"The only blog we have to fear is blog itself."

Sunday, October 31, 2004

The 269-269 Scenario 

Although I have little belief that the scenario will play out this Presidential election, the electoral college could potentially result in a 269-269 tie. In fact, according to the Washington Post,
A computer analysis finds no fewer than 33 combinations in which those 11 [battleground] states could divide to produce a 269 to 269 electoral tie.
Whither then?

According to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, the selection of President would go to the House of Representatives. Each state delegation gets one vote (which would, under the current House, doubtless select Bush). Of course, with our even number of states another tie is possible, during which case the 12th Amendment specifies a runoff voted on by the full House.

Meanwhile, a simple majority in the Senate would choose VP. So one potential scenario would be a President and VP of different parties (like in 1800, when Aaron Burr served as veep to the very man he ran for President against, Thomas Jefferson). In that scenario, I foresee the VP spending their entire term in the fabled "undisclosed location" for reasons of "national security."

Another X factor is that electors are not bound to vote for whom their states voted, the so-called "faithless elector" (link also include the stories of all 156 past faithless electors). From the same WaPo story:
In West Virginia, one of the state's five Republican electors, South Charleston Mayor Richie Robb, has said he might not vote for Bush (although he calls it "unlikely" he would support Kerry). And in Ohio, the political publication the Hotline reports, one of Kerry's 20 electors could be disqualified because he is a congressman.
U.S. politics is like plate tectonics: it's pretty fascinating right along the cracks, but also pretty dangerous.

Daylight Savings 

"First time I've ever been early for work. Except for all those daylight savings days. Lousy farmers!" ~~Homer Simpson

Interesting discussion of Daylight Saving Time on the Wikipedia, featuring the following tidbits:
  • The Germans started officially using DST two years before the U.S.
  • "There is also a question whether the savings in lighting costs (people just home from work don't turn on the electric lights because there is enough sunlight through the windows) justifies the increase in summertime air conditioning costs (people home from work DO turn up the air conditioning during the late-afternoon peak load times, because it's still warm outside)."
  • Agricultural workers may view DST unfavorably because one can't seem to get animals to recognize the shift
  • Indiana has three different flavors of time zones within its boundaries

Presidential Prognostication 

So voting doesn't really matter, as it turns out.

Actually, it's all up to the Washington Redskins. Or Halloween masks. Or investors. Or what the kids think. Or cookies.

The Redskins Theory:
The outcome of the Redskins' last home game prior to the election has correctly forecasted who would win the presidency every time since 1936.
The Mask Theory:
"The mask sales have been 100 percent accurate," said Daniel Haight, chief operating officer of Buyseasons, which owns Buycostumes.com. "It hasn't failed us yet," he told the Associated Press. Haight's data collecting goes back to 1980 when Ronald Reagan debated President Jimmy Carter.
The Investor Theory:
George Neumann, a UI professor of economics and co-director of the Iowa Electronic Markets [says] "These markets have tended not to be wrong...." The Iowa Electronic Markets are Internet-based, real-money futures markets in which contract payoffs depend on economic and political events, including the 2004 presidential election.
The Kid Theory:
Since 1956, Weekly Reader students have correctly picked the president 11 out of 12 times, making the Weekly Reader poll one of the most accurate predictors of presidential outcomes in history.
The Cookie Theory:
Family Circle’s Cookie Cook-Off has actually predicted the past three Presidents.
Ye gods! Can't all these people just shut up!

And I've also heard people mention the Giants as another football predictor. Puh-lease! This is nothing more than the Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc Fallacy writ large (except, perhaps, for the Investor Theory, which is only a money-based Conventional Wisdom weathervane).

Don't these people realize that in the year that the Curse of the Bambino ends, ALL BETS ARE OFF??

All Work and No Play... 

...makes Jack a dull boy.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Have you ever noticed that most TV station websites look the same? Or, at least, have a few notable characteristics which remain surprisingly unchanged from site to site.

My favorite of these (or least favorite, depending on your criteria) is the Mt. Rushmore-style photo of the local news anchors at the top of most of these sites. I guess since a TV station cannot generally be equated with a lifestyle for branding purposes (in the same way that a rock, country, or classical radio station can), the TV station uses its news hosts as the "public face" of the business.

But regardless of why the websites are the way they are, it's really annoying.

So I started amusing myself recently by collecting the numbingly repetitive examples, like butterflies pinned to a display board.

Enter NewsClowns. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

San Andreas 

I'm not much of a gamer, but I am a huge fan of the Grand Theft Auto series. They're, as the kids say, sweet.

The latest one, San Andreas, comes out for the PS2 today. Alas, I play the PC versions, so I have an excruciating wait until (probably) 3rd quarter '05 until I can play it.

Take a look at some of the voice talent: Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Penn, James Woods, Peter Fonda, David Cross, and Happy Monday's Shaun Ryder.

Fans of the hilarious Fear of a Black Hat will note that an actor who played one of the Jam Boys, Faizon Love, also does voice work.

I don't yet know if my former WHTG colleague Shelley Miller, who played Lips 106 DJ Andee in GTA3 and a few commercial voices in Vice City, will also be in this one.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Bees So Drunk They Can't Stand Up 

Intoxicated Honey Bees May Clue Scientists Into Drunken Human Behavior:
Researchers gave honey bees various levels of ethanol, the intoxicating agent in liquor, and monitored the ensuing behavioral effects of the drink – specifically how much time the bees spent flying, walking, standing still, grooming and flat on their backs, so drunk they couldn't stand up....

This study is preliminary – the researchers simply wanted to see what effects ethanol had on honey bee behavior. In the future, however, they hope to use honey bees as a model for learning more about how chronic alcohol use affects humans, particularly at the molecular level....

Except for the control bees, bees that had consumed the least amount of ethanol – 10 percent – spent the least amount of time upside down. Even then, it took about 20 minutes for ethanol's effect to set in and cause this behavior.
Science may yet answer age-old questions: Does a drone get beer goggles and mate with an unattractive queen bee? Do drunken drones shout rude comments about about a queen's hot thorax, and then end up fistfighting over a misheard sports remark? How bad is a bee's hangover, and do they ever throw up all over the floor of the honeycomb?

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Ashlee: From Vanilla to Vanilli 

"I'm shocked--shocked!--to find that gambling is going on in here!" ~~Captain Renault, in Casablanca
Uh, so somebody's surprised that Ashlee Simpson was lip-synching on Saturday Night Live last night? Well, duh!
Simpson had performed her hit single "Pieces of Me" without incident earlier in the show. When she came back a second time, her band started playing and the first lines of her singing "Pieces of Me" could be heard again.

