Eric Kobet

I don't know if you have seen Eric's Tainted Donuts anime mash-up of Trigun vs the gentlemen from Cowboy Bebop, but if you like either of them or (better) both, you owe yourself the download.


Of Blogs & Printing Presses.

So an idiot at Forbes magazine writes a spurious and legally incorrect article on the evils of blogs. At which point a kind gentleman from the EFF stepped up and keyed in this missive. via BoingBoing.

Biomimicry For Green Design (A How-To)

Yes, yet another link to an interesting article at Worldchanging. In this one they present an excellent introduction to Biomimicry For Green Design (A How-To).

Copyfight vs beating on ID. Tough choice.

Argh! Cory, is right. Science shouldn't use copyright to silence CreationistsIntelligent Design, especially when they do such a good job themselves.

Republicans, your friends and mine! Oh, wait, you wanted to vote? Sorry, gotta go.

Bitch Ph.D. points out a display of brotherly love: "The House of Representatives is/was supposed to vote today on H.R. 1461, the Housing Finance Reform Act. It supports creation of affordable housing. Good, right? Well, there's a little provision that's been tacked on by the Republican Study Committee to disqualify non-profits from applying for that money if they've engaged in any voter participation activities in the previous year--including non-partisan registering of voters. In other words, this provision ties funding low-income housing to suppressing low-income voting. "

I'm not a fan of Rubert Murdoch, but his lackeys have some cool tech.

So I was browsing one of Declan's posts over at news.com.com.com (no cookies! no cookies! aagh!) and I saw something pretty cool. To the right of the post (if you have javascript enabled) there is a little embedded flash app that shows a web of related stories. It's developed by a company called Liveplasma and I like it. Much like I like other innovative UI/information tools. And speaking of Newsmap (you did click on that last link there didn't you?), we come back full circle to c|Net.

Seed Magazine: Leonardos and the Science Renaissance

Seed Magazine is back, and pior to their site launch, they have a taste up at their corporate site. They have posted the results of survey on american attitudes towards science that they have called Leonardos and the Science Renaissance. In addition to Seed being an excellent magazine, another interesting note is that their new logo in the upper right corner was designed by one of my dream-boats, Jonathan Harris. No, not Colin "Bomber" Harris.



In the spirit of the National Geographic African Waterhole cam, we proudly present: Monkey! thanks to Majikthese.

So the mechanic says to the penguin

I think you've blown a seal. And the penguin says "no, no, it's just ice cream!"
Anyway, because you don't all read the same things as I do:
The Presidential Ice Cream

Design Council | RED - Future Currents - Home

Worldchanging reports on a UK council's green design efforts. In this case, they are talking about how to renovate a Victorian terrace house to make it eco-friendly.

WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: T.R.E.E.S. in LA

The kids at Worldchanging talk about an L.A. effort to drastically eliminate the risk of flooding and also reduce water use.


CBC News: Flyers passing through U.S. have few rights, Arar judge told

It occurs to me that when a senior US governement lawyer says:

foreign citizens passing through American airports have almost no rights. At most, Mary Mason told a hearing in Brooklyn, N.Y., passengers would have the right not to be subjected to "gross physical abuse."
that they are in direct contradiction to the US Constitution 14th Amendment Section 1:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

The key here is that is says "nor shall any State deprive any person", rather than saying "nor shall any State deprive any citizen". Note also the use of the word "jurisdiction" - essentially, any place that you can legally act, you have to treat every person equally before the law and provide them with due process regardless of if they are a citizen or not.
I think it is fair to say that Mary Mason's comment is in contradiction to that.


In which out dear readers are exposed to 2 ethical issues concerning health care.

Concurring Opinions: Genetic Testing: Further Debate with Richard Epstein and Lawyers, Guns, & Money have put up a few posts recently concerning health care.

Concerning the last LG&M link, it seems that the Target corporation (a large US discount retailer along the lines of Walmart and K-mart) is hiding behind the Civil Rights Act in a controversy over the filing of a contraceptive prescription. If you follow the link you will find that the "Lawyers" part of LG&M is true and that Target has got some 'splainin to do.

The first three links concern employer-employee relations and health insurance. Walmart wants to hire only healthy people to bring their health insurance costs down. Advancements in genetic analysis are making it easier for health professionals to predict an individual's risk for disease based on their genetics, and IBM has said that they will not gather this information - others may disagree.

I think we can distill the issue down to this:

  1. Current US corporate policy is directed towards maximum short-term shareholder value
  2. Health insurance is a major cost to US corporations
So anything that can bring down the cost of health insurance can be seen as a requirement. Hiring only healthy people (including predictions of possible future risks) is an easy and obvious way of reducing cost. The wonder is not that corporations are beginning to think about this, the wonder is that it has taken so long. If you think that these policies are unfair, then I submit that the only solution is to make health care costs revenue neutral to corporations. The most tried, true, and global solution is universal healthcare. The randite fixation on individual responsibility in the US is blinding them to the fact that it is costing them money without providing results.


