untreated mice, and up to half of the treated animals survived.

A Wonder Drug?

posted by Gary Williams at 7:54 PM | link |

via Anne: Semi Compos Mentis

Esheep Toy download

"The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little pratice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!" -Calvin

The writing is fun, but I downloaded the Esheep toy -- it's a kick. Go to Anne's site and download it (it comes as a zip file). When you run it, you get a little cartoon sheep wandering around your desktop -- a kick!

Click here! Then look for a little sheep, or search for the Calvin quote.

posted by Gary Williams at 7:37 PM | link |

via easy bake coven v3 :: does this blog make my ass look big?

Quote For Today

When I woke up this morning my girlfriend asked me, 'Did you sleep well?' I said, 'No, I made a few mistakes.'
~Steven Wright

posted by Gary Williams at 7:15 PM | link |

Know an economist? Ever worked in a cublicle farm?

If either of those questions draws a yes, click here:

posted by Gary Williams at 1:41 PM | link |


CIA offers $100,000 grants for research

  • Micro- and Nano-scale High Performance Rechargeable Battery Technology (CIA)
  • Software Radio Research (CIA)
  • Lithium-Ion Battery Technology (CIA)
  • 3-D Face Modeling and Display (CIA)
  • Cold Atom Optics (NIMA)
  • Data analysis from Passive Hyperspectral and LIDAR sensors (NIMA)
  • Structure and Dynamics of Complex Networks (NIMA)
  • Unconstrained, goal-based visual scene analysis (NIMA)
  • Modeling Spatial Spread of Infectious Diseases (DIA)
  • Comparison of Numerical Algorithms for Assessing the Usefulness of Magnetohydrodynamic Flows (DIA)
  • Sensemaking: Improving the Shared Creation of Knowledge (DIA)
  • Investigating Various Empirical and Linguistic Methods in Pursuit of Automated Analysis, Data Mining, Collaboration and Inference Processes (NSA)
  • Color Appearance Models and Improved Visual Analysis (NSA)
  • Separation, Functionalization, and Self-Assembly Chemistry of Carbon Nanotubes (NSA)
  • Earthquake Pre-cursor Propagation Model and Signal Analysis Techniques (NRO)
  • Nano-Electromechanical systems (ITIC)
  • Bio-Nano Electronic Circuitry (ITIC)
  • Multi-User Detection: Algorithm Evaluation (ITIC)
  • Smart Materials for Components of Mobile Robots (ITIC)
  • Terahertz Imaging (ITIC)
  • Probabilistic Evidence Marshalling (NRO)
  • Improving the Security of Future Biometric Systems (Dr Andy Kirby, 703-874-1023) (ITIC)

Strangely enough, the list above only includes one point of contact (POC), but publishes the POC list. Here it is:

1. Micro- and Nano-scale High Performance Rechargeable Battery Technology
POC: (Dr. Enoch Wang, 703-874-0726) (CIA)

2. Software Radio Research
POC: (Dr. David Jackson, 703-874-7511) (CIA)

3. Lithium-Ion Battery Technology
POC: (Ms. Kathryn Steele, 703-874-0759) (CIA)

4. 3-D Face Modeling and Display
POC: Mr. Randy Paul, 703-613-8779 (CIA)

5. Cold Atom Optics
POC: Mr. Steve Malys, 301-227-7452 (NIMA)

6. Data analysis from Passive Hyperspectral and LIDAR sensors
POC: Mr. Ernie Reith, 703-262-4566 (NIMA)

7. Structure and Dynamics of Complex Networks
POC: Dr. Paul Salamonowicz, 702-262-4575 (NIMA)

8. Unconstrained, Goal-based Visual Scene Analysis
POC: Dr. Jeff Kretsch, 703-262-4554 (NIMA)

9. Modeling Spatial Spread of Infectious Diseases
POC: Dr. Joy Miller, DVM,, 301-619-3895 (DIA)

10. Comparison of Numerical Algorithms for Assessing the Usefulness of Magnetohydrodynamic Flows
POC: Mr. Paul Murad, 202-231-2649 (DIA)

11. Sensemaking: Improving the Shared Creation of Knowledge
POC: Dr. David Alberts,, 703-695-7183 (DIA)

12. Investigating Various Empirical and Linguistic Methods in Pursuit of Automated Analysis, Data Mining, Collaboration and Inference Processes
POC: Dr. Boyan Onyshikevych,, 301-688-0303 (NSA)

13. Color Appearance Models and Improved Visual Analysis
POC: Mr. Bill Butterfield, 301-688-9280 (NSA)

14. Separation, Functionalization, and Self-Assembly Chemistry of Carbon Nanotubes
POC: Dr. Vincent Ballarotto, 301-935-3147) (NSA)

15. Earthquake Pre-cursor Propagation Model and Signal Analysis Techniques
POC: Dr. John Spencer, 703-808-4916 (NRO)

16. Nano-Electromechanical systems (NEMS) for Advanced Sensor Concepts
POC: Dr. Frank D. Gac, 703-874-0834 (ITIC)

17. Bio-Nano Electronic Circuitry
POC: Dr. John R. Philips, 703-874-0814 (ITIC)

18. Multi-User Detection: Algorithm Evaluation
POC: Dr. George DuMais, 703-874-3293 (ITIC)

19. Smart Materials for Components of Mobile Robots
POC: Dr. Gregory Moore, 703-874-0831 (ITIC)

20. Terahertz Imaging
POC: Dr. Martin Carr, 703-874-2531 (ITIC)

21. Probabilistic Evidence Marshalling
POC: Dr. Susan Durham, 703-874-4264 (NRO)

22. Improving the Security of Future Biometric Systems
POC: Dr Andy Kirby, 703-874-1023 (ITIC)

-- Director of Central Intelligence Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Program, February 27, 2003

posted by Gary Williams at 9:44 AM | link |

via abuddhas memes

Prime Time Smirk combined with a contrived CBC transnational debate (what happened to Am-bareassed-or Cellucci after Pedantic Peter cut him off in mid Dubyatribe?), leaves no tea unread without maceration in Murphy's Craw; no excuse unfondled with-in inhuman dispassion.

I have one question: Is it plausable that a country with the highest per capita rate of incarceration on earth can be responsible for the dissemination of human rights and freedom? Democracy in its' rather truer non-American sense is always a reaching for that ever elusive balance between individual autonomy and community need. The fundamentally (sick) accepted Orwellian deception is that Capitalism = Democracy - all the rest follows.

posted by Gary Williams at 2:25 AM | link |

via Cryptonomicon.Net

RSA Algorithm Goes Mainstream at Linux Journal

The Linux Journal website has published a rather nice article about RSA operations. The article is a good overview for non-specialists with an interest in tinkering. I especially like the fact that small number examples are given alongside Unix bc scripts to implement key searching and encrypt / decrypt operations. If you've got a Unix hacker pal who's not hip to the RSA algorithm, this is the intro page for them.

posted by Gary Williams at 2:20 AM | link |

via Peeve Farm

A bucket of ice water

Got an itch to write a brand-new Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game? Have a brilliant idea for a virtual world, and stars in your eyes over the possibility of your new upstart basement company becoming the Next Big Thing?

Well, here's a sobering interview with Gordon Walton, veteran of Ultima Online and The Sims Online, telling it like it is. It ain't all pizza and Super Soakers. Not hardly.