She looked momentarily confused as the band plowed ahead with the song and the vocal was quickly silenced.

Simpson made some exaggerated hopping dance moves, then walked off the stage 35 seconds into the performance. NBC quickly cut to a commercial.
Simpson later claimed her "band started playing the wrong song." Her record label blamed a "computer glitch."

Sure, we believe you.

In retrospect, The Boston Globe was startlingly prescient (instead of merely enjoyably snarky) in their listing for the show:
Jude Law hosts "Saturday Night Live," at 11:30 p.m. on Channel 7. Ashlee Simpson is the "musical guest."
"Musical guest" in quotes, indeed.

And just for the record, I didn't see the telecast in question. I largely stopped watching SNL when I felt they, not too dissimilar as Ashlee, had become a "comedy show."

The Plague 

Plague Detected in Colorado Springs:
The El Paso County Department of Health and Environment has determined that a tree squirrel has tested positive for the plague in the Colorado Springs area.
After I read this story, I discovered that the CDC hosts the "plague home page" (I was hoping to get the plague's email address and see the plague's page of hotlinks). From there, I read this little tidbit:
In the United States, the last urban plague epidemic occurred in Los Angeles in 1924-25. Since then, human plague in the United States has occurred as mostly scattered cases in rural areas (an average of 10 to 15 persons each year).
In the words of Dana Carvey imitating words of Johnny Carson, I did not know that.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


Granted, I'm not in the target market since I don't eat meat, but even so...yuck!

Diners lured by super guinea pig:
Scientists in Peru hope a new breed of guinea pig will convert the world to one of their favourite delicacies.

A new super-sized version of the cuddly rodent has been developed at one of Peru's top universities.

Although in most of the world guinea pigs are enjoyed as pets - not ingredients - exporters hope the larger animal will be easier to sell abroad.

"It is really delicious," says Gloria Palacios, director of La Molina National University's export project.
It occurs to me, though: when these scientists were taste-testing their new breeding experiment, did they call trial eaters their "guinea pigs"?

Friday, October 22, 2004


Experts fear escape of 1918 flu from lab:
The 1918 flu virus spread across the world in three months and killed at least 40 million people. If it escaped from a lab today, the death toll could be far higher. "The potential implications of an infected lab worker – and spread beyond the lab – are terrifying," says D. A. Henderson of the University of Pittsburgh, a leading biosecurity expert.

Yet despite the danger, researchers in the US are working with reconstructed versions of the virus at less than the maximum level of containment. Many other experts are worried about the risks. "All the virologists I have spoken to have concerns," says Ingegerd Kallings of the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control in Stockholm, who helped set laboratory safety standards for the World Health Organization.
Although, obviously, the volume and rapidity of world travel has exploded since 1918, I thought many experts agreed that the massive, slow close-quarters troopship transport of WWI soldiers was the largest vector in the spread of that truly frightening and deadly flu.

Yes? No? Maybe? Bueller? Bueller?

Either way, let's hope those vials of the 1918 flu are carried with caution. Dr. Jeffrey Taubenberger, chief of molecular pathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, said in 1997 of that strain's death toll:
The conservative estimate is 21 million people, but people suggest that it may be forty to fifty million people actually died worldwide.

Murphy's Law Calculator 

You can find an online calculator for mortgages, foreign currency exchanges, and inflation. So why not Murphy's Law?

Loud Call Redux 

Update on story previously discussed back in September...

Loud Cell Phone Woman Charges Dropped:
Charges were dropped Thursday against a pregnant woman arrested and forced to the ground by Metro Transit Police for allegedly talking too loudly on a cell phone.

"I'm happy that it's over with," defendant Sakinah Aaron said of the incident that has raised questions about the conduct of the transit police force.
The official line:
"We didn't want our action to be taken as a reflection on our view about the officer's credibility," said Deputy Montgomery County, Md., State's Attorney Katherine Winfree. "We just felt that under the circumstances, this was the appropriate disposition at this time."


"It's all about money," [Transit Police Chief Polly] Hanson said Thursday. "I think initially the gal was offered community service, and she requested a jury trial," said Hanson, adding that she wanted Aaron's case to go forward but understood the prosecutor's decision.

Transit Police remain defensive about their actions in this and other cases that have gained them unflattering publicity. On July 16, a woman was handcuffed and jailed for eating a candy bar on a subway station escalator. In 2000, a 12 year-old girl was arrested for eating a french fry on a subway platform. And in 2002, a wheelchair bound rider was ticketed for using profanity when he could not find a working elevator to exit the system.
You know there's a problem when a transit police union representative is quoted in the article using the phrase "Barney Fife rent-a-cops," if only in the negative.

Technology Makes Life Fun! 

Cops track emergency call to malfunctioning TV:
College student Chris van Rossman got more than he wanted with his Toshiba set when emergency and law enforcement officials came knocking.

Earlier this month, Rossman's year-old 20-inch flat-screen TV started broadcasting over the 121.5MHz frequency, the channel used for distress signals. Such signals are used by search and rescue workers to find airplanes that have crashed or boats that are missing at sea. Rossman's TV was picked up by search and rescue satellites and emergency crews were alerted.

"These sorts of alerts are not uncommon, but usually happen in airports when someone has accidentally activated a transponder," said Mike Bamberger, emergency manager for Benton County, Ore., who went to Rossman's apartment with U.S. Air Force and Corvallis, Ore., law enforcement officials. "Most of these are false alarms, but we check them out anyway. By morning, we had narrowed the signal to an apartment, and later to a point on the wall of the apartment where the TV was located."


Van Rossman was instructed to cease emitting a false distress signal--that is, to stop watching TV--or face a fine by the Federal Communications Commission of $10,000 per day.
That's gotta suck. Something tells me the kid will be selling the TV to one of his fellow college students for a suspiciously low price and let them deal with the flat-screen albatross. This could go on indefinitely until a future owner destroys the TV after a particularly raucous kegger.

Selling an emergency transponder, even an inadvertent one, is doubtless perfectly legal, so Van Rossman could just eBay the damn thing and let the headache for federal officials merrily continue elsewhere. Someone from the FCC or other involved agency should just step up and buy the set from him.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

RealPolitik of the Future 

China takes place on world stage:
As China gets richer and stronger, the world is coming to share its belief that it merits recognition and respect as a great power.

Through a combination of economic dynamism, skilful diplomacy and understated threat, it is already regaining much of its old imperial supremacy across Asia.

