I saw the coolest thing I've seen since realizing that Mozilla was embedding a wsdl-enabled SOAP client into this browser... Google Suggest returns suggested results as you type... This is technically amazing on about at least two different levels:
1. How fast this is... I type pretty fast, and it updates with every single keypress...
Computer users of the world have united behind Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessigâ??and what they're doing is much more important than his critics realize.
By Dan Hunter AT SWARTHMORE COLLEGE, the crowd is mostly students, and maybe a few professors and interested outsiders. It's a typical turnout for a public lecture by a well-known law professor. But there is something different and a little odd about this group. Swarthmore doesn't have a law school, so the audience includes no young men in suits that still have the label attached, and no young women with high-heeled shoes so new the soles aren't scuffed. And there is something else, something funny about the T-shirts. Everywhere you look, there are T-shirts with slogans, not logos. No 'Tommy Hilfiger' and 'Ralph Lauren' here. Just shirts with references too obscure to parse. What is 'Downhill Battle'? Or 'Grey Tuesday'? One kid has a shirt with the picture of a skull and crossbones on it, and written boldly across it are the words 'Home Taping is Killing the Music Industry.' Look closer, and you'll see, in tiny type, '(And it's fun).'
A couple of students get up to introduce the speaker. They're nervous, disorganized, and rambling. Now you notice the handmade signs: 'Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons' is taped to the lectern, and 'Free Culture' is written on the wall. It starts to become clear. This isn't just a lecture; it's a political rally. People start to shuffle; the students are losing their audience as the garbled introductions continue. But when the speaker gets up to start, the shuffling ends and there is a ripple of excitement. He is Lawrence Lessig, the Stanford law professor, known to this crowd as Larry. Dressed in black and wearing a pair of spectacles that could have been handed down by Ben Franklin, he waits until the crowd settles. And finally, you get it. Outside, lightning is cracking, but the smell in the air is not the ozone from the thunderstorm. It's the smell of revolution.
The Gibson SG guitar that was used by The Beatles in the recording of 'Revolver' and 'The White Album' has been sold at auction for £294,000 in New York.
The rock and entertainment auction held at Christie's raised over ¤1.1 million in total reports the BBC.
One of the 70 items of Beatles memorabilia up for grabs were never-before-heard original tapes of an interview of Lennon by a reporter for the Washington Star newspaper from 1975.
Other lots in the auction included a school book reports by Britney Spears that went for £1000 and a letter from Kurt Cobain to Courtney Love that sold for a massive £10,000.
A Christie's spokesman said: 'There was interest across all sectors from early Hollywood all the way through to Britney Spears' book report.'
posted by Gary Williams at 11:54 AM
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via Scotsman.com Sport
Deal with Red Bull gives Coulthard wings
DAVID COULTHARD will contest the 2005 Formula One season after signing a one-year deal with Red Bull Racing.
However, the 33-year-old Scot will have to work for his salary after agreeing a performance-related pay package.
Though the Twynholm-born driver, disappointedly dumped by McLaren after nine years at the end of this season, chose not to comment on the financial agreement, it’s understood Coulthard has agreed a £2 million standard wage supplemented by £100,000 per point scored during the 2005 campaign.
In addition there will be further incentives for podium finishes and should the Scot collect the first grand prix victory for Red Bull Racing he will receive a bumper payday.
Coulthard, though, will be hoping to improve on the seven points Aussie Mark Webber scored for Jaguar Racing, the team sold by parent company Ford to Red Bull, during 2004.
DC’s 12-month contract was signed in Austria yesterday and witnessed by Red Bull’s reclusive owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
Drinking egg nog and listening to Brian Setzer's Orchestra play a big band version of the Nutcracker Suite is a great way to read articles. I'm reading one from the latest Nature, Genome sequence of Silicibacter pomeroyi reveals adaptations to the marine environment.
You'd think that another genomic sequence to add to the databases would not be very interesting. But it turns out that Life continues to have surprises for us. This particular bacteria, one that few have heard of, belongs to a family that may represent 15% of all marine bacterial life. Understanding it will substantially increase our understanding of the marine ecosystem.
More medical humor: Notes from actual patient medical records, sent to me by one of my colleagues.
1. The patient refused autopsy.
2. The patient has no previous history of suicides.
3. Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.
4. Patient's medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.
5. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.
6. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
7. On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.
8. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
9. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.
10. Discharge status: Alive but without my permission.
11. Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert but forgetful.
12. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
13. She is numb from her toes down.
14. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.
15. The skin was moist and dry.
16. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.
