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February 28, 2007

I wasn't kidding.

Stop me before i post pictures of cute animals again.

By fnord12 | February 28, 2007, 1:04 PM | Cute Things | Comments (5) | Link

What's going on here?

I am bored.

Sure i have plenty of work to do, but my post-acquisition company is all falling to bits, gloriously, and i'm not particularly motivated to do anything. More importantly, due to reasons outside of my control, my copy of Civil War #7 has not been delivered to me, and therefore i can't go to any of the comic book sites where i would normally waste a quarter of my day. I'm also sick to death of reading about how congress is screwing around with ending the Iraq invasion (also here, if you like torturing yourself).

That leaves me with nothing to do but post doctored pictures of people holding giant bunches of celery. Love ya!

Next up: cute animal pictures!

By fnord12 | February 28, 2007, 12:49 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage & My stupid life | Comments (7) | Link

Fear my garlic attack!

Tonight is our weekly game night, during which my Halo 2 supremacy will once again be at stake. The challengers are getting progressively better, and every week there's another chance that they might win. Last week's session was particularly close.

But this time i'm prepared. I have a secret weapon. Min made some delicious pasta salad for lunch, and managed to super-saturate it with garlic. My breath now qualifies as a 6 die attack (save for half-damage). Letting that out at critical moments is my ace in the hole.

By fnord12 | February 28, 2007, 12:42 PM | Video Games | Comments (9) | Link

Random Pictures for Random People

Pictures link back to where i found them, but that does not mean in any way that i endorse the goings-ons in those places.

By fnord12 | February 28, 2007, 12:31 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

Isssss thissssss annoying you? Sssssso sssssorry!

Recap #7: Lizard Men, Salamanders, Kill Kill Kill

By fnord12 | February 28, 2007, 9:12 AM | D&D | Comments (1) | Link

The "Electronic Age"

"When you see the term E-mail, it refers to an electronic way to leave a message for someone or some group. In order to use E-mail you need to have a way to deliver it. You must have a modem, appropriate software and be a subscriber to a service like America On-Line, Genie, or CompuServe, or have an Internet acount...The Internet has Gopher sites that have text based information and Web sites that have graphical information. We found that the government supports its Internet sites...It is therefore necessary to have a good web browser...You can use your search engine, a program designed to search the many Internet servers, to look up a topic to then get specific sites. You use it like an index or card catalog."

By min | February 28, 2007, 8:31 AM | My stupid life| Link

February 27, 2007

C'mon everybody, we're moving to Portland

Or Eugene. And we're gonna build yurts.

By fnord12 | February 27, 2007, 5:32 PM | My stupid life | Comments (2) | Link

Never mind, it was just gas

Dow plunges 500 then gains some back

The U.S. joined a global market plunge sparked by growing concerns that the U.S. and Chinese economies are cooling and that equities prices have become overinflated.
Investors' dwindling confidence was knocked down further by data showing that the economy may be decelerating more than anticipated. A Commerce Department report that orders for durable goods in January dropped by the largest amount in three months exacerbated jitters about the direction of the U.S. economy, just a day after former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the United States may be headed for a recession.
The housing market, which the Street had been hoping had bottomed out, also looked far from recovery after a Standard & Poor's index indicated that single-family home prices across the nation were flat in December. A later report from the National Association of Realtors said existing home sales climbed in January by the largest amount in two years, but the data didn't erase housing-related concerns, as median home prices fell for a sixth straight month.

By fnord12 | February 27, 2007, 3:49 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

Generals Threaten Revolt

First it was their stance against Rumsfeld (never mind that it took 6 years and 3,000 dead soldiers for them to find the cajones to take such a stance). Now there are signs that a few of the top generals will resign if the Bush administration tries to go forward with attacking Iran.

The Sunday Times just comes out and says it with a quote.

Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack.

"There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran," a source with close ties to British intelligence said. "There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible."

Then there's the interpretation of certain actions by military officials.

General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said recently there was "zero chance" of a war with Iran. He played down claims by US intelligence that the Iranian government was responsible for supplying insurgents in Iraq, forcing Bush on the defensive.
Hillary Mann, the National