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

Saturday, March 12, 2005  

via whiskey river

Collection Over Tim

'Though collecting quotations could be considered as merely ironic mimetism - victimless collecting, as it were ... in a world that is well on its way to becoming one vast quarry, the collector becomes someone engaged in a pious work of salvage. The course of modern history having already sapped the traditions and shattered the living wholes in which precious objects once found their place, the collector may now in good conscience go about excavating the choicer, more emblamatic fragments.'
- Susan Sontag

Thank you, Blogliners, for making Whiskey River the blog of the day!

posted by Gary Williams at 11:40 PM | link |

via Quark Soup

Mercury Pollution


BURLINGTON, Vt. - Scientists have found high levels of mercury in songbirds on Vermont mountaintops. Researchers at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science announced this week that mercury was found in the blood and feathers of the rarely seen Bicknell's thrush on Mount Mansfield and Stratton Mountain.

In some birds, the level of mercury was high enough to harm their ability to reproduce, conservation biologist Kent McFarland said Wednesday....

'Mercury may already be having an insidious effect on the bird,' McFarland said. 'This is also a wake-up call for us as a species to reflect on how much mercury we are putting in the atmosphere. There's mercury all over the place. The thrush may be a canary in the coal mine.'

posted by Gary Williams at 11:33 PM | link |

via | For The Gamer Who's Sick Of The Typical

To Play Or Not To Play: TimeLords

Category: Other Systems | Reviews
By Calamar | Tue, 2005-01-18 05:00

TimeLords: where you can design yourself. Thrust through time and space by an artifact you don't understand. To go home, you must survive long enough to learn to control the awesome forces at your disposal. But by then, would you want to go back? (A word of warning: TimeLords is a game that strives to be as realistic as possible.)

posted by Gary Williams at 11:24 PM | link |

via Chocolate Dieties

Chocolate Dieties

Chocolate Deities are Fine Quality Gourmet Handmade Chocolate that celebrate those gods and goddesses of love and luxury, joy and happiness, compassion, peace and serenity, healing, and fertility of the body and imagination. Theobroma Cacao, the Food of the Gods: The Chocolate Gods and Chocolate Goddesses. We honor those deities who long for sweet offerings and embrace the notion that chocolate has powers to transport and inspire beyond other mere consumables. We chose chocolate for it is the food of the gods in that it induces and celebrates love, which brings you into relationship with all living things; helps to heal a broken heart; brings joy, which helps your spiritual journey; calls forth peace and compassion; lowers stress, which helps you on your inner journey; carries anti-oxidants, which help you on your healing journey; has aphrodisiac qualities which enlarge and foment fecundity; stimulates the imagination, and according to the ancient Aztecs who first discovered it, provides strength and wisdom. Chocolate Deities are: offerings; prayers and wishes; food stuffs; love objects; altarpieces; kitchen art of the highest order and yummy chocolate gifts. As the history of chocolate tell us, it was the Ancient Mayans and Aztecs who discovered and enjoyed chocolate. We thank the Mayans and the Aztecs for their discovery of Theobroma Cacao, the Food of the Gods, and we thank their gods for sharing it with them.

We offer:

Akuaba, the Ashanti (Ghana) African Goddess of pregnancy, childbirth, mothers and fertility, in the form of a doll. We have a Dark Chocolate Akuaba, a Milk Chocolate Akuaba, and a White Chocolate Akuaba.

The Bear Totem, the Native American totem pole figure of strength and wisdom. We have a Dark Chocolate Bear Totem, a Milk Chocolate Bear Totem, and a White Chocolate Bear Totem.

The Hotei Buddha, or Laughing Buddha of Good Luck, a Confucian symbol and our original Chocolate Buddha. We have a Dark Chocolate Hotei Laughing Buddha, a Milk Chocolate Hotei Laughing Buddha, and a White Chocolate Hotei Laughing Buddha.

The Celtic Cross, an ancient Celtic symbol of the Four Directions, an early Christian Celtic Cross. We have a Dark Chocolate Celtic Cross, a Milk Chocolate Celtic Cross, and a White Chocolate Celtic Cross.

