Natural born killers

Don't trust a southpaw

5ives: Merlin's Lists of Five Things

Is gud yah.

Justice Dept. memo redefines acts of torture

Very strange news out of the US. The Justice department has just released an official memo with a realistic definition of torture, and when discussing what circumstances or authorities might allow for torture states: "consideration of the bounds of any such authority would be inconsistent with the president's unequivocal directive that United States personnel not engage in torture."

I wonder what Rummy, Dick, and George think of such shockingly librul ideas.


Biotech companies fight generic genetics

And they use a patheticallyt overburdened and dysfunctional US PTO to do it. (and just in case that fails, they want biotech generics to be much more stricttly regulated than non-biotech generics)


The Graphing Calculator Story

Oh, that's a great story!


Acupuncture works to relieve arthritis pain: study

Excellent news. 570 patients were given drugs and one of:

  • acupuncture
  • fake acupuncture
  • a self-help pain management course

"By week eight, patients receiving true acupuncture began showing a significant increase in function and by week 14 a significant decrease in pain, compared to those in the other groups," Berman's team reported in the Dec. 21 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.


McFarlane files for Chapter 11

He's such a dick

The making of the terror myth

So apparently you want to watch The Power of Nightmares

Libel Suit Takes Aim at Print Reporter's Words on TV

A reporter for the Boston Herald writes an article about a judge who told a fourteen year old rape victim to get over it and goes on The O'Reilly Factor confirming it. Except now it turns out that it's likely the judge never said any such thing. Did you know that for a public figure to successfully sure for libel, they have to prove reckless disregard for the truth?

I Am A Conservative Christian, And The Religious Right Scares Me, Too

Oh, really?

A.C.L.U. Hypocrisy

Oh, just read the damned thing.

Canadian 'iPod tax' illegal, judge rules

A Canadian MP3 player christmas present. Thanks, Judge Noël.

Music biz threatens International Red Cross

Your friends and mine, the international music cartels are acting their usual loving selves

Michael Speck of Australia’s Music Industry Piracy Investigations said: "We're preparing our approach to the International Red Cross. I believe this whole thing will come as a complete surprise to them, and we’re only approaching them to stop them disposing of any funds."
Speck expressed his hope that the Red Cross would co-operate, adding: "It would be incredibly disappointing if we had to sue them."

Revolt looms in ID cards debate

Riiiight. In an article talking about back-bench revolts against the UK ID card scheme, new Home Secretary Chalres Clarke utters this gem: '[the schem is a] profoundly civil libertarian measure because it promotes the most fundamental civil liberty in our society - which is the right to live free from fear crime and fear.'
And fear! Don't forget fear! Are you afraid yet? Grrr! Terrorists! Grr!


I did not know that

In an article about the Family Guy episode where Stewie avoids airport security by singing: "Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy and the voice of Stewie, was booked on one of the hijacked 9/11 flights but his travel agent gave him the wrong departure time, he got to the airport late and missed the plane.

Emergent Chaos: Econ and Security papers

Say it loud, Adam. In which he points us to another resource dbunknig the whole downloadiing-is-killing-music meme.

Lawyer resigns over terror laws

In Banothe rBBC report, "A senior barrister, given special security clearance to act for suspected terrorists, is to resign in protest at the government's anti-terror laws."

Forecasters face losing key tools

The BBC is reporting that several different microwave bands that are important for weather forecasting and other environmental measurements needs are being encroached on by commercial users. As an example, the 23.6-24 GHz band is very useful because it is sensitive to water vapour but not liquid water. Apparently car radars (collision detection systems) are now allowed to use the band and are beginning to contaminate readings.


bad science awards 2004

Including such goodies as: "Water molecules are broken down to a fraction of their previous size ... diminutive enough to penetrate through the cuticle, and eventually into the core of each hair"

Detainees hope British decision helps them

Some Canadian follow-up.

Coverage from The Guardian:

Law lords back terror detainees
Ancient Liberties
How the law lords reached their conclusion

It calls into question the very existence of an ancient liberty of which this country is proud: freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention
These guys make good sound bite eh?
Judges' verdict on terror laws provokes constitutional crisis
'Enough is enough'

Bugging device found in UN room

How interesting. Note the phrase "Its size indicated it was three or four years old."