Sounds like the kind of stuff that should convince people not to start up any kind of late-90s-style Virtua Company. But since these MMORPG-type games look like they're going to be the future of technology, I guess it's best for the industry to face up to the difficulties with both eyes open.

posted by Gary Williams at 2:11 AM | link |

via Living Code - Biology & information. Corante
Posted Friday, March 7, 2003

Real Brains, Fake Brains

These researchers wanted to know how far away from optimal our visual system is and how our brain deals with that. They constructed a simulated brain in a computer and made sure it processed all the data its 'eyes' received. Then they showed it a simulated world.

They compared its responses with actual humans, their heads strapped down and measurement devices in their eye to determine the length and duration of their eye movement. Both the computer and humans were shown a white dot on a screen, jumping and moving. They asked the subjects to record the dot's movement and to estimate the length of the jump.

Both the simulation, which was meant to deal with all the data in an optimal fashion, and the humans made the same sorts of errors. So, even though our brain and our visual system are not perfect, they seem to be able to process information as effectively as a 'perfect' system.

posted by Gary Williams at 1:55 AM | link |

via World of Ends

The Nutshell

1. The Internet isn't complicated
2. The Internet isn't a thing. It's an agreement.
3. The Internet is stupid.
4. Adding value to the Internet lowers its value.
5. All the Internet's value grows on its edges.
6. Money moves to the suburbs.
7. The end of the world? Nah, the world of ends.
8. The Internet’s three virtues:
a. No one owns it
b. Everyone can use it
c. Anyone can improve it
9. If the Internet is so simple, why have so many been so boneheaded about it?
10. Some mistakes we can stop making already

Warren Ellis' Bad Signal mailing list post this morning bemoaned the fact that Boing Boing had farked this site, I finally tried it and it worked. As Warren says, if's a simple, obvious idea that happens to be correct. What an idea!

Update: via AKMA’s Random Thoughts
David and Doc
Well, I can link to the World of Ends as well as anyone else. I suspect that the critics who complain about the essay’s simplification of complex problems have sound reason, and I resist oversimplification as much as anyone I know (more than anyone else I know, I suppose). But simplification has its purposes, and in the “My eyes glaze over” world of technology and engineering, simplification has tremendous value. Politicians need simplification, especially from people who understand the Web as Doc and David do, because they’re getting massive oversimplification from industries who feel threatened by the End-to-End net that David and Doc describe. And granted all the people who are going to remain fixated on oversimplifications, I’d rather they were sticking with these simplifications than any others.

Indeed, in important ways, the World of Ends simplifications represent the truth about the Web more clearly and soundly than any other simplifications I’ve heard. And where there are quibbles and cavils to be registered about various points (Exactly how stupid should the net be? Could David and Doc come up with a more effective trope than “adding value decreases value?” — that one seems to have triggered a lot of bile), I remain persuaded that Doc and David point us in the right direction for exploring the problems we’ll encounter.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:20 AM | link |

Friday, March 07, 2003  

Hi, meg, thanks for the logo!

TFS Reluctant
TFS Reluctant

I never used to do anything with CSS -- the companies I've worked for recently were all mostly concerned with CGI programs, and tools for the tech support folks, so details of the way the page looked mostly didn't matter. But since I've been blogging, meg's stuff at Mandarin Design has taught me a lot about using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to get a magazine-style layout, with techy touches like glow and shadow (see the styles in the links listed on the right, especially the ones lower down -- in the science and thinkers list, Between Gene Expressions and Everything Burns). But of course, the Mandarin Design link uses a relatively simple drop-shadow design that looks very effective, I think (because primarily the colors work).

But of course I get to learn from the masters, and today meg showed me a nice effect. Here's the code (all on one line in the actual code in the blog, of course):

<table border="3" bordercolor="#000000" bgcolor="white" cellpadding="10px">
<tr><td style="filter:glow(color:#ff3300);">
<span style="font-family:tahoma, arial; font-size:14pt; font-color:#666666;">
<a href="">TFS Reluctant</a></span>

<tr><td style="filter:glow(color:#ff6600) flipv();">
<span style="font-family:tahoma, arial; font-size:14pt; font-color:#666666;">
<a href="">TFS Reluctant</a></span>

Thanks, meg!

Or maybe I should say, thanks, Michael Don Juan DeMarco y Olivera III!

posted by Gary Williams at 10:59 PM | link |

Web site hears from Dick Cheney after parody puts clown nose on wife

From Declan McCullagh's Politech

>IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE: Mrs. Cheney's husband wishes you to be aware (SEE
>LETTER AND STATEMENT) that some/all of the biographic information
>contained on this PARODY page about Mrs. Cheney may not actually be true.
>Indeed, it may all be lies propagated by the many people whom she rubbed
>the wrong way during her long and still-unfolding life as a controversial
>public figure. You know how political vipers gossip! Besides, how on earth
>is one to know whether an interesting tidbit arises from fact or from the
>seamy whispers of mendacious Chatty Cathys? That said, the editors of
>WHITEHOUSE.ORG are confident that any rumors about Mrs. Cheney formerly
>being a crystal meth pusher are 100% likely to be absolutely untrue.
>Similarly, any stories about her penchant for licking Brandy Alexanders
>off the hirsute belly of her spouse are all lies, lies, lies!


Web Site Hears From Dick Cheney After Parody Involving Wife

ice President Dick Cheney's office has spurred an unusual dispute by asking
a Web site that parodies the Bush administration to remove a satirical
biography and pictures of the vice president's wife, Lynne.

After receiving the request in a letter from Mr. Cheney's counsel, the Web
site doctored the photographs of Mrs. Cheney, adding a red clown nose and
blackening out one of her front teeth, said its creator John A. Wooden.

"The letter is, if you read it carefully, it is only a request," he said.
"But there's really no such thing as a request from the vice president's
office. It's a threatening letter."

The New York Civil Liberties Union said yesterday that it would go to court
to defend the parody's posting if Mr. Cheney's office did not back down
from its request.

POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech:
This message is archived at
Like Politech? Make a donation here:
Declan McCullagh's photographs are at

posted by Gary Williams at 2:07 PM | link |


Excessive port scanning from Korea

Hi Folks, over the last 3-4 weeks, I have noticed a great deal of port
scanning from Korean sites. In particular a IP of,
which has hit my class C on numerous occasions. Any contact information
that I can seem to gleen from the web appears to have hit the bit bucket.
Has anyone else noticed these scans and had any better luck contacting the
correct authority?

Jim Howard
ABCV Security

posted by Gary Williams at 12:01 PM | link |

via The Register

Google closes Blogger security holes

By Kevin Poulsen, SecurityFocus Online
Posted: 07/03/2003 at 10:46 GMT

Internet search giant Google confirmed this week that it closed several security holes that could have allowed hackers to substitute their own musings for any of the over one-million electronic diaries maintained through the popular "Blogger" online publishing tool.

The vulnerabilities were typical of Web application security weaknesses that have plagued e-commerce sites for years, according to hacker Adrian Lamo, who discovered the holes and passed the details to San Francisco-based Pyra Labs in January. Pyra, creator of Blogger and the related hosting site BlogSpot, was acquired by Google last month.