Coyote, the Southwest Indian shape shifter, trickster totem. We have a Dark Chocolate Coyote Trickster, a Milk Chocolate Coyote Trickster, and a White Chocolate Coyote Trickster.

Eagle, The Native American totem of creativity and the Great Spirit seen on totem poles. We have a Dark Chocolate Eagle Totem, a Milk Chocolate Eagle Totem, and a White Chocolate Eagle Totem. In White the Eagle is the Iroquois White Bird of Peace.

Buddha’s Footprint, the Buddhist symbol of the Buddha on Earth. We have a Dark Chocolate Buddha’s Footprint, a Milk Chocolate Buddha’s Footprint, and a White Chocolate Buddha’s Footprint.

Ganesh, the Hindu god of good fortune, wealth and happiness. Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. We have a Dark Chocolate Ganesh, a Milk Chocolate Ganesh, and a White Chocolate Ganesh.

Kokopelli, from the Anazasi, Pueblo Indian and Hopi cave drawings, the trickster kachina doll of fertility, shape shifting, change and music. We have a Dark Chocolate Kokopelli, a Milk Chocolate Kokopelli, and a White Chocolate Kokopelli.

Lord Krishna, the Hindu god of love and devotion, Krishna in his Govinda Giri form. We have a Dark Chocolate Govinda Giri Krishna, a Milk Chocolate Govinda Giri Krishna, and a White Chocolate Govinda Giri Krishna.

The Venus of Laussel, the prehistoric goddess of love and fertility. We have a Dark Chocolate Venus of Laussel, a Milk Chocolate Venus of Laussel, and a White Chocolate Venus of Laussel

Loki, the Norse trickster god of chaos. We have a Dark Chocolate Loki, a Milk Chocolate Loki, and a White Chocolate Loki.

The Mayan Mask of Transformation depicting changes required by the Mayan Calendar from the Mayan and Olmec Civilizations. We have a Dark Chocolate Mayan Mask, a Milk Chocolate Mayan Mask, and a White Chocolate Mayan Mask.

The Meditating Buddha, a Buddhist figure from the Thai Buddhism. As is traditional in Buddhism, our Meditating Buddha is sitting in the lotus position seeking enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. We have a Dark Chocolate Meditating Buddha, a Milk Chocolate Meditating Buddha, and a White Chocolate Meditating Buddha.

The Nursing Mother is a Western image for mothers, pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, and breast-feeding, the Nursing Mother. We have a Dark Chocolate Nursing Mother, a Milk Chocolate Nursing Mother, and a White Chocolate Nursing Mother.

Sheela na Gig, the ancient Celtic and Irish goddess, the Crone, gateakeeper, keeper of the mysteries. We have a Dark Chocolate Sheela na Gig, a Milk Chocolate Sheela na Gig, and a White Chocolate Sheela na Gig.

Green Tara and White Tara the Tibetan Buddhist goddesses of love and compassion, the divine feminine, shakti. We have a Dark Chocolate Green Tara and a White Tara, a Milk Chocolate Green Tara and a White Tara, and a White Chocolate Green Tara and a White Tara.

Thunderbird, the Native American totem pole symbol of power and strength. We have a Dark Chocolate Thunderbird Totem, a Milk Chocolate Thunderbird Totem, and a White Chocolate Thunderbird Totem

The Mayan Vision Serpent, the ancient Mayan Civilization shaman god of inspiration, creativity, spirit, trance and dream journeying. We have a Dark Chocolate Mayan Vision Serpent, a Milk Chocolate Mayan Vision Serpent, and a White Chocolate Mayan Vision Serpent.

The Goddess of Willendorf, the prehistoric goddess of abundance and fertility. Our Mother. We have a Dark Chocolate Venus of Willendorf, a Milk Chocolate Venus of Willendorf, and a White Chocolate Venus of Willendorf.

All our are novelty chocolates are hand-dipped by family chocolatiers in New York’s Hudson Valley and are great for Christmas, Birthdays, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Buddhist Holidays, Hindu Holidays, Goddess Calendar Days or any Special Occasion. Each is beautifully gift wrapped with a Tidings Midori ribbon carrying a special message.

