Saturday, March 18, 2006

Visiting Nagasaki with Bachan

Going through my pictures and I realized I hadn't blogged or posted pics from last month's trip to Nagasaki with Grandma. We visited a cathedral that had been in, and partially survived the atomic blast of WWII. We also went to a Chinese museum and watched the parade for and exhibitions of the Chinese Lantern Festival. It was pretty cool.

And we went to Dejima. Dejima was the one place in Japan that was open to foreigners for centuries. The rest of Japan was closed off, in order to avoid the obvious contaminations and impurities us round-eyed gaijin represent, of course, but Dejima was a man-made island in the middle of Nagasaki where the Portuguese, Dutch and whatever other traders doing business were required to live. Fascinating stuff, especially as they're rebuilding/reconstructing it to it's original dimensions.

[All in a secret plan to once again re-house and separate us gaijin, I'm sure]

Comics and Mythology

The Absorbascon: The Return of the Kryptonite Monkey:
"It's my theory that myths (like those about superheroes) are more about revolving than evolving. The borders of myth don't continue to expand in all directions; they're fractal, exploring similar patterns at different levels in different combinations, so they can always be interesting, always be changing, without losing their recognizable overall shape."

The American Empire [...remember that empires fall, yeah?]

Why All the Foreign Bases? by Sam Baker:
"According to Chalmers Johnson, in his book 'The Sorrows of Empire,' America already possesses more than 725 overseas bases. This incredible estimate comes from two official sources: The Department of Defense's 'Base Structure Report,' and 'Worldwide Manpower Distribution by Geographical Area.' Johnson claims that the figure is actually an underestimate, because many bases are 'secret' or otherwise not listed on official books. As an example, Johnson quotes several sources who cite at least six US installations in Israel which are either operating or are under construction.

During the Cold War, it was argued that the US needed forward basing in strategic areas of the world to counter the Soviet position, and contain Soviet expansion. But the US continues to aggressively pursue more bases in far-flung areas of the globe, despite the fact that the Cold War has been over for more than a decade. American officials have explained that the new bases in Bulgaria and Romania are part of a broader US strategy of shifting troops based in Western Europe further east. In other words, now that the Soviet Union has collapsed, America is aggressively expanding into its former sphere of influence by recruiting former Soviet satellites into NATO, and garrisoning them with bases and troops. In fact, since 9/11 alone the US has acquired at least 14 new bases in Eastern Europe, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, the Persian Gulf, and Pakistan, and was evicted from a recently procured base in Uzbekistan. This figure does not include the newly-announced Bulgarian and Romanian bases. Are we to believe that the US needs more military bases worldwide – not less – now that the Cold War is over?

...There is no great mystery regarding the US garrisoning of east and central Asia, Japan, Eastern and Western Europe, Cuba, the Persian Gulf, and many other areas of the globe with hundreds of military bases. The truth of the matter is that America, "the world's only remaining superpower," is actually the world's only remaining global empire. And as all empires do, it will continue to expand until it is deterred by a rival power, or until it bankrupts the "homeland" with imperial overstretch and wars. Indeed, the very term "homeland" itself implies that there must be an associated "away land" component. This "away land" is the US empire abroad."

Jake Shimabukuro gets the ukulele to make some great music


Avoiding School | CrimethInc.Net/work ...v.7.1.2...:
"Our children learn early on, through television sets, biblical verses and study plans, that desire is some sort of commodity to be negotiated on terms of monetary value and spent life hours; that truly fulfilling experiences need to be saved up for, and occur outside of daily life. Little ones have been refusing this moldy lesson generation after generation, yet, the tragic lack of support is overwhelming enough and eventually all of those steadfast cubs grow and graduate into working adults. How can we break the pattern of week-to-week part-time slavery?