17. Patient was alert and unresponsive.
18. Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.
19. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.
20. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.
21. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.
22. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.
23. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
24. Skin: somewhat pale but present.
25. The pelvic exam will be done later on this floor.
26. Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.
27. Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.
AP: 'The year 2004, punctuated by four powerful hurricanes in the Caribbean and deadly typhoons lashing Asia, was the fourth-hottest on record, extending a trend since 1990 that has registered the 10 warmest years, a U.N. weather agency said Wednesday.
'The current year was also the most expensive for the insurance industry in coping worldwide with hurricanes, typhoons and other weather-related natural disasters, according to new figures released by U.N. environmental officials.'
posted by Gary Williams at 1:47 AM
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Nothing works more in a thief's favor than people feeling secure. That's why places that are heavily alarmed and guarded can sometimes be the easiest targets. The single most important factor in security -- more than locks, alarms, sensors, or armed guards -- is attitude. A building protected by nothing more than a cheap combination lock but inhabited by people who are alert and risk-aware is much safer than one with the world's most sophisticated alarm system whose tenants assume they're living in an impregnable fortress.
Some physicists believe string theory
may unify the forces of nature
by Brian Greene
The fundamental particles of the universe that physicists have identified—electrons, neutrinos, quarks, and so on—are the "letters" of all matter. Just like their linguistic counterparts, they appear to have no further internal substructure. String theory proclaims otherwise. According to string theory, if we could examine these particles with even greater precision—a precision many orders of magnitude beyond our present technological capacity—we would find that each is not pointlike but instead consists of a tiny, one-dimensional loop. Like an infinitely thin rubber band, each particle contains a vibrating, oscillating, dancing filament that physicists have named a string.
In the figure at right, we illustrate this essential idea of string theory by starting with an ordinary piece of matter, an apple, and repeatedly magnifying its structure to reveal its ingredients on ever smaller scales. String theory adds the new microscopic layer of a vibrating loop to the previously known progression from atoms through protons, neutrons, electrons, and quarks.
Although it is by no means obvious, this simple replacement of point-particle material constituents with strings resolves the incompatibility between quantum mechanics and general relativity (which, as currently formulated, cannot both be right). String theory thereby unravels the central Gordian knot of contemporary theoretical physics. This is a tremendous achievement, but it is only part of the reason string theory has generated such excitement.
UN European HQ May Be Full of Bugs - Security Source
Fri Dec 17, 2004 11:14 AM ET
By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA (Reuters) - The U.N.'s European headquarters is probably riddled with listening devices, a United Nations security source said on Friday, a day after the organization disclosed it had found a secret microphone in a meeting room.
'It's like Swiss cheese,' the security source told Reuters.
'If we had the technical means and staff for thorough searches, I'm certain we would find one microphone after another. The United Nations in New York and Vienna are the same,' said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Marie Heuze, chief U.N. spokeswoman in Geneva, on Thursday confirmed a report by Swiss television TSR which said workmen had found a sophisticated bugging device during recent renovation of a room called the Salon Francais at the Palais des Nations.
But an internal inquiry has not established who planted the bugging device or when, she said.
'It is disgusting ... something should be done to stop such kind of activities,' said China's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Sha Zukang.
Swiss television TSR said the device was found behind wooden panels in the elegant Salon Francais, used by ministers from major powers in September 2003 during private talks on Iraq following the U.S. invasion and occupation.
JEDDAH, 16 December 2004 — The sacrificial sheep coupon, which is part of the Project for the Utilization of Sacrificial Animals During Haj managed by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), will cost SR75 more this year than last. This year’s coupon, available at Al-Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp., will cost SR450 compared to SR375 last year.
Dr. Ahmad Ali, president of the IDB, emphasized that the bank made every effort to keep the price down but that the increase reflected market conditions. As for camels, the market is open and pilgrims can negotiate a price including all services from slaughter to transport.
Stressing the significance of the project, the bank president said that the government was always eager to provide the best facilities to pilgrims so that they could perform their rituals comfortably and securely.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Zafi.D worm, which disguises itself as an e-mail holiday greeting, is currently the most frequently detected worldwide virus, software security company Panda Software said this week.
The worm is most commonly found in South America, Italy, Spain, Bulgaria and Hungary and spreads itself in an e-mail attachment that says 'Happy holidays!'
Mount St. Helens, Washington.
Mount St. Helens' new lava dome from the south, from November 12, 2004.
The recent 'extraordinary' behaviour of one of the world's most notorious volcanoes, Mount St Helens in the US, may mean it is preparing for a dramatic eruption, geologists warned on Tuesday.
