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

Saturday, March 19, 2005  

via The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century :: Joey deVilla's Weblog :: Main Page

Asian Dietary Rules

In honour of these songs, here's a little stanza I wrote called 'Asian Dietary Rules':

If it's got four legs and isn't the table
Cook it and eat as long as you're able

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

via AKMA's Random Thoughts

What He Said

A number of times, when I’ve been asked to talk about tradition and change in the church, I have adverted to the status of usury — the lending of money at interest. I was delighted, then, to see the Slacktivist take up the topic in three powerful entries in the context of his energetic interrogation of the particular forms that “conservative Christianity,” “evangelicalism,” and “traditionalism” take at the moment.

The people of Israel set distinct limits to the scope of interest (including the jubilee year, a sort of pre-market-economy form of bankruptcy protection), and Jesus explicitly repudiated the practice of lending at interest. The church institutionalized laws against lending at interest, and only relatively recently has the topic dropped away from the church’s social agenda. Fred surveys the history of usury, then turns his attention to the exploitation of greed bill bankruptcy bill weapon of mass expropriation of wealth that the Republican Congress and the Bush administration have deployed.

Fred’s nauseated by the spectacle of lawmakers who proclaim their allegiance to “family values” and “biblical morality” rolling over to strip away the small borrower’s protection. Me too — but I’m simultaneously intrigued by the ways that some forms of “tradition” become old-fashioned and mutable, whereas others reflect timeless morality and must be upheld at all costs. The phenomenon gets even more intriguing when — as so often happens — someone takes the pains to explain what I obviously haven’t yet understood: that there’s a perfectly transparent premise in the light of which these differences are revealed to be natural and necessary. Oh, right!

posted by Gary Williams at 10:09 PM | link |

via Quark Soup

Abstracts (Re: Global Warming)

Here's the abstract to Tom Wigley's paper which appeared in Science (titled 'The Climate Change Committment') yesterday:

Even if atmospheric composition were fixed today, global-mean temperature and sea level rise would continue due to oceanic thermal inertia. These constant-composition (CC) commitments and their uncertainties are quantified. Constant-emissions (CE) commitments are also considered. The CC warming commitment could exceed 1?C. The CE warming commitment is 2? to 6?C by the year 2400. For sea level rise, the CC commitment is 10 centimeters per century (extreme range approximately 1 to 30 centimeters per century) and the CE commitment is 25 centimeters per century (7 to 50 centimeters per century). Avoiding these changes requires, eventually, a reduction in emissions to substantially below present levels. For sea level rise, a substantial long-term commitment may be impossible to avoid.

And here's the abstract to Meehl et. al., also appearing in yesterday's Science, titled 'How Much More Global Warming and Sea Level Rise?':

Two global coupled climate models show that even if the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had been stabilized in the year 2000, we are already committed to further global warming of about another half degree and an additional 320% sea level rise caused by thermal expansion by the end of the 21st century. Projected weakening of the meridional overturning circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean does not lead to a net cooling in Europe. At any given point in time, even if concentrations are stabilized, there is a commitment to future climate changes that will be greater than those we have already observed.

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

Friday, March 18, 2005  

via Summer Founders Program

Summr Founder Program: Your Own Startup Company This Summer?

Because we just set up this program, and yet need to make decisions early enough not to mess up people's summer plans, the March 26 deadline is already alarmingly close. So if you know friends who might want to start a startup this summer, please tell them about this.

In How to Start a Startup, I said there could be ten times more startups than there are. A lot of people who could start successful startups never do. When you're young the prospect seems too intimidating, and as you get older you lose the flexibility you need in your life to start one.

The most intimidating part is starting. So I decided I should offer something more encouraging than words.

Like a lot of guys who got rich from technology, I've been meaning to give seed money to new startups. But almost seven years later I still haven't. The reason was that I didn't want would-be startup founders deluging me with pitches. I said so explicitly in the talk I just gave. But afterwards I felt guilty. So I've figured out a solution to the problem.

Some friends and I are starting a new venture firm specializing in very early stage startups. The company is so new that it doesn't even have a name or a web site yet. But I've committed a big enough chunk of money to get it started. And the good news for me is, you send email to them, not me.

