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

Saturday, September 24, 2005  

via Defense Tech

Ayatollahs in Orbit

Tehran is about to send its first satellite into space, says the Jerusalem-based Isracast.

By the end of September a Russian Cosmos 3 missile will be launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome 800 km north of Moscow, carrying two Iranian satellites into orbit. Although the satellites are claimed to be for meteorological and experimental purposes, experts believe that one of them will possess surveillance capabilities allowing it to observe American and Israeli military facilities throughout the Middle East...

The Iranian Satellite to be launched called the Mesbah, which literally means “lantern,” has been in the works for the last eight years and reached maturity after collaboration between Iranian and Italian engineers. The Italian company Carlo Gavazzi Space (CGS), who assisted in the Iranian space effort to develop the Mesbah also contributed extensive knowledge to its partners and as a result, Iranian officials have been quoted as being optimistic regarding their ability to independently launch more advanced satellites in the next several years.

The 65-75kg Mesbah will, according official Iranian sources, be used as a tool for collecting data on ground and water resources and meteorological conditions, and will also be used to control power supply systems and pipelines. However, various intelligence sources report that the satellite will also have limited surveillance capabilities and will be used by Iran to gather intelligence information on neighboring countries including American bases in Iraq, the Gulf and Israel. The satellite is expected to remain in orbit for three years and some experts say it will be able to continue operations for up to five years. Along side the Mesbah, the Russian Cosmos 3 will reportedly launch a smaller Iranian satellite named Sinah-1. This 20kg domestically made satellite was meant to be launched using Iran's own launcher as a technology demonstrator, but for unknown reasons will eventually be launched using the Russian booster.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:38 PM | link |


From Warren Ellis's Bad Signal


bad signal

Finished JONES #5 last night, at
3am. That book is fucking hard
work, I tell you.

Jen Contino keeps asking me when
I'm going to resume my space at
The Pulse, now that they've finished
jumping servers (which is what's
kept me off there for months),
and I have to admit, I'm dry. Might
be time to leave that space to the
kids. Rivkah's already started
calling me Uncle Warren, which is
just disturbing on so many levels.

It'd be useful, from a marketing
viewpoint, to keep a weekly space
there -- The Pulse is still one of the
main three or four comics news
sites -- but I do feel like I've said
pretty much all I needed to say
about comics already, and The
Engine's there for real-time reactions
to any new developments, I guess,
at least for the next few months.
And so many of my interests lay
outside comics that I know I bore a
hardcore comics-fan audience to
death when I start talking about
what's really on my mind.

A comics store recently contacted me
to tell me that he's mostly selling
girls. I'm not going to reach those
people by talking about counter-
culture and community and comics
on The Pulse, I don't think.

I'd thought about starting some
kind of secondary diary on Suicide
Girls, but another look at their
terms of service still has them
exerting a license over everything
appearing on the site. Which is a
pain in the arse, because I need to
own my own words. That's above
and beyond the current drama
happening there.

It's the internet equivalent of
speaking tours, really, being able
to enter communities and strike
up conversations. In one sense, you
can, in a touring musician's words,
"blow into town, tell everyone to
keep going, and blow on out again."
Once you've adjusted to the fact
that people do listen to you --
hopefully without your ego blowing
out of all fucking proportion --
you realise that you can do
something with your breath beyond
blowing your own trumpet.

I am, in fact, Internet Jesus. Hurrah.

Sent via mobile device
probably in the pub

BAD SIGNAL mailing list
Archived at BAD SIGNAL mailing list
Moderated by Warren Ellis (probably in a pub) (

posted by Gary Williams at 12:25 PM | link |

Friday, September 23, 2005  

[Politech] Once again, the Feds want to make "temporary" security restrictions permanent [econ]

From Declan McCullagh's Politech

[Politech] Once again, the Feds want to make "temporary" security restrictions permanent [econ]

This is only tangentially relevant to technology but it shows the
encroachment of bureaucrats and the national security.