In late September 2004, a series of earthquakes signalled that the volcano was awakening. Since then, enough lava has oozed into the volcano's crater to build a dome the size of an aircraft carrier. The new dome, standing 275 metres off the crater floor at its highest point, is now taller than a nearby dome built by a previous set of eruptions over the course of six years.
'Something extraordinary is happening at Mount St Helens. We are scratching our heads about it,' says Dan Dzurisin of US Geological Survey's Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) in Vancouver, Washington, US. The new dome has grown so quickly - almost four cubic metres every second - that it has bulldozed a 180-metres-thick glacier out of its way.
If this rapid growth rate continues, there is a growing risk of a dome collapse which could trigger a major eruption, researchers warned at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.
'Over the next few days, Osama bin Laden will die of kidney disease. Saddam Hussein will be shot to death. Fidel Castro will die. A live dinosaur thousands of years old will be captured. The Hoover Dam will collapse. And Rosie O'Donnell will adopt Siamese twin girls.
'That's what the world's best psychics predicted for 2004. And with the year drawing to a close, the news is going to have to get pretty intense over the next few days if those forecasts are going to come true, according to Gene Emery, a contributor to Skeptical Inquirer magazine, who has been tracking tabloid forecasts for 26 years.'
Sherlock Holmes stories have been a part of radio programming since 1930. There are some 600 broadcasts listed on this site, and the list is by no means complete, as we have not yet included non-English adaptations.
Perry de Havilland (London)
Self defence & security • UK affairs
A culture of bacteria, a gaggle of geese, a confusion of monkeys, a conspiracy of lawyers, an army of caterpillars, a parliament of owls... and an absurdity of lawmakers.
In response to rising violent crime in Britain, our political masters have proposed outlawing the sale of knives to people under 18. I assume that will swiftly be followed by laws requiring all unattended kitchens within every house in Britain containing a person less than 18 years of age be securely locked to prevent access to...
posted by Gary Williams at 12:00 AM
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According to TWIC, Iceland has granted Bobby Fischer a residency permit. This could pave the way for Japan sending Fischer to the site of his conquest of the world title in 1972. Having him on a fairly remote island seems like a good idea. In my opinion the US will be delighted to let Fischer go to Iceland and out of the news. I don't expect anything more than pro forma comments from the US, if that.
There are those, especially Fischer himself, that feel he has been the subject of a long-standing manhunt, so now we'll find out. (The US could put up a fight in countless ways if they were really after him.) In October Fischer wrote a typically deranged letter to Iceland's embassador in Japan. He then complained that Iceland had abandoned him. Icelandic psychiatrists are licking their chops.
Former US co-champ Stuart Rachels recent wrote to
New In Chess
magazine to diagnose Fischer as a paranoid schizophrenic from afar. I've long held that view, but of course it's just a casual opinion. Such cases are often difficult to diagnose even after close examination. It's doubtful anyone will get close enough to Fischer to ever know.
posted by Gary Williams at 11:30 PM
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via Defense Tech
MISSILE DEFENSE BOOSTER FAILS TO RISE TO THE OCCASSION
The Missile Defense Agency's Integrated Flight Test (IFT)-13C was aborted 'after the interceptor missile experienced an anomaly shortly before it was to be launched.' The target, perhaps representing a North Korean ICBM hurtling toward a U.S. city, performed flawlessly.
Let's be clear: This test was a big deal. Thomas Christie, the Pentagon' Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, told Congress in February that the test would be 'significant exercise of the Test Bed infrastructure' and would address 'a long-standing concern over target presentation that has not yet been tested.'
Update: Due to popular demand here is an updated version of the figure that was originally made in 1998. Apologies for my lack of photoshop skills.
In a departure from normal practice on this site, this post is a commentary on a piece of out-and-out fiction (unlike most of the other posts which deal with a more subtle kind). Michael Crichton’s new novel “State of Fear” is about a self-important NGO hyping the science of the global warming to further the ends of evil eco-terrorists. The inevitable conclusion of the book is that global warming is a non-problem. A lesson for our times maybe? Unfortunately, I think not.
Like the recent movie “The Day After Tomorrow", the novel addresses real scientific issues and controversies, but is similarly selective (and occasionally mistaken) about the basic science. I will discuss a selection of the global warming-related issues that are raised in between the car chases, shoot-outs, cannibalistic rites and assorted derring-do. The champion of Crichton’s scientific view is a MIT academic-turned-undercover operative who clearly runs intellectual rings around other characters. The issues are raised as conversations and Q and A sessions between him (and other ‘good guys’) and two characters; an actor (not a very clever chap) and a lawyer (a previously duped innocent), neither of whom know much about the science.