Those of us fortunate enough to enjoy the company of children know well enough that kids have no trouble having fun. Initially, play seems to be effortless—washing dishes, eating dirt, illustrating walls, even taking care of each other are all voluntary activities that require no coercive manipulation or insincere reimbursement. School eventually defeats this willingness to participate by installing the seductive logic of transaction to replace the initial desire of interaction. Standardized curriculum asserts that we have nothing to gain by sharing and giving, we must instead trade: swapping what we have and what we can do for more desirable goods and services. Success structure and learning techniques reinforce this competitive ideology and authentic development and strengthening of skills fall behind as the ability to please the supervisor with memorization and specialization become habitual."

PostSecret is very cool.

"(PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.)"

Friday, March 17, 2006

Greetings from the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq.

See, this is the military I remember.

Overheard in the Office: The Voice of the Cubicle - 9AM Back to Work:
"9AM Back to Work

Officer: So apparently the greeting of the day is 'Rock that ass'.

3rd Infantry Division Headquarters
Baghdad, Iraq"

Brilliant takedown.

Bring it On! » Blog Archive » Smack Down…:
"On Wednesday, March 1st, 2006, in Annapolis at a hearing on the proposed Constitutional Amendment to prohibit gay marriage, Jamie Raskin, professor of law at AU, was requested to testify.

At the end of his testimony, Republican Senator Nancy Jacobs said: “Mr. Raskin, my Bible says marriage is only between a man and a woman. What do you have to say about that?”

Raskin replied: “Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible.”

The room erupted into applause."

Right and Wrong - By Scott Adams

The Dilbert Blog: Constitutional or Not (part 2):
"In response to my last post, many of you made excellent rebuttals to points I didn’t make. I enjoyed this more than I expected.

I guess most of you assumed that because I want to label the majority opinion “right” and the minority opinion “wrong” that I would also favor mob rule. No way. I still favor the traditional system where rich people run the country and convince the morons who live here that the voters are really the ones in charge. It’s not a perfect system, but no one has come up with a better one. And it’s fair in the sense that anyone could become rich and abuse the poor.

My point yesterday was about how “right” and “wrong” are decided. There aren’t many good ways to go about it. You’re either trusting ancient hole-poopers who wrote something down and told you it was inspired by God, or you’re trusting your instinct. And let’s face it: you know what a clueless goober you can be.

Personally, I use a modified version of the Spock test for morality. First I try to figure out what is the greater good. Then I compare it to what is good for me personally. If the two things are the same, I label it “right.” And if the greater good conflicts with my personal benefit, I call that a tie.

Again, it’s not a perfect system, but no one has come up with a better one."

This sounds awesome.

"It’s got Mark Twain, it’s got Nikolai Tesla. Seriously, what else do you need?

Okay, okay, it’s got Thomas Edison and J.P. Morgan as well.

“It” is Matt Fraction and Steve Sanders’ Five Fists of Science graphic novel, coming to shops in May via Image Comics. A piece of historical fiction, the story follows Twain and Tesla as they team their considerable resources and intellects together to bring about world peace.

That doesn’t sit so well with Edison and Morgan. digging around I found a photograph of Twain taken by Tesla in Tesla's Houston St. lab circa 1898 or 1899--

And with that the revelation that the two weren't just familiar, but actually friendly, the story came together in an instant, sort of as a joke. Twain! Tesla! They fight crime!

Then as I started to dig, it turns out that truth was way better than fiction... and that Twain had this cra-a-a-a-zy plan to save the world... Once I learned that, literally the whole thing fell into my head in one single instant, and all I had to do then was write it down."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Penn and Teller and the Bible

The always funny, but occasionally overly dogmatic, Penn and TEller take on the Bible. Good stuff.

The world is strange - let no one tell you different. homepage - Home of Independent Newspapers Nigeria LimitedGenitals ‘Disappearance’ Rocks Patani Community:
"In what looked like a confirmation of the alarm raised last week alleging infiltration of ritualists in Patani in the Patani Local Government Area of Delta State, from neighbouring Ughelli by Chairman of Patani community, Chief Lawrence Babodor, three young men have allegedly lost their genitals in mysterious circumstances.