Amazon.ca: My Wish List

I am so happy, they have finally added a "Like-to-have" priority for items on your Amazon wish list.


Behe Disproves Irreducible Complexity

Ed at Dispatches from the Culture Wars details Behe's testimony at the Dover trial where, under cross-examination, the star "scientific" witness for the defense reviews his own work and establishes grounds for disproving the irreducible complexity theory that is one of the pillars of the supposed ID "theory". It is quite amusing. Major kudoes to the prosecuting attorney.

Another Constantine

If what Neil Gaiman says in this journal entry is true and if he is referring to The Books of Magic, then I guess Hollywood is 0-4 in non-superhero comic adaptations. I include the last one because it was good, but it wasn't Hollywood. OK, OK, The Crow & Men In Black were good too. Am I missing any decent non-super hero, non-BD1 comic adaptations?

PS - Is it just me or is it really stupid of Comic Book Movies to not list the original comic authors/inkers/painters in their credits at the top?2

(1) Bande Dessinée
(2) It is not just me, that was a rhetorical question, it is undeniably stupid.


Value-added school testing

Kevin Drum talks about the US No Child Left Behind act. Sandy Kress, a Texas school reformer who was involved with the act's creation, says that the original approach of universal standards and absolute results is leading to problems in schools in affluent communities as well as disadvantaged ones. She suggests an alternative:

…The “value added” school-rating metric provides a more accurate picture of which schools are actually educating their students well. It is also fairer to schools and teachers working with the most disadvantaged kids. It pressures them to perform without penalizing them for taking on the hardest assignments in education. Conversely, the system doesn't reward rich schools with privileged students merely for standing still. Passing the state test, an easy task for many of their students, is not good enough.

Boing Boing: WSJ tech writer damns DRM

OK, world+dog are mentioning that Walt Mossberg is an influential tech columnist for the Wall Street Journal and he doesn't like DRM. Now you know too. Whenever I see something mentioned in 5 or 6 blogs I make the assumption everyone else knows about it to. And we all know what that does to u and mption.

The Abstract Factory: The only debate on Intelligent Design that is worthy of its subject

Now don't for an instant imagine that I am in any way condoning violence against the logically impaired. I have many problems with the post - why is the scientist using a baseball bat instead of an axe or chainsaw; why did he choose to hit the ID advocate in the knee rather than the elbow, the hip, or the collar bone?


Super Doomed Planet » Journalism is Doomed

So the blog Super Doomed Planet (It’s better than doomed… it’s super doomed.) takes a scalpel to a whiny little op-ed piece in the University of Iowa daily newspaper written by a Journalism major :

I loved high school. I loved the memories I have of parties, football games, and hanging out with my friends. These are the things I have taken with me, not the useless information acquired in the classroom.

That’s the lede of an astonishing little op-ed piece called “On Schooling’s Useless Lessons,” by a vapid half-formed protojournalist attending the University of Iowa. Previous experience with op-ed pages might lead think this is the ironic setup to some moral fable about appreciating your education. You would be profoundly and entirely wrong. It gets worse.
A problem exists within the high-school education system: It doesn’t prepare students for their careers.

A world of insight into Idiot America is contained within that sentence. Idiot America doesn’t want education, it wants training. It dreams of rote skills allowing it to sleepwalk through a lucrative career with a minimum of thought. Education as preparation for life is a foreign concept.
When I decided in high school that my major was going to be journalism, I took the only class offered by my school in hopes of learning the journalistic writing style. I didn’t learn anything from that class. My teacher was not a journalism teacher; she was an English teacher. We spent every class silent reading instead of learning about the inverted pyramid.

You can learn a lot about good writing by reading, if you’re not too blinkered by single-minded career goals to pay attention. The kind of things good journalists learn long before they master the inverted pyramid. Things our columnist must not have learned, since she writes with the style and insight of a petulant junior high student.
The school system needs a reality check; most students aren’t going to be mathematicians, historians, or chemists. So why do we have to take these classes?

Because our knowledge of history grants us insight into the present. Because an understanding of science grants increased understanding of the physical world. Because we, as individuals and as a society, are faced with countless problems every day, political, technical, and moral; and knowledge of science and history helps us to make wiser and more informed decisions about those problems.
All of which means nothing to Idiot America. Idiot America doesn’t think. It prefers to act on instinct.

Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible

The Times is reporting on the release by the British Catholic church of a document called The Gift of Scripture:

The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible.
“We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,” they say in The Gift of Scripture.
The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US.