So for actors and lawyers everywhere, I will try and help out.
The issues Crichton raises are familiar to those of us in the field, and come up often in discussions. Some are real and well appreciated while some are red herrings and are used to confuse rather than enlighten.
Singer George Michael has written to a British celebrity magazine to rebuke Elton John for making unflattering comments about his personal life.
In an open letter to Heat magazine, released today, Michael accused John of spreading unsubstantiated gossip picked up on the 'gay grapevine.'
In comments published last month, John, 57, told Heat that 'George is in a strange place. There seems to be a deep-rooted unhappiness in his life and it shows on the (latest) album. All I would say to George is: you should get out more.'
In the letter, Michael, whose latest album, Patience, topped the British charts, said he had 'rarely been as happy and confident as I am today, thanks to my partner Kenny (Goss) and the continued support of my fans.'
CHIDANAND RAJGHATTA TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2004 01:01:12 AM ]
WASHINGTON: The American medical research community has sounded a heavy metal warning against ayurvedic cures. Herbal products from the Indian system of medicine sold in the US contain dangerous levels of lead, mercury and arsenic, researchers have cautioned.
In a study published in the latest issue of the prestigious Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers from the Harvard Medical School reported that Herbal Medical Products (HMPs) sold as remedies for treatment of ailments such as arthritis and diabetes contained toxic levels high enough to cause poisoning.
'Users of Ayurvedic medicine may be at risk for heavy metal toxicity, and testing of ayurvedic HMPs for toxic heavy metals should be mandatory,' the study by Dr Robert Saper and his colleagues of warned.
The research team scoured outlets selling Ayurvedic remedies within 20 miles of Boston, including American vendors and Indian grocery stores, and bought 70 HMPs. Fourteen of the 70 contained heavy metals, they said.
GAINESVILLE, FL (AP) -- A man has been charged with animal cruelty for allegedly biting his Jack Russell terrier as punishment, and police say he used a 200-pound bull mastiff in an attempt to keep back officers who arrived to arrest him.
My friend Susan at Easy Bake Oven pointed to the Buy Blue site, which lets you know if the store your hitting for Christmas was a Red site or a Blue one (or you can just click the image above to go there...). Do you know how Sears or Starbucks spent their political money this year?
posted by Gary Williams at 1:47 PM
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Evicted ... a red-tailed hawk, known as Pale Male (right) watches as his mate Lola lands on their nest on the cornice of a Fifth Avenue apartment building in New York. The nest was abruptly removed from its site last week after complaints from building residents about falling debris.
The agreement with the Audubon Society centred on a strategy to allow the famous hawks, Pale Male and Lola, to rebuild their nest in the spot they were evicted from.
Steel spikes will be erected on top of the hawks' 12th-floor cornice. The spikes are meant to duplicate those that had previously discouraged pigeons, but acted as anchors for the hawks' nest until they were removed. Audubon officials agreed to a plan by the co-op's architect to surround the spikes with some form of protective rail that would prevent the sticks and small branches used for nest building from falling to the pavement.
Co-op officials said they had removed the nest after some residents complained about the carcasses of partly devoured pigeons that the hawks dropped onto the pavement.
On February 19th in Chicago, Illinois, a concert series titled 'Dear Friends' will kick off a U.S. tour. The music? Music from the Final Fantasy series performed by orchestra. From the press release: 'The first FINAL FANTASY concert in the U.S. brought fans from far and wide together in Los Angeles to share in an unforgettable musical experience,' said Ichiro Otobe, president and COO of Square Enix, Inc. 'We are pleased to announce that, due to the overwhelmingly positive response, a North American tour will soon bring the emotionally moving and powerful scores to fans across the country.' This is personally very exciting for me. See you there!
posted by Gary Williams at 9:33 AM
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ISN SECURITY WATCH (15/12/04) - A multi-million dollar US missile defense flight test failed today when the interceptor missile did not take off and the system was shut down, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency officials told reporters. The failed flight test was to take place over the Pacific Ocean, and the target missile was successfully launched from Alaska, but was not intercepted over the Pacific. An “anomaly” of unknown origin caused the interceptor to shut down automatically in its silo at the Kwajalein Test Range in the Marshall Islands, Richard Lehner, a spokesman for the missile agency told reporters. The test had already been delayed four times, for a number of reasons, including bad weather. The failed test cost US$85 million and means another major setback for a missile defense shield designed to thwart long-range ballistic missiles. US President George Bush pledged to have part of the project in force by the end of this year, and is expected to declare it operational despite the lack of testing. According to Pentagon officials, the missile defense agency has five successful tests, with interceptions of target missiles five out of eight times. But that was two years ago, and experts have since questioned the systems’ capabilities amid recent failures and frequent delays of further testing. “This is a serious setback for a program that had not attempted a flight intercept test for two years," Philip Coyle, the Pentagon's chief weapons tester under late President Ronald Reagan, told Reuters news agency in an e-mail exchange. The system is a more modest version of Reagan’s “Star Wars” missile shield project from 1983.