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

via Warren Ellis 12-Hour Forum - Recipes?: "Guinness Brownies
Reply #3 on: Today at 16:27:13 ?
4 eggs
3/4 C. superfine sugar
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 oz. white chocolate, chopped
6 T. unsalted butter
3/4 C. all-purpose flour
3/4 C. Nestle's cocoa power
1 1/4 C. Guinness stout (or equal)
1 pt. Heavy whipping Cream and pinch of sugar (optional)

* Preheat the oven to 375? F. Butter an 8-inch-square pan.
* In an electric mixer, combine the eggs and sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.
* In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the bittersweet chocolate, white chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and beat into the egg mixture.
* Sift the flour and cocoa together and beat into the chocolate mixture. Whisk in the Guinness.
* Pour into the pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
* To serve, whip the cream and a little sugar in a chilled bowl and dollop on top of cut brownies .

Serves 8 to 10. Serves 2, maybe 3 if you're feeling generous.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:22 AM | link |

via Warren Ellis 12-Hour Forum -

Warren Ellis' WET Forum Reopened Today

You agree, through your use of this forum, that you will not post any material which is false, defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or otherwise in violation of ANY law. This is not only humorous, but legal actions can be taken against you. You also agree not to post any copyrighted material unless the copyright is owned by you or you have consent from the owner of the copyrighted material. Spam, flooding, advertisements, chain letters, pyramid schemes, and solicitations are also inappropriate to this forum.

Note that it is impossible for us to confirm the validity of posts on this forum. Please remember that we do not actively monitor the posted messages and are not responsible for their content. We do not warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any information presented. The messages express the views of the author, not necessarily the views of this forum. Anyone who feels that a posted message is objectionable is encouraged to notify an administrator of this forum immediately. We have the rights to remove objectionable content, within a reasonable time frame, if we determine that removal is necessary. This is a manual process, however, so please realize that we may not be able to remove or edit particular messages immediately. This policy goes for member profile information as well.

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

Thursday, March 17, 2005  

via Electrolite

Dear Sir or Madam, won’t you read our book.

All the other cool kids are doing it, so I guess it’s time to post the table of contents of iThe Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens: First Annual Collection/i, edited by Jane Yolen and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, forthcoming from Tor Books in hardcover and trade paperback this coming May. Help this fledgling annual get off the ground: pre-order a copy now.

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

via Defense Tech


It seemed like kind of joke last October, when the Pentagon wished out loud for a spaceship that would grab enemy satellites, and throw them around -- maybe even out of orbit. But the Defense Department is dead serious, the Arms Control Wonk tells us. $35 million serious.

In its proposed budget for 2006, Pentagon way-out research arm Darpa is asking for 35 large over the next two years for its Spacecraft for the Unmanned Modification of Orbits (SUMO) program.

'SUMO combines detailed stereo photogrammetric imaging with robotic... manipulators to autonomously grapple space objects,' the agency says. 'SUMO offers the potential for spacecraft salvage, repair, rescue, reposition, and debris removal to extend service life or provide a safe and calculated de-orbit.'

Sounds friendly enough -- like a tugboat in space, maybe. Until you stop to think that the SUMO could also grab satellites that don't want to be repositioned or de-orbited. Suddenly, that tugboat starts looking an awful lot like a wrestler's arm, about to toss an opponent out of the ring.

THERE'S MORE: Of course, since this is Darpa we're talking about here, there are a whole smorgasbord of wild-sounding space projects waiting to be funded. Using 'x-ray celestial sources to determine the three dimensional position... of orbiting spacecraft,' anyone? Or how about space tethers, to 'rapidly remediate high energy radiation particles produced by a High Altitude Nuclear Detonation?' A bunch of others are here.

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

via Google Code

Welcome to Google Code, Google's place for Open Source software

Read the FAQ for more information.

New Developer Tools - 17/Mar/2005
If you head on over to the projects page, you'll find links to a number of projects over on They are:

perftools: Libraries and tools that help you tune and debug your multi-threaded c programs.

coredumper: Gives you the ability to dump cores from programs when it was previously not possible
sparsehashtable: An assortment of interesting new hash tables for C developers.
goopy/functional: This library brings functional language attributes to python.

Each has a Google group that you can participate in and we hope you find them as useful as we do!

posted by Gary Williams at 3:17 PM | link |

via Black holes in production in New York | The Register

Black holes in production in New York

By Lucy Sherriff
Published Thursday 17th March 2005 13:21 GMT

Researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York have created a very short-lived, very tiny black hole, or at least, a fireball that behaved quite a lot like one for a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second.

The scientists at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) fired beams of gold nuclei into each other at relativistic speeds, creating a ball of plasma around 300m times hotter than the surface of the sun. According to Metro, a Daily Mail sister publication, some particles were then absorbed by the plasma in the same way that particles are absorbed by black holes.