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

Friday, March 11, 2005  

via Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things

Benefits of beer with burnt meat

Charred meat contains compounds that can cause cancer. Drinking a glass of beer with that well-done steak may reduce the DNA damage though, according to a new study by Okayama University scientists. The research was conducted on mice using near beer, since alcohol can be carcinogenic on its own and would muddy the data. From Science News:

After a few days of administering the beer diets, the scientists laced some of the animals' food with either of two heterocyclic amines (HCAs)—the carcinogens from cooked meat....Beer diminished by some 40 to 75 percent the number of HCA adducts (abnormal DNA structure) that formed, depending on the type of tissue (studied after dissecting the mouse) and quantity of beer ingredients ingested, the researchers report in the Feb. 9 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Good news for beer drinkers: Both light-colored lager and a darker stout proved protective.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:32 PM | link |

via | 03/11/05 TopStories

Binghamton part of Onondaga land claim

The Onondaga Indian Nation plans to file a lawsuit today laying claim to 4,000-square-miles in upstate New York, including the City of Binghamton.

The Onondagas became the last tribe of the historic Iroquois Confederacy to file a land claim alleging that New York state illegally took possession of its ancestral lands more than two centuries ago.

The Onondagas scheduled a noon news conference to discuss the details of the land claim, which was to be filed in U.S. District Court in Syracuse. The 40-mile-wide claim also includes the cities of Syracuse, Watertown, Cortland, Fulton and Oswego. About 875,000 people live in the claim area.

Like the other claims against New York, the Onondagas will assert that the state violated federal laws when it acquired the Onondaga land. However, the Onondagas are not seeking any monetary damages, nor eviction of any residents, just recognition that the region continues to belong to the Onondaga Nation.

posted by Gary Williams at 8:02 PM | link |


New 'Star Wars' movie may get PG-13 rating

Associated Press

NEW YORK — George Lucas says the newest — and final installment — of his "Star Wars" films may get a PG-13 rating.

"I don't think I would take a 5- or a 6-year-old to this. It's way too strong," Lucas says of "Star Wars Episode III — Revenge of the Sith" on CBS' "60 Minutes," to air Sunday.

"My feeling is that it will probably be a PG-13, so it will be the first `Star Wars' that's a PG-13.

posted by Gary Williams at 2:33 PM | link |

via Mark Morford, San Francisco Chronicle

Dead People Smoke Camels: Quit smoking the EZ way! Pop this new drug, ignore your real issues. God bless America

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

Friday, March 11, 2005

Oh my freaking God but I loved smoking.

Loved it like a slab of chocolate-covered puppy dogs and I loved the whole gorgeous damnable ritual of the thing, the oral fixation and the regular smoke breaks with co-workers and the cigs n' coffee and the cigs n' wine and the cigs n' sex and I had myself not one but three different all-American all-metal all-sexy Zippo lighters the famous click/snap sounds and toxic butane scents of which I found intoxicating and soulful and I miss it all terribly.

But then again, I absolutely loathed how smoking made me feel, just afterward, the tightness of chest and shortness of breath and the wheezing, the nasty aftertaste and the phlegm and the tormented lung cilia, the constant stupid cravings and the ridiculous expense. Not to mention how it made my fingers reek and my clothes reek and my teeth yellow and my girlfriend cringe when she kissed me and of course all the filthy ashtrays and stale butts and the whole noxious karmic low-vibration poison-for-the-flesh thing.

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

via The New York Times (registration required)

Bush's Judge Nominees: They're Back, and Still Unworthy

Published: March 11, 2005

The Senate is preparing for a major showdown over the Democrats' use of the filibuster to block a handful of President Bush's judicial nominees. When the arguments about procedures are over, the key question will remain: Has Mr. Bush put up men and women who deserve lifetime appointments to the federal bench? The three nominees who had hearings this month - a mining and ranching industry flunky, a much-reversed judge with an antipathy for individual rights, and a lawyer with a bad habit of not following the rules for practicing law - show why Democrats should stand firm.

There have been widespread calls for the White House to sit down with Senate Democrats and come up with a list of nominees who would be acceptable to both sides. The previous three administrations, of both Republican and Democratic presidents, at least tried to work toward consensus candidates. But the Bush administration has refused to negotiate. It has begun its second term on a particularly controversial note by resubmitting seven nominees who failed to win approval last year after Democratic filibusters. It has also sent back several other nominations on which the Senate had failed to act.