Filling the void left by the former Soviet Union, it has also emerged as the likeliest challenger to the United States as a global superpower.
Well, that's almost a no-brainer. Naturally, that looks like the likeliest future scenario. But this sounds ominous:
"China doesn't want to accept US leadership. Confrontation is inevitable."
That's a quote from Yan Xuetong, director of the Institute of International Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Sounds oh-so-Cold War, doesn't it?

Life in a Swing State 

I wondered why all the side streets were blocked off by police cars when I was driving home from work yesterday:
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry railed against President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in Pittsburgh yesterday for creating a culture of fear to boost their re-election campaign.... The Democrat [spoke to] a crowd of thousands of students and other potential Western Pennsylvania voters gathered yesterday evening on the muddy lawn of the Carnegie Mellon University campus in Oakland.
It never really occured to me exactly how deeply complicated the logistics must be for candidate travel in a Presidential campaign. There were at least 10-12 city police vehicles that I saw blocking side streets along what was presumably Kerry's motorcade route.

No vote, no nookie 

Sex pledges to boost US vote turnout:
A new campaign to encourage young Americans to vote on election day is using a novel incentive - sex pledges.

Americans who sign up to Votergasm can pledge to withhold sex from a non-voter for up to four years until the next presidential election in 2008.

A spokeswoman told the BBC that the internet-based campaign aims to boost voter turnout among young people, as well as promoting safe, consensual sex.
Love that "safe sex" tack-on to make the initiative seem less lascivious.

Faux Melodiya! 

It's a practice which apparently serves as economic stimulator, cultural enrichment program, and even a de facto computer learning course. It's music piracy in Russia:
"Almost all of my CDs are pirated. I also tried downloading from the web, but do it very little, because I don't want to pay for internet traffic. I think in Russia piracy is not such a bad thing, since it compensates for our low incomes. At least it becomes possible for people to educate themselves about computer programs, for example."
Very interesting article.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Must...have...one..... Must...turn...all...TVs...off... 

Inventor Rejoices as TVs Go Dark:
Altman's key-chain fob was a TV-B-Gone, a new universal remote that turns off almost any television. The device, which looks like an automobile remote, has just one button. When activated, it spends over a minute flashing out 209 different codes to turn off televisions, the most popular brands first.

For Altman, founder of Silicon Valley data-storage maker 3ware, the TV-B-Gone is all about freeing people from the attention-sapping hold of omnipresent television programming. The device is also providing hours of entertainment for its inventor.

At a Laundromat and cafe down the street, a lone man sorted clothes in the glow of larger-than-life bikini babes on a 60-inch Sony HDTV. A punch of the button and the screen instantly went dark. He went on folding his T-shirts, seemingly unaware of the change.

"It's always like that," Altman said. "It's so much part of the environment in the U.S. that people don't even notice when it disappears."
It's almost like a grand art project, innit?


Inscrutable Science 

From the Head Scratcher Desk...

Plasma beam for 90-day Mars visit:
Advocates of a propulsion idea for spacecraft claim that it would enable a 90-day round trip to Mars.

Using current technology, it would take astronauts about 2.5 years to travel to Mars, conduct their mission and return to Earth, US scientists estimate.

It would use a space station to fire a beam of magnetised particles at a solar sail mounted on a spacecraft.
The article is distressingly low on details about this plasma beam technology, except to say that beam units would have to be placed in orbit around the Earth and Mars and that these beams would, in effect, power the spacecraft between the planets like laundry between two clothesline pulleys.

Meanwhile, Baby sex link to domestic status:
The living arrangements of parents at the time a baby is conceived may play a role in determining its sex, research suggests.

A US study found parents who were married or living together before conception were slightly more likely to have a boy than those who were not.
Is it just me, or does this sound ridiculous? The rationale for the statistics is given as:
Male embryos are less robust than their female counterparts, and so require a greater degree of nurturing through pregnancy if they are to survive to full term.

It may be that a woman who is in a stable relationship may be in a better position to provide this care.
Hmmm...maybe... I'm no scientist, but this doesn't sound, well, sound.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Bad language alert:

From AP:
NetGear Inc. is designing a broadband modem for use with a long-range wireless data service called Flash-OFDM that is currently being trialed by Nextel Communications Inc., T-Mobile International and Vodafone PLC.
"Being trialed"?

That stinks almost as bad as the governmentspeak phrase being "tasked" to mean being "assigned." (as featured in Condoleeza Rice's testimony before the 9/11 Commission, such as "it tasked the director of OMB with ensuring that sufficient funds were available in budgets over the next five years.")

The 21st Century Music Industry  

Here's an article which concisely sums up why non-niche record stores are doomed, and why the music industry refuses to adapt to the brave new world of online music sales.

The short version: without the limited stock of a physical store, catalogue titles generate collectively as much revenue as new, hit-driven music (and perhaps ultimately more lucrative, as catalogue music doesn't require massive promotion costs to generate that revenue). Therefore, it makes much less sense to orient the industry towards massive hits (which is required to drive traffic into physical stores) and more sense to cultivate niche artists with more modest but dedicated fan bases.

Thus, for current music execs: everything you know is wrong. Change or bye-bye.

Printer Personalities 

Printers betray document secrets:
US scientists have discovered that every desktop printer has a signature style that it invisibly leaves on all the documents it produces.

They have now found a way to use this to identify individual laser printers.

The work will help track down printers used to make bogus bank notes, fake passports and other important papers.

Before now it was thought that the differences between cheap, mass-produced desktop printers were not significant enough to make individual identification possible.

But a team from Purdue University in Indiana led by Professor Edward Delp has developed techniques that make it possible to trace which printer was used to produce which document.

In 11 out of 12 tests, the team's methods identified which model of desktop laser printer was used to print particular documents.

"We also believe that we will be able to identify not only which model of printer was used but specifically which printer was used," Professor Delp said.
From that 12th test shall spring dozens of crime novels.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Want a Headache? 

Just go to this site and read all about how some dude in Nevada tried to claim the moon in 1980 and has been selling properties on it ever since.

Be forewarned: this is not a write-up about the guy, it's the FAQ to the guy's own extremely disorganized and factually vague site. So it's a more than a little headachey.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Coffee Talk 

This is my favorite page on the website. It is where I get to stay in touch with you. If you’ve come as a fan, I hope you leave as a friend.

Oh, whoops. Sorry, I just stole that paragraph verbatim from Lisa Whelchel's official website (you know, TV's Blair Warner?)