Lamo demonstrated the most serious vulnerability to SecurityFocus by replacing a reporter's skeletal BlogSpot weblog with one of his own. Before that, the hacker says he tested the technique on two other existing weblogs that had been abandoned, but that he resisted the temptation to replace any of the high profile journals hosted on the site - one is operated by humorist Dave Barry, another by CNET Radio - out of respect for the company. "I was tempted to do both of them," says Lamo. "Had Pyra been a less wholesome operation, I might have shown less restraint."

posted by Gary Williams at 11:27 AM | link |

via Ribbity Blog
Wednesday, March 05, 2003


This morning at about 11am I was standing at a bus-stop on the Moriah Road of the Carmel Centre in Haifa waiting for a bus. The 37 came along in the direction of Haifa University, but I decided to wait for one of the minibuses that run the bus routes. The minibuses are usually safer: nobody has bombed a minibus.

It took quite a while for a minibus to come along, and when it did finally come, it took some time for the driver to go; the minibus drivers will often wait for an extra few passengers.

I thought that perhaps I'd made a mistake in waiting for the minibus, and that I should have just got on the regular Egged bus; that is until 2.30 in the afternoon, when I was informed that the 37 had been blown up some minutes earlier...

posted by Gary Williams at 1:22 AM | link |

via the dissident frogman, time to take sides! :: art against europpression

Capitalism is good for you (and me)

After Gary at TFS Reluctant, I found another brave volunteer who accepted to manage a few CafePress stores, sell some of the dissident's artwork and send my part of the benefits to the tiny PayPal button on the right, thus allowing me to stay hidden in the dacha.

I understand he's taking the risk of being repressed and sent to some Gulag, but since he doesn't know me personally, at least, it will be useless to torture him.

It's okay, don't thank me Pal.

The Dissident Frogman has a new set of images in someone else's CafePress store -- go see.

posted by Gary Williams at 1:14 AM | link |

via abuddhas memes

Drugs to keep aviators awake kept secret by media?

Why would drugs used by the military to enliven their personnel, undoubtedly undergoing undue undergos, be a media promulgated secret? Modafinil (Provigil, Alertec, etc.) is certainly the drug of choice for pilots et al. so why would the press, shill of the release, ignore such obviousness and say that dex or meth is being used? Modafinil: the unique properties of a new stimulant. - Lyons TJ, French J., Aviat Space Environ Med 1991

"It could be an ideal replacement for amphetamine in short-term operations in which fatigue might threaten the successful completion of a mission."

posted by Gary Williams at 12:17 AM | link |

Thursday, March 06, 2003  

via Uncertain Principles

Science is Hard

Mary Kay Kare emailed me a link to this brilliant example of a student lab report:

Electron Band Structure In Germanium, My Ass

Abstract: The exponential dependence of resistivity on temperature in germanium is found to be a great big lie. My careful theoretical modeling and painstaking experimentation reveal 1) that my equipment is crap, as are all the available texts on the subject and 2) that this whole exercise was a complete waste of my time.

(I also like this, from the same site.)

posted by Gary Williams at 11:30 PM | link |

via Living Code - Biology & information. Corante

Antibodies on the Brain

The causative agents for Mad Cow disease, kuru and CJD were originally defined as unconventional slow viruses. It appears now that the actual disease is caused by a malformed protein called a prion. These diseases affect the nervous system and are apparently caused by ingesting materials from diseased animals.

Because these diseases affect proteins normally found in the brain, there usually is no immune response. So, vaccination and other approaches will most likely not work. But a new report in Nature indicates that antibodies may be useful, they just have to be man-made and injected directly into the brain.

The animal model uses mice. Animals that were given the antibodies survived for over two years, rather than dying within 7 months. There is still lots of work to be done. The antibodies are derived from mice and can not be used directly in humans. They need to be modified. There will be bigger hurdles, since other attempts to use antibodies directly in human brains have not been successful. But if a therapy can be developed it may also be helpful in other settings, such as Alzheimer's.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:23 PM | link |

via Lagniappe

What's A Patent Buy You?

There have been some very large sums transferred over the answer to that question. Yesterday's decision in the long-running dispute over the University of Rochester's COX-2 patent may be ready to join the list. That's the enzyme behind money-spinners like Vioxx (from Merck) and Celebrex (now Pfizer's.)

It's beyond doubt that the university team discovered the enzyme, and realized its possible use in anti-inflammatory treatment. (Anyone who didn't catch on to that part wouldn't have been competent enough to have found the enzyme in the first place, but that's neither here nor there.) They filed a broad patent, and broad claims issued - including language that would seem to have claimed treatment of COX-2 mediated diseases with whatever inhibitor anyone might discover.

Long-time readers will recall that these patent claims really drive me insane. (See my articles on June 26 and July 2nd about Ariad's patent abuses, eventually to be followed up on.) Until a few years ago, no one tried to claim this sort of thing, but now that the USPTO has let these things issue, everyone's in on the act. Universities, companies, random strangers: they're all patenting their enzymes, the sequence that codes for them, cells that express them and vectors to make 'em do so, every assay that might use any of the above, the use of any of those assays to discover any drug, and the treatment of any disease with any of said drugs. That's only slightly exaggerated. Very, very slightly.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:04 PM | link |

via Defense Tech


Cutting Iraq off from the Internet would be childishly simple, Brian McWilliams reports for Salon.

"If the U.S. wants to (shut down all of) Iraq's access to the Internet, it need only give a nod to operators of a satellite farm in the woods west of Atlanta, or to a similar facility in the English countryside.

An analysis of network records and routing patterns shows that Iraq's only Internet service provider, the State Company for Internet Services (SCIS), appears to send and receive nearly all of its traffic over satellite hookups provided by Atlanta International Teleport of Douglasville, Ga., and by SMS Internet of Rugby, Warwickshire."

Iraq should be worried about more than the Bush Administration turning the juice off, though.

"A myriad of bugs and misconfigurations in its software make the embattled country's Internet-connected systems ripe for hack attacks," Williams notes. "Iraq's DNS servers, key machines that route traffic to various computers in a network, are misconfigured to allow 'zone transfers,' a reconnaissance technique used by hackers to target vulnerable machines."

posted by Gary Williams at 9:28 PM | link |

via Mandarin Design

Tiny Lemony Maid Via CSS

meg's friend Nancy followed meg's Time Magazine cover and coded this tiny maid:



Here's the code (remember to put it all on one line for use in a blog):

<table width="155" height="110" bgcolor="black" bordercolor="black" border="0" cellspacing="2" cellpadding="2">
<tr><td valign="top" align="center">
<table width="150" height="50" bgcolor="black" bordercolor="white" border="2" cellspacing="2" cellpadding="2">
<tr><td valign="top" align="center"><span style="font-weight: bold; color: white; font-size: 22px;">Minute<br>Made</span>
<table width="150" height="50" bgcolor="yellow" bordercolor="white" border="2" cellspacing="2" cellpadding="2">
<tr><td valign="top" align="center"><span style="font-weight: bold; font-family: Arial; color:black;font-size:10px;">100% PURE SQUEEZED</span>
<br><span style="font-weight: bold; font-family: Arial; color:black;font-size:14px;">LEMON JUICE</span>
<span style="font-weight: bold; font-family: Arial; color:black;font-size:7px;">PUCKER UP BABY!<br>CHOCK FULL OF LEMONY GOODNESS</span>

posted by Gary Williams at 6:30 PM | link |


Mall Wants to Drop Peace T-Shirt Charges

Officials at a mall where a man was arrested for refusing to remove an anti-war T-shirt asked Wednesday that trespassing charges against him be dropped.