In this case, "temporary" airspace restrictions that do little to stop
terrorists but quite a bit to terrorize law-abiding private pilots are
about to become permanent -- and perhaps even expanded.

This isn't new. New York's rent control law was supposedly temporary but
is now permanent. The expire-in-four-years portions of the Patriot Act
are about to become permanent. "National emergencies" were supposed to
be temporary but have become permanent.
( The Spanish American War
telecom tax was supposed to be temporary but has become permanent (and
is now causing problems for the Internet). See:

More on DC-area airspace folly:



-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Urgent message from Phil Boyer: AOPA fights permanent ADIZ
Date: Wed, 14 Sep 2005 17:10:15 -0400

Special Notice from AOPA President Phil Boyer September 14, 2005



All of us who fly in this area know that the Washington, D.C., Air Defense
Identification Zone (ADIZ) was created over a weekend in February 2003, in
response to a heightened national threat level. It was a sudden move and
explained as a temporary restriction. But when the government later reduced
the national threat level, the ADIZ remained. AOPA has been working to have
the ADIZ eliminated--or reduced--ever since.


I personally want you to know that we have and are continuing to dedicate
enormous resources to make very clear to the FAA, TSA, Department of
Security, and Congress all of our concerns about the ADIZ and its onerous
effects on D.C.-area pilots. In a series of uncanny coincidences, our
over the past two years to counter the ADIZ have been frustrated by events
like terrorist warnings, increased security levels, and high-profile
violations, such as the "Smoketown 150," that caused the evacuation of the
Capitol on May 11. Despite ongoing pressure from pilots and AOPA, the ADIZ
still exists. And now the FAA wants to make it permanent.

The only "good news" in all this is that the federal process of rulemaking
allows individuals from across the country to formally oppose an FAA
proposal. This is important to all pilots because, if the ADIZ is made
(there are 29 other such areas) COULD FACE THE SAME RESTRICTIONS. This is
not a vague threat: As this e-mail is being written the New York Class B
airspace has become an ADIZ.

By far, general aviation's greatest strength is AOPA's 406,000 members. And
because there is strength in numbers--strength and power of opinion--WE

THE FAA NEEDS TO HEAR FROM YOU so they fully understand how difficult it
is to operate in and near the ADIZ--to file a flight plan by telephone with
flight service (FSS), then obtain a discrete transponder code, and
and maintain communication with air traffic control--A PROCESS THE FAA IS

In the coming weeks you will receive a nationwide appeal that will be
to all AOPA members asking them--and you--to comment directly to the FAA
to members of Congress before the November 2 close of the ADIZ NPRM comment
period. Our own ongoing efforts and asking our members to help in this way
are but two parts of our strategy.

Your association has engaged two of Washington, D.C.'s most powerful
organizations to complement our efforts. These preeminent firms
have working on your behalf--a former secretary for the Department of
Transportation (a cabinet-level position) as well as a former deputy
assistant undersecretary of the TSA, the former general counsel for the DOT
and its former deputy secretary.

AOPA also has hired a noted expert whose company is currently conducting a
comprehensive analysis of the economic impact on pilots, airports, and
businesses that have been affected by the ADIZ. We feel this issue is so
important that we must use any and all resources available at this time.

All of this is in addition to your association's professional staff in
Frederick, Maryland, and Washington that has battled the ADIZ as well as a
wide range of other issues that affect your freedom to fly…and continue to
do so on a daily basis. Make no mistake: THIS IS A VITAL ISSUE FOR YOUR

Our ultimate goal is to eliminate the one-size-fits-all requirements of the
ADIZ that completely fail to recognize the stark differences between a
400,000-pound, 400-knot airliner and the far lighter and much slower
that our members fly. Incredibly, there is presently no distinction between
these very different aircraft in terms of security, operation, and safety


I hope this update accomplishes its intended purpose--to let you and all
area pilots know of the ongoing AOPA strategy and tactics uniquely
by the upcoming Pilot Alert to all members throughout the country.