Halloween Sunday 

Halloween on Sunday troubles some Southerners:
Across the Bible Belt this Halloween, some little ghosts and goblins might get shooed away by the neighbors -- and some youngsters will not be allowed to go trick-or-treating at all -- because the holiday falls on a Sunday this year.

"It's a day for the good Lord, not for the devil," said Barbara Braswell, who plans to send her 4-year-old granddaughter Maliyah out trick-or-treating in a princess costume on Saturday instead.

Some towns around the country are decreeing that Halloween be celebrated on Saturday to avoid complaints from those who might be offended by the sight of demons and witches ringing their doorbell on the Sabbath.

Others insist the holiday should be celebrated on October 31 no matter what....

"You just don't do it on Sunday," said Sandra Hulsey of Greenville, Georgia. "That's Christ's day. You go to church on Sunday, you don't go out and celebrate the devil. That'll confuse a child...."

"We don't need to confuse people with this," Councilman George Alexander said.
The City of Huntsville [AL] is encouraging residents to plan trick-or-treating and other Halloween activities on Saturday, October 30 this year. The decision was made in response to numerous citizen requests, according to Mayor Loretta Spencer....

Florence [AL] Mayor Bobby Irons is encouraging his city's residents to celebrate Halloween on October 30 this year....

Decatur's [AL] Mayor Don Kyle is suggesting that Decatur residents do their trick-or-treating October 30 this year.
Trick-or-treating should take place in Page [AZ] on Sunday, Oct. 31 this year, "suggested" Page City Council, opting against a Saturday alternative.

"Come with us and you will see
This, our town of Halloween
This is Halloween, this is Halloween
Pumpkins scream in the dead of night
This is Halloween, everybody make a scene
Trick or treat till the neighbors gonna die of fright
It's our town, everybody scream
In this town of Halloween"
~~The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Spotlight on Trade Mags! 

In a continuing effort by this website to enlighten readers about up-to-the-minute items that are rightfully being ignored by fellow citizens everywhere, it's time to once more shine our high-beamed spotlight on an obscure industry's inscrutable trade publication.

For this outing, let's take a look at World Trade, a magazine promising editorial content "that the global supply chain/logistics decision maker demands." Yes! Finally! A trade mag on trade!
  • Mission:
    World Trade Magazine covers all aspects of supply chain logistics, important to decision makers at the highest levels as they integrate global elements of the supply chain into U.S. manufacturing and ultimately into moving products to both domestic and foreign markets. Today’s top level executives want the timely and unbiased information provided by WTM. (pdf link)
    (I find this quite refreshing--all of the other magazines serving supply chain execs are so shamelessly BIASED and PARTISAN!)

  • How they fancy themselves:

    • "For U.S. executives with global vision." (link)
    • "For the integrated global logistics decision maker." (pdf link)

    (Hmmm... what if I'm a segregated decision maker who is globally myopic? Is World Trade right for me?)

  • Target demo:
    World Trade is targeted to the senior management of mid-sized American manufacturers actively involved in exporting and importing, as well as the service industries supporting their efforts. (link)
    (Senior management of mid-sized firms...and the service industries who love them. I must say, I admire their "big fish in a mid-sized pond" outlook.)

  • Upcoming trade-related educational events:
    Uh, no current events found. (link)
  • Didja know?
    "World Trade magazine is also carried on two major airlines including; United and Delta offering exceptional visibility to high-level business travelers." (link)
    (Please note; World Trade writers have not yet attended the seminar on the difference between the colon and the semicolon: also, get the subtle joke? "HIGH-LEVEL" business travelers? HA! ROFL!)
Wow! My mind has eaten such a huge trade news feast that I now fear I shall vomit up large chunks of trade-related information, much to the chagrin of all in polite society! I hope you, too, gorged yourself on this globally-visionary buffet!

(Mmmm....global supply chain!)


I was just reading an article called "Revenge of the pop-ups" about tricks that websites are now employing to get around popular pop-up blockers. Whenever I read such analyses, I usually visit some of the egregious sites mentioned to test out my anti-marketing countermeasures.

This led me to a CNET page showing examples of some of the "floating" ads and "intromericals" they've done for clients. So I clicked on one to test whether I'd even see their ad, a promotion for the ailing TV series Enterprise. It was described by CNET thusly: "This floating ad successfully brings together creativity and consideration of the user experience. With just enough intrusiveness to engage the user, this ad clearly communicates a call to action while incorporating dramatic, visual elements from the show." (sheesh--some "consideration"!)

When I clicked though to the test page, nothing happened (hooray!). However, I noticed one of the articles on the test page: "Is your computer posessed? It may be clogged with junk you don't need or add-ons you never asked for. Get the tools you need to exorcise your machine."

Add-ons you never asked for? Um, kinda like floating ads and intromericals?

Tools you need to exorcise your machine from ads:
Tool number one: Firefox browser. With Firefox, you can right click on ads and block images from specific ad servers. Sweet! (plus the built-in popup blocker)

Tool number two: Flash player uninstaller. Flash can sometimes be cool, but mostly it's a way to make shit move annoyingly on a website. I keep the uninstaller on my computer desktop, so that if I want to install Flash to see a specific website (website developers love to make gratuitous motion), I can immediately uninstall it.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Mr. Toad's Wildest Ride! 

Theme park plan for Chechnya:
Sergei Abramov, who heads Chechnya's pro-Moscow government, said on Friday that the park would be built next year along with a range of cultural and entertainment facilities, including a new football stadium.

"We have now made a fundamental switch from the principle of reconstruction to the principle of development," Mr Abramov told a news conference on the rebuilding of the republic's shattered economy.

"Therefore, next year, we will launch not only a multifunctional sports centre for the Terek football club, but a Disneyland and a swimming/leisure complex," he said in remarks broadcast by the Ekho Moskvy radio station.

Mr Abramov did not make clear whether he was referring to an official Disneyland, or a generic theme park.
One can, I think, safely assume that this will not be an official Disney theme park. That company has its own troubles without expanding to Chechnya (although they've already put some thought into anti-terrorist technology).

One wonders if building an amusement park in Chechnya isn't merely growing low-hanging fruit for rebels or other disorder-minded individuals?

Just Lovely 

Data Miner Free From U.S. Law:
A former intelligence official named Ben H. Bell III, is taking his ideas to a private company offshore, where he and his colleagues plan to use some of the same concepts, technology and contractors to assess people for risk, outside the reach of U.S. regulators, according to documents and interviews.