Police said managers from Crossgates Mall called and asked that the complaint against Stephen Downs be withdrawn. Police Chief James Murley said he would support the mall's decision.

posted by Gary Williams at 3:59 PM | link |


Icy Roads Cause Several Multivehicle Accidents

ATTLEBORO, Mass. -- Emergency crews are responding to a number of multivehicle accidents on roads south of Boston.

State police said that at least 100 vehicles were involved in three separate accidents on Interstate 95 in Attleboro, near Route 123. Route 95 southbound is closed.

posted by Gary Williams at 3:19 PM | link |

Spamcop blocks Tucows

From Declan McCullagh's Politech

[Tucows is a domain name registrar that became famous in the 1990s by
offering freeware/shareware downloads. The danger here is not that Spamcop
is violating its own rules; it almost certainly is not. Its procedures, as
I understand them, allow incorrect or malicious allegations of spam to
place a site on the Spamcop blacklist. This is not a mistake: Spamcop was
intentionally designed to have a hair-trigger better-safe-than-sorry
reporting system. That makes it terribly prone to abuse, and Spamcop knows
it. Spamcop's designers should have the right to sell such a flawed system,
but the rest of us don't need to use it and should advise others against
it. --Declan]


Date: Thu, 6 Mar 2003 13:34:30 -0500 (EST)
From: Joe Baptista <>
To: Declan McCullagh <>
Subject: SpamCop (fwd)

Declan - looks like spamcop blacklisted tucows.

Joe Baptista - only at www.baptista.god

yours to discover

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 6 Mar 2003 12:01:35 -0500
From: Edward Gray <>
Subject: SpamCop

Early this morning the opensrs mail system that is used for sending OpenSRS
domain renewal notifications was
blacklisted by SpamCop.

This has happened several times in the past specifically with SpamCop. This
occurs because a registrant receives the renewal notice and in error, flags
it as a Spam message with SpamCop. We are required to send at least 2
renewal notices to the owner of every domain as per the ICANN Registrar
Accreditation Agreement.

The duration that the blacklist will remain active is difficult to determine
but the longest we have remained blacklisted so far is approximately 19
hours with some of the events lasting a 1-2 hours.

Edward Gray
Director, Operations & Networks
Tucows Inc.

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posted by Gary Williams at 2:40 PM | link |

When you use an Apple computer, you're computing with Satan.

Apple Computer and the Church of Satan

Apple Computer
and the
Church of Satan

Soon after the birth of this website in January 1999 c.e., we decided to make a tribute to the company that manufactures the computers and the operating system which we love—Apple Computer.

The linked site details the experience The Church of Satan has had with it's tribute to Apple Computer, because of it's use of the Mac in creating the site, and the devotion of the church's founder to the company. Needless to say, after a long delay they were contacted by the Apple law firm, which accused them of violation of copyright and demanded that they stop using the Apple logo and stating that the site was created using a Mac -- although it is.

posted by Gary Williams at 2:17 PM | link |


Last Stage of Delerium ethical hackers publish Sendmail bug proof of concept

By using this site you agree you will use any information disclosed to you for lawful purposes only and will not use it to gain unauthorized access. If you do not agree with this, please leave now.

All views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the Last Stage of Delirium members, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of anyone else.

Here's the link to the proof of concept code on SecurityFocus:

posted by Gary Williams at 1:27 PM | link |

Delta Airlines Boycott Underway

From Declan McCullagh's Politech


Date: Mon, 03 Mar 2003 03:31:24 -0600
Subject: Delta Air Lines Boycott Underway
From: Bill Scannell <>

In response to Delta Air Line's utter lack of concern with the privacy of
their customers demonstrated by their participation in a test of the CAPPS
II system, a Delta disinvestment campaign has been launched at: .

In the event that the name servers have not yet propagated, the site can be
reached at:

The idea of citizens having to undergo a background investigation that
includes personal banking information and a credit check simply to travel in
his or her own country is invasive and un-American. The CAPPS II system
goes far beyond what any thinking citizen of this country should consider

If enough people refuse to fly Delta, then it is likely that other airlines
will refuse to implement this sadly misguided and anti-democratic system.
The boycott will remain in full effect until Delta Air Lines publicly
withdraws from any involvement with the testing of CAPPS II.

Press Contact: Bill Scannell (

POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech:
This message is archived at
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Declan McCullagh's photographs are at

posted by Gary Williams at 11:44 AM | link |

BBB: Come for the bunny photographs. Stay for the Warmongery

9mm Help Desk

Isn't this a Walter Mitty Moment?

Enraged Computer Owner Shoots Up Machine
(Washington Post)

Now that's a no-no, right officer?

"It's sort of funny, because everybody always threatens their computers," said police Lt. Rick Bashor, seconds before his own police computer froze at police headquarters.
(Washington Post)

- Anna, 7:07 PM

posted by Gary Williams at 12:22 AM | link |


Ash Wednesday on Gene Expression

Ah, I'm sure my religious readers are excited that I, the atheist, am going to comment on their faith, an experience that I have never directly experienced [1]. First, I am prompted by some statements that were asserted in the Frontpage Symposium:

Here is the difference between Christian and Muslim extremism: Jerry Falwell called Muhammad a terrorist. He killed no one and called for no killing. In response, eight people were killed and 90 hurt in riots in India, and an Iranian official called for Falwell’s death. All involved invoked Islam.


posted by Gary Williams at 12:03 AM | link |

Wednesday, March 05, 2003  

via Quark Soup

Two updates on "Publishing By Lawsuit"


RiShawn Biddle presents his own take on Fumento's Reason article, via Instapundit .


8:00 am
Yesterday afternoon I checked with Reason's Online editor about whether their Taubes article was published in response to a threatened lawsuit, and got this back from Reason's editor, Nick Gillespie, denying the story. I'm posting it in its entirety:

posted by Gary Williams at 11:35 PM | link |

via abuddhas memes

Area 71 ?!?

"We are the most conditioned, programmed beings the world has ever known. Not only are our thoughts and attitudes continually being shaped and molded; our very awareness of the whole design seems like it is being subtly and inexorably erased."

posted by Gary Williams at 10:56 PM | link |

Is improvement going to kill Blogger?

I know they're trying hard, but blogger was down for a couple of hours today (I think they were installing new server hardware) and BlogThis! has been flaky all day, sometimes working and sometimes not, and tonight I've been getting goofy errors (Error 506 and Java-Null-Pointer errors) when I try to save a post. Just now I had to try four times to get the NASA vs. E-Mail posting up, and just now I added a GeoPhrase welcome gadget under the WeatherPixie, and it seems to have saved the template change, but won't publish it. So I wrote this to see if I can get it to publish...

Good luck, guys -- hope these Google-improvements don't kill the thing.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:40 PM | link |

via A Voyage To Arcturus

NASA vs. E-Mail

Friday lunch-bunch buddy Clif Guy points me to John Dvorak's E-Mail and the Columbia Disaster, a fascinating if depressing tale of bureaucratic unresponsiveness and emergent organizational behavior:

About a year passed after the Challenger disaster before we discovered what really happened, and the best report was in IEEE Spectrum, not in the New York Times, where the report would have been perceived as old news.