...According to one of the victims, Mr. Ufoma, who spoke with Daily Independent at the General Hospital, Patani, where they were subsequently taken for medical check up, “We were all eating in the hotel when he too came in and after eating he paid and as the boy received the N500 note from the suspected ritualist he felt a cold shiver immediately and his penis disappeared.

“Alarmed, he started shouting ‘my penis, my pennies’ and he touched me and immediately I too also felt the same way and my penis also disappeared and so it was with the third victim, so we all raised alarm and a crowd gathered at the scene,” he narrated."

"And I say that no matter what ails you, the Holy Bible is the best medicine there is."

Poverty-Stricken Africans To Receive Desperately Needed Bibles | The Onion - America's Finest News Source:
"More than 60,000 urgently needed Bibles arrived to allay suffering throughout the famine-stricken nation of Niger Friday, in one of the largest humanitarian-relief operations ever attempted by a Christian ministry.

Africans gather in hopes of receiving the Bibles they have hoped for.

'Come rejoice, and feast upon the word of Our Lord, Jesus Christ,' said Christina Clarkson, executive director of the Living Light Ministries of Lubbock, TX. 'Those who were hungry, hunger no more, for the Word brings life.'"

..."You say you're exhibiting the deleterious effects of severe dehydration and chronic malnutrition. And I say that no matter what ails you, the Holy Bible is the best medicine there is."

[It's from The Onion. It only sounds true.]

Bruce Sterling speaks wise

Sci-fi author laments state of world | CNET
"'This is the year of Web 2.0,' Sterling said. 'This is the hottest period of invention since the invention of the browser...Flickr is not a copy of anything else, it is not a hippie knock off a commercial product, (and) Wikipedia is not a copy of anything else... The Net community is no longer hanging on the coattails of Gates.'

But Sterling is also clearly unhappy with the state of American political and governmental affairs and the way he says the Bush administration and others in power are stifling innovation with unimaginative policies. These words were well-received by most of the audience--many of whom come from either the San Francisco Bay Area or Austin itself, one of the few liberal enclaves in Texas.

'Our people in Washington are drinking their own bath water,' Sterling charged. 'They have forgotten how to build looks like the Soviet Union.'

He talked at length about society in Belgrade, where he is living with his wife, a 'Serbian feminist peacenik dissident.' And he explained that Serbian society is even more troubled than America's and that much of the vitality there comes from the strength of writers, philosophers and other social thinkers toughened by years of war.

'If I've learned anything from hanging out with the Eastern European dissident crowd,' he said, 'it's make no decision out of fear.'"

The Paradox of Japanese Remilitarization - Mike Rogers

The Paradox of Japanese Remilitarization by Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers:
"In order for Japan to repent completely for past deeds and war crimes while returning to the fold as an equal partner in peace with her Asian neighbors, a seemingly monstrous contradiction must occur. Japan will be obliged to renounce her pacifist constitution – specifically Article 9 of the constitution – and create her own standing army so that she can become a normal independent nation, pursuing her own independent foreign policy and interests.

Until Japan does renounce Article 9, she will never be able to come out from under the US security umbrella and, in turn, be able to create and maintain relations with her neighbors on an equal footing. Japan must create her own military again in order to rid herself of US occupation and control.

Nevertheless, the notion of renouncing her pacifist constitution understandably causes Japan’s neighbors to become very nervous due to Japan’s past Asian aggression. This is the paradox of Japanese remilitarization."

I do this and going through my rss/blog feeds still takes too long.

I'm just info-addicted. | blog:
"One of the main problems we as information fetishists face is the lack of a solid, repeatable methodology for processing new input online. Too often we bounce back and forth between this site and that site, maybe check a blog or two, and then half-heartedly label the task of “reading news” as completed.