William Myers III, one of the seven filibustered nominees, has built a career as an anti-environmental extremist. He was a longtime lobbyist for the mining and cattle industries. Then, as the Interior Department's top lawyer, he put those industries' interests ahead of the public interest. In one controversial legal opinion, he overturned a decision that would have protected American Indian sacred sites, clearing the way for a company to do extensive mining in the area. Mr. Myers has been nominated to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco. That court plays a major role in determining the environmental law that applies to the Western states.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:25 AM | link |

Thursday, March 10, 2005  

via Mass extinction comes every 62 million years, UC physicists discover

Mass extinction comes every 62 million years, UC physicists discover

David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor

Thursday, March 10, 2005

With surprising and mysterious regularity, life on Earth has flourished and vanished in cycles of mass extinction every 62 million years, say two UC Berkeley scientists who discovered the pattern after a painstaking computer study of fossil records going back for more than 500 million years.

Their findings are certain to generate a renewed burst of speculation among scientists who study the history and evolution of life. Each period of abundant life and each mass extinction has itself covered at least a few million years -- and the trend of biodiversity has been rising steadily ever since the last mass extinction, when dinosaurs and millions of other life forms went extinct about 65 million years ago.

The Berkeley researchers are physicists, not biologists or geologists or paleontologists, but they have analyzed the most exhaustive compendium of fossil records that exists -- data that cover the first and last known appearances of no fewer than 36,380 separate marine genera, including millions of species that once thrived in the world's seas, later virtually disappeared, and in many cases returned.

Richard Muller and his graduate student, Robert Rohde, are publishing a report on their exhaustive study in the journal Nature today, and in interviews this week, the two men said they have been working on the surprising evidence for about four years.

'We've tried everything we can think of to find an explanation for these weird cycles of biodiversity and extinction,' Muller said, 'and so far, we've failed.'

posted by Gary Williams at 11:21 PM | link |

via Agent to the Stars -- An Online Novel

Agent To The Stars, An Online Novel by John Scalzi

Table of Contents and Other Stuff

(Pre-order your own limited edition hardback copy of Agent to the Stars! Details follow the Table of Contents)

The entire novel is available on this page. You can scroll and read the whole thing. Or click on the links below for specific chapters.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:57 PM | link |

via Defense Tech


When I was 19, and Saddam was lobbing Scud missiles at Tel Aviv, I had a brief urge to join the Israeli army. Good thing I didn't. Because the generals there wouldn't have been too happy with my dormroom Dungeons & Dragons habit. Ynetnews explains:

18-year-olds who tell recruiters they play the popular fantasy game are automatically given low security clearance.

'They're detached from reality and suscepitble to influence,' the army says.

Fans of the popular role-playing game had spoken of rumors of this strange policy by the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces], but now the army has confirmed that it has a negative image of teens who play the game and labels them as problematic in regard to their draft status.

So if you like fantasy games, go see the military psychologist...

'These people have a tendency to be influenced by external factors which could cloud their judgment,' a military official says. 'They may be detached from reality or have a weak personality -- elements which lower a person's security clearance, allowing them to serve in the army, but not in sensitive positions.' (via Fortean Times)

posted by Gary Williams at 12:18 AM | link |

[Politech] David Brin on transparency, sousveillance and reciprocal accountability

From Declan McCullagh's Politech

[Politech] David Brin on transparency, sousveillance and reciprocal accountability [priv]

David is replying to John Gilmore's email here:
David's own web site, with information on his science fiction novels and
"The Transparent Society" is here:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: transparency, sousveillance and reciprocal accountability
Date: Tue, 8 Mar 2005 17:59:01 -0800
From: d.brin <>

Thanks for sharing John's cogent reaction to the Brick Township
hypocrisy. We are living in times when secrecy has become the great
temptation of those in authority. They want light to shine on everybody
but themselves.

This is, of course, human nature. We should not get angry... that drug
is for fanatics and ideologues of both left and right. We who are loyal
to modernism and the Enlightenment should ignore emotion and think
pragmatically. How can we make sure that the Enlightenment's one great
innovation - reciprocal accountability - empowers all people to protect
themselves against abuse of power?