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is an idiot

Unlike him, I agree with the Law Lord Nicholls that " Indefinite imprisonment without charge or trial is anathema in any country which observes the rule of law."

He says that it isn't true that detaining suspects without trial breaks human rights laws. Of course, he throws in the adjective phrase "foreign terror" to make it better, but sorry Jack, no dice. I think it telling of his intellectual capacity that he says "the right to life is the most important liberty." Huh? It may be the most important right, but liberty? Twit.

The article continues: "The foreign secretary insisted it was for Parliament, and not judges, to decide how best Britain could be defended against the threat of terrorism." Now that may be true, but it is up to judges, not parliament, to decide if parliament is misbehaving.


Quebec may change the way we vote

It seems they are proposing to add allocate 40% of seats via proportional representation. I wonder if they'll and IRV or Condorcet for the other 60%.

New Scientist - Virtual island sells for $26,500 in cyber assets

Right, so now he owns a virtual island and plans to sell off assets. Except Project Entropia has a 10:1 cash exchange with US dollars. So I wonder what the real world tax bill is going to be. Is it in escrow until he pulls it out? Like you don't pay capital gains on stock until you sell?

New Scientist updated their website

It's chock full o' stuff.

New Scientist's website has just had a major upgrade. You'll now find hugely expanded coverage of all the most fascinating issues in science and technology. News is reported as it happens. Our new special reports each come complete with a unique expert guide. And you can now search our vast online archive for free. You'll also be able to access the entire print dition of New Scientist online. I think you'll find the new site remarkably simple to use, as all stories are grouped into 10 easy-to-navigate subjects.

Of course, they still hide stuff under a premium login but there is more outside now. And if you pay, you have access to the whole shebang. Pretty decent. Feel free to give me an account for 1 year as a Christmas present.

More Millau Viaduct

An write-up with an excellent north-facing pic instead of the usual south-facing ones.

Google News cannot hold they smoke, dat's what it is.

OK, that isn't the problem. The problem is rapid copyright protection lawyers. Perhaps this will calm them down.

Prepping to Pull the Plug on GPS

REPORTER: President Bush? There are still some people who don't think you're a dick. Are you working on that?

SHRUB: Yeah, I reckon that tellin' everyone that we'll be shuttin' down that thar GPS doohickie, and also them European and Russian ones too whenever we feel like it, well, that'll rile some feathers.

Scientists find new Indian monkey

More monkey!

New Scientist - Some people are 'immune' to exercise

I'd go for a walk, but really, why bother?

Wired News: Sleep Disorders Traced to Genes

I don't have to get up early, it's bad for me, my doctor said so.


Poverty Lines, Before-Tax, 2003

if (family.size = 4 && city.size > 500000 && family.income < 37000) {

CBC News:Christmas lights fail to brighten U.S.-Cuban relations

Because is a dictator only if he is anti-american (otherwise he is merely pro-Law&Order), the yanks like to be dicks. And you know what? They aren't being dicks about displaying "75" or taunting the Cuban government, they are being dicks by saying it's a Christmas message. So repression of dissidents is only bad at Christmas is it?

Blunkett quits as home secretary

Dancing in the streets as UK ID card czar David Blunkett quits as home secretary over yet another nanny allegation.

Schneier on Security: Behavioral Assessment Profiling

OK, sure, Behavioral Assessment Profiling is the way to go. But will I still have the chance to win a cavity search?

R.I.P. Gary Webb -- Unembedded Reporter

May you have found peace at last Gary, the world needs a few more, just like you.


Ursula K. Le Guin: Earthsea

What she said

Tories come out in support of UK ID card scheme

Aah, those poor Tories. They're just like the Republicans. They are the party of small government, unless you're talking about intrusive, authoritarian patriarchy (or anything to do with the military or police where it's pork pork pork pork pork).

UK Identity Cards Bill

A blog presenting the bill clause by clause for analysis and commentary.

Wired News: Linux: Fewer Bugs Than Rivals

Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyaaah.

Suggested Google Alphabet

Results of typing in 1 letter to Google Suggestions

Muscle Twitch Switch

New Scientist & Nature haven't picked up on this yet but Ronald Evans at the Salk Institute has discovered that dietary supplements of a protein called PPAR-delta increases slow-twitch muscle mass and prevents weight gain on a high-fat diet and massively improves endurance in normal subjects (mice). So. Gimme an order of ribs and fries, but make sure the BBQ sauce has lots of PPAR-delta and alpha-amylase inhibitors.

