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

Saturday, April 02, 2005  

via Charlie's Diary

Stross to Earthlings

Reports of my transcendence are regrettably lacking in a few minor details. Most notably, I am finding posthuman life rather cramped inside this Palm Pilot, and I urgently need more storage. Anyone got a spare 1Gb SD memory card?

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

via Retro Aerospace

HOOOCCH PolyAcetylOzone (PAO) Propellant Testing

Successful flight again! Notice the exhaust trail from surface level up to the point where the primary propellant tank decomposed unexpectedly at an altitude of about 800 meters. We were very happy to see that the second stage ignited properly and climbed an additional 1,200 meters before its propellant load also decomposed unexpectedly.

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

via The Independent Online Edition > Enjoyment

'Monster of Milan' resigns after mutiny by La Scala staff

By Anthony Barnes, Arts and Media Correspondent
Published : 03 April 2005

One of the most famous figures in music resigned dramatically yesterday after an acrimonious power struggle at the world-renowned opera house La Scala, Milan, which prompted a virtual mutiny.

Riccardo Muti quit as musical director at the Italian institution after an autocratic 19-year reign, following an escalating dispute in which more than 700 staff, including the entire orchestra, had demanded he should go.

He cited the 'hostility' of his colleagues as the reason for his departure. Staff had become critical of his excessive power and turned against him by striking on the first night of every production, refusing to rehearse with him and forcing the cancellation of some performances.

Unhappiness with his tenure led to the film and opera director Franco Zeffirelli lambasting him and accusing him of being an 'absolute dictator' and a 'caricature of a conductor'.

The dispute had been worsening since the sacking of La Scala's administrator, Carlo Fontana, earlier this year. The two had been at loggerheads and the official reasons for his axing were unexplained 'differences'.

It is thought Mr Fontana's desire to programme more populist works in La Scala's season and Muti's resistance were at the root of their problems. Muti insisted on the theatrical integrity of every production and was furious at efforts to find modern works.

He had a notorious temper and a reputation for perfectionism. Last year the shockwaves were felt as far away as Britain when the Royal Opera House and La Scala fell out as Muti blew his top and refused to travel to London to conduct a production.

The cause of his wrath was a simple tweaking of scenery requirements in order to comply with health and safety regulations.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:30 PM | link |

via End of the Wild: Stephen M. Meyer

End of the Wild

The extinction crisis is over. We lost.

Stephen M. Meyer

For the past several billion years evolution on Earth has been driven by small-scale incremental forces such as sexual selection, punctuated by cosmic-scale disruptions—plate tectonics, planetary geochemistry, global climate shifts, and even extraterrestrial asteroids. Sometime in the last century that changed. Today the guiding hand of evolution is unmistakably human, with earth-shattering consequences.

The fossil record and statistical studies suggest that the average rate of extinction over the past hundred million years has hovered at several species per year. Today the extinction rate surpasses 3,000 species per year and is accelerating rapidly—it may soon reach the tens of thousands annually. In contrast, new species are evolving at a rate of less than one per year.

Over the next 100 years or so as many as half of the Earth's species, representing a quarter of the planet's genetic stock, will either completely or functionally disappear. The land and the oceans will continue to teem with life, but it will be a peculiarly homogenized assemblage of organisms naturally and unnaturally selected for their compatibility with one fundamental force: us. Nothing—not national or international laws, global bioreserves, local sustainability schemes, nor even "wildlands" fantasies—can change the current course. The path for biological evolution is now set for the next million years. And in this sense "the extinction crisis"—the race to save the composition, structure, and organization of biodiversity as it exists today—is over, and we have lost.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:30 AM
| link |

via english cut: bespoke savile row tailors

'No Strings Attached' The Origin Of The Phrase

This length of lining arrived yesterday. Notice, and you can see that tiny white piece of string tied on the edge... lying over the yellow table.

That string was put there by the cloth merchant, to indicate a slight flaw in the lining weave. You can only just, just see the flaw in the photo- a tiny line going across the lining.

It was a very minor flaw, but that's how it works with the best merchants. Sometimes a piece of cloth will arrive at my door with a piece of string attached to it, and I won't be able to see the flaw unless I look VERY hard, sometimes more than once.

But these cloth merchants are extremely strict with themselves, which is what's to be expected.

So when I need a perfect length of cloth for a job, I'll say to the merchant, 'Give me 3 metres, no strings attached.'

Yes, that is where the phrase 'No strings attached' comes from. And yes, it's still being used with its original meaning on Savile Row to this day."

posted by Gary Williams at 12:24 AM | link |

Friday, April 01, 2005  

via slacktivist: Hermeneutics


Our Text:

So this gorilla walks into a bar. The gorilla slaps a $10 bill on the counter and says, 'Give me a beer.'