John points out that I speak up for openness in The Transparent
Society. This seems especially important now, under an administrations
that has reversed the trend of the nineties toward LESS government
secrecy, and pushed instead for the greatest INCREASE of secrecy in our
lifetimes, plus dozens of other measures to evade accountability. These
measures should frighten us far more than a few tweaks of search warrant
procedure that allow the FBI to see better.

We are less threatened by the FBI seeing, than we are by them evading
being seen. (Citizen supervision.)

In fact, the radical version of reciprocal transparency goes beyond what
I had in mind. See Steve Mann's sousveillance movement. Kind of creeps
me out. But even such a world would be better than one in which we are
all blind.

With cordial regards,

David Brin

Politech mailing list
Archived at
Moderated by Declan McCullagh (

posted by Gary Williams at 12:04 AM | link |

Wednesday, March 09, 2005  

via The New York Times (registration required)

Another Data Broker Reports a Breach


Published: March 10, 2005

The LexisNexis Group, a major compiler of legal and consumer information, said yesterday that information on about 30,000 people - including names, addresses and Social Security numbers - may have fallen into the hands of thieves.

The announcement follows the recent disclosure of several other cases involving the loss or theft of consumer data. ChoicePoint, another major data broker, said last month that it had inadvertently sold the records of more than 140,000 individuals to criminals. And the Bank of America said more recently that backup computer tapes containing information on more than a million of its customers had been lost.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:23 PM | link |

via blogging in Paris
My friend Claude uses Mandarin Meg's overlap code admirably to produce a fantastic display of this poem:

It quacks.
It is special fond
Of a puddle or a pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.
-- Ogden Nash

Go see it here. (just page down until you see the duck!)

posted by Gary Williams at 11:00 PM | link |

via - Home New Radio Center

Welcome to, bringing you the best of independent and community radio. It's our job to send great music zooming down the wires, up into your ears, and straight into your brain! is not a webcaster. We are a time shifting service (like a Tivo for community radio). Unlike webcasts, you're in control. You choose which show you want to listen to, when you want to listen to it. You can even fast-forward and rewind your shows, or put them on your iPod or other MP3 player.

posted by Gary Williams at 4:02 PM | link |


Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam - Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

This is a static image of Mount St. Helens, taken from the Johnston Ridge Observatory. The Observatory and VolcanoCam are located at an elevation of approximately 4,500 feet, about five miles from the volcano.
A static image (updated every five minutes) of Mount St. Helens, Washington USA, taken from the Johnston Ridge Observatory. The summit of Mount St. Helens is at an elevation of 2,549 Meters (8,364 feet), at 46.20 N, 122.18 W.  The summit stood at 9,677 feet before the May 18, 1980, eruption. The Observatory and VolcanoCam are located at an elevation of approximately 4,500 feet, about five miles from the volcano. You are looking approximately south-southeast across the North Fork Toutle River Valley. The Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam is brought to you by the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Vancouver, Washington, and Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Amboy, Washington USA.

You are looking approximately south-southeast across the North Fork Toutle River Valley. The VolcanoCam image automatically updates approximately every five minutes. (Meg supplies the code to display the live volcano cam, and I've added that (that's the small image) other than that, this is a quote from the volcanocam page -- this image is a static on the headline to go to the volcanocam). Please make sure your web browser is not set to cache images or you may not see the updates when the web page automatically refreshes.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:16 AM | link |

via Singularity - Home

MicroSoft Singularity

' is impossible to predict how a singularity will affect objects in its causal future.' - NCSA Cyberia Glossary

Singularity is a research project focused on the construction of dependable systems through innovation in the areas of systems, languages, and tools. We are building a research operating system prototype (called Singularity), extending programming languages, and developing new techniques and tools for specifying and verifying program behavior.

A system can be called dependable if it obeys a specification of its behavior. Of special interest are things that a system should not do: crash, hang, corrupt data, succumb to viruses, etc. A dependable system should be well-behaved and not act in a manner unwanted or unanticipated by its designers, developers, administrators, or users. As a step towards this end, the Singularity OS is designed to facilitate the automatic checking of partial specifications of the system's behavior.