With the new e-mail world and Columbia, we immediately find out that the space crew was e-mailing friends from the vessel. Thus, Douglas Brown found out that his astronaut brother Dave Brown was concerned about Columbia's wing. Douglas discussed this concern with his US senator, George Allen. Wasn't it suspicious, then, in a NASA press release, Douglas said his brother never wrote about concerns with damage to the left wing?? We must conclude there was an obvious cover-up. Why would Douglas Brown discuss anything with his US Senator if there were nothing to discuss? This is all happening too fast for the agency. It's harder to buffalo the public in compressed time.

Dvorak notes: "A blockade of middle managers ... allows upper managers the luxury of isolation" and, perhaps most importantly: "The old ways in which bureaucrats covered their collective butts has changed. This is the untold story of the Columbia disaster. Let's see how agencies try to adjust to this."

posted by Gary Williams at 10:05 PM | link |

via Peeve Farm

Gordon Moore, we hardly knew ya

Capt J.M. Heinrichs sends me the link to this thesis by Ilkka Tuomi upon Moore's Law and its applicability-- or increasing lack thereof-- to the modern directions of chip design.

Moore's Law has been an important benchmark for developments in microelectronics and information processing for over three decades. During this time, its applications and interpretations have proliferated and expanded, often far beyond the validity of the original assumptions made by Moore. Technical considerations of optimal chip manufacturing costs have been expanded to processor performance, economics of computing, and social development. It is therefore useful to review the various interpretations of Moore's Law and empirical evidence that could support them.

Such an analysis reveals that semiconductor technology has evolved during the last four decades under very special economic conditions. In particular, the rapid development of microelectronics implies that economic and social demand has played a limited role in this industry. Contrary to popular claims, it appears that the common versions of Moore's Law have not been valid during the last decades. As semiconductors are becoming important in economy and society, Moore's Law is now becoming an increasingly misleading predictor of future developments.


posted by Gary Williams at 9:46 PM | link |


Man Bites, Stabs Police Dog, Officers Say

Police: Guy Must Be Nuts

MIAMI -- A Miami police dog injured in the line of duty is recovering today.

Justice, a K-9 officer, was treated for cuts around his eye and ear. Police say he was bitten by a suspect he was chasing then beaten and stabbed around the head with a pipe.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:21 PM | link |

via Transterrestrial Musings


Andrew Sullivan points to this picture over at Rush Limbaugh's site, ostensibly of the north Atlantic, Europe and Africa, as the terminator crosses them, taken from the Columbia on its last mission.

I thought it looked a little suspicious. The altitude seems much too high, and it would be amazing to see this much of the earth at once with absolutely no cloud cover. Also note that you can see the mid-Atlantic ridge, which shouldn't be viewable through thousands of feet of water.

Keith Cowing over at NASA Watch confirms my suspicions. Both Andrew and Rush were taken in. It's a computer simulation. You can find it at this cool site (they do it for the Moon as well), and the particular view on Rush's site can be generated here, with real-time lighting conditions.

Rush needs to verify his sources a little more carefully.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:13 PM | link |

via Uncertain Principles

There's No Greys, Only White That's Got Grubby

Via "Charles Dodgson", a great post at Late Night Thoughts (at the time of posting, the permalink doesn't work, so look on the front page) regarding the handing over of Khalid Sheik Mohammed for "interrogation" in an "undisclosed country."

The human gene pool sometimes throws out monsters. There are psychiatric terms for them, but their common denominator is the inability to sympathize with others. At the deepest darkest end are those who feel delight in others' pain; these are damaged humans, and we must understand that even as we remove them from society.

But when a healthy human finds it expedient to categorize others as "lesser than I" he has stepped across a line that ultimately leads to the destruction of the soul. I am not being mawkishly pacifist. I would have no difficulty in killing to defend myself, my loved ones, or my country. But there is a difference between killing someone and savaging his spirit, and we cross that line at our own peril. In Christian terms, when we destroy a human spirit, we are destroying God's image, and that is an iredeemable act. What does it matter that we gain our revenge if we lose our souls?


posted by Gary Williams at 6:02 PM | link |

via Living Code - Biology & information. Corante

Somethings Are Worth Spit

The Boston Globe has a great article by Vivian Marx discussing spit. Anything that you can measure in the blood can potentially be measured in saliva, with much less invasiveness. One group is working on device that could be implanted on a tooth and would be able to measure sugar levels, thus rendering needle pricks for diabetics obsolete.

Other great facts. Our salivary glands produce 2 pints of saliva a day. There are all sorts of novel antibiotics that are gaining notice (see figure at the bottom of the link). Exams raise antibody levels. So watch out next time you waste some precious bodily fluids by expectorating.

posted by Gary Williams at 5:48 PM | link |

via Jeffrey Zeldman Presents: The Daily Report

Boys on the side

Added to the "Relevant Externals" department of our sidebar:
EasyRGB's Color Harmonizer does a remarkable job of creating complements and harmonies for any RGB color you input. (Hat tip: Jeff Wilkinson.) It can’t take the place of a designer's eye, but it can show you complementary colors you might not have come up with on your own.

Flyguy is a remarkable, Flash-based interactive artwork that breathes life into Trevor Van Meter's stylishly whimsical black and white illustrations. It's embarrassing to admit that we were unaware of Van Meter's wonderful work until we spotted his site among the SXSW Website Competition Finalists.

Other overdue sidebar additions include Stonefishspine, Anil Dash, Oblivio, and Scene 360 ("Film. Art. Music. Literature."). :::

posted by Gary Williams at 5:01 PM | link |

via William Gibson


It's a good thing I know Bruce Sterling. Otherwise I'd never hear about things like this.

> 'World's smallest combination lock' promises to foil even the best computer
> hacker, say Sandia developers
> ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The "world's smallest combination lock," a minuscule
> mechanical device developed at Sandia National Laboratories, promises to
> build a virtually impenetrable computer firewall that even the best hacker
> can't beat.

and via Boing Boing

Nanoscale padlock

Sandia Labs have patented a MEMS-based nanoscale padlock as a new anti-hacker measure. The security benefits sound pretty dubious, but boy, the tech is awfully cool!

The Recodable Locking Device consists of two sides -- the user side and the secure side. To unlock the device, a user must enter a code that identically matches the code stored mechanically in the six code wheels. If the user makes even one wrong entry -- and close doesn't count -- the device mechanically "locks up" and does not allow any further tries until the owner resets it from the secure side.
The six gears and the comb drives would be put on a small chip that could be incorporated into any computer, computer network, or security system. Because the chip is built using integrated circuit fabricating techniques, hundreds can be constructed on a single six-inch silicon wafer. The end result is that the device will be very inexpensive to produce. Plummer says Sandia is the only place where development of such a mechanism could have occurred.

posted by Gary Williams at 3:57 PM | link |

Time of day, blogging, and what's available

Probably nobody noticed, but yesterday I spent most of the day downtown, taking mom to the doctors for her checkup, to the bank and the store, getting gas and sandwiches and dropping off the mail. So I didn't file anything until late in the day, mostly science stuff from the science and thinkers group of links (the big group of colored ones, kinda low on the list).

I mostly go from the bottom up, in the links, I don't know why. I run from the top of the comics, down, and into the news list, and then back up. Not sure why. But today blogger was down for a long time, and I noticed that I mostly file from email to start the day -- New York Times stuff, and Declan McCullagh, and stuff. Then you'll often see comics listings, then stuff from and The Register, occasionally from Slashdot, memepool or fark, and more serious stuff from Mandarin Design, Lagniappe and Living Code. And stuff they're linking to.