Thank you...

AOPA sent you this important message because you subscribe
to "AOPA ePilot." If you do not wish to receive non-ePilot
messages in the future, reply to this message and type
"SUPPRESS" in the subject line.

AOPA, 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, Maryland 21701
Telephone: 800/USA-AOPA or 301/695-2000
( )

Politech mailing list
Archived at
Moderated by Declan McCullagh (

posted by Gary Williams at 1:03 PM | link |

Wednesday, September 21, 2005  

via Blogging in Paris

Stay on the path

Stay on the path
They say Stay
walk on each stone set
end to end on the way
walk the path
extending out
to forever
and remember
there have been those
and will be those
so honor the path
by preserving it


Poem Copyright
©2005 Frederick D. Perry, All Rights Reserved

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


Mysterious Stars Surround Andromeda's Black Hole

By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 20 September 2005
01:00 pm ET

Stars race around a black hole at the center of the Andromeda galaxy so fast that they could go the distance from Earth to the Moon in six minutes.

The finding, announced today, solves a mystery over the source of strange blue light coming from Andromeda's center. But it generates a new puzzle: The stars' phenomenal orbital velocity suggests they should never have formed in the first place.

Astronomers first spotted the blue light near Andromeda's core in 1995. Three years later, another group determined that the light emanated from a cluster of hot, young stars. Nobody knew how many were involved.

New data from the Hubble Space Telescope reveal more than 400 blue stars that formed in a burst of activity roughly 200 million years ago, astronomers said.

The stars are packed into a disk that is just 1 light-year across.

That's amazingly compact by cosmic standards. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). The nearest star to our Sun is about 4.3 light-years away.

Unlikely setup

'The blue stars in the disk are so short-lived that it is unlikely in the long 12-billion-year history of Andromeda that such a short-lived disk would appear now,' said Tod Lauer of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. 'We think that the mechanism that formed this disk of stars probably formed other stellar disks in the past and will trigger them again in the future. We still don't know, however, how such a disk could form in the first place. It still remains an enigma.'

To determine the velocity of the stars, Hubble was used to calculate the compression and stretching of the light waves coming from the stars. This Doppler technique is based on the same phenomenon that changes the sound of an ambulance siren that's moving first toward you and then away.

posted by Gary Williams at 11:51 AM | link |

Tuesday, September 20, 2005  

[Politech] In China,U.S. tech companies face free speech choices [fs]

From Declan McCullagh's Politech

[Politech] In China,U.S. tech companies face free speech choices [fs]
Chinese Internet vs. free speech
Hard choices for U.S. tech giants

Carrie Kirby, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, September 18, 2005

U.S. tech giants are helping the Chinese express themselves online -- as
long as they don't write about democracy, Tibet, sex, Tiananmen Square,
Falun Gong, government corruption or any other taboo subject.

Microsoft bans "democracy" and "Dalai Lama" from the Chinese version of
its blog site. Yahoo recently turned over information that helped the
Chinese government track down and imprison a journalist for the crime of
forwarding an e-mail. Google omits banned publications from its Chinese
news service.

Critics say that cooperating with governments to suppress free speech
violates human rights, international law and corporate ethics. But what
the experts can't agree on is what the companies should do about it. The
Internet -- even with limitations -- is generally considered a powerful
democratizing force. If international companies withdrew from the
Chinese Internet market, the result might mean even fewer chances for
free communications there.

[...remainder snipped...]
Politech mailing list
Archived at
Moderated by Declan McCullagh (

posted by Gary Williams at 8:41 PM | link |

via Silent Running ? Blog Archive ? Christmas Retail Season begins….

Gnome Homes

Consequently I’m offering my highly successful Gnome Homes to the international blogging/blog reading community. The Gnome Home Page is now open for business. The prices are in US$ (The currency of the civilised world) and is all inclusive. By all inclusive I mean ALL inclusive. I really hate buying something and getting to checkout to find there’s another 60% worth of packaging-postage-lack of demand charge-in demand charge sort of dance designed just to jack the price up. So I don’t do it to other people.