The Singularity prototype is the first OS to enable anticipatory statements about system configuration and behavior. A specific Singularity system is a self describing artifact, not just a collection of bits accumulated with at best an anecdotal history. Singularity's self-description includes specifications of the components of the system, their behavior, and their interactions. One can examine an offline Singularity system image and make strong statements about its features, components, composition, and compatibility.

Four design points combine to produce an OS prototype that facilitates future research and innovates in system reliability:

1. A type-safe abstract instruction set (MSIL) as the only system binary interface.
2. A unified extension mechanism for applications and the OS.
3. A strong process isolation architecture.
4. A ubiquitous metadata infrastructure to describes code, data, and communication.

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

Tuesday, March 08, 2005  

Hitherby Dragons

Before He Was Cool (I/I)

Between the Earth and the Moon there is a world made entirely out of firewood. It's five hundred miles wide and ten miles deep. It has lots of firewood animals and firewood cities and firewood people. It is an innocent world, a young world, but it is no paradise. It is a savage jungle.

Martin is born on March 22, 1995, at 6:38 pm, on a night of screams and fire, on a world above the world.

The first thing he ever sees is the monster's face.

Martin ducks instinctively. He throws his forearms before his eyes. But then there's a shock of recognition, and a wave of relief, and he laughs.

'Why, this is just a firewood monster,' he says.

The firewood monster adjusts its lacquered tie. 'You be-long to me,' it says. Its voice is vaguely animatronic.

There's the sound of explosions in the distance.

Martin's in a little room made of firewood. It's like the monster's house. There's a spider, which is a real spider. Everything else is made out of firewood: the belt, the archaic aversion therapy devices, the couch, the bookshelves, and the bottles of pills. There are weird white spots here and there on the wood, like some birch got mixed in with the rest.

'You be-long to me,' says the firewood monster again.

The whole world creaks. A crack runs through the floor, stopping short of Martin's feet.

Martin grins wryly at the firewood monster, gives him a little wave, and opens the door. He steps out onto the street. Death looks him in the face. Death has a scythe. Death has a cloak. Death is a skeleton.

Martin almost steps back and slams the door. But then he understands, and he laughs.

'Why, this is just a firewood Death,' he says.

'Solve prob-lems through ex-tinc-tion!' declares the firewood Death. He sweeps his scythe at Martin. Martin ducks under it and kicks Death's knee. Death's knee cracks. Martin scrambles away.

'Even a firewood Death is dangerous!' he realizes. So he runs. He ducks into a barber shop. There's a spinning red and white log outside, and a ghastly barber inside.

'I'll shave your hair in-to a bowl cut!' the barber declares.

'You're just a firewood barber,' says Martin nervously. He's a thirteen-year-old boy. He doesn't want a bowl cut, but he doesn't want to fight a ghastly barber, either!

Then he sees the mirror.

His soul knows its truths. You are nothing, it tells him. A firewood boy. An isn't.

'Oh, God,' Martin says.

A great shadow moves along the street. There are firewood screams.

Martin sits down. He covers his face with his hands. He thinks.

'I can-not shave your hair on the floor,' says the firewood barber. 'There are al-read-y sha-vings on the floor.'

'I'm thinking,' says Martin.

The barber processes this unusual situation.

'Do not o-ver-heat your brain,' the firewood barber cautions.

'I'll overheat if I want to,' says Martin, sulkily. But he doesn't. Then he stands up. 'Will you bless me?' he asks.

The barber is nonplussed and ghastly. 'I am a bar-ber,' it says.

'I have to do something really hard,' says Martin. 'And you're the only person I know.'

The firewood barber hesitates. It is horrid and stodgy and animatronic and it is not a priest.'I would pre-fer,' it says, 'to shave your hair.'

'You're the only person I know.'

So the barber nods. It puts down its shaver and its bowl for the first time in its long existence. It takes Martin's arms, one in each clumsy hand.

'Bless you,' it says. 'Be well. Good luck. En-dure.'

Martin is a thirteen-year-old boy. He does not let his tears show. He does not hug the barber. He simply walks out. He finds the gate to the Underworld. He goes in.

His soul knows its truths. You are nothing, it tells him. A firewood boy. An isn't.