Speaking of meg at Mandarin Design, she had a brief piece yesterday (or the day before?) about a gimmick she found from the Netmechanic writer Larisa Thomason's style-sheet, which makes links glow yellow when you hover the cursor over them. I liked the effect, so I copied it. (Move your cursor over one of the links and you'll see it.) Here's the code to add to your style sheet (or the header of your site):

COLOR: #ff6600;

I copied this from the Mandarin Design style sheet, but the color and the class designation already appeared in the template for my site, so adding it to my style sheet just meant adding the underline and background color. Thanks, meg. I like the effect.

posted by Gary Williams at 3:50 PM | link |

via Yahoo! News

Lawyer Arrested for Wearing a 'Peace' T-Shirt

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A lawyer was arrested late Monday and charged with trespassing at a public mall in the state of New York after refusing to take off a T-shirt advocating peace that he had just purchased at the mall.

According to the criminal complaint filed on Monday, Stephen Downs was wearing a T-shirt bearing the words "Give Peace A Chance" that he had just purchased from a vendor inside the Crossgates Mall in Guilderland, New York, near Albany.

"I was in the food court with my son when I was confronted by two security guards and ordered to either take off the T-shirt or leave the mall," said Downs.

When Downs refused the security officers' orders, police from the town of Guilderland were called and he was arrested and taken away in handcuffs, charged with trespassing "in that he knowingly enter(ed) or remain(ed) unlawfully upon premises," the complaint read.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:22 PM | link |

Yahoo! News - Naked Jogger in N.Y. Continues Streak

Naked Jogger in N.Y. Continues Streak

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - The naked jogger of New York has struck. Again.

His latest appearance was in a Binghamton downtown parking garage around lunch time Tuesday, just as temperatures rose to nearly freezing.

And, as in each of his previous runs, he eluded police who rushed to the scene.

An employee said the streaker has been seen running around the six-level parking garage at least 20 times since last August. The last time was in late November.

Police said they can't figure out how he's able to get dressed and emerge from the garage undetected.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:17 PM | link |

via NCBuy: Weird and Offbeat News Stories

Dave Barry: Being In A Rock Group Is Better Than Writing

MIAMI (Wireless Flash) -- It looks like the writing is on the wall for columnist Dave Barry -- being a rock star is more fun than writing.
Barry made that startling discovery while rehearsing with his group, The Rock-Bottom Remainders, which consists of all-star authors like Matt Groening, Scott Turow, Amy Tan and, occasionally, Stephen King.

The Remainders will be starting a brief west coast tour April 23 in Seattle, and Barry is excited because the band is more collaborative than "what we writers usually do all day -- stare at a wall."

posted by Gary Williams at 11:57 AM | link |

Re: FC: Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, HP, Intel oppose bill fixing DMCA

From Declan McCullagh's Politech


Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2003 19:07:35 -0500
From: Rich Kulawiec <>
To: Declan McCullagh <>
Subject: Re: FC: Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, HP, Intel oppose bill fixing DMCA
Message-ID: <>
References: <>
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
Content-Disposition: inline
In-Reply-To: <>

On Tue, Mar 04, 2003 at 06:13:51PM -0500, Declan McCullagh wrote:
> "The technology industry has proliferated like no other industry due to the
> rapid creation of new and innovative means of meeting consumer expectations
> and enhanced productivity. And this legacy continues even while consumer
> expectations expand with every new and conceivable application of
> technology. Any weakening of the laws that promote continued innovation
> and needed protections for copyright owners will ultimately stifle industry
> growth and limit consumer choices.

Translation: "We are watching open-source eat the fat cats of the software
industry for breakfast and we are scared out of our minds about what it
will do when it sits down for lunch. We are completely unprepared to
compete with the 'college-kid hackers', as we dismissively like to label
them, who are not wasting their time with shrink-wrap and terms-of-use and
licenses and crippleware and spyware like we are, but who are actually
writing solid stuff that's usable in the real world to do real work.
When they get around to application areas like CRM and supply-chain,
we will be totally fucked. So we are looking for any means possible to
prevent them from entering our market space, and the DMCA is a good club
for us to use, thanks to our huge legal teams who stand ready to crush
anybody with the audacity to write software and give it away. We stand
shoulder-to-shoulder with the RIAA and the MPAA in our willingness to
criminalize any behavior that threatens our obscene profits, or which
penalizes us in any way for our complete failure to anticipate changing
market conditions, new technology, or overwhelming dissatisfaction with
the crap we're selling."


POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech:
This message is archived at
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posted by Gary Williams at 10:12 AM | link |

via The New York Times (registration required)

What Would Genghis Do?

What tips could Rummy glean from Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan?

Mr. Rumsfeld would be impressed, after all, if he knew that Genghis Khan had invented the first crude MIRV (a missile that spews out multiple warheads to their predetermined targets). As David Morgan writes in "The Mongols," when the bloodthirsty chieftain began his subjugation of the Chinese empire in 1211, he had to figure out a way to take China's walled cities:

"Genghis Khan offered to raise the siege if he were given 1,000 cats and 10,000 swallows. These were duly handed over. Material was tied to their tails, and this was set on fire. The animals were released and fled home, setting the city ablaze, and in the ensuing confusion the city was stormed."

posted by Gary Williams at 9:33 AM | link |

via Understanding the Web as Media
The medium is the message," is Marshall McLuhan's most frequently quoted and least understood mantra. It basically means: The fact that we watch television AT ALL affects us more profoundly than any single piece of "content" we watch on television. Each communications medium has its own inherent characteristics and ways of impacting people, regardless of the "content" sent via that medium. And the web is a communications medium.

why the dot com bomb? Lots of reasons. One reason is: We were trying so furiously to make the medium do what we wanted it to do, few of us stopped to ask, "What is the web good for? What can the web do that other media can't do? What can the web NOT do that other media CAN do?" In other words, what are the unique media characteristics of the web? What are its inherent strengths and weaknesses? How does the web "fit in" with existing media? Let's answer some of these questions...

posted by Gary Williams at 1:32 AM | link |

via Quark Soup
March 4, 2003


Last summer, Gary Taubes stirred up a hornet's nest with his NY Times Magazine article supporting the Atkins diet, "What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?" ( cached , original ). He also got himself a $700,000 book deal, which apparently his marketing people want to protect: according to a post today on the discussion listserv of the National Association of Science Writers, science writer Oliver Baker says Michael Fumento told him that Taubes threated Reason magazine with a lawsuit unless they published this response to Michael Fumento's recent Reason article questioning Taubes journalism, "Big Fat Fake: The Atkins diet controversy and the sorry state of science journalism." Fumento, via Baker:

" a result of a threatened lalawsuit, Reason is posting an incredible 9,400-word Taubes article. It's absolutely mind-numbing and ultimately unreadable. Best to skip to my response (only 2,000 words) and then try to wade through Taubes's "kill
'em with words" tome.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:12 AM | link |

via abuddhas memes
Due to personal obligations, transgressions and outright apathy I have again absented myself without explanation. In the interconnected entanglement that is the intelliweb I consider this a significant faux pas on my part. There are days, sometimes a few in a row, that I am absolutely bereft of ability - utterly stuck.