Bartender figures what does a gorilla know? So he gives him the beer, but only gives him $1 in change. It's a slow night, though, so the bartender figures he should make some conversation. 'We don't get many gorillas in here,' he says.

Gorilla says, 'Yeah, well at $9 a beer I'm not surprised.'

posted by Gary Williams at 9:42 PM | link |

via Defense Tech


'Many say people power brought down the regime in Kyrgyzstan last week. But Bayaman Erkinbayev, a lawmaker, martial arts champ and one of the Central Asian nation's richest men, says it was his small army of Kung Fu-style fighters,' according to AFP.

'When our old men were beaten and thrown out of the regional administration building, my fighters were on the front line. And during the siege in Bishkek, my fighters went in first,' Erkinbayev says...

Pupils from Erkinbayev's Alysh martial arts school in Osh were sent to protect demonstrators protesting the contested ballot in the Kara Suu bazaar.

Afterwards demonstrations with the participation of Erkinbayev's trainees spread to the southern cities of Jalal-Abad, Osh, and Batken. They captured government sites, burnt down police stations and blocked key highways in the lead-up to the chaos that deposed Akayev in Bishkek.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:43 AM | link |

Wednesday, March 30, 2005  

via Jupiter Moon May Have Life -- Experts Urge a Mission

Jupiter Moon May Have Life -- Experts Urge a Mission

John Roach
for National Geographic News
March 23, 2005

Scientists say Jupiter's moon Europa rivals Mars as a potential refuge for life. Some of them are now urging NASA to explore the ice-covered satellite.

"It takes longer to get there [than to get to Mars], it's more expensive, and a bigger deal to plan a mission. But if I had a choice, I'd go for Europa," said Lynn Rothschild, an astrobiologist with the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

Rothschild studies the origins of life on Earth and other planets. She's intrigued by Europa because it appears to contain likely key ingredients for life—water, an energy source, organic compounds, and billions of years of development.

Taken together, these ingredients are sufficient to support life, scientists say. To answer the question of whether life actually exists on Europa, however, requires further exploration with orbiters and landers like those currently exploring Mars. (See picture of and news about Mars's newfound "frozen sea.")

"The big unknown is what's needed for life to originate," said Robert Pappalardo, a planetary scientist and expert on Europa at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:50 PM | link |

via -- Online Catalog: Firefox Hacks

Firefox Hacks: A Book To Change Your Browser

Firefox Hacks is ideal for power users who want to maximize the effectiveness of Firefox, the next-generation web browser that is quickly gaining in popularity. This highly-focused book offers all the valuable tips and tools you need to enjoy a superior and safer browsing experience. Learn how to customize its deployment, appearance, features, and functionality.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:00 PM | link |

Tuesday, March 29, 2005  

via World's largest known prime number found

World's largest known prime number found


An eye surgeon in Germany has discovered the world's largest known prime number -- or at least his computer did.

The surgeon, Dr. Martin Nowak of Michelfeld, is among thousands of participants in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search, one of several big projects that tap idle computers worldwide.

Last month, Nowak's Pentium 4 computer concluded that a number it had been crunching on for more than 50 days was indeed prime, with only two integer divisors, 1 and itself.

A different computer using different software verified the result.

The number, rendered in exponential shorthand, is 225,964,951-1. It has 7,816,230 digits, and if printed in its entirety, would fill 235 newspaper pages.

posted by Gary Williams at 6:49 PM | link |

via The New York Times (registration required)

What's Going On?

Published: March 29, 2005

Democratic societies have a hard time dealing with extremists in their midst. The desire to show respect for other people's beliefs all too easily turns into denial: nobody wants to talk about the threat posed by those whose beliefs include contempt for democracy itself.

We can see this failing clearly in other countries. In the Netherlands, for example, a culture of tolerance led the nation to ignore the growing influence of Islamic extremists until they turned murderous.

But it's also true of the United States, where dangerous extremists belong to the majority religion and the majority ethnic group, and wield great political influence.

Before he saw the polls, Tom DeLay declared that 'one thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America.' Now he and his party, shocked by the public's negative reaction to their meddling, want to move on. But we shouldn't let them. The Schiavo case is, indeed, a chance to highlight what's going on in America.

One thing that's going on is a climate of fear for those who try to enforce laws that religious extremists oppose. Randall Terry, a spokesman for Terri Schiavo's parents, hasn't killed anyone, but one of his former close associates in the anti-abortion movement is serving time for murdering a doctor. George Greer, the judge in the Schiavo case, needs armed bodyguards.

Another thing that's going on is the rise of politicians willing to violate the spirit of the law, if not yet the letter, to cater to the religious right.