Bell's new employer, the Bahamas-based Global Information Group Ltd., intends to amass large databases of international records and analyze them in the coming years for corporations, government agencies and other information services. One of the first customers is information giant LexisNexis Group, one of the main contractors on the government system that was known until recently as the second generation of the Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-screening Program, or CAPPS II. The program is now known as Secure Flight....

Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, said he worries that Global will become a contractor for government work that government officials could not get backing to do themselves. "He is making a highly controversial program more controversial," Lewis said about Bell. "Now he's doing it offshore and making money off of it."
Great, now Americans who wrongly end up on terrorist watch lists won't even whatever meager recourse that U.S. law might provide them.

Although Bell insists that "the intent was not to run offshore and hide stuff," the company's CEO, Donald Thibeau, admit such a project is cheaper and easier in the Bahamas.

He also gushed in the article, "We live in a world where data can go anywhere and be warehoused anywhere." Whee! Ain't privacy invadin' fun?

Friday, October 15, 2004

Sheer Genius 

Earlier tonight, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart went on CNN's Crossfire and hosts Paul Begala and (especially) Tucker Carlson obviously expected a "light" show about a comic and his TV show's new book. What they got was this:
STEWART: See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're helping the politicians and the corporations. And we're left out there to mow our lawns.

BEGALA: By beating up on them? You just said we're too rough on them when they make mistakes.

STEWART: No, no, no, you're not too rough on them. You're part of their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks.


BEGALA: We're 30 minutes in a 24-hour day where we have each side on, as best we can get them, and have them fight it out.

STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. To do a debate would be great. But that's like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic competition.


STEWART: But the thing is that this -- you're doing theater, when you should be doing debate, which would be great.

BEGALA: We do, do...


STEWART: It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.

CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?

STEWART: Absolutely.

CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...


STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls.


STEWART: What is wrong with you?
When it occurs to them that Stewart is pointing his wit guns in their direction, they actually try to attack Stewart for being a poor journalist (well, Carlson mostly). Which kinda makes Stewart's hackery charge stick, you know?

See, Tucker & Paul fail to realize that they are the raw meat for The Daily Show as much as politicians, if not more so. This is post-McLuhan political satire: the medium IS the message. And The Daily Show understands the gears and levers of how that media works as masterfully as Karl Rove (as Stewart rather simply demonstrates during this appearance).

And just as they don't see that the politicos are playing them for suckers (if they, indeed, delude themselves that Crossfire is more of a news show than a news-themed entertainment show), they can't fathom that a book-plugging comic would dare "lecture" them more or less seriously about the failings of the fourth estate (and Crossfire's little doghouse on that estate) instead of playing the news-themed hype game.

In short, they suddenly started reacting like politicians should react coming on Crossfire--but don't, knowing this is not actual journalism but mere, as Stewart correctly puts it, theater.

The entire transcript is available here. Highly recommended. Genius guest work.

UPDATE: See/hear the actual tape here (thanks to Dave for the tip).

2nd UPDATE: Carlson is trying to portray the exchange as a flop for Stewart. First of all, that makes no sense unless you believe Stewart is an actual newsman; when MTV runs the story with the headline "Jon Stewart Bitchslaps CNN's 'Crossfire' Show," it's a home run for a comedian who hosts a comedy show (and is out on the hustings, as it were, to promote a book).

Secondly, while I have no doubt that Stewart was honest about his belief that newsmedia are abdicating their vital role as an external check on power (according to the above-linked AP article, "Carlson said Stewart continued lecturing the Crossfire crew after the show went off the air"), one wonders if the calculated attack by Stewart doesn't have a touch of Moore-esque media manipulation in the exchange.

After all, in one fell swoop, Stewart generated tons of ink which conveyed his message about newsmedia hackery (although, naturally, most newsmedia are blind to the larger implications of his point, preferring to see the whole things as Stewart vs. Carlson, a personal feud) to an even broader audience than merely Crossfire's, as well as promoting himself, The Daily Show, and (to a lesser extent) the book.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Reader's Digest Presidents? 

US elections: Short name, short odds:
If you want to find a way of forecasting who is going to win the race for the presidency, look at the lengths and origins of their names. The pattern since World War II has been for candidates with increasingly short, poster-friendly names. And preferably sounding like they could be the lead characters in a mini-series.

In the last electoral battle, in 2000, the names couldn't have got any shorter, with a two-syllable play-off between George Bush and Al Gore.


If you want to find a president with a three-syllable surname you have to go back to John Kennedy in 1960. Latter-day tri-syllabics, such as Michael Dukakis in 1988, went down in flames.

If you go back to the slower-paced 1950s, it was possible for Dwight Eisenhower to get his name squeezed onto a ballot form.

Apart from the slight profile-raising advantage of having been supreme allied commander during the war, he was also helped by running against someone with a name as long as his own: Adlai Stevenson. And to make the point even clearer, his supporters cut the name right back to the no-nonsense, movie-star brevity of "Ike".
Just don't bring this issue up with those who want to alter the Constitution to allow Schwarzenegger a run for the Presidency.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Anachronism Alert 

I just read a Michael Musto piece on Howard Stern which, in addition to Musto's standard-issue ironically intended over-the-top prose, contained the phrase "it sends out reams of e-mails about its promo events."

"Reams of e-mails"?

Besides the questionable necessity of the dash in "e-mail" (that's, like, sooo 20th century!), should email really be measured in paper quantifiers?

Damage When the Bells Are Rung 

Just as historic church bells are damaged each time it is rung, there are many situations in which our social fabric is damaged at the ringtone of a cell phone.

Theaters, for instance. (also, in theatres)

France allows theaters and others to jam cell phone signals. Still generally illegal in the U.S. and England, jammers could allow for peace in circumstances where phones are not appropriate.

A BBC article discusses the issue (including an interesting wallpaper to address the problem).

While such signal-jamming would be terrific in many circumstances, there is a downside. According to the BBC article, the practice may be employed to extract money out of consumers: "In Israel it is reported that hotel chains have found them a great way of forcing guests to use the expensive in-room phones."

It might be a small price to pay though. Most deserving of jamming: public rest room cell phone users. Should jamming not be an option, public flogging is probably the best alternative.

UPDATE: The AP has a new dispatch about churches in Mexico using jammers, which also has an interesting round-up of other nations which allow the countermeasure and for what purposes jamming is used.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

What's the Russian word for "stressful"? 

Locking a group of people up in a confined space for almost a year and a half with limited suplies to test how everything holds up over that time.

Biosphere III?