"In particular the US" indeed. It's not as if the evangelicals don't already think that the catholics are a bunch of heathen/pagan/heretical scum already.

James Boyle: A natural experiment (Economics of Copyright)

I included a link to this article in the bottom paragraph of my previous post but, on the odd chance that you didn't click on it, I thought I would give it its own post.

Some months ago I pointed you to a James Boyle commentary piece in The Financial Times which mentioned the following tidbit:

Professor James Bessen and Robert Hunt of the Federal Reserve Bank found that the increase in the level of software patenting in the US was associated with a significant decline in investment in research and development by software companies. As more and more patents were granted, companies spent less on R&D.

The Economist is also concerned about excessive patenting & copyrights.

Anyway, I failed to point you to this one where Prof. Boyle provides us with this money quote:
Imagine a process of reviewing prescription drugs which goes like this: representatives from the drug company come to the regulators and argue that their drug works well and should be approved. They have no evidence of this beyond a few anecdotes about people who want to take it and perhaps some very simple models of how the drug might affect the human body. The drug is approved. No trials, no empirical evidence of any kind, no follow-up. Or imagine a process of making environmental regulations in which there were no data, and no attempts to gather data, about the effects of the particular pollutants being studied. Even the harshest critics of drug regulation or environmental regulation would admit we generally do better than this. But this is often the way we make intellectual property policy.

Disclosure - James Boyle, in addition to editing an edition of the Duke University journal : Law & Contemporary Problems called "The Public Domain" is William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law at Duke Law School, a board member of Creative Commons and the co-founder of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain.

EFF: Critique of "NAVSHP (FP6) DRM Requirements Report."

Cory Doctorow has written a critique of the EU "NAVSHP (FP6) DRM Requirements Report." for EFF. As usual he does a fairly decent job of presenting a point-by-point list of problems with the Report (which is an EU version of the Broadcast Flag concept but expanded and more powerful).

  • The requirements fail to accommodate rights reserved to public under national copyright regimes.

  • The requirements are flawed because they are based on an analogy with contract law. This is factually erroneous and legally misleading because it implies that consumers have voluntarily and consciously assented to changes in their rights and customary expected uses of digital media.

  • The chief characterisitc of many DRM systems is that consumers are not advised of, nor able to learn in advance of, the restriction of uses of purchased digital media content or limitations in device use.

  • The requirements are not neutral as between different business models for distribution of content- for instance, the requirements would preclude development and use of free and open source devices and would not permit use of works released by authors under Creative Commons licences.

Which is all fine and dandy, but as far as I am concerned, a major un-addressed problem with this Report and with most recent copyright expansion/extension proposals is:


90 Million Malaria Deaths Preventable By Liberal Application Of DDT? Ummm, no.

Michael "I Am A Science Fiction Writer So My Scientific Credentials Are Unimpeachable" Crichton apparently has more to say in his book "State of Fear" than lies about global warming. He also has lies about DDT and malaria.

The Myth of the Drift - Do Judges Turn Left?

David Strauss ponders the MSM (oh come on, he might as well be) view that conservative US supreme court appointees drift left after their appointment. He makes some fairly interesting arguments that it is the times and issues that are changing, not the judges.

BuffaloWings&Vodka: As Promised... Harriet Myers jokes

Some very funny Harriet Myers jokes. Example:
Knock-Knock. Who's there? Harriet Miers. Harriet Miers who? Exactly.


Boing Boing: JibJab's legal threats over the use of 9 seconds of their video

You remember Jibjab don't you? The guys who claimed that their appropriation of the Woody Guthrie song This Land Is Our Land was Fair Use because it was parody? And the copyright owners sude them? Until EFF found out that there wasn't actually any copyright and the song was public domain? And then one year later someone includes 9 discontiguous seconds of their video in another parody? And they decide to sue?

What a bunch of hypocritical dickheads. I encourage all both of my readers to link with the same words, we shall create a Google Wetsquib attack on their non-existant virtue.


Emergent Chaos: Daniel Cuthbert's Chewbacca Defense

It seems hard to believe that I didn't post about the guy who got arrested for using the lynx browser to check out a Tsunami Aid website back when it happened. Or maybe I did - in any case I can't find it. Well, then criminal case if over, he was found guilty, and golly gee, he did more than just use lynx.

Schneier on Security: Blizzard Entertainment Uses Spyware to Verify EULA Compliance

See also :

According to the World of Warcraft terms of service, when you install the latest version of the game, an anticheat program called Warden snoops through your entire computer looking for "unauthorized third-party programs" that allow users to "hack" or "modify" the online game environment or "cheating of any kind."

You signed up for it, you agreed to it, and it isn't sending anything bad yet.