Everyone knows about the attempt to circumvent the courts through 'Terri's law.' But there has been little national exposure for a Miami Herald report that Jeb Bush sent state law enforcement agents to seize Terri Schiavo from the hospice - a plan called off when local police said they would enforce the judge's order that she remain there.

And the future seems all too likely to bring more intimidation in the name of God and more political intervention that undermines the rule of law.

posted by Gary Williams at 1:35 PM | link |

via [BAD SIGNAL (Warren Ellis' mailing list]

Isotope Creates San Francisco Guide For Alternative Press Expo

bad signal

Isotope Comics have built the Isotope Guide To
San Francisco, for those of you heading into
town for the Alternative Press Expo this year:

Also, they've set up message boards for around
a dozen different creators at:

-- W

posted by Gary Williams at 1:00 PM | link |

Creating A Highlight Button

It's a pretty common effect to put text in a form block and add a Highlight This button to allow easy this:

Here's the code for this:

<form name="copyThis">
<textarea name="codeToCopy" cols="40" rows="5" readonly="readonly">
Click on the button below to highlight this text.
<input type="button" value="Highlight This" onclick="javascript:this.form.codeToCopy.focus();;">


This is code from Bravenet; they suggest changing the names if you use more than one of these on the same page...which you will have to do...

posted by Gary Williams at 12:43 PM | link |

via The New York Times (registration required)

List of Schiavo Donors Will Be Sold by Direct-Marketing Firm


Published: March 29, 2005

WASHINGTON, March 28 - The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups.


'These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler's legal battle to keep Terri's estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri,' says a description of the list on the Web site of the firm, Response Unlimited, which is asking $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Ms. Schiavo's father. 'These individuals are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia and are pro-life in every sense of the word!'

Privacy experts said the sale of the list was legal and even predictable, if ghoulish.

'I think it's amusing,' said Robert Gellman, a privacy and information policy consultant. 'I think it's absolutely classic America. Everything is for sale in America, every type of personal information.'

Executives of Response Unlimited declined to comment. Gary McCullough, director of the Christian Communication Network and a spokesman for Ms. Schiavo's parents, confirmed that Mr. Schindler had agreed to let Response Unlimited rent out the list as part of a deal for the firm to send an e-mail solicitation raising money on the family's behalf.

posted by Gary Williams at 8:51 AM | link |

Monday, March 28, 2005  


"Cyberiad" by Stanislaw Lem

ed note: I am posting this because I think it's damn cool, and nobody else is writing anything. Now, if only I had written it... A love poem, lyrical, pastoral, and expressed in the language of pure mathematics. Tensor algebra mainly, with a little topology and higher calculus, if need be. But with feeling, you understand, and in the cybernetic spirit. Come, let us hasten to a higher plane, Where dyads tread the fairy fields of Venn, Their indices bedecked from one to n, Commingled in an endless Markov chain! Come, every frustum longs to be a cone, And every vector dreams of matrices. Hark to the gentle gradient of the breeze: It whispers of a more ergodic zone. In Riemann, Hilbert or in Banach space Let superscripts and subscripts go their ways. Our asymptotes no longer out of phase, We shall encounter, counting, face to face. I'll grant thee random access to my heart, Thou'lt tell me all the constants of thy love; And so we two shall all love's lemmas prove, And in our bound partition never part. For what did Cauchy know, or Christoffel, Or Fourier, or any Boole or Euler, Wielding their compasses, their pens and rulers, Of thy supernal sinusoidal spell? Cancel me not -- for what then shall remain? Abscissas, some mantissas, modules, modes, A root or two, a torus and a node: The inverse of my verse, a null domain. Ellipse of bliss, converse, O lips divine! The product of our scalars is defined! Cyberiad draws nigh, and the skew mind cuts capers like a happy haversine. I see the eigenvalue in thine eye, I hear the tender tensor in thy sigh. Bernoulli would have been content to die, Had he but known such a squared cosine 2 phi! From The Cyberiad, copyright by Stanislaw Lem. All rights reserved.

posted by Gary Williams at 9:53 PM | link |

via DarkVision Hardware

Sony ordered stop PlayStation sales and pay $90 million

Posted on Monday, March 28 2005 @ 15:18:32 CEST by LSDsmurf

A U.S. court has ruled Sony to stop selling PlayStation consoles in the United States and to pay $90 million in damages to Immersion.

Immersion is a developer of digital touch technologies. They claimed that Sony violated one of its patents with its vibrating game controller. Sony said that it would appeal the decision. For the moment Sony will keep selling PlayStation consoles because the order will not go into effect before the appeal.

posted by Gary Williams at 8:58 AM | link |

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