posted by Gary Williams at 7:46 AM
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via Sky Showbiz
Anna 'Weds' Crooner Enrique
Enrique And Anna
Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova has secretly married singer boyfriend Enrique Iglesias, Us Weekly magazine has reported.
It claims Kournikova, 23, was spotted wearing a wedding band on her ring finger at a charity tennis event in Florida.
'Enrique is great. Everything is awesome. We are married,' Us reported her telling pals.
Kournikova and the 29-year-old Latin crooner, 29, met when she appeared playing his girlfriend in the 2002 music video for his hit 'Escape'.
The pair declined to confirm the reports but the mag said they wed on the beach in the Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta a few weeks ago.
Kournikova's publicist said "We never comment on her personal life."
But a source said: "It was a very small and secret wedding -- only family and a few very close friends were invited."
posted by Gary Williams at 7:21 AM
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via Free eBooks & MP3s
Ong's Hat: The Beginning
'You have been searching for us without knowing it, following oblique references in crudely xeroxed marginal 'samsidat' publications, crackpot mystical pamphlets, mail order courses ... a paper trail and a coded series of rumors spread at street level ... and the propagation of certain acts of insurrection against the Planetary Work Machine and the Consensus Reality ... or perhaps through various obscure mimeographed technical papers on the edges of 'chaos science' ... through pirate computer networks ... or even through pure synchronicity and the pursuit of dreams. In any case we know something about you, your interests, deeds and desires, works and days ... and we know your address. Otherwise...you would not be reading this...'
posted by Gary Williams at 4:28 AM
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via riley dog..half-baked cookies in the oven..fruitcakes on the street..
Confessions of a Lover Spurned
You'll be reading what's hot. You'll be able to buy the T-shirt, see the movie, join the debate. But when the days get short and the wind blows chill, you're going to be just as stupid as you were before you read all those splendid escapist best sellers. And you?re going to turn to the other fat, naked sheep in the corral and trade diet tips: "It's simple, you just believe in yourself and eat protein. It's simple, you just believe in yourself and eat fat. Gosh it's cold out here. Didn't we have wool once?"
:: Books are sluts. Books are whores.
The University of Adelaide in Australia is holding a conference "to discuss the latest advances in T-ray technology"--T is for TeraHertz (THz). THz radiation falls between the microwave and optical regions on the electromagnetic spectrum.
AFP and the Australian AP have basic summaries of the technology coming out of the conference Down Under. THz technology has been in the news a lot lately, after a team from Rice University--my buddy Hadi's alma mater--accidentally discovered that metal wire can efficiently transport terahertz pulses, perhaps enlarging potential applications to include spectroscopy.
The overall interest in THz tech, however, is no accident. Noah blogged about a DARPA "crash research program to build a radar-esque sensor for spotting biotoxins" in January 2003, shortly after writing an article on spectral sensing for Tech Central Station.
THz rays can penetrate plastics, clothing, cardboard and semiconductors, permitting non-invasive imaging to improve security at places like sea- and airports. Think X-Ray vision, but for real. The technology was named one of the top ten innovations for the war on terror, by Gizmo.com.
posted by Gary Williams at 11:06 PM
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via Defense Tech
ROCKY SPYSAT INVESTIGATION
Republicans Threaten Sen. Rockeffeller's Intel Committee Post
The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports that 'U.S. intelligence officials are likely to seek a criminal investigation into disclosures about a top-secret and increasingly expensive spy-satellite program that several lawmakers have sought unsuccessfully to kill.'
(PHOTO AT RIGHT: It's in there somewhere! STS-36 Launches with MISTY 1.)
The probe will focus on leaks that appeared in the Washington Post and New York Times. Rockefeller's office said his statement 'was fully vetted and approved by security officials', but some Bush Administration officials also indicated that 'discussions were under way about whether to ask Senate Republicans to consider removing Messrs. Rockefeller and Wyden from the committee.'