Staggered by a poli-capitalist impetus that may be unstoppable without revolution, first in personal openness to alternate options, and then absolute acceptance of the multiplicity of opinion that can result in rational compromise by a truly empowered United Nations. I find that my projective balloon deflates with the thought that anything I might have to say will be either be merely more preaching to the converted (a vocation of little value) or reaching out to the perverted (an endeavor of scarce possibility).

Fortunately these episodes of angst do pass, in some way revitalizing my original impetus to be multi-subjective as objectively as possible. The fact that political issues have conspired to take over my attention since the U.S. American coup d'etat is perhaps not so much a fault as an imperative.

U.S. Psyop Radio Shifts Focus
"al Mustaqbal (The Future) - 50 kW Harris transmitter in Kuwait administered by the CIA. Shares airtime with Radio of the Twin Rivers and Radio Tikrit."

Cyber-warfare in Iraq already has broken out
"We're approaching the point where we can tell the SA-10 radar it is a Maytag washer and not a radar and put it in the rinse cycle instead of the firing cycle."

posted by Gary Williams at 12:01 AM | link |

Tuesday, March 04, 2003  

via Living Code - Biology & information. Corante

LIVING CODE: biology & information
By Richard Gayle
Posted Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Blood Red Ebola and Blue-Green Algae

The latest Ebola outbreak is still going strong in the Congo Republic. Almost 90 people have died and 130 are under observation. The disease is spread by body fluids and there is no useful therapy. At least so far.

Recent research indicates that a molecule that may be useful as an anti-HIV drug can also act against Ebola. CV-N, a small protein purified from a blue-green algae, the cyanobacterium, Nostoc ellipsosporum, binds to the sugars found on the coat proteins of some viruses. This prevents their entry into a cell. When the researchers examined the effects of CV-N against mice infected with Ebola, they found that CV-N greatly increased the survival times for these animals.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:08 PM | link |

William Gibson


Here's a "readymade" for you, as fine a one as I've seen in a while. You can start building your own novel, around one like this.

AKIRA-inflected secret city beneath Tokyo; retired construction workers whispering about the diamond-cutter required to tunnel existing concrete, when the maps show nothing but soil should have been there...

Subway fantasy is a genre unto itself. Delighted to see it's taken root in Tokyo.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:14 PM | link |

Monday, March 03, 2003  

via Dave Barry's Blog


The beauty of the Internet is that, because it gives us access to literally trillions of dollars worth of computer-related infrastructure, we can waste time faster than ever before.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:49 PM | link |

Go see

The Virtual Solar System

The Virtual Solar System

Looking for figures?
Visit the Datastore for detailed facts and figures on the planets and moons in our Solar System.

Get interactive!
Fly through a 3D Virtual Solar System and then create your own 10th Planet with this interactive multimedia experiment (Requires Shockwave).

Scale model:
View the solar system at a scale of 1 pixel = 2000 kilometres to understand the real meaning of space!

Test your knowledge:
See how much you know about the solar system in this interactive quiz.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:04 PM | link |

via Uncertain Principles

Gary Williams wins 500th game

Maryland beat NC State yesterday on a wild buzzer-beating three from Drew Nicholas (who otherwise had a subpar game) with a little over a second left. The win gave Gary Williams his five hundredth victory as a head coach.

Speaking of Googling yourself, do you know how irritating it is to have the coach of the Fighting Terepins sharing a name with you? (The other interesting reference is a pizza truck driver in a full-combat video game named Gary Williams. Duh...)

posted by Gary Williams at 10:39 PM | link |

via Living Code - Biology & information. Corante

Let's Hope We Can Still Smell A Rose

While humans may have more than 1000 olfactory genes, it appears than many of them are pseudogenes. Pseudogenes maintain many of the characteristics of a normal gene but have defects, such as deletions or other mutations preventing a productive transcript from being produced. A new paper on PNAS Early Edition discusses this fact.

The researchers examined a large number of olfactory genes in humans and several other non-human primates. While the chimp and gorilla have about 30% of these genes rendered inactive by stop codons, over 50% are inactive in humans. For mice, only 20% of their olfactory genes are pseudogenes. In fact, analysis indicates that humans have lost functioning olfactory genes at a rate 3 times faster than other primates. So, now we have even more evidence that, not only do we not smell as well as a mouse, we do not smell as well as a chimp.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:28 PM | link |

via Lagniappe

Ready For These?

Robert Staendart from the University of Illinois at Chicago writes that the graphics from the site include some chemical structures, and they're interesting choices. On the page that link takes you to is a compound that would probably be made from 4-piperidinone, an intermediate that's an old friend of mine (and to many other medicinal chemists.) This structure is missing a hydrogen off one of the nitrogens - if you put it back where it should be and search the databases, Standaert says, you find that:

The N-H compound is known but obscure; it appears in the registry as the free base ([56587-63-4)], a citrate ([56587-64-5]), and as a mixture with droperidol (an antipsychotic), but there are no references to any of these since '67.

It certainly looks like a CNS-active compound - if I had a nickel for every piperidine structure that shows up in the CNS literature I'd have - well, one heck of a lot of nickels. In fact, as he points out, this one is very close to the recently-notorious fentanyl. It looks like they took off a phenyl group for aesthetics and just left the nitrogen dangling without a substituent.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:23 PM | link |

from the blog of William Gibson

William Gibson has a nice write-up of the technological/cultural reasons for a habit he has of writing book titles in all-caps.

posted by Gary Williams at 7:43 PM | link |

via ISS: Security Center: X-Force Alerts and Advisories

Snort bug allows root hack

ISS X-Force has discovered a remotely exploitable buffer overflow condition in Snort. Snort is an open source intrusion detection system. A buffer overflow flaw exists in Snort RPC preprocessing code that is vulnerable to attack.


Remote attackers may exploit the buffer overflow condition to run arbitrary code on a Snort sensor with the privileges of the Snort IDS process, which typically runs as the superuser. The vulnerable preprocessor is enabled by default. It is not necessary to establish an actual connection to a RPC portmapper service to exploit this vulnerability.

posted by Gary Williams at 6:13 PM | link |

via The Register

Why criminalizing Crypto is wrong

By Mark Rasch, SecurityFocus Online
Posted: 03/03/2003 at 09:43 GMT

The Justice Department's plan to make routine encryption illegal in the hands of criminals will hurt law abiding citizens, and prove catastrophic for Internet security, writes Mark Rasch

There is nothing like the fear of weapons of mass destruction to bring out weary old legislative proposals. Earlier this month, it leaked out that the Justice Department was considering a broad expansion of its investigative authority, including the creation of new criminal offenses, ostensibly to assist in the fight against terrorism. Many of the proposals contained in the "Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003" had nothing to do with fighting terrorism, but would substantially increase penalties for such mundane offenses as wire fraud or claiming too many deductions on a federal tax return.

One such proposal -- which has been floated out many times before -- is the idea of making a new crime out of using encryption in during the course of commission of a different and unrelated crime.

posted by Gary Williams at 3:33 PM | link |

Cell phones coverage map of Iraq

Iraq looking for new mobile phone supplier

The official Iraqi News Agency has reported that the Chinese company, Huawei has walked away from a US$28 million contract it signed three years ago to provide Iraq with GSM network infrastructure. Mr. Hassan al-Ma'ini, the head of the Iraqi Post and Communications ministry said that the government is now looking for a new partner to provide the equipment for a 25,000 line network to cover the capital, Baghdad. A US$75 million contract with Alcatel for land-line network improvements appears to be going ahead as planned. There is no indication at the moment as to why Huawei walked away from the contract, which had been blocked by the USA for three years due to American fears that the technology would be used in Iraq's military installations.

posted by Gary Williams at 3:02 PM | link |

via Astronomy Picture of the Day

Will the universe end with a Big Rip?