...The trick here is to operate in two steps:

1. Open your news reader and select the items you want to read, which then open in Firefox as new tabs. When you’re done going through your feeds, close your news reader.
2. Go into Firefox, and starting on the leftmost tab, read each one until you’re finished.

The magic is all in the first step. The reason we as information fiends get so discombobulated when we read is that we often forget where we were as we travel down various tangents. We open a site, read for a bit, maybe follow a link, and then hopefully make it back to the main thread we were on. It’s bad form, and it leads to copious feelings of inadequate newsage. This method solves that by subconsciously saying to yourself:

Once you’ve opened all the stories that interest you and closed your reader, everything you need to see today is now waiting for you in Firefox.

It sounds weird, but this is precisely what your mind needs to hear in order to be able to proceed. Without hearing this you’re left with a quiet nagging in the back of the mind. “Did I see everything?” “What did I miss?” These sorts of thoughts keep you from functioning optimally. But now that you can dismiss this sort of tugging at your attention, you are free to fully immerse yourself in the current task."

Up your nose with a Tec-9. Bitch.

And lo' the rivers ran red with blood and the Apocalypse was upon us.

Welcome Back, Kotter.

Starring Ice Cube.

Defamer, the L.A. Gossip Rag: Welcome, Black Kotter:
"We can now look forward to our fond memories of Welcome Back, Kotter being irreparably soiled on its journey to the big screen, Variety reports, with the no-brainer casting of gangsta-rapper-turned-beloved-star- of-forgettable-family-comedies Ice Cube producing and starring"

The effect of technology

:: Douglas Rushkoff - Weblog :::
"Do we *want* to choose our child's talents? If so, what does that say about why we want to have a child in the first place? Is it to have the opportunity to care for another human being, or simply to extend our own obsessions to another generation?

It all came down to 'human nature' for Jeff Greenfield; you know, the idea that we can develop all sorts of technologies but human nature will stay the same, and use them for the same good and bad reasons. And that's when, for me, it became about the opposite: yes, human beings may have their biases, but so do the technologies we develop and implement. And we don't always know those biases when we set out to invent this stuff in the first place.

For example, Marconi thought radio would create understanding across cultures when in reality, as every media student learns, radio is such a 'hot' medium that it gave leaders the ability to stoke mass racist violence in Nazi Germany and more recently in Rwanda. Does that mean that radio should never have been invented? Of course not - only that we don't always know the ways our technologies influence us until after they've been implemented.

Was there a take home from all this? Sure. I think we're moving into an era when we will define ourselves more by the technologies we refuse than the ones we accept."

ACLU releases 'first concrete evidence' of domestic spying for anti-war views

The War on Terra continues apace.

The Raw Story | ACLU releases 'first concrete evidence' of domestic spying for anti-war views:
"Documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union reveal that the Federal Bureau of Investigations has indeed monitored political groups solely on the basis that they opposed a U.S.-led war."

"Ascribing human personality characteristics to cold-blooded animals is at best fallacious and at worst destructive of our outdoor traditions."

The Dilbert Blog: Ouch Said the Fish:
This begs the question of what exactly constitutes pain. When you put a hook through a fish’s mouth, then pick him up and watch him twist and suffocate in the air, is that a fish’s way of saying “I am indifferent to this situation”?

I’m no scientist but it sure looks like fish are expressing a preference with all that flopping around and gasping for water. But where is the line between pain and simply not getting your way? It sounds like a Gitmo situation to me. Maybe those fish aren’t gasping for water after all; they’re probably being treated in a humane way and trying to confess where they hid the WMD.

I should note that I’m a vegetarian, but only for selfish reasons. Saving critters from pain is an excellent goal if it’s practical. But I can’t reconcile that goal with what would happen if humans stopped killing animals. The alternative is to wait until the bears – for example – are about to copulate and then swoop in and place the condom on the boy bear without him noticing.