No, it's actually The 500 Days experiment, planned by the Russian Institute of Medical and Biological Problems:
Russian space researchers will lock six men in a metal tube for more than a year in an effort to mimic the stresses and challenges of a manned mission to Mars.

The 500 Days experiment, under development by the Russian Institute of Medical and Biological Problems, will isolate human volunteers in a mock space station module for -- as its namesake suggests -- a complete 500 days to study how a long mission to Mars might affect its human crew....

During the 500 Days study, six volunteers will depend on a preset limit of supplies, including about 5 tons of food and oxygen and 3 tons of water. A doctor will accompany volunteers inside the module to treat illnesses and injuries. Volunteers will only be allowed to quit the experiment if they develop a severe ailment or psychological stress.
This sounds like Act I of a horror film. Here's the denouement: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."

Other Russian Institute of Medical and Biological Problems fun: a year ago Galina Shumilina of the Institute was quoted thusly on International Space Station hygiene requirements: "Even on a space mission, men must take proper care of their appearance. The ISS does not welcome unshaven personnel on board."

Saturday, October 09, 2004

The Agony of Defeat 

Andenaes struggled to catch up after Fernandez's buying spree. But his fate was sealed when he rolled an unlucky six, moved his wheelbarrow to Tennessee Avenue and lost his shirt.
Thus ended the micro-Machiavellian struggle that was the World Monopoly Championship played earlier today in Tokyo.
Antonio Zafra Fernandez, 36, of Madrid pumped his fist in the air after he bested Norwegian Bjorn Andenaes of Oslo in the beloved board game to take home the $15,140 prize — equal to the amount of play money in a Monopoly set.

"I'm extremely happy and so proud," Fernandez said after hoisting a giant winner's check in the air. He said he and his wife would spend the prize money on a new car, but added: "It's not about the money. I'm going home as a champion, which doesn't happen often in a person's life."
Despite my best efforts, I cannot discover the identity of winning player's token. Was the winner represented by the popular and sporty roadster? Was it the Scottish terrier, seemingly cute but secretly violently wolfish? Perhaps the dreaded thimble?


SIDEBAR: Here's a good history of Monopoly tokens.

More Confrontational Art 

Museum drops 'nude Bush' artwork:
A cartoon-style nude painting of US President George W Bush has been taken down by a museum in Washington.

Kayti Didriksen's Man of Leisure, King George, shows a nude Mr Bush being attended to by a man resembling Vice-President Dick Cheney.

It is based on Edouard Manet's work Olympia, which hangs in a Paris museum.
Here's the 1863 Manet painting for a comparison.

From the "Small is the New Big" Dept. 

The Smart cars are coming:
Over the past decade, the Mercedes spinoff called Smart has emerged as Europe's most daring car company. It has rolled out a four-wheeled motorcycle. It has introduced a novel interlocking design that allows owners to change the car's color panels as often as they change cell phone faceplates. It has opened the world's first online dealership and sells cars out of towering glass vending machines across Europe. And it has experimented with Bluetooth, offering smartphone and iPod integration before any other carmaker.

All that - plus a sticker price starting at $13,000 - has helped the company snag the youngest average buyer of any global auto manufacturer, a snappy 37. And Smart's buyers are an enviably affluent bunch. Nearly half pay in full and in cash.

Now Smart is making a play for the US market. Even as Smart cars surged across Europe and spread to 31 countries, conventional wisdom in the States dismissed the diminutive city car as the Speedo of the automotive world - fashionable abroad but way too small. Smart's solution: Make the micro a mini SUV. Based on the Fortwo design, the Smart SUV will debut in January at the Detroit Auto Show and arrive for sale in 2006 for about $20,000.

Not to nitpick... 


President Bush in last night's debate:
BUSH: Yes, that's a great question. Thanks. I hear there's rumors on the Internets that we're going to have a draft. We're not going to have a draft, period.

Pie Talk  

A waiter walks by with a cart of pies. Homer Simpson looks at the cart.
Homer: Boy those pies look good!
A waitress walks up to Homer with a pie.
Waitress: Open your gullet, you human blob.
Homer takes a taste.
Lisa: Well, what do you think?
Music starts playing.
Homer: What do I think of the pie? WHAT DO I THINK OF THE PIE?! [singing] Goodness gracious! It's delicious! That's what I think of the pie!
Meanwhile, the L.A. Times takes a frank look at pies, pie-making, and those who eat pie professionally:
Blended with spices and condensed milk, the pumpkin mixture is poured into pie shells and baked. Pfeifer walks across the linoleum floor, grabs a knife and cuts a slice no wider than his thumb.

"Every day, there are pies that we have to taste. That's every day we work, every day for 10 weeks or more," Pfeifer said. "I'm on my feet for 13 hours a day, working in 100-degree heat, and I'm still 20 pounds overweight."

Friday, October 08, 2004

Tim Russert on Walter "Monday" 

I was just reading some background material before the 2nd Presidential debate tonight, and surfed smack into this little tidbit from MSNBC:
MSNBC: The burden in this second debate seems to be on President Bush to rebound and even the score with Sen. Kerry.

Russert: Even his closest supporters acknowledge the first debate was a lackluster performance. It reminded me very much of Ronald Reagan in 1984, where, after a dismal first debate, he bounced back in the second one against Walter Monday with that witty line about, "I won’t use your youth and inexperience against you."
Walter Monday?

Strictly speaking, that probably doesn't technically qualify as a typo, since the error is apparently npot on the keyboard (like, say, typing "npot" instead of "not") but in the ear or brain. Either an MSNBC stenographer misheard "Walter Mondale" or someone (Russert?) had a brain fart.

As it turns out, however, a google search shows that MSNBC is not unique in this odd error. Examples of the same mistake can be seen here, here, here, or here

Thursday, October 07, 2004

What's Japanese for "Way Wicked Awesome"? 

Device translates spoken Japanese and English:
A handheld device that enables a user to chat in another language - without having to learn any words or phrases for themselves - has been developed by Japanese electronics firm NEC.

The system is about the size of a handheld PDA and converts spoken Japanese to English and vice versa. It is planned for launch in Japan in the next few months.

It consists of three components - a speech recognition engine, translation software and a voice generator. Spoken English or Japanese is recognised and converted into text by the speech recognition engine. The text is then converted from Japanese to English or the other way by translation software and the resulting text is vocalised by a voice synthesiser. The entire process takes about one second.
First Star Trek's communicator essentially come to life as flip-phones. Now the universal translator.

Soon laptops will be tricorder size. Too bad the transporter ain't happening anytime soon.