It's his destiny. It's the law of his nature. It's his dharma. It's the truth of his soul that he can't escape. But then there's a realization and a decision and a wave of defiance and he laughs.

'Why,' he says, 'you're just a firewood dharma.'

Martin puts it aside and he descends.

posted by Gary Williams at 8:02 PM | link |


More On Relative Positioning Headlines

I've been thinking about colored graphics, similar to the ones peopledisplayed at the olympics, so here's today's CSS graphic (like the one Meg at Mandarin Design showed off last week. Meg sent me a note about it last night, and I decided to try the three color version today.

Here's the code:

<div style="background-color:DCDCDC;width:500px;height:100px;border:1px solid black;"><span style="font-size:90px;font-family:Times;color:red;font-weight:bold;">Mandarin</span><div style="position:relative;top:-100px;left:2px;"><span style="font-size:90px;font-family:Times;color:white;font-weight:bold;">Mandarin</span></div><div style="position:relative;top:-200px;left:4px;"><span style="font-size:90px;font-family:Times;color:blue;font-weight:bold;">Mandarin</span></div>

posted by Gary Williams at 12:32 PM | link |

Monday, March 07, 2005  

via Electrolite

Apparently SciFi has mysognists, not just Harvard

New heights of prestige for the Nebula Award. Via World O’Crap, meet pundit Vox Day:

The mental pollution of feminism extends well beyond the question of great thinkers. Women do not write hard science fiction today because so few can hack the physics, so they either write romance novels in space about strong, beautiful, independent and intelligent but lonely women who finally fall in love with rugged men who love them just as they are, or stick to fantasy where they can make things up without getting hammered by critics holding triple Ph.D.s in molecular engineering, astrophysics and Chaucer.

More Vox Day, from a blog post headlined “The merits of anti-semitism”:

I’d never understood how the medieval kings found it so easy to get the common people to hate the Jews in their midst. But if those medieval Jewish leaders were anything like the idiots running the ADL, the ACLU and the Council of Jews, one can see where the idea of persecuting them would have held some appeal.

(Some background on Vox Day.)

Interestingly (in light of his remarks about Jews), Day is actually a “Christian libertarian” novelist named Theodore Beale.

Interestingly (in light of his remarks on female science fiction writers), what Day writes is science fiction.

Interestingly, the Science Fiction Writers of America, “not constrained by conventions and formulas…as open as the speculating human mind”, has rewarded Mr. Beale by making him one of the seven jurors for this year’s Nebula Award.

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

via Halifax Live

Study Slams Milk's Healthy Bones Reputation

Mar 7, 2005, 20:51

In a new scientific review scheduled to appear in the March issue of the peer-reviewed journal, Pediatrics, Cornell-trained nutritionist Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D., and co-authors show that dairy products do not promote bone health in children and young adults. Physical activity does have a positive impact on bone health, while evidence linking bone health with dairy product consumption is weak, at best.

?Under scientific scrutiny, the support for the milk myth crumbles. This analysis of 58 published studies shows that the evidence on which U.S. dairy intake recommendations are based is scant,? says Dr. Lanou, lead author of the study. ?A clear majority of the studies we examined for this review found no relationship between dairy or dietary calcium intake and measures of bone health. In the remaining reports, the evidence was sketchy. In some, the effects on bone health were small, and in others, the results were confounded by vitamin D intake from milk fortified with vitamin D. To build strong bones and healthy bodies, children need exercise, sunshine, and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables that helps them maintain a healthy body weight.?

The level of dairy product consumption in the United States is among the highest in the world, and yet osteoporosis and fracture rates are also among the highest. This ?calcium paradox? was an impetus for the current investigation. ?We found no evidence to support the notion that milk is a preferred source of calcium,? the authors conclude. Dr. Lanou is nutrition director for the non-profit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), and her co-authors are Susan E. Berkow, Ph.D., C.N.S., and Neal D. Barnard, M.D.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:26 PM | link |

via The New York Times (registration required)

Many Missteps Tied to Delay in Armor for Troops in Iraq


Published: March 7, 2005

The war in Iraq was hardly a month old in April 2003 when an Army general in charge of equipping soldiers with protective gear threw the brakes on buying bulletproof vests.