"For an overweight person, giving up eating is not something that he can do voluntarily. He has acquired specific, and probably, unhelpful eating habits, he
confuses body sensations such as anxiety with hunger and eats some food items compulsively, or, simply he does not believe in his capacity to follow a healthy, balanced diet.

In any case, his excess weight makes him feel bad, not only physically but also through self-dissatisfaction. Usually, he has failed with many dieting techniques, ineffective miracle diets, trick potions and best sellers that only work in the imagination of their authors.

For something to turn into a habit, all we need is to do it for a few days. People who are overweight are full of negative anchors that incite them to snack involuntarily between meals, to eat sweets or chocolate or constantly think about food. These negative anchors can be sorted outby setting up a contrary anchor.

Here, in steps, you'll learn how to set up a positive anchor.

Step 1: Define with one adjective the habit which drives you, for example, to eat between hours. Concentrate on the sensation and how it is produced. What is it? Is it
something you see, you hear or you feel? Let's imagine that when you want to eat in between hours what you have is an empty feeling in your stomach.

Step 2: Define what is the opposite for you. In this example, the opposite of "empty" could be "full" or "satisfied" or "satiated."

Step 3: Go inside yourself and find some moment of your life when you have had that "full" feeling. We are not looking for a memory, rather a sensation.

Step 4: When you begin to note this "full" sensation, set up an anchor. In other words, associate this sensation with something. For example, press a finger for about ten seconds. Or clip a finger and thumb together, hold for ten seconds and release.

Step 5: Repeat the previous step six or seven times a day, at separate intervals. This reinforces and stacks the anchor

Step 6: Once the positive anchor is set up, each time you notice the sensation of "emptiness" fire the anchor you set up in step 4.

As our nervous system can only access one sensation at a time, the positive anchor cuts the neurological connection with the negative habit.

Enjoy your new-found freedom from an old habit."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

'I am what Harry Potter grew up into,' he said, 'and it's not a pretty sight.' - Alan Moore

The Vendetta Behind 'V for Vendetta' - New York Times:
"Today, he resides in the sort of home that every gothic adolescent dreams of, one furnished with a library of rare books, antique gold-adorned wands and a painting of the mystical Enochian tables used by Dr. John Dee, the court astrologer of Queen Elizabeth I. He shuns comic-book conventions, never travels outside England and is a firm believer in magic as a 'science of consciousness.' 'I am what Harry Potter grew up into,' he said, 'and it's not a pretty sight.'

Actually, he more closely resembles the boy-wizard's half-giant friend Hagrid, with his bushy, feral beard and intense gaze, but those closest to Mr. Moore say his intimidating exterior is deceptive. 'Because he looks like a wild man, people assume that he must be one,' said the artist Melinda Gebbie, Mr. Moore's fiancée and longtime collaborator. 'He's frightening to people because he doesn't seem to take the carrot, and he's fighting to maintain an integrity that they don't understand.'"

"There is ALWAYS an easier, more effective way of accomplishing the same thing."

The Lazy Way to Success: Laziness Drives All Progress:
"Laziness is the impulse to avoid work and this admirable attribute drives all progress in civilization. However, instead of being celebrated as it should be, laziness is reviled. Tragically, throughout one’s schooling and continuing through one’s professional career, a person who happens to be blessed with the glorious God-given asset of laziness is brow-beaten and insulted by parents, teachers, and employers to forsake it.

Teachers et al fail to appreciate that laziness is responsible for most of humanity’s advances. Let’s face it: the guy who invented the sail was fed up with rowing. The first soul to hop on the back of a horse was too lazy to walk any more. Every major progressive step in society was driven by someone trying to get out of doing any work. Each knew, deep down, that there is always an easier, faster, cheaper, safer, better way of accomplishing a task and that hard work is completely and utterly unnecessary, besides being a monumental waste of life.