France shows off tallest bridge

It looks really cool, photogenic even, but I'm scared of heights and driving across it would creep me out. Very impressive though. The bridge, not my driving across it.


The Brick Testament

Props to John for remiding me about The Brick Testament

Et tu, Marvel?

I didn't mention this before cuz I'm lazy. I don't play, but it is still stupid - Marvel sues Citry of Heroes for infringement.

Sensory Homunculus

Models of the human body - scaled to a size based on sensory/movement connections in the cortex.


Executive Pay Redux

Read the comments for suggestions about how to fix the excessive payouts.

Executive Pay

Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly comments on an Economist article concerning executive pay. In 1991 CEOs of large corporations in the US recieved 140 x the median corporate wage. Today it is 500 x. Not 500 x the lowest paid employee, 500 x the median.


Monkeys miss out on music

So, if you were thinking of buying your monkey an iPod for Christams, don't.

EC calls for rethink of data retention proposals

And the rethink composes of: "You didn't say what we should retain. We think all ISPs should retain everything". Right. Good idea. Archive all traffic in and out. What a clever idea. Of course, neither the original nor the new proposal actually say - This will solve problem X by ... They just assume that everyone will agree that archiving all traffic every where will make everyone safer from the terrorists! Uhuh.

Ohio election fraud uproar blasting to new level

freepress.org reports on the fallout from the shenanigans in Ohio on 2 Nov, 2004.

I do not understand how it can be acceptable that person responsible for running the election can also be the person in charge of one candidates campaign. Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004. Why aren't people complaining much more loudly about this blindingly obvious conflict-of-interest.

Boing Boing: Piracy vs. Stealing: Teacher Fails "A" Student for Topic Choice

In which our hero writes an essay on the difference between music piracy and thievery and the teacher fails him because they don't beleive that there is any difference.

School defends slavery booklet

More heart-warming tales from our neighbourly Christian red-state brethren (I'm thinking that the red vs blue thing has crystallized as of this election). An article/a> describing an amusing little pamphlet that was included in an American History high-school curriculum to provide both viewpoints: the north and the south. Excerpts of interest:

Slavery as it existed in the South was not an adversarial relationship with pervasive racial animosity. Because of its dominantly patriarchal character, it was a relationship based upon mutual affection and confidence.

There has never been a multi-racial society which has existed with such mutual intimacy and harmony in the history of the world.

Slave life was to them a life of plenty, of simple pleasures, of food, clothes, and good medical care.

But many Southern blacks supported the South because of long established bonds of affection and trust that had been forged over generations with their white masters and friends.

Hee hee.


Google Suggest

So responsive! You do realize that they are making an http request with every key you type?

Technology Review: Aligned Nanotubes Accommodate Bone

Coming soon after this, snikt.

Dell sells AMD Opterons through back door

Really? Hmm.

CBC News:Security certificates constitutional: court

Troublesome news regarding national security certificates from the Federal Court of Appeal. From a sidebar:

Citizenship and Immigration Canada can remove a person considered to be a security threat by issuing a Security Certificate signed by the solicitor general and the minister of citizenship and immigration, and endorsed by a judge of the Federal Court.
When a security certificate is issued:
  • all other immigration proceedings are suspended until the Federal Court makes a final decision about the certificate;

  • foreign nationals who are the subject of a Security Certificate are automatically detained. Permanent residents may be detained on a case-by-case basis.

If the Federal Court decides that the certificate is unreasonable, it is quashed. If the court decides that it is reasonable, the certificate becomes an order for removal of the person. The court's decision can't be appealed.

I don't have a major problem with non-citizens being treated differently than citizens. However, I think there need to be strict limits to the amount of time this detention can go on and this sort of thing should never be possible for a citizen (of any stripe). The National Security should not trump the consitution. Someone deemed a risk before becoming a citizen should be deported as soon as possible, we do not have the arbitrary right to keep people in limbo. There is also the question of not seeing the evidence against them. Tricky that one, since if the evidence is correct they will be expelled and out of our control and can reveal potetntially damaging information.

Molson, Coors set merger vote for Jan. 19

The full name is Adolph Coors Co. How appropriate. If you are a Molson shareholder or customer, you should not support this merger.