The Perils of Automated News 

"Correction: President Bush Did Not Win Election on October 7"

That's an actual retraction headline posted to the website of Green Bay, Wisconsin, ABC-TV affiliate WBAY:
With less than a month before the presidential election, an Associated Press test article declaring President Bush the winner was picked up by WBAY.com's automated system. The headline of the AP story apparently did not bear that all-important word for the automated filters... "test."


The article appeared on WBAY.com for 35 minutes.
See the actual test story here.


Dumb Rock Stars 

Among the guys who give all rock stars a bad name, add Incubus singer Brandon Boyd. Boyd yesterday attempted to bring a switchblade in his bag while trying to board a plane on his way to a concert in North Carolina. According to his spokewoman, Boyd admitted he accidentally left the knife in his bag and called the incident "my bad."

Well, duh.

INDUCE Act Update 

D.C. showdown over file swapping looms:
Technology companies and the record industry are nearing a last-minute showdown on Capitol Hill over a controversial bill aimed at quelling file swapping.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and dubbed the "Induce Act," was introduced earlier this year, in large part as a response to court rulings that have said that file-sharing software companies were not liable for the copyright infringement of their customers.

A round of negotiations between the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and technology organizations closed this week without reaching compromise, according to people familiar with the talks. As of late Wednesday, Hatch's Judiciary committee was scheduled to vote on a version of the bill Thursday morning. That prospect prompted a flurry of last-minute protest letters from technology and consumer organizations.

"The recording industry (proposals) would effectively put at risk all consumer electronics, information technology products, and Internet products and services that aren't designed to the industry's liking," read one letter sent Wednesday and signed by lobby groups representing technology companies, including News.com publisher CNET Networks. "We urge you not to move forward now."
Congress had better see, to paraphrase Don Rumsfeld, that Hollywood is now Old Europe. Computer games are the New Hollywood. And Europe is now just a computer game.

Wait. Strike that last sentence. I thought I was following the transitive rule in math.

Anyway, stifling computer and electronic manufactures to appease the copyright industries would eventually prove more harmful then allowing events to run their course.

Also see my previous posts here and here.

Executive Producers of This Post Include Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Demi Moore, and Arnold Schwarzenegger 

'Bogus' film credits under attack:
Hollywood producers have said they are willing to go to court to stop people receiving bogus "producer" credits.

The Producers Guild of America said undeserved credits are too often given to boost the career records of actors, agents or managers.

President Kathleen Kennedy refused to reveal who had received bogus credits but said guidelines would be clarified.
These faux credits are a travesty. They're a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. Or something.

Papal Bull 

The Pope declares communism a "necessary evil."

Regulating Space Passengers 

I must say, when Richard Branson announced the Virgin Galactic plans last week, I finally felt we had arrived in the 21st Century. Welcome!

Now the devilish details start creeping in:
Federal Aviation Administration chief Marion C. Blakey this week visited Xcor Aerospace, a rocket developer just down the Mojave Airport flight line from SpaceShipOne's home. She talked of partnership with the new industry and said it was important for the United States to be the world leader.

She made clear, however, that broad safety issues are the agency's topic No. 1.

"Our first concern will be the safety of the uninvolved public, making sure that as this grows and develops that we're doing everything we can to protect the folks on the ground, to make sure that the people who go into space understand the risks," she said. "It will be a risky business for many years to come, no doubt."
Some of the issues mentioned involve passenger medical fitness requirements and carrier safety record disclosure.

Many might look at space tourism as just another foolish way for the idle rich to piss away more cash. But then, it's taken the better part of the past hundred years for air travel to become the financially competitive method for getting from point A to point B (in probably most instances, flying is now cheaper then or comparable to rail, ocean liner, or bus fares--which wasn't the case decades ago).

The "toy of the spoiled rich" phase is, hopefully, an important step between the experimental/wacko period (which space travel is currently in) and the "available to all" stage.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

From the WTF? Desk... 

This desk has been overloaded lately.

Dallas Plans to Open Site of Oswald Killing:
Dallas plans to allow tourists into the underground garage where U.S. President John F. Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, was gunned down more than 40 years ago, city officials said on Wednesday.

Nightclub owner Jack Ruby shot Oswald in the basement of what was then the Dallas police headquarters on Nov. 24, 1963.

TV footage and photos of Ruby emerging from a crowd and firing a handgun at Oswald as he was handcuffed to a Dallas police officer have been among the most-seen news images in the world.

Visitors will be allowed to see the basement as well as a cell in the same building complex where Oswald was jailed.
I understand that there's overwhelming, enormous interest in the Kennedy assasination and all connected details, but this certainly seems like an odd tourist attraction.

After all, it's a garage.

Actually, I have no problem with this being turned into a tourist attraction, I just think it's a little weird that the city itself is going to trumpet its most notorious law enforcement screw-up (and among the most notorious lapses in U.S. history).

Of course Federal agents were ultimately responsible for making sure Oswald didn't kill the President. But surely preventing local gun-toting, strip-club owners from entering the jail garage while the nation's most suddenly-infamous killer was being transferred there WAS within the Dallas police's bailiwick.

Dallas interim City Manager Mary Suhm is quoted as saying, "I think it is a mistake to ignore unpleasant events in the context of history." That's probably more accurate of a statement if you replace the mumbo-jumbo-ish "unpleasant events in the context of history" phrase and replace it with the more to-the-point "tourism dollars."

I just shudder to think what the gift shop will sell besides the inevitable hundreds of books written about the Kennedy assasination. T-shirts of Ruby's "Carousel Club"? Oswald "mug shot" mugs?

More googling... 

Like Amazon has had for awhile, Google is now going to offer full-text printed book searching:
Whenever a book contains content that matches your search terms, we'll show links to that book in your search results. Click on the book title and you'll go to a "content page," where you can see the page containing your search terms and other information about the book.
Great idea, in theory. I was a atwitter when Amazon began offering this feature. After using it about 4 times right after it was launched, I haven't used it since.

Perhaps Google can do it better. But the fundamental problem with book searching is that you cannot go immediately to the source and read it as fully as you might wish (like you can with websites, or with news sources via Google News). And, on the web, immediate gratification is king.

So unless Google can persuade publishers to allow full-text, unrestricted browsing of books for free, then this might only be a novelty rather than a real tool.

On Sulking Fish.... 

Fish can learn quicker than dogs:
Fish are much brainier than previously thought - and can learn quicker than dogs.

Oxford scientists have dubbed them "very capable" after building an aquatic obstacle course....