While the research team at RHIC has described the work as groundbreaking, other scientists are unsure about that possible applications for the work. Ed Shuryak, a physicist at Stony Brook University, said that although the work was useful because 'it will inspire thinking in that's going to be another thing to see if it bears any fruit.'

posted by Gary Williams at 11:46 AM | link |

via Count Your Sheep

Comic Of The Day

posted by Gary Williams at 10:43 AM | link |

Wednesday, March 16, 2005  

riley dog..half-baked cookies in the oven..fruitcakes on the street..

To the Memory
of J.S. Bach

because on bad nights
I take my three brown dogs to bed
with a box of crackers, which we share
while I sing them their favorite song:

Sheep may safely graze on pasture
when their shepherd guards them well.
Sheep may safely graze on pasture…

I have lived by how this is funny.
I address myself to the dead now.
:: My body thinks she is the moon

posted by Gary Williams at 12:28 AM | link |

Tuesday, March 15, 2005  

via Parachute: Contemporary Art Magazine: Batman and the joker: the thermidor of the bodily. @ HighBeam Research

Parachute: Contemporary Art Magazine; 10/1/1997; Victor Tupitsyn

In today's Russia, where the bodily (the corpocentric) has become synonymous with orthodoxy, artistic acts like public masturbation or bestiality performed by the so-called 'telesniks,' are affirmative in nature. (1) At a time when the brutal stage of victorious capitalism is exacerbated by widespread physical violence, the autochthonic gesture is read as one of identification, i.e., as the desire not to be different from those who call the shots. The most consistent of all the telesniks grown on Russian soil are Oleg Kulik and Alexander Brener. Kulik has become famous by simulating sexual intercourse with domestic and wild animals, by slaughtering a pig in a gallery space, and by outdoor performances in which the artist posed naked, acting the part of a mad dog intent on biting the passerby and the audience. Considering the mores of the Russian nouveau riche, as well as the fact that the people making mad money in Russia are mostly those who are involved in criminal or semi-criminal organizations (shadow economy) and for whom violence is a way of life, Kulik's performances are a rather accurate reflection of the present. The problem is that they do not reflect it in a critical way. Trying to become even more bestial than the world around him, Kulik, at best, lays it bare for deconstruction. However, the deconstructive connotations are not picked up by the 'New Russians' who are, more than likely, entertained by these acts. Also, the uncritical adoption of the nouveau riche's behavior, style and manners, by members of the artistic community, is perceived by them as a sign of approval and as proof of their power, influence and importance.

On April 16, 1997, after going through customs at the airport in New York, Kulik, in his canine disguise (dog collar and muzzle) and under the supervision of dog trainer Ludmila Bredikhina, performed a reversal of the process described by Mikhail Bulgakov in Heart of a Dog: that is, he transformed himself into a dog. To give the West a full measure of the delights of a dog's life, the Deitch Projects gallery kindly provided Kulik with a cage specially built for him on Grand Street in SoHo. New York Times critic Roberta Smith wrote that Kulik 'looks very efficient as a dog.' According to her, the 'dog' is a 'frightening, unpredictable and territorial animal.' The name of the piece - I Bite America and America Bites Me - is a paraphrase of Beuys, whose performance involving a coyote at the Rene Block Gallery in New York in 1974 was titled I Love America and America Loves Me. The difference is that for Beuys, man and animal remained separate, while Kulik makes them one. In a fax message dated April 18, the senior editor of Art in America magazine, Christopher Phillips, wrote from New York that the principal visitors to Kulik's cage were Bredikhina and Jeffrey Deitch. Phillips attributed the lack of outcry (or excitement) over the piece to the fact that SoHo's streets are filled with crazy people who are no less doglike than Kulik.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:43 PM | link |

via Not Even Wrong

Physics: Skeptical SF Chronicle Article

Today's San Francisco Chronicle contains an article about string theory entitled 'Theory of Everything' Tying Researchers Up In Knots. It's by science writer Keay Davidson, and is about the most skeptical article on string theory I've seen in the mainstream press. The lead sentence is:

'The most celebrated theory in modern physics faces increasing attacks from skeptics who fear it has lured a generation of researchers down an intellectual dead end.'

Davidson contrasts Michio Kaku's very pro-string theory point of view in his new book Parallel Worlds, with the much more skeptical views of Lawrence Krauss, who evidently has a book entitled 'Hiding in the Mirror: The Mysterious Allure of Extra Dimensions' coming out in September. He also got comments about the current state of string theory from quite a few different people, including yours truly. The article contains a link to this weblog.