Explanation: How will our universe end? Recent speculation now includes a pervasive growing field of mysterious repulsive energy that rips virtually everything apart. Although the universe started with a Big Bang, analysis of recent cosmological measurements allows a possibility that it will end with a Big Rip. As soon as few billion years from now, the controversial scenario holds, dark energy will grow to such a magnitude that our own Galaxy will no longer be able to hold itself together. After that, stars, planets, and then even atoms might not be able to withstand the expansive internal force. Previously, speculation on the ultimate fate of the universe centered on either a re-collapsing Big Crunch or a Big Chill. Although the universe's fate is still a puzzle, piecing it together will likely follow from an increased understanding of the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

(There are a lot of informative links in the above paragraph, as well as an excellent illustration. For that, click here.)

posted by Gary Williams at 2:48 PM | link |

Today's Penny Arcade features a Japanese-syle art form that's truely excellent. Click on the cartoon to see the entire thing.

posted by Gary Williams at 2:00 PM | link |

Joy of Tech
Today's Joy Of Tech

Today's Google monkey bombing of the day

I think Marn started this stuff for me, with her Wangitude gift for her husband's 50th birthday, which I notice meg of Mandarin Design went along with, as well as Jim Turner's Oulipo. I'm not sure what's next, but we're certainly giving Google a workout, 'eh?

posted by Gary Williams at 1:13 PM | link |

via ISS: Security Center: X-Force Alerts and Advisories

Sendmail bug allows root access in Unix servers

The Sendmail remote vulnerability occurs when processing and evaluating
header fields in email collected during an SMTP transaction. Specifically,
when fields are encountered that contain addresses or lists of addresses
(such as the "From" field, "To" field and "CC" field), Sendmail attempts
to semantically evaluate whether the supplied address (or list of addresses)
are valid. This is accomplished using the crackaddr() function, which is
located in the headers.c file in the Sendmail source tree.

A static buffer is used to store data that has been processed. Sendmail
detects when this buffer becomes full and stops adding characters, although
it continues processing. Sendmail implements several security checks to
ensure that characters are parsed correctly. One such security check is
flawed, making it possible for a remote attacker to send an email with a
specially crafted address field that triggers a buffer overflow.

X-Force has demonstrated that this vulnerability is exploitable in real-
world conditions on production Sendmail installations. This vulnerability is
readily exploitable on x86 architecture systems, and may be exploitable on
others as well.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:21 PM | link |

How about spam haiku? Want some?

From Declan McCullagh's Politech

[And let's not forget the delicious --Declan]


From: "Allen Hutchison" <>
To: <>
Subject: New use for spam...
Date: Sat, 1 Mar 2003 14:03:59 -0800


Since you report on Spam so often, I thought you would be interested in my
latest project: SpamKu -- Spam Haiku. Basically, I take my incoming spam and
every 15 minutes generate a haiku from the subject lines for the last couple
of minutes. It's kind of hypnotic.

It's not really a solution to the spam problem, but at least now I feel like
I'm getting something out of the hundreds of Spam messages I receive in a



POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech:
This message is archived at
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Declan McCullagh's photographs are at

posted by Gary Williams at 12:11 PM | link | launched

From Declan McCullagh's Politech


Subject: launch of
Date: Sun, 02 Mar 2003 02:09:19 -0500
Message-ID: <>


I'm the registered owner of, for which I've
received bogus legal threats from cult lawyer Helena K. Kobrin. (She
was claiming trademark infringement, which of course is nonsense.) At
the time she made her initial threats, there was nothing on the site.

Now there is., created by my friends Scott
Pilutik and Kady O'Malley, has just been launched. It's a news blog
and portal for all things related to the Scientology cult. As part of
the launch, there's a poll asking how long readers think it will take
for the next legal threat to arrive. Politch readers are invited to


-- Dave Touretzky

POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech:
This message is archived at
Like Politech? Make a donation here:
Declan McCullagh's photographs are at

posted by Gary Williams at 12:06 PM | link |

A New Frontier in Water Wars Emerges in East

Paul Hosefros/The New York Times
The Potomac River, which divides Virginia and Maryland, is at the center of a dispute over water use. Similar water battles, common in the West, are now under way throughout the East.


REAT FALLS, Md., Feb. 28 — In 1632, King Charles I granted Maryland the right to the Potomac River "from shore to shore." For the most basic of reasons, that is something Virginia, on the Potomac's south bank, is now fighting to overturn.

"The bottom line is that if Maryland can restrict Virginia's ability to withdraw water from the river, Maryland is in control of Virginia's destiny," said Stuart Raphael, a special counsel to Virginia, rehearsing a complaint that is now before the United States Supreme Court.

It is a fight over royal charters, interstate compacts and years of precedent, but mostly it is a fight over water, reflecting growing worries in the region that a commodity is not as bountiful as it once seemed. And up and down the East Coast, its echoes can now be heard.

Such tensions have long been common in the arid West. But their emergence in the East is relatively recent, a product in large part of scares in 1999 and again last summer, when many rivers fell near critical lows, the victims of drought and development. Along rivers like the Savannah, the Pee Dee, the Roanoke, the Chattahoochee and the Potomac, Eastern states are wrangling over a question that suddenly seems to matter very much: Whose water is it?

posted by Gary Williams at 11:28 AM | link |

via Living Code - Biology & information. Corant

"That Which Was To Be Proved"

I know I should have paid more attention to quantum mechanics in college. A recent paper at PNAS Early Addition is titled Stochastic gene expression as a many-body problem . Now, I know stochastic means random but the abstract sheds little light and a lot of worry.

Gene expression has a stochastic component because of the single-molecule nature of the gene and the small number of copies of individual DNA-binding proteins in the cell. We show how the statistics of such systems can be mapped onto quantum many-body problems. The dynamics of a single gene switch resembles the spin-boson model of a two-site polaron or an electron transfer reaction. Networks of switches can be approximately described as quantum spin systems by using an appropriate variational principle. In this way, the concept of frustration for magnetic systems can be taken over into gene networks. The landscape of stable attractors depends on the degree and style of frustration, much as for neural networks. We show the number of attractors, which may represent cell types, is much smaller for appropriately designed weakly frustrated stochastic networks than for randomly connected networks.

This could be really important if I only knew what it meant. I'll have to read the paper, and hope I can follow some of it. But if I have to start learning QED, I may just leave the field.

posted by Gary Williams at 1:47 AM | link |

Sunday, March 02, 2003  

Eat an animal for PETA day

Yourish has a very funny rant and indignant letter here. She also includes the mailing (and emailing) address both for PETA-US and PETA-UK. Tell 'em you're going to celebrate the Ides of March by Eating an animal for PETA. Assuming you're not a vegitarian or vegan, that is.

Oh, since this seems to be the blog-quote spot for the day, I notice that meg at Mandarin Design Oulipo Bus
This illustration is from
apparently caught Marn's plea for Wangitude as a gift for Marn's Spousal Unit's birthday. Wangitude, wangitude, wangitude. Oh, and for meg, Oulipo, oulipo, oulipo.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:56 PM | link |

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