Tenet calls for Internet security

The Washington Times is a wingnut rag, but they got there first so everyone links to this UPI story about ex-CIA chief Tenet's calls for Internet security at an information-technology security conference in Washington.

Sound bite of interest: "Access to networks like the World Wide Web might need to be limited to those who can show they take security seriously" (Like the Department of Homeland Security which standardized on MS software, reknowned for its security)

As an aside, "the national press, were excluded from yesterday's event, at Mr. Tenet's request, organizers said."

Oh, and there are plenty of .mil addresses on spambot lists.

Freedom to Tinker: Gator's Egregious EULA

Why you should never install Kazaa.

More on the Social Security thing

Apparently it's called bait-and-switch

US Social Security Privatization

OK, so here we learn that in the early 80's Alan Greenspanmade SS payroll taxes higher than the payout to build up a trust fund. Payroll taxes hit low and middle income earners more than hgih income earners. The payback would come some time in 2010-2020 when they woudl reverse things and the trust fund would start to drain. Now the trust fund is just a bunch of t-bills so you the money actually comes from the government general fund, whcih is mostly funded by income tax which is proportionally more expensive for hgih income earners than a payroll tax. Now that the working poor and middle class have built up a nice pile, the scum, er, Republicans are complaining about how one branch of governement claiming t-bills is just messing with money and it isn't really there and it's silly and the fund isn't big enough anyway and the reall solution is to give their broker friends lots more commissions and fees by requiring private investment and just reclaiming all the t-bills. So, tax them on a promise, renege on the promise, oh, and then lie about how it's necessary and the new plan will totally work this time.

Seriously, if you don't make millions of dollars, why would you want to live there? To own a gun? You can't protect yourself from corporations and tax lawyers with a gun my friend. Don't forget that you now live in a nation ruled by beleivers in state torture, and, better yet, using information gathered under torture to prosecute the prisoner.



Ah, now that's what I call good ol' family values.


WorkingForChange - Is this American?

I wonder why the Moral Majority doesn't speak up on the issue of defacing holy texts. We're all children of Abraham right? Brothers of the book? There are many houses in my father's mansion?

Gross National Happiness

National well-being does not scale with national wealth.

Did technology help beat the house?

ISo there were these people who attached a laser velocitimeter to a cellphone, used it to measure the speed of a roulette wheel ball and the roulette wheel, photographed the position of the ball at the time, phoned the data home, crunched a best estimate for a range of likely landing spots and won more than 2 million in 2 days. They were arrested on the second day, but later released and now they have their money too, because they weren't interfering with the wheel or the ball. No doubt casinos will all install cell-phone blockers soon. Which will work until someone comes in with an organic processor and does everything on-site.

Those pesky northerners

An amusing montage of Ann Coulter and Tucker Carlson talking trash about Canada.

Wired News: EBay Negative on Negativland IPod

So it seems to me that eBay has implemented it's own notice & takedown procedure, but without the part that allows for the poster to challenge. I know that this is merely a manifestation of the Golden Rule, but people's pacificity is frightening. If you can't see that your rights are being trampled on here, what will it take? As Martin Niemöller is often quoted: "First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist - so I said nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat - so I did nothing. Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew - so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left who could stand up for me." Insert your favourite right for Communist/Social Democrat/Jew/Trade Unionist and "didn't care" for "wasn't a". Wake up people, please.


Wired News: Study: Musicians Dig the Net

Apparently "About 43 percent agree that 'file-sharing services aren't really bad for artists, since they help to promote and distribute an artist's work to a broad audience.'"

Not only that, but the apparent threat of downloading allows Canadian media companies to suck money from the public's wallet like the ticks and leeches that they are.

The Ten Least Successful Holiday Specials of All Time

Thanks Kir. Link may not be permanent. Remind me next Friday (not this Friday damn you) to check it.

[IP] Piercing the P2P Myths, Part Two

Michael Geist posted his latest column to the Interesting People mailing list. The archives allow you to avoid the annoying Toronto Star website thta his stuff normally appears on.

The important point is that the estimated yearly loss to all Canadian artists from downloading is $540 000 Canadian. Yup. And amount that the CPCC Private Recording Levy will generate in 2004? About $30 MILLION. Yup. 60 times the loss.

Hey, media companies? Fuck off you filthy thieving bastards.