Some of the string theory critics quoted are just inherently opposed to any new mathematical approach to fundamental physics, something I have no sympathy with. One of these is Stanford's Robert Laughlin, who makes the point that string theorists are trying to camouflage the theory's increasingly obvious flaws by comparing the theory to 'a 50-year-old woman wearing way too much lipstick.' Because of Laughlin's extreme anti-mathematical theory views on the one side and those of his colleagues like Lenny Susskind on the other, 'The physics department at Stanford effectively fissioned over this issue' says Laughlin. He goes on to say 'I think string theory is textbook 'post-modernism' (and) fueled by irresponsible expenditures of money.' For the record, I'm no more of a fan of Laughlin's views about particle theory than I am of Susskind's.

Some of the quotes from defenders of string theory are a bit strange, with none of them addressing the fundamental problem the theory is facing these days as it becomes obvious that it can't predict anything. John Schwarz is quoted as saying 'string theory is the only approach that has the potential for explaining dark energy' which is kind of peculiar since it is well-known that superstring theory naturally leads one to expect a value for this energy density that is off by 120 orders of magnitude. The only way around this seems to be the 'landscape' argument, in which you essentially give up any hope of ever predicting anything. The other defenders of string theory quoted in the article mainly try and claim that twenty years of work on the theory is still nowhere near enough, that it is way too early to be able to evaluate it yet. They don't give any indication of how much longer we should wait for such an evaluation, but if twenty years isn't long enough, it sounds like they hope this won't occur while they're still alive.

posted by Gary Williams at 10:07 PM | link |

via Defense Tech


No one at the Pentagon has plans to stick G.I.s in giant, six-legged, super-strong robots. Yet. But you've got to figure it's only a matter of time, now that a Finnish subsidiary of John Deere is building the machines for new-jack lumberjacks.

In the works for a decade and a half, the Plustech Oy Walking Machine is supposed to be an eco-friendly, log-hauling monstrosity; its six massive legs spreads the weight of the machine evenly, the company claims, to minimize any impact on the forest soil.

"Depending on the terrain, the ground pressure can be adjusted by changing the machine’s six 'shoes,'" according to Plustech Oy. "When the machine confronts obstacles, it simply steps over them... avoid[ing] significant ground disturbance and minimiz[ing] damage to tree roots.

posted by Gary Williams at 5:18 PM | link |

via Nvu - The Complete Web Authoring System for Linux, Macintosh

Nvu -- Authoring System For The Desktop

Finally! A complete Web Authoring System for Linux Desktop users as well as Microsoft Windows and Macintosh users to rival programs like FrontPage and Dreamweaver.

Nvu (pronounced N-view, for a 'new view') makes managing a web site a snap. Now anyone can create web pages and manage a website with no technical expertise or knowledge of HTML.

posted by Gary Williams at 5:10 PM | link |

via Pi Mnemonic

Kevin Wald: Pied-Throned Deathless Aphrodite

This is a slightly modified version (line 8 is different) of something I originally posted to sci.math during a discussion of pi mnemonics. It is simply a translation of Sappho's 'Hymn to Aphrodite' in which the number of letters in each word gives the corresponding digit of pi. (The ampersand, of course, is a 0-letter word.)

Now I pray, O queen Aphrodite on ornate chair, Sly, death-shunning thunderer-progeny, Devastate not my own emotions with aching or sorrow; Come the way formerly you, my plaints detecting, Heard & in hurrying downward left A begetter's mansion. A golden cabriolet

posted by Gary Williams at 4:26 PM | link |

via Committee to Protect Bloggers


Julien of RSF emailed to let us know that Zouhair Yahyaoui has died of a heart attack.

Zouhair was the editor of Tunezine and one of the earliest bloggers to fight for freedom of speech. He spent several years in jail in his native Tunisia because of it.

Honor him.

Vive la Tunisie. Vive Zouhair.

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

via Making Light: Slushkiller

On the Craft of Poetry and the Art of Publishing

With Credits to Ogden Nash
and Apologies to William Carlos Williams
By John Darrin

Is all right

But fame
is the game

I have offered
the words
that were in
my mind

that I wrote
and was
for you.

Forgive me
I cannot resist
the draw of fame
and fortune.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:19 AM | link |

Monday, March 14, 2005  

via developerWorks : Blogs : phpblog@developerWorks

PHP and images

One of the most popular articles I've ever written has been about Preventing Image 'Theft'. I wrote it several years ago, but people are still reading it (evidently) and contacting me about it.

I've recently had call to use this sort of thing myself, and what I've got now is rather more advanced than described in the original article. For instance, now I transparently intercept images 'going offsite' and replace them with a correctly-sized blank box containing text about the copyright. And for images I want to be basically previewable but not really usable (if people want a usable version they need to contact me) I watermark 'em.