The investigation would center on reports in 'some other news stories [that] alleged that there are shortcomings in the program, such as that it is useful only in daylight and in good weather,' the Journal reported. 'Such details, while sketchy, suggest that people with knowledge of the program may have shared information on it.' The allegation appears at the beginning of the New York Times story, which noted the satellite 'still would take photographs only in daylight and in clear weather, current and former government officials say.' That, to me, sounds like a government official with a high school physics education.
By Kieren McCarthy
Published Tuesday 14th December 2004 16:44 GMT
Out with the old, and in with the new. With the new year fast approaching, it seems timely to review the huge changes that have overtaken society thanks to a decade of widespread internet use. And who else is best placed to deliver such an far-reaching overview than Google itself?
Words are added to and taken out of the dictionary every year, but Google Labs' latest innovation can tell you what the most important words online are. Thanks to its new suggest service, and inputting just the first letter to see what Google believes is the most likely thing you are going to type in, we can now give you the modern world's A to Z. This is it:
This debate is landmined with Phony Fun Facts. One notorious scare tactic is to note that when Social Security began, there were 42 workers for each retiree. Now, there are three workers per retiree. And in 25 years, there will be only two. Ergo, we're doomed. Actually, at the 'frightening' current rate of three workers per retiree, the system is producing a surplus and being skimmed to finance the rest of the federal budget. Alas, Al Gore's famous 'lockbox' got lost along with a lot of hanging chads in Florida.
Q: Can we at least agree that we have a problem? A: No.
The argument in favor of 'no' has two parts. One involves the incredible shrinking doom date. As Kevin Drum of Washington Monthly points out, the Social Security trustees, always operating on a properly gloomy forecast, have been predicting disaster for the system for years, but the projected point at which it will go bust keeps moving.
In 1994, the system was supposed to go bust in 2029, a mere 35 years from the date of prediction. Now, it's supposed to go bust in 2042, 38 years down the road.
As the first pseudo-event of the second term, this gabfest is meant to give President Bush a chance to show his more deliberative, bipartisan and intellectual side - to really let his inner Cornel West out for a spree. Your role as a symposiast is to give the president something to nod thoughtfully about.
Second, it's important to understand that this week's summit (unofficial title: Why President Bush Is Right About Everything) may not feature the widest possible range of views. This is true of all presidential policy summits. That's in part because the staff members who organize these things are rightfully terrified that something newsworthy might happen, and have taken precautions.
But it's also because policy johnnies are incapable of intelligent thought in the presence of all that power. Something hormonal happens to them, and they start slobbering, preening and jibbering like Vegas crazies in the presence of Engelbert Humperdinck. They're supposed to be talking payroll tax reform, but soon everybody's underwear is flying onstage in a desperate bid for alpha-male attention.
Third, you have to remember that Republicans have a different relationship to ideas than Democrats. When Democrats open their mouths, they try to say something interesting. If the true thing is obvious and boring, the liberal person will go off and say something original, even if it is completely idiotic. This is how deconstructionism got started.
Republicans are less concerned with displaying their own cleverness. When they actually stumble upon an idea, they are so delighted they regurgitate it over and over again. Where others might favor elaboration, Republicans favor repetition.
Fourth, when addressing a Republican crowd, especially one including President Bush, three Henry James references per presentation are more than sufficient. Actually, it's better to quote down. Instead of citing a great intellectual, it's better to cite a wise but ordinary person with a poignant, uplifting life story (in Washington jargon, a W.B.O.P.W.A.P.U.L.S.).
Birds' Nest Will Be Saved, if Co-op Architect Says Yes
By THOMAS J. LUECK Published: December 14, 2004
A baronial Fifth Avenue co-op building at the center of an uproar over its destruction of a red-tailed hawks' nest last week agreed yesterday to try to help the hawks rebuild in the same spot overlooking Central Park - if an architect approves.
'We had a very constructive meeting,' said John Flicker, president of the National Audubon Society, who, along with three Audubon colleagues and city and state officials, met for 90 minutes with the president of the co-op's board, its management agent and a building engineer.
Mary Tyler Moore, after meeting
'It's a much better situation today than it was yesterday,' said Mary Tyler Moore, a resident of the co-op, at 927 Fifth Avenue, who has joined bird lovers and naturalists from across the nation in protesting the hawks' eviction.
Still, the negotiations yesterday, part of which took place on the roof of the 74th Street co-op as the most famous of the Fifth Avenue hawks, Pale Male, circled overhead, provided only a first step toward ending a conflict that some say requires speedy resolution.
Aurora the Canine never lies, has a vocabulary that I would estimate at one hundred words which is shaded by meaning that would total some one thousand distinct intentional communications. And that's just between her and I. When I imagine the alien-to-us sensory complexity that she uses to talk to other dogs, and all other multi-sensible species as well; well, it's mind boggling.
Prairie Dogs Have Own Language
What I am saying is that by making ourselves the masters of creationist abstaction we may have permantly removed ourselves from immersion. This loss is affective at the most basic cognitive levels, so we have pride in particular accomplishments yet inescapable despondency concerning our condition.
justin007 sez: "Found this link to an 8-bit band out of Tokyo that uses a Famicom (8-Bit Nintendo) to create some very cool tunes. The next evolution of Shibuya-Kei. Click on the links to listen to their MP3's."
You can listen to one of their pieces (I'd call it chipped-rap) by clicking here:
Best Sign that the Legal System Just Might Work:
The RIAA Lost Every Lawsuit in 2004
10:40 AM - Monday, December 6 2004 ~Mobile PC
Lots of stories get written when the Recording Industry Association of America sues people, but not much gets written about the aftermath of those suits.
There should be: In the last 12 months, the RIAA lost a landmark suit against Grokster (essentially legalizing peer-to-peer software), lost a suit to Verizon (holding that it did not have to provide names of its subscribers who the RIAA wanted to sue), and has yet to actually win against any of the thousands of individuals it has sued in court (some of the cases have been settled out of court, most are still pending). Suddenly, the RIAA isn’t looking so much as devastating as it does merely pathetic.
Still, while the RIAA is no longer the legal darling that successfully shut down Napster, it’s done an enormous amount of damage to the technology world (not to mention basic freedom) since it launched this crusade, and the group is far from finished. But here’s hoping some intelligent judges, tech-savvy lawmakers, and an activist public will continue to fight the power in 2005. -Christopher Null
posted by Gary Williams at 11:42 PM
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via //CELESTIAL OFFERINGS\\
Doctors' Duck Hunting...
A group of doctors go duck hunting for the first time. The family practitioner looks through the site, aims, and says, 'Well, I think there is something out there, but I better get another opinion.'
The internist takes the rifle, looks, and says, 'I see something that is flying, but I'm not sure what it is. I better make a referral.'
The neurologist takes the rifle, looks, and says, 'Hmmmm, It may be ducks, but to be sure, I better get some tests'.
The psychiatrist then looks thru the rifle and says, 'Vell, zay look like ducks, zay act like ducks, but I don't know if zay zink zay are ducks. I zink I better get a consult'.
The surgeon picks up the rifle, points and fires all over the sky. 'Blam, blam, blam, blam, blam'!
All sorts of things fall from the sky and land at his feet. The surgeon points to them and says to the pathologist, 'Make sure they're ducks'! "
posted by Gary Williams at 11:06 PM
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"Best Webcomics Of 2004"
I don't know who these guys are, and I've never heard of most of these comics, but it's that time of year, and some of them look to be worth looking at, so click here...(or on the title picture at left...)
posted by Gary Williams at 10:02 PM
| link | via Astronomy Picture of the Day
Announcing Comet Machholz
Explanation: A comet discovered only this summer is brightening quickly and already visible to the unaided eye. Comet C/2004 Q2 (Machholz) is currently best visible in Earth's Southern Hemisphere where some observers report it brighter than magnitude 5. The comet is moving rapidly to northern skies and should continue to brighten until early January. By coincidence, Comet Machholz will be easy to view as it will be nearly opposite the Sun when appearing its brightest. How bright Comet Machholz will become then remains uncertain, but it will surely stay in northern skies for much of 2005, even approaching Polaris in early March. Pictured at left, Comet Machholz was captured in early December already sporting a bright surrounding coma, a white oblong dust tail fading off left, and a long wispy ion tail toward the bottom with a kink near the end.
posted by Gary Williams at 5:29 PM
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via Michael Paulus
Cartoons' Skeletal Systems
26 images in this album
A character study of 22 present and past cartoon characters.
Animation was the format of choice for children's television in the 1960s, a decade in which children's programming became almost entirely animated. Growing up in that period, I tended to take for granted the distortions and strange bodies of these entities.
I decided to take a select few of these popular characters and render their skeletal systems as I imagine they might resemble if one truly had eye sockets half the size of its head, or fingerless-hands, or feet comprising 60% of its body mass.
Each character resides on a translucent, hinged panel. When the panel is lifted the character’s skeletal structure is revealed giving each a certain validity and glimpse into its origins. Each panel is hand-drawn with archival ink and covered with an acrylic/acetate transparency.
posted by Gary Williams at 3:40 PM
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via Bad Signal
Warren Ellis's Year In Comics
Working till 5am, up at 1pm, unable
to see until 2pm...
I watched the first HOUSE episode --
same structure as the 4th. I'll
catch the 5th, but if it's the same
goddamn structure again, forget it.
Hugh Laurie isn't going to bring me
back to somethiing that's the same
bastard story each week.
People are starting to talk about
the year gone by in comics, and
are coming to the same conclusion
-- it's been really fucking boring.
I imagine the perspective is slightly
different if you only follow the
manga, or don't feel compelled to
go to the comics store every week.
Or if you only read superhero
comics, as the year seems to have
been flush with big superhero
projects like IDENTITY ARSERAPE
FUNNIES, ULTIMATES 2, THE NEW
FRONTIER and the like. When the
cry of the end of diversity comes
from people sitting on a stack of
Before the end of the year, I
might try to pull together my own
thoughts. Been a weird year. This
time last year, I wasn't sure which
way to go. I'd proved (to myself,
as much as anything) that I could
make a good living doing nothing
but original creator-owned work.
It all sold at TRANSMET levels or
better, which suited me fine.
Didn't have the strength or
inclination for longform work. Had
sold the novel. Things were quiet.
This year, in dramatic contrast,
has been mad. Sold GLOBAL
FREQUENCY to TV, saw the pilot
being shot -- and, frankly, that
was enough for me all on its own.
Miller and Bendis screamed help,
and I took over ULT. FF, and then
was given the opportunity to
meet new artists through Marvel.
Sold a manga, sold another TV
option. Started talking to Ben
Templesmith, which has led to my
planning another long(ish)-form
serial. Don't have a lot left to prove
to myself in comics -- which I know
strikes some people as arrogant,
but I've achieved a lot of what I
set out to do, and feel free to do
whatever strikes me as interesting
to do now, including work-for-hire,
which puts me back in the thousand
stores that don't order my other
Getting dark. Back to work.
Sent from mobile device
probably from the pub
After the 1959 revolution, Cuba made it a priority to find new ways to care for a poor population; part of the solution was training doctors and researchers. Cuba currently exports thousands of doctors to impoverished countries and caters to an influx of 'health tourists,' mostly rich Africans and Latin Americans seeking cheap, high-quality care.
In 1981, half a dozen Cuban scientists went to Finland to learn to synthesize the virus-fighting protein interferon. Castro sent them with money for a shopping spree. They brought back a lab's worth of equipment and took over a white stucco guesthouse in the Havana suburbs; a decade later, Cuba was the pharmacy of the Soviet bloc and third world. Most trade took the form of barter, and development experts estimate that by the early '90s the business was worth more than $700 million a year.
'And then, almost from a Monday to a Tuesday,' says Carlos Borroto, vice director of the Cuban Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (known as CIGB in Spanish), 'the Soviet Union collapsed.' Cuba lost all its credit, 80 percent of its foreign trade, and a third of its food imports.
Faced with economic calamity, Castro did something remarkable: He poured hundreds of millions of dollars into pharmaceuticals. No one knows how - Cuba's economy, with its secrecy and centralized structure, defies market analysis. One beneficiary was Concepcion Campa Huergo, president and director general of the Finlay Institute, a vaccine lab in Havana. She developed the world's first meningitis B vaccine, testing it by injecting herself and her children before giving it to volunteers. 'I remember one day telling Fidel that we needed a new ultracentrifuge, which costs about $70,000,' Campa says. 'After five minutes of listening he said, 'No. You'll need 10.''
Campa and her colleagues still have to scrimp and scrounge. Labs are filled with gear from Europe, Japan, and Brazil. The occasional device from the US has traveled the 'long way around' - through so many middlemen (and markups) that it may well have circled the globe. Scientists develop their own reagents, enzymes, tissue cultures, and virus lines. Each institute has its own production facility and conducts clinical trials through the state-run hospital system.
Chipmunks roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost ripping up your nose.
Yuletide carolers being thrown in the fire,
And folks dressed up like buffaloes.
Everybody knows a turkey slaughtered in the snow,
Helps to make the season right.
Tiny tots with their eyes all gouged out,
Will find it hard to see tonight.
They know that Santa's on his way,
He's loaded lots of guns and bullets on his sleigh.
And every mother's child is sure to spy,
To see if reindeer really scream when they die.
And so I'm offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety two.
Although it's been said many times, many ways,