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

Friday, August 05, 2005  

via My Way News

Civil-liberties board struggles into existence

By Caroline Drees, Security Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A civil-liberties board ordered by the U.S. Congress last year has never met to discuss its job of protecting rights in the fight against terrorism, and critics say it is a toothless, underfunded shell with inadequate support from President Bush.

Lawmakers including some Republicans, civil-rights advocates, a member of the Sept. 11 Commission and a member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board have expressed concerns.

Lanny Davis, the only prominent liberal among the five people Bush nominated after a six-month delay, said he had not received a call from anyone related to the board since it was formally announced in June. Davis said he could not comment on specifics because the members had not yet met.

All four other panel members declined to comment.

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

Thursday, August 04, 2005  

via Making Light: Into something rich and strange

An Asimov Poem

Nuclear Fusion makes the stars to shine;
Tropisms make the ivy twine;
Rayleigh scattering makes the skies so blue;
Testicular hormones is why I love you.
-- Asimov

posted by Gary Williams at 12:03 AM | link |

Wednesday, August 03, 2005  

via New York Times (registration required)

Worry Grows as Iraq's Defense Ministry Falls Short of Expectations

Published: August 3, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 1 - The reformed Iraqi Ministry of Defense, a crucial element of any American plan to withdraw troops, is riddled with crippling problems that have raised concerns about its ability to keep Iraqi units paid, fed and equipped once it assumes full responsibility for the army, American and Iraqi commanders say.
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Scott Olson/Getty Images

An Iraqi soldier prepared to search a home in Falluja on Saturday morning. American trainers embedded with each Iraqi unit often have to step in to ensure that troops are properly equipped, American officers say.

The shortcomings of the ministry, which was overhauled under the American occupation authorities last year, are a growing concern to the American commanders. Hoping to withdraw large numbers of the 135,000 American combat troops in the next year, these commanders say their plans hinge on a functioning ministry. If American troops leave without one in place, they say, the Iraqi Army could quickly collapse.

'What are lacking are the systems that pay people, that supply people, that recruit people, that replace the wounded and AWOL, and systems that promote people and provide spare parts,' said a top American commander in Iraq, who asked not to be identified because his assessment of Iraqi abilities went beyond the military's public descriptions.

'If they don't have that capability, we won't be able to take the training wheels off and let them operate independently,' the commander said.

posted by Gary Williams at 6:54 AM | link |

Tuesday, August 02, 2005  

via What's New :: Broome County, NY

Spiedie Fest 2005 Starts Friday

BINGHAMTON, NY - Hot air balloons, food, music, kids' activities and even a few celebrities will once again highlight the annual Spiedie Fest at Otsiningo Park. Organizers say things are in place for another entertainment filled weekend, August 5th, 6th and 7th.

Event organizer David Pessagno and Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala were joined by Spiedie Fest partners and sponsors Wednesday morning to discuss this year's line-up of activities for the 21st Annual Spiedie Fest.

'Every year we work hard to make the Spiedie Fest bigger, better and more colorful than the year before and once gain I am confident we have succeeded,' said David Pessagno, Spiedie Fest Event Coordinator. 'We could not do this without the help of all of our sponsors who bring something special to the table and make the Spiedie Fest fun and memorable.'

posted by Gary Williams at 1:26 PM | link |

Monday, August 01, 2005  

via Hairy ball theorem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

You Can't Comb A Ball Flat

The hairy ball theorem of algebraic topology states that, in layman's terms, 'one cannot comb the hair on a ball in a smooth manner'.

This fact is immediately convincing to most people, even though they might not recognize the more formal statement of the theorem: there is no nonvanishing continuous tangent vector field on the sphere. Less briefly, if f is a continuous function that assigns a vector in R3 to every point p on a sphere, and for all p the vector f(p) is a tangent direction to the sphere at p, then there is at least one p such that f(p) = 0.

posted by Gary Williams at 7:43 PM | link |

via Hitherby Dragons

2 And 4

The world is divided into two groups of people, those who divide people into two groups, and those who divide people into four groups.
-- rpuchalsky

posted by Gary Williams at 2:17 PM | link |

via McSweeney's Internet Tendency: An At First Semi-Scientific but Then Increasingly Fanboy Attempt to Identify Which Visible High-Gravity Star Cluster Is the Star Wars Galaxy.



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

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