However, they are owned by Vivendi Universal, not a company that I have the greatest respect for. And I do think that their efforts to use the DMCA to prevent reverse engineering of the Battle.net protocols to stop people from running their own b.net servers is yet another bad example of inappropriate copyright enforcement that denies me the right to analyse traffic flowing over my own network.


Lawyers, Guns and Money: The Presidency of George W. Bush

The man is right, I can't deny it - Republican governments are strongly correlated with victories in the age old battle of good vs. evil. In particular, Bush is clearly ahead of Clinton on this critical issue.

Dutch court won't extradite terror suspect

Apparently they think that the nation which is asking for the extradition will deny him fundamental rights such as unlimited access to a defense lawyer and immediate access to a judge. The nation in question scoffed at the request, replying that they viewed it as "unwarranted and unncessary".


GamesIndustry.biz - Jack Thompson is blasted by pro-family group

Jack Thompson (charitable-donour extraordinaire) has apparently been ruffling feathers on both sides of the gaming fence. Assuming that there are only 2 sides, that is.

New Scientist Archive - News - Ancient noodle rewrites history

I like my pasta. No, really, it's true. I also like history and science. I must therefore like an article in New Scientist called Ancient noodle rewrites history.

Boing Boing: Xeni's LAT op-ed: war, blogs, news, and profit.

Executive Summary: Any company that indulges in acts that appear to our blinkered western eyes as being contrary to human rights and that claims that "they had no choice, they were only obeying local law" is lying. The choice they made was to choose the profits available by entering into that local market.

Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin has an LA Times op-ed on war, blogs, news, and profit. She doesn't think too much of Yahoo:
Their new venture:

Yahoo launched "Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone," pledging to send the former television reporter to "every armed conflict in the world within one year" and dispatch blog-sized "bites" of war.
Their recent behaviour:
[A]s the 37-year-old married reporter behind the numeric pseudonym '198964' learned, he shouldn't have assumed that Yahoo defends press freedom. When Chinese security agents asked executives at Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) to identify the man, they did so. Police grabbed him on a street, searched his house and seized his computer and other belongings, according to documents filed in his defense.

Mr. '198964,' whose real name is Shi Tao, is serving a 10-year jail sentence for 'divulging state secrets abroad.' Bloggers, human rights groups and journalism organizations, including PEN and Reporters Without Borders, condemned the action.

Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang brushed off responsibility. At an Internet conference Sept. 10 in Hangzhou, China, Yang said Yahoo and other U.S.-based multinationals 'have to comply with local law.'

Or else what? They lose access, that's what, which means losing profits.

Shi Tao's attorney, Guo Guoting — who was detained, placed under house arrest and shut out of his office before his client's trial — argues that the company has a greater obligation to international law than to local law. 'China is a signatory of the [U.N.] International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,' Guo told the Hong Kong independent daily Epoch Times. 'Shi Tao … was legitimately practicing his profession, not committing a crime. The legal entity of Yahoo Holdings [Hong Kong] is not in China, so it is not obligated to operate within the laws of China or to cooperate with Chinese police.'
She doesn't think much of either:
Yahoo's latest experiment reveals that it considers war news just another form of entertainment. This from an online giant that has already shown it is cavalier about press freedom and a friend of oppression.

real life vs internet

Our intrepid friends at Red vs Blue have devoted some time to discussing one of the great philosphical questions of the age - what is the difference between real life vs internet. Some opinions are also ventured on Angelina Jolie. In case you were wondering, it is very funny. I was reminded of this by your friend, and mine, Steenblogger.



What does 2000 look like? With a sound-track. As I write this, 2000 also looks like 27000.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Does Religion Cause Social Problems?

My thanks to Lucky for reminding me about this article that I first saw over at Ed's place.


Centaurs appeared after copulation between humans and animals - PRAVDA.Ru

PRAVDA.Ru seems to think that hybrid man-beasts in many different mythos and cultures may stem from reality.

From the genetics point of view, the difference between humans and animals makes just several per cent. It is not ruled out that spontaneous mutations may take place in rare instances, and natural interbreeding is quite possible in this case. May it be so that humans with such mutations lived in all epochs?

Seems that Pravda is straying from reality. Perhaps they are trying to rehabiliate Lysenko.


Concurring Opinions: The Airline Screening Playset: Hours of Fun!

Now you, too, can implement your own arbitrary and capricious reasons for harrassing air travellers. Two fun places to start are profanity and royalty.


'Streamlined Procedures Act' Increases Threat of Wrongful Convictions

Or, in other words, US Congress Considers Legislation to Gut Habeas Corpus.

I would file this one under "Land of the Free" but blogger still doesn't rackin-frackin have categories.

Optical Illusions and Visual Phenomena

59 of them. Cool.

Unicef bombs the Smurfs in fund-raising campaign for ex-child soldiers

War is very, very smurfy


Tuvan throat singing

Yat-kha do a cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart".