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

Saturday, April 03, 2004  

via snowball.htm

Internet Hoax Of The Week

Fake Cat

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

Friday, April 02, 2004  

via whiskey river
"We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the Complete Works of Shakespeare;
now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true."
- Robert Wilensky

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

Imaginary Comics In An Imaginary Week, In November (More Next Month)

From Warren Ellis' Bad Signal

Date: 04/02/04 07:54:21
Subject: [BAD SIGNAL]November

bad signal

Years ago, I sat down and thought about what adventure comics might've looked like today if superhero comics hadn't have happened. If, in fact, the pulp tradition of Weird Thrillers had jumped straight into comics form without mutating into the superhero subgenre we know today.

And then, a couple of years later, Alan Moore went ahead and did it with the America's Best Comics line.

Years ago, I sat down and wondered what the regular 32-page adventure comics single would look like if you took away preconceptions about design and the dominant single form.

And then, a couple of years later, Dan Jurgens went ahead and did it with the Tangent line at DC.

The other day, I was thinking about response songs. Rappers taking shots at each other, covers that answer something in the original, art made in reaction to art. Which,
you kind of hope, is not the same as being reactionary.

The small music labels 555 Recordings and Dark Beloved Cloud have singles clubs. People play down the importance of singles these days -- they don't sell the way they used
to, downloads bother the music business -- but I love them. Sometimes one song contained on one object is all you need to move the axis of the world. Self-contained and saying all that needs to be said.

Singles and Tangent and ABC all kind of stuck together in my head, and I began conceiving of a response. The Singles Group was the working title -- not permanent, as after a while it starts to sound like a dodgy online adult dating service. An imaginary line of comics singles.

Sitting in that peculiarity of comics distribution, the fifth week. A
couple of times a year, a month has five weeks, but publishers schedule in four-week cycles, so the fifth week is often kind of empty. It's the imaginary week of comics publishing. And that's where you put an imaginary line of comics. A fifth-week event has always been on my list of Things To Do In Comics.

And then someone checked the calendar for me, and showed me that the next available fifth week window is the last week of December. Which is just a deadzone. No-one's got any money. I'd be taking the piss if I put it there.

So the plan changed a little. Five imaginary first issues of imaginary series from an imaginary line of comics released on an imaginary fifth week.

We're going to put it in the middle of November.
More next month.

-- W
Warren Elli' mailing list
sent from Warren's handheld

posted by Gary Williams at 2:13 AM | link |

via Stu Savory's Blog - April 2004

Left Out : Pink Slip Day :-(

Yesterday was pink slip day or blue letter day, as we call it here in Germany, with the SW-house whom I'm currently with now laying off IT-consultants due to insufficient contracts :-(

So. I'm now jobhunting! Any help, contacts, pointers etc. would be appreciated.

I'm looking for a job as a CIO, CTO, IT-consultant, project manager, quality geek (ISO 9000ff), writer, flying instructor, cryptographer, loose cannon or whatever, beginning 1st July 2004. Preferably within an hour's commuting time of Paderborn Germany (i.e. a circle including Dortmund, Bielefeld, Kassel, Winterberg). I'll be grateful for your tips and hints. This is not an April Fools' joke, would that it were, for the economy is crappy and still headed downhill.

I've written a CV (PDF, in German) and put a link to it into the sidebar, under my photo.

Done the same with a bilingual list of my publications too. FWIW: IQ still runs >= 135, OK?

How about a new meme for the blogosphere? Help get Stu a job! (e.g link to the permalink).

Good luck, Stu, as one out-of-work programmer to another...

Of course, I don't have the doctorate or any of your other qualifications, b'hey...

posted by Gary Williams at 1:30 AM | link |

Thursday, April 01, 2004  

via In The Pipeline

Thing I Won't Work WIth (2): Nickel Carbonyl

Synthetic organic chemists rely a lot on inorganic chemistry. We let metals do a lot of work for us, particularly when it's time to do the real arc-welding of carbon-carbon bond formation. I have a pretty typical synthetic background, and over the years I've used palladium, platinum, sodium, iron, copper, rhodium, aluminum, mercury, silver, manganese, lithium, titanium, chromium, cobalt, zinc, ruthenium, vanadium, tin, magnesium, cerium, potassium, and probably a few more that escape me right now. Never sit near a chemist and give him any excuse to rattle off a list of elements.

I've never used elemental nickle metal, but I have broken out some of its salts from time to time. I especially enjoy the vivid green of nickel chloride, whose solutions look for all the world like lime jello. Not that you'd want to substitute that in your favorite recipe: nickle salts are rather toxic, and are suspected carcinogens to boot. But I'd work with them all day long to avoid dealing with another nickel compound, its tetracarbonyl.

That's a complex of nickel with carbon monoxide. CO has a good amount of electron density left on its carbon, and it'll line up on a metal atom, slotting into its electron orbitals and making itself at home. You can find carbonyl complexes of all the transition metals, as far as I know. Many of them are liquids, which is rather disconcerting when you consider their metal heritage.

Nickel carbonyl is a liquid, but it can barely restrain itself from being a gas. It boils at 43 C, so it has a pretty substantial vapor pressure, and that's a real problem. Said vapor, as you'd imagine, is rather weighty. It's not one of your wafting-away-on-the-summer-zephyr sort of vapors; it's more like a sort of ghostly molasses. It's so heavy that you really can't rely on a standard laboratory fume hood to contain it, because that's not the sort of hazard they're built for. Depending on the air flow and the sash, the stuff can just ooze right out the front of the hood and pour out into the lab.