So instead of culturing a population of creative, inventive, artistic, peaceful souls who are blissfully basking in their laziness, guiltlessly avoiding all work, and reaping enormous financial, emotional, spiritual, and healthful fruits as a result, our collective mindset has produced a society of superficial, stress-out, unfulfilled hard workers, who achieve little more than a pittance in their lifetimes and then die young.

...Unfortunately people have bought into the concept of hard work so completely, they are blinded by it and they have sold their souls for skimpy paychecks instead of looking for better, easier, lazier ways that are many times more lucrative. It’s sad because it is so preventable.

Hard work is a superficial approach. And superficial approaches are always weak and ineffectual.

Hard work is just not necessary. There is ALWAYS an easier, more effective way of accomplishing the same thing. If you are working hard, it means you aren’t using your intelligence or creativity to find the “lever” that takes the work out of a task. Those who are motivated by laziness take the time to find that lever and therefore avoid the short-term and long-term misery of hard work. As a bonus, as if avoiding work was not reward enough, they also get rich."

"Fuck you, you weren't misled. You were afraid of being called unpatriotic."

The Blog | George Clooney: I Am a Liberal. There, I Said It! | The Huffington Post:
"I am a liberal. And I make no apologies for it. Hell, I'm proud of it.

Too many people run away from the label. They whisper it like you'd whisper 'I'm a Nazi.' Like it's dirty word. But turn away from saying 'I'm a liberal' and it's like you're turning away from saying that blacks should be allowed to sit in the front of the bus, that women should be able to vote and get paid the same as a man, that McCarthy was wrong, that Vietnam was a mistake. And that Saddam Hussein had no ties to al-Qaeda and had nothing to do with 9/11. of the things we absolutely need to agree on is the idea that we're all allowed to question authority. We have to agree that it's not unpatriotic to hold our leaders accountable and to speak out.

...The fear of been criticized can be paralyzing. Just look at the way so many Democrats caved in the run up to the war. In 2003, a lot of us were saying, where is the link between Saddam and bin Laden? What does Iraq have to do with 9/11? We knew it was bullshit. Which is why it drives me crazy to hear all these Democrats saying, "We were misled." It makes me want to shout, "Fuck you, you weren't misled. You were afraid of being called unpatriotic."

Bottom line: it's not merely our right to question our government, it's our duty. Whatever the consequences. We can't demand freedom of speech then turn around and say, But please don't say bad things about us. You gotta be a grown up and take your hits.

I am a liberal. Fire away."

"Get old without acting your age."

The path to wisdom.

I hope.

How to get my wisdom score to 18? | Ask MetaFilter:
"Relentless self-reflection, combined with placing your self in situations outside your normal experience.

A few years ago I sold almost everything I owned and went off to wander around the world alone. Among other things, I eventually realized that with my social circle constantly changing, I could get up every morning and decide who I wanted to be that day. Freed of the day to day inertia, I experienced many physical, social, and particularly spirtual things that simply would never had happened in my home environment.

Which isn't to say that I am any wiser for it, but I do have a far clearer concept of who I am and what I want than I ever have before."

Working Life in America

Overheard in the Office: The Voice of the Cubicle - 9AM Back to Work:
"9AM Back to Work

Clerk: I'm startin' the day with two 'ah, shits' and not an 'atta boy' in sight."

My favorite JET journal brings more funny

Outpost Nine :: Editorials :: I Am a Japanese School Teacher:
"Live here [in Japan - Rob] long enough, and not only do you get desensitized to the madness, you find it starts enveloping you. The process is slow/gradual enough to the point where you don't even notice it.

...Here are some disturbing thoughts of mine I've catalogued lately...

-- Reading porn on the trains is perfectly acceptible. And it's not at all weird for the newspapers to have a porn insert. ...Because sometimes, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

-- A boy trying to grab my penis or stick his fingers up my ass is merely in his glorious Springtime of Youth. I can still remember my Springtime of Youth...sitting on my friend's laps, grabbing at each other's penises. What wonderful days.