Dr Theresa Burt de Perera said: "The public perception of fish is that they are pea-brained numbskulls who can't remember things for more than a few seconds.

"We're now finding that they are very capable of learning and remembering, and possess a range of mental skills that would surprise many people."

She added: "We know that fish can recognise their owners - some will even go into a sulk if somebody else tries to feed them."
Yeah, but I bet they can't factor quadratic equations. Hmm. Thought so.

Paging Dr. Piltdown, White Courtesy Phone 

Medieval surgeons were advanced:
Surgeons were carrying out complicated skull operations in medieval times, the remains of a body found at an archaeological dig show.

A skull belonging to a 40-year-old peasant man, who lived between 960 and 1100AD, is the firmest evidence yet of cranial surgery, say its discoverers.

The remains, found in Yorkshire, show the man survived an otherwise fatal blow to the head thanks to surgery.
Ironically enough, the original blow came from the man's insurance agent for not paying spiraling healthcare premiums. That's just a guess on my part, of course, but one backed up by strong evidence. Or it's only backed up by my active imagination. I forget, one or the other.

Tracking the Trackers 

Interesting article about the challenges of "web ratings" or evaluating a web site's traffic for advertising purposes: Web Industry Still Flies Blind.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Petulance of American Leaders 

Peru leader shocks with TV tirade:
Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo is facing a backlash after TV audiences heard him harangue and insult a presenter in a live telephone call.

Opposition politicians and the press voiced shock at the outburst, which was prompted by a critical broadcast.

Mr Toledo accused presenter Carlos Espa of cowardice and "gutter" journalism for airing footage apparently proving allegations of electoral malpractice.

Recent opinion polls suggest Mr Toledo is South America's least-liked leader.
Maybe his sash was ill-adjusted and too tight.

What's going on with recent peevish TV appearance by heads of state in the Americas?

Supermarket Weirdness 

Have you ever seen any extremely odd labeling or signage in your local supermarket? Come on, I know you have. It's so hard not to...

In the supermarket the other day, I spotted a box of doughnuts in an aisle display with an odd descriptor on the packaging. It proclaimed itself "SIGNATURE FILLED DONUTS!"

I assumed this meant that these some variety of "filled" doughnuts, and they were the particular manufacturer's signature variety of said doughnut.

But what the hell do I know? They could very well have been pastries filled with actual signatures, all chock full of yummy ink goodness.

And, although this wasn't in a supermarket, I have twice recently seen signage in convenience stores or gas station mini-marts that advertised selling cigarettes at "state-minimum prices or less" with the "or less crossed out or taped over. I guess a representative from the state must have passed through town recently explaining how the word minimum is generally defined. And perhaps how those that don't believe in the concept of "minimum" are welcome to try it out at a state-run minimum-security facility for a judicially determinied period of time.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Empiricist Conspiracists 

The latest internet conspiracy about the Presidential campaign is that Bush was wearing an earpiece getting fed info during the first debate. Sounds like typical tin-foil hat territory, and frankly, I think someone's been watching too much "24" (which had an episode last season in which the U.S. President wore an earpiece while debating his re-election opponent).

But, man, the proffered audio clip does make one do a double-take. And that would explain some of Bush's oddly long pauses. But Occam's Razor dictates that the simpler explanation (say, being ill-prepared) is more likely than the earpiece theory.

But standing in the way of a conspiracy theory--especially one where all the facts seem, apparently, to back the claim--is kind of like using logic to illustrate to your cat why she shouldn't scratch up the furniture.

Persistent Fellas (and Family) 

Presidential Election Watercooler Talk:
In seventeen presidential elections since 1932 the Republicans have never won without Richard Nixon or someone named "George Bush" on the ticket.

In thirteen--fourteen if you count 2004--presidential elections since 1952 the Republicans have only nominated three tickets without Nixon or a "George Bush". They were Goldwater/Miller ('64), Ford/Dole ('76) and Dole/Kemp ('96).
A fairly scary scenario is if Bush wins re-election (remains to be seen) and if Hilary Clinton runs and wins in '08 (big "if," but certainly plausible--especially if Cheney was Republican nominee), then the terms of Presidential office since 1988 would be Bush-Clinton-Clinton-Bush-Bush-Clinton.

At that point, it should occur to everyone that the system is broken. We're not supposed to have dynasties.

Blog vacuuming 

I was doing a little site maintenance (since I've dumped Internet Explorer in favor of the MUCH superior Firefox browser, I'm trying to reconcile some of the annoying differences in how the different browsers displays this page), and have made a few minor changes. Just a little dusting and vacuuming to make the ol' place here look spiffy.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

She's a Gonna Blow! 

U.S. Warns of Big Mount St. Helens Blast:The lava dome of Mt. St. Helens: 'before.'
Government scientists raised the alert level Saturday for Mount St. Helens after its second steam eruption in two days was followed by a powerful tremor. They said the next eruption was imminent or in progress, and could threaten life and property in the remote area near the volcano.
Photo is a U.S. Geological Survey shot of the lava dome at Mt. St. Helens prior to the recent activity (see another "before" view here). Here is an "after" image:The lava dome of Mt. St. Helens: 'after.' (or, perhaps, 'during')

The U.S.G.S. website has some nifty explanatory graphics and diagrams on it: volcano types, tephra plume, 1980 eruption ash distribution, and a representation of Mt. St. Helens' lava dome growth. Man, I am SO ready for show & tell!

SIDENOTE: The official U.S.G.S. alert level has been raised to "Volcano Alert (Alert Level 3); aviation color code RED." I sure hope this isn't politically motivated, as has been charged with past alert changes.

ANOTHER SIDENOTE: I just noticed the U.S.G.S.'s name for their server hosting these images is "Vulcan." Cute.

The Gentlemen of Baha 

Brian Sack delves deeply into the pressing question of 'who let the dogs out.'

Friday, October 01, 2004

Iraq braces for new front... 

Benigni shooting Iraq 'comedy':
Italian actor and director Roberto Benigni is to make a film about the Iraq war.

La Tigre e la Neve (The Tiger and the Snow) is set in Iraq in March 2003 - right at the beginning of the US-led campaign.

In spite of the subject matter, Oscar-winner Benigni intends the film - which is due for release in 2005 - to be a comedy.
As Benigni so aptly put it while accepting his 1997 Oscar for La Vita è bella, "I would like to be Jupiter and kidnap everybody and lie down in the ground making love to everybody...because I don’t know how to express...it’s a question of love." Er, um... or something.

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