Watermarking a digital image means adding information to the existing pixels. It can be involve adding invisible information for identification purposes, such as the Digimarc technique, or it can be to to visibly degrade the quality of the image, perhaps with a message. I've used both, but it's the latter mechanism I needed most recently.

posted by Gary Williams at 7:55 PM | link |

via rrrThe Register

'Star Wars' vet appointed NASA head

By Lester Haines
Published Monday 14th March 2005 14:43 GMT

President Bush last week named former NASA chief engineer Michael Griffin as the Administration's new head. The veteran of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization - responsible for the 'Star Wars' missile defence programme - has proved a popular choice to succeed acting director Fred Gregory, Reuters reports. Gregory has been at the helm since former director Sean O'Keefe quit his post in February.

Griffin is currently head of the space department at the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University. His CV includes a spell as NASA's chief engineer and a stint as deputy for technology at the SDIO. Later he was president of the CIA's private venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel.

The nomination has attracted broad political support. Maryland Democratic senator Barbara Mikulski said Griffin has 'the right combination of experience in industry, academia and government service'. US House of Representatives Science Committee head Sherwood Boehlert, a New York Republican, agreed: 'He has broad expertise, knows NASA inside and out, and is an imaginative and creative thinker and leader. We look very forward to working with Dr. Griffin at this critical time for NASA.'

The critical time for NASA will come on 15 May - the intended date for the return to flight of its space shuttle programme. The launch of Discovery will hopefully lay to rest any doubts about the programme's viability following the Columbia disaster. ?

posted by Gary Williams at 12:59 PM | link |

via User Friendly

Comic Of The Day

posted by Gary Williams at 11:12 AM | link |

Sunday, March 13, 2005  

via Orphan Army ? Blog Archive ? 30 Free Copyleft Pins!!!

30 Free Copyleft Pins!!!

Update - Thanks for all the great submissions! I’m still sifting through my email but it looks like we’re out of the free pins, if you want to buy one they can be purchased at Wm Spear Designs. If you have a particularly clever rebus submission or image mashup that you’ve been working on all morning I might be able to find an extra pin for you.

Back in January Bill Gates made the following comment in a C|net interview:

“There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises.”

Creative Commie FlagThis stirred a short flurry of ridicule and clever propaganda. People made T-shirts, posters, and had all kinds of creative comments. According to Ken Mickles of Giant Robot Printing, they sold over a 1000 Creative Commies T-shirts within a couple weeks. I thought this whole Creative Commies thing was a great way to bring awareness to the issues surrounding copyright and intellectual property laws so I decided to talk to Wm. Spear Design and see if they would make a pin. Bill thought it was a bad idea to try chasing fads but he supported my interest in copyleft and the creative commons so he went ahead and made up some pins using Xeni Jardin and Matt Bradley’s creative commies flag design.

posted by Gary Williams at 8:30 PM | link |

via ComixPedia

Comix Pedia Review of Schlock Mercenary

Tayler also has a knack for crafting well-defined, if not always nuanced, characters including Kevyn Andreyasn , the scientist who invents the teraport; Ennesby, an artificial intelligence; Ch’vorthq, a diplomat slash four-star chef; DoytHaban, a cyborg with a human and an artificial brain; the Partnership Collective of attorneys who are literally a race of alien snakes; and Petey, an slightly unbalanced Ob’enn artificial intelligence who later takes on physical form. This isn’t even mentioning the star of the show, the carbosilicate amorph Schlock, who in his ever-mutable shape and everlasting enthusiasm for a violent solution to any problem is the engine of the strip.

In the first years of the strip especially there’s a manic we’re-making-this-up-as-we-go-along type of energy. Tayler pokes holes in the fourth wall, primarily the narration to the strip as said narration sometimes engages in conversation with the characters of the comic as opposed to mere exposition. Like early Sluggy Freelance, Tayler also has a willingness to not only poke fun at pop culture stereotypes, but to incorporate them in knowing and sometimes ongoing ways. For example, Tayler plays with the expectation that "extras" will always stay anonymous characters. Two of the grunts (Shep and Nick) get speaking lines with jokes and suddenly find themselves part of the recurring cast.

That is not to say that Tayler does not try to add emotional depth to his characters. Although for the most part the tone is light and fast-paced there are moments that go for emotions rather then laughter. There are relationships that evolve: Dr. Edward Bunnigus falls in love with the Reverend Theo Fobius and eventually they marry; Elf loses more than one potential boyfriend to combat; and Schlock gets over his crush on Breya Andreyasn, who in turn marries Haban II (a clone of cyborg DoytHaban).

posted by Gary Williams at 10:46 AM | link |

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