You don't want it there. Breathing it is most unwise, because those CO ligands are not stapled on very well. If they find another metal that appreciates them more, they'll bail out, and an excellent candidate is the iron in your hemoglobin. There go four equivalents of carbon monoxide into your blood cells, and there's only so long you can keep that up. And there's the nickle, too - alone, bereft, with only your proteins to complex to. Wonderful. Recall that the metal is toxic all on its own, and you've now dosed in the most bioavailable manner possible. If you make it through the carbon monoxide spike, you have long-term metal poisoning to deal with.

Even if the vapor doesn't get the chance to wander around poisoning you, it can amuse itself right in your fume hood. If it rolls across a hot surface, of which there are no shortage in most working hoods, then it can explode, leaving behind a vile haze of carcinogenic nickle soot. An exploding toxin with a high vapor pressure - I just don't know what else you could ask for in a laboratory reagent. No doubt it does many interesting and useful reactions. They can save 'em for me, because I'm not that desperate yet.

posted by Gary Williams at 2:45 AM | link |

Wednesday, March 31, 2004  

Law 1001: Never Talk To The FBI Without Your Lawyer

From Declan McCullagh's Politech

From: Declan McCullagh
Date: 03/31/04 01:02:25
Subject: [Politech] Lesson from Martha Stewart: Don't ever talk to the FBI

Guest Commentary : Martha's lesson - don't talk to the FBI
Posted on Saturday, March 20, 2004

Here is the lesson to be learned from the fall of Martha Stewart:

Don't ever, under any circumstances, answer questions put to you by the FBI or any other federal agent unless you have a competent criminal lawyer at your side. And it would be better if it were a very good criminal lawyer. There are other lessons to be drawn from the fate of poor Martha, but that's the main one. You see, there is a section in the federal code, referred to as 1001 by legal eagles, that makes it a crime to lie to a federal agent. The agent doesn't have to put you under oath. If you tell him or her a lie,
you're guilty. The federal officer doesn't even have to tape the conversation. All he or she has to do is produce handwritten notes that indicate that you made false statements. So, if you misspeak or the agent mishears or there is an ambiguity that the agent chooses to interpret in an unfortunate (for you) direction, you're on the hook. There's also the
possibility that you might be tempted to shade the truth a bit when an IRS agent is quizzing you about that business deduction you took for the trip to Vegas. My advice to you is: Don't do it. To be on the safe side, when confronted by a federal agent, don't say anything at all unless your lawyer says you have to.

It's a shame things have come to this. It used to be that people felt it their duty as citizens to cooperate with federal authorities. That was before Law 1001.

We now live in an era of Incredible Shrinking Civil Rights. You have to protect yourself at all times.

Let's look more closely at the case of Poor Martha the Match Girl. What did she do?

She was convicted of lying about the reason she sold her shares in a biotechnology company two years ago. She said she sold them because they had fallen to the price at which she and her broker had agreed to sell.

Politech mailing list
Archived at
Moderated by Declan McCullagh (

posted by Gary Williams at 3:15 PM | link |


Dark Matter 'Highway' Runs by Earth

An astrophysicist suggests invisible and mysterious dark matter from another galaxy showers Earth regularly, zipping through your house, right through Earth even, and providing a possible path for detecting what scientists say makes 90 percent of the material in the universe.

The stuff, dubbed dark matter, has never been identified, but astronomers say it must exist because of how gravity works at the galactic level. Taking into account only regular matter, galaxies should fly apart.

Heidi Newberg at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and her colleagues considered the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy, which is being ripped asunder and consumed by our Milky Way. Sagittarius' entrails, running through our galaxy like ribbons, are made of stars, gas, dust and, the researchers suggest, dark matter too. One tail of the debris appears to run right through our solar system.

"As the Milky Way consumes Sagittarius, it not only rips the stars from the smaller galaxy, but also tears away some of the dark-matter particles from that galaxy. We may be able to directly observe that in the form of a dark-matter highway streaming in one direction through the Earth," Newberg said.

The idea was presented in the March 19 issue of Physical Review Letters.

A remaining and somewhat thorny problem: Scientists still don't know what form the dark matter takes nor exactly how to find it. They assume it involves particles of some sort, however, and detection systems have been set up to detect interactions of the particles with regular matter. One candidate particle is called the WIMP, or Weakly Interacting Massive Particle. Several may have streamed through your body as you read this brief article.

Newberg's team suggests revised calculations to allow for the extra, extragalactic WIMPS might help dark matter hunters spot the signatures of their quarry.

posted by Gary Williams at 3:14 PM | link |

Tuesday, March 30, 2004  

via Mr. Useless

A Weekend For Pictures

Color picture

I've been putting-off updating this thing these last couple of days. I think about writing, about any number of things—none of which seem worth the bother of typing. So I've been killing time playing computer pinball, waiting for the writing urge to attain critical mass, thinking 'this is more boring than writing, I'll quit after this game...well, one more...'

And yesterday I fooled around with my PictureIt! 2001 software, doing this sort of thing:

"Um...yeah. That's just...that is really...something..."

posted by Gary Williams at 12:47 PM | link |

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