The price will get you the described product complete, packed, gift wrapped, personalised card and delivered to the recipient. This is a great fun and novel way to get your Christmas shopping done.

Also if you have a blog and you put up the link button below in your side bar until Christmas I’ll give you a Gnome Home at no charge. Please let me know where you have posted it and I’ll contact you to arrange for your delivery.

posted by Gary Williams at 7:33 PM | link |

via [PmS] GirlsClan

Home of the All Female Gaming Clan, active on ClanBase!

Welcome to the PmS homepage. You can apply to join PmS clan HERE and remember you have to be female!

Visit us on IRC on Quakenet #pms.girlsclan

posted by Gary Williams at 7:11 PM | link |

Monday, September 19, 2005  

via Facing South

Meet the Disaster Profiteers: Fluor Corp.

Newsweek has the latest on the 'Katrina Goldrush' of contractors hoping to cash in on the disaster. It has a few new pieces of information, such as the fact that the Shaw Group, which recieved a $100 million no-bid contract, is now under investigation by the SEC for possible 'accounting irregularities.'

The primary qualification for Katrina contractors, it appears, is that they are companies that landed lucrative deals in Iraq's troubled 'reconstruction.' One of those is Fluor Corp., a construction company whose story leads off the Newsweek piece.

A California-based engineering firm, Fluor has been one of the government's biggest go-to contractors for overseas engineering work, accumulating contracts worth $8.5 billion from 1990 to 2002. Iraq was no exception, where they pointed to their long history in the region (mostly Saudi Arabia) to land over $1.6 billion in contacts for rebuilding Iraq. According to an August 2004 report in the Los Angeles Times, they also had the right political connections:

Suzanne H. Woolsey is a trustee of a little-known arms consulting group that had access to senior Pentagon leaders directing the Iraq war. In January, she joined the board of Fluor Corp. Soon afterward, Fluor and a joint-venture partner won about $1.6 billion in reconstruction contracts in Iraq.

Woolsey's husband, the former CIA director, R. James Woolsey, a leading advocate for the war, also serves as a government policy adviser. He, too, works for a company with war-related interests.

The Woolseys' overlapping affiliations are part of a pattern in Washington, in which individuals play key roles in organizations advising officials on major policy issues, whileinvolving themselves with businesses in related fields.

What's their work record? Like many of the politically-connected contractors, Fluor keeps landing contracts despite a long rap sheep of scandal and abuse, including repeated claims of overcharging and gouging taxpayers. Among the most recent include charges of falsely claiming millions of dollars in costs on DoD contracts in 2001 (the company settled for $8.5 million), and in 2002 being sued for $24 million for 'numerous design and construction failures' at the Refugio Mine in northern Chile.

And their work state-side? In 1994, Fluor paid a $3.2 million fine for 'submitting heavily padded repair bills for work on Navy bases after hurricane Hugo.' We've been warned.

posted by Gary Williams at 7:14 PM | link |

via Urinals in Amsterdam with flies etched in the bowls-Truth!

Urinals in the Airport in Amsterdam With a Fly Etched Into the Bowl-Truth!

Summary of the eRumor
Pictures of a urinal that says they are in the airport in Amsterdam.
There is what appears to be a house fly in the bowl of the urinal.
The eRumor says the fly is there on purpose and has reduced spillage by 80 percent.

The Truth
The pictures are authentic and the story is accurate. contacted authorities at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam who us that the flies etched on the urinals 'saves us a lot of money on cleaning.'

The actual pictures are from an unique site at

posted by Gary Williams at 12:34 PM | link |


Katrina, The Gathering

A good set of cards depicting the disaster (and politics).

posted by Gary Williams at 11:02 AM | link |

via Charlie's Diary

The real end of the 20th century?

From The Guardian:

'It is now appropriate to talk of a major energy crisis after Hurricane Katrina pushed US energy markets beyond the edge,' Barclays Capital said in a report.