-- Women are cute little creatures who should always wear skirts, 4 pounds of makeup (hey Morpheus, gimme that blue pill!) and rear my children. Sometimes, they get upset, but that's okay, it's cute. If you wanna pacify them though, buy them something expensive. Louis Vitton for the win.


-- The atomic bomb was truly a tragic event in human history. And the Japanese are very pitiable to have been the only country to have been a-bombed. Every American should visit Hiroshima at least once to truly appreciate the horror. ...What? Pearl Harbor? Axis Powers? Attrocities in China and Korea? ...I have no idea what you're talking about.


-- You're not a man unless you drink and smoke. Everyday. Many times a day. If you do one without the other, you're still a pussy.


-- Could there be anything more entertaining than watching celebrities eat on TV? Look how succulent and juicy the food is! Watch as their faces shine as the deliciousness causes them to shout out "oishii/umai!" ...Ah, the joys of living vicariously."

So true... [at least from what I remember... as I approach senility]

On Clubbing:
"On Clubbing: Guys go to find girls; girls go to 'have fun'

Now, why is this so? At clubs, girls always seem to have a good time. They don't need to meet guys to have fun. Girls can dance with each other, hold hands, kiss each other, get free drinks, and get hit on all night. They get to do whatever they want, and it's considered HOT. Guys on the other hand have no choice. What would you think if you heard 2 guys talking like girls?

Joe 'Yo John.'
John: 'Sup Bro.'
Joe 'It's Friday, I'm so stressed. I need to dance yo.'
John 'Werd. Me too, my body is so tense I'm gonna explode if I don't get down.'

OMG, can we say G-A-Y GAY? How bad does it look to see 4 guys dancing in a circle just smiling all night long? Or holding hands? This is exactly why the only legitimate reason for a straight guy to go clubbing is to MEET GIRLS. Why do girls go to 'have fun?' Cause they get hit on all the time like a piñata that they don't need to go to meet guys. I'll tell you one thing though: IF YOU ARE AN UGLY GIRL, you may not say it, but you are there to hopefully meet a nice guy. Hot girls get hit on so often at clubs, at school, on the bus, at church, in the crib, on Friendster on Xanga that they are so sick of it. That's why they go to 'have fun and dance.'"

Data Mining and fightin' terra!

Wired News::
"In the post-9/11 world, there's much focus on connecting the dots. Many believe data mining is the crystal ball that will enable us to uncover future terrorist plots. But even in the most wildly optimistic projections, data mining isn't tenable for that purpose. We're not trading privacy for security; we're giving up privacy and getting no security in return.

...The promise of data mining is compelling, and convinces many. But it's wrong. We're not going to find terrorist plots through systems like this, and we're going to waste valuable resources chasing down false alarms. To understand why, we have to look at the economics of the system.

Security is always a trade-off, and for a system to be worthwhile, the advantages have to be greater than the disadvantages. A national security data-mining program is going to find some percentage of real attacks and some percentage of false alarms. If the benefits of finding and stopping those attacks outweigh the cost -- in money, liberties, etc. -- then the system is a good one. If not, you'd be better off spending that capital elsewhere.

Data mining works best when you're searching for a well-defined profile, a reasonable number of attacks per year and a low cost of false alarms. Credit-card fraud is one of data mining's success stories: all credit-card companies mine their transaction databases for data for spending patterns that indicate a stolen card.

Many credit-card thieves share a pattern -- purchase expensive luxury goods, purchase things that can be easily fenced, etc. -- and data mining systems can minimize the losses in many cases by shutting down the card. In addition, the cost of false alarms is only a phone call to the cardholder asking him to verify a couple of purchases. The cardholders don't even resent these phone calls -- as long as they're infrequent -- so the cost is just a few minutes of operator time.