Activist organization responsible for 99% of FCC complaint

Interesting to know that 99.9% of all FTC complaints this year come from a wingnut moral majority organization. 350 Complaints in 2000, 240 000 in 2003. I'm thinking that it's actually way higher than 99.9, but they didn't want to round it up to 100%. Go to church and stop watching, ya freaks. The pc's that they use to post all their complaints on the web form are no doubt infected with spambots that send out porn on a second-by-second basis.


Blogger and categories - a temporary solution

Perhaps those of us who chaff under Blogger's lack of categories could use del.icio.us categories instead. Like blog_copyfight or blog_I-hate-microsoft or blog_check-ca-man. Waddya think?


On an unrelated note

It seems to me that it might be interesting for the US to pass a constitutional ammendment stating that any one standing for election as a judge must not have been a declared member of a political party for no less than 10 years.

'We will be able to live to 1,000'

Sign me up

Spine-damaged canines heal

Ewww. The research was done at a veterinary hospital and the animals were all victims of accidents, which is nice, but then they reach the bit about the guinea pigs and I realise that I could never have worked in a research job that involves animal testing, I just don't have it in me.

News websites get less protection than print, judge rules

The Ninth Circuit (covers pretty much everything west of the continental watershed) is so liberal that our red friends down south want to break it up. I'm not sure why, perhaps it's because they were the ones that rules that the US Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional because it contained the phrase "one nation, under god". Meanwhile, this bastion of liberty has decided that news websites get less protection than print. Cuz the internet is less important doncha know.


Boing Boing: MSN Spaces = soylent green

Boing Boing has more on MSN Spaces, including a complete lack of standards in their HTML and yet another egregious abuse of a compulsory license.

Name: Hermione Granger, Affiliation: Hogwarts

Those wiley kids over at ICANN are going to use magic to solve all of our internet problems.

Human eggs divide without sperm

Did you know that human eggs contain a full complement of DNA but thar one set of chromosomes normally gets ejected within a few hours of fertilization? Me neither. Anyway, it seems that if you inject the egge with phospholipase C-zeta and do other tricky things, the egg starts to divide just as if a little swimmer had come along. And shortly thereafter you can harvest stem cells. Meanwhile the radical fringe reacted as you might expect:

Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, a London-based pro-life lobby group greeted the new procedure with caution. “I’d be happier if it was beyond all reasonable doubt that it could not become a human life.” She added that women must not be exploited to provide eggs.

Aaargh - Microsoft wades into wide world of Weblogs

So I read the headline to this article and I immediately thought: "Great, they'll stick a button in MSN that allows you to create a blog entry in response to any conversation so all the nugget heads who still use MSN (SHAME!!) would start filling the world up with Live Journal part 2. Then I am reading the article and I see:

Microsoft tied the Spaces service into its free e-mail and instant messenger services.

One of the new service's key features is a ``contact card'' that will include a user's profile information. The card will be visible to other MSN Messenger and Hotmail users, and it will give them a preview of any new content posted to a person's Web page.

MSN is also making it easy for users to publish lists of their favorites songs or albums, which they can import from Windows Media Player. Visitors to a person's Web page can click on the song titles and be directed to Microsoft's MSN Music site, where they can purchase the song.

More CIBC amusement

It seems a CIBC branch in Moncton thinks that the feds aren't the only ones producing legal tender in Canada. The math doesn't quite add up though ...

Brazil to break Aids drug patents

From the BBC news website.

Stamping out tolerance wherever it raises its ugly head

Jesus' General lets us know that the United Church of Christ tried to place an ad which invited sodomites to attend their church. CBS rejected the ad. He`s got a good blog, you should check it out.


Copyright Reform is Not a Spectator Sport

Are you now, or have you ever been, a teacher, researcher, education administrator, librarian, consumer or student? If so, you should read this.

From honeypot to bot in minutes

You know windows is in trouble when USA today does an expose on you average home PC's vulnerability to remote exploits as soon as it is plugged in to the net. Now adding a basic firewall to a cable modem should cost less than $20. I believe that the lack of competition in broadband access is suppressing this market as cable/DSL providers want to sell their customers the cheapest thing they can, and customers can't vote with their dollars to move to a provider who cares more about security. Of course a cable provider who knew anything about networking rather than pushing more and more over DRMed channels down the same pipe leading to unacceptable compression rates would also know that a firewall on their modems would lead to lower bandwidth costs and reduced customer service expense. Idiots.