The Mississippi River basin is home to a tenth of the country's oil refineries, churning out 1.8m barrels a day, as well as to ports that handle large imports of grain and fruits and warehouses that stock a quarter of US coffee supply.


Barclays Capital estimates that 20m-40m barrels of refined oil could have been lost, but no one has been able to penetrate the flood waters to assess the pipelines. If the damage is worse than expected, it could push crude oil prices to beyond the 1980s oil spikes from the Iranian revolution.

Oil is a fungible commodity. The price spike triggered by Hurricane Katrina is going to propagate through the oil markets world-wide over the next few days. Hopefully the trailed release of the US strategic oil reserves will dampen it down: but the question that needs to be asked is, can we increase capacity anywhere else? If the supply of oil can be increased we might be able to dodge the bullet, but if, as some sources suggest the big Saudi fields have passed their peak, we might end up looking back and seeing Katrina as the incident that finally toppled the global economy into a peak oil crisis -- the true end of the 20th century that began when, in Lord Curzon's words, the western allies of the first world war 'sailed to victory on a wave of oil'.

posted by Gary Williams at 12:35 AM | link |

Sunday, September 18, 2005  

via Yahoo! Movies


Monday September 12, 2005


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Scared-stiff astronomers have detected a mysterious mass they've dubbed a 'chaos cloud' that dissolves everything in its path, including comets, asteroids, planets and entire stars -- and it's headed directly toward Earth!

Discovered April 6 by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, the swirling, 10 million-mile- wide cosmic dust cloud has been likened to an 'acid nebula' and is hurtling toward us at close to the speed of light -- making its estimated time of arrival 9:15 a.m. EDT on June 1, 2014.

'The good news is that this finding confirms several cutting- edge ideas in theoretical physics,' announced Dr. Albert Sherwinski, a Cambridge based astrophysicist with close ties to NASA.

'The bad news is that the total annihilation of our solar system is imminent.'

Experts believe the chaos cloud is composed of particles spawned near the event horizon of a black hole (a form of what's called Hawking Radiation) that have been distorted by mangled information spewed from the hole.

'A super-massive black hole lies about 28,000 light-years from Earth at the center of our galaxy,' explained Dr. Sherwinski.

'Last year the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking revised his theory of black holes -- which previously held that nothing could escape the hole's powerful gravitational field. He demonstrated that information about objects that have been sucked in can be emitted in mangled form.

'It now appears that mangled information can distort matter.

'Just imagine our galaxy the Milky Way as a beautiful, handwritten letter.

'Now imagine pouring a glass of water on the paper and watching the words dissolve as the stain spreads. That's what the chaos cloud does to every star or planet it encounters.'

To avoid widespread panic, NASA has declined to make the alarming discovery public. But Dr. Sherwinski's contacts at the agency's Chandra X-ray Observatory leaked to him striking images of the newly discovered chaos cloud obliterating a large asteroid.

'It's like watching a helpless hog being dissolved in a vat of acid,' one NASA scientist told Dr. Sherwinski.

Ordinarily, Hawkings Radiation is harmless.

'It's produced when an electron- positron pair are at the event horizon of a black hole,' Dr. Sherwinski explained. 'The intense curvature of space-time of the hole can cause the positron to fall in, while the electron escapes.'

But when 'infected' by mangled information from the black hole, the particles become a chaos cloud, which in turn mangles everything it touches.

'If it continues unchecked, the chaos cloud will eventually reduce our galaxy to the state of absolute chaos that existed before the birth of the universe,' the astrophysicist warned.

Some scientists say mankind's best hope would be to build a 'space ark' and hightail it to the Andromeda Galaxy, 2.1 million light-years away.

'We wouldn't be able to save the entire human population, but perhaps the best and the brightest,' observed British rocket scientist Dr. David Hall, when asked about the feasibility of such a project.

But even if such a craft could be built in time, evacuating Earth might prove fruitless if theories about the origin of the chaos cloud are correct.

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

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