Terrorist plots are different. There is no well-defined profile and attacks are very rare. Taken together, these facts mean that data-mining systems won't uncover any terrorist plots until they are very accurate, and that even very accurate systems will be so flooded with false alarms that they will be useless."

Avast mateys!

Wired News::
"To international observers, The Pirate Bay's defiant immunity from copyright lawyers is somewhat baffling. But in Sweden, the site is more than just an electronic speak-easy: It's the flagship of a national file-sharing movement that's generating an intense national debate, and has even spawned a pro-piracy political party making a credible bid for seats in the Swedish parliament.

..."All of us who run the TPB are against the copyright laws and want them to change," said "Brokep," a Pirate Bay operator. "We see it as our duty to spread culture and media. Technology is just a means to doing that.""

Monday, March 13, 2006

Impressive. Most Impressive.

Fan Film Lightsaber Battle.

Better than the three prequels combined. Or in Sandy's words "One of them should have played Anakin."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

"Welcome to India" By MC Vikram and Ludakrishna

The sweetest thing since mango chutney...

The Future kicking the past

Bloggers: Use caution | | CNET
"What was interesting was a turn of the conversation in which the panelists pondered the future, when today's teenagers are in the workforce. That could pose a problem to traditional dynamics of employer/employee relationships, in large part because today's kids have basically no interest in self-censorship. And why should they, the argument goes: The Internet is their world, and it's what they know. So employers may just have to deal with them being open about whatever is on their mind, be it about work, or their personal lives.

But not today. No, today, employees would be wise to know that if they are critical about their jobs, their bosses, their former employers or anyone, or write about aspects of their personal lives that they wouldn't want their employers to know about, then maybe they shouldn't hit that 'submit' button. Because word gets around. Like it or not."

Looks like a real threat, don't he?

The Story behind INFAMOUS Abu Ghraib Hooded Prisoner comes out :: from :: news from occupied Iraq - ch:
"Who was the man? Why was he being held at the Abu Ghraib prison? Why was he tortured? Was he an insurgent? A terrorist? A criminal? Somebody who hates America?

No. He was none of those.

The following is a lesson to both those who say torture is an important tool that the Untied States must use, and to those who say that people who are tortured by U.S. forces are tortured legitimately, and for good reasons.

The man’s name is Ali Shalal Qaissi. He was a leader in his neighborhood. And he was arrested by the American military after he complained to the media after American soldiers dumped garbage on a small local soccer field. And that was it.

Hard to believe, isn’t it? That a middle-aged man can be arrested for that? And 'interrogated’ at Iraq’s most infamous torture prison for nearly six months?

Evidently, the American officials who were in charge in Abu Ghraib (neither trained in interrogation methods, nor it seems, with a respect for the Geneva Convention) were convinced for 6 months that the soccer fan and parking garage attendant knew useful information about Osama bin Laden."

The Multiverse

Intersecting multiple worlds in quantum spacetime. DC Comics come to life. I bet we live on Earth-X.

New Scientist SPACE - Is our universe about to be mangled? - Breaking News:
"Our universe may one day be obliterated or assimilated by a larger universe, according to a controversial new analysis. The work suggests the parallel universes proposed by some quantum theorists may not actually be parallel but could interact – and with disastrous consequences.

Random quantum fluctuations mean the behaviour of particles and photons of light cannot be predicted exactly. The quantum equations that describe them contain a variety of different - and opposing - outcomes in their solution, such as a particular particle causing a bell to both ring and not ring in an experimental setup. Physicists then have to use an equation called the Born rule to calculate the probability of the bell ringing, and countless experiments have shown the rule works."

They're just fucking evil, I swear to god.

See, the people who this law was literally created for, they say it doesn't apply to them.

Are you freaking kidding me?

U.S. Cites Exception in Torture Ban:
"Bush administration lawyers, fighting a claim of torture by a Guantanamo Bay detainee, yesterday argued that the new law that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody does not apply to people held at the military prison."