The general, Richard A. Cody, who led a Pentagon group called the Army Strategic Planning Board, had been told by supply chiefs that the combat troops already had all the armor they needed, according to Army officials and records from the board's meetings. Some 50,000 other American soldiers, who were not on the front lines of battle, could do without.

In the following weeks, as Iraqi snipers and suicide bombers stepped up deadly attacks, often directed at those very soldiers behind the front lines, General Cody realized the Army's mistake and did an about-face. On May 15, 2003, he ordered the budget office to buy all the bulletproof vests it could, according to an Army report. He would give one to every soldier, 'regardless of duty position.'

But the delays were only beginning. The initial misstep, as well as other previously undisclosed problems, show that the Pentagon's difficulties in shielding troops and their vehicles with armor have been far more extensive and intractable than officials have acknowledged, according to government officials, contractors and Defense Department records.

In the case of body armor, the Pentagon gave a contract for thousands of the ceramic plate inserts that make the vests bulletproof to a former Army researcher who had never mass-produced anything. He struggled for a year, then gave up entirely. At the same time, in shipping plates from other companies, the Army's equipment manager effectively reduced the armor's priority to the status of socks, a confidential report by the Army's inspector general shows. Some 10,000 plates were lost along the way, and the rest arrived late.

posted by Gary Williams at 8:05 AM | link |

via whiskey river

Taking Out The Spaces

There was a fence with spaces you
could look through if you wanted to.

An architect who saw this thing
stood there one summer evening.

Took out the spaces with great care.
And built a castle in the air.

The fence was utterly dumbfounded -
Each post stood there with nothing round it.
- Christian Morgenstern

posted by Gary Williams at 1:49 AM | link |

via -- The place to find Podcasts

Superburst Mixtape On PodcastAlley

Collecting new indie music made available for free download by the artists (and often featured on into an internet mixtape for several thousand of my closest friends. A short burst of new noise.

posted by Gary Williams at 1:17 AM | link |

Sunday, March 06, 2005  


Computer Industry News "The Uncanny Valley"

Craig Reynolds' Technobriefs

The Uncanny Valley: this lovely phrase is the English translation of a term coined in 1978 by the Japanese roboticist Dr. Masahiro Mori. It describes the paradoxical observation that as attempts to simulate humans -- be it with robots or computer animation -- get more and more realistic, the result becomes increasingly creepy. (At least until the simulations are indistinguishable from the real thing.) While the phenomenon was familiar to me, I had not heard of Mori or this apt phrase until reading The Undead Zone - Why realistic graphics make humans look creepy in Slate. That lead me to Dave Bryant's excellent 2000 essay The Uncanny Valley (also in PDF) which asks: Why are monster-movie zombies so horrifying and talking animals so fascinating? Film critic Roger Ebert invoked the phrase in talking about the CGI Gollum character in Return of the King (Gollum avoids the valley because he is not human) as mentioned in Robots Dancing in the Uncanny Valley And for a strong dose of uncanniness, see The Man Who Mistook His Girlfriend for a Robot. Detours around the Valley are often provided by stylization as artfully discussed in Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics.

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

via Jesus General

Comic Of The Day

posted by Gary Williams at 7:41 PM | link |

via Burningbird

Little Mermaid Dreams

I won’t be posting too many photographs until I’ve finished porting my photo site over to new software, but I did want to share one of my favorite photos from Florida.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:59 AM | link |

via Astronomy Picture of the Day

The View From Everest

Explanation: What would it be like to stand atop the tallest mountain on Earth? To see a full panoramic vista from there, scroll right. Visible are snow peaked mountains near and far, tremendous cliffs, distant plateaus, the tops of clouds, and a dark blue sky. Mt. Everest stands 8.85 kilometers above sea level, roughly the maximum height reached by international airplane flights, but much less than the 300 kilometers achieved by a space shuttle. Hundreds of people have tried and failed to climb the behemoth by foot, a feat first accomplished successfully in 1953. About 1000 people have now made it to the summit. Roddy Mackenzie, who climbed the mountain in 1989, captured the above image. Mt. Everest lies in the Himalayan mountains in the country of Nepal. In the native language of Nepal, the mountain's name is 'Sagarmatha' which means 'forehead of the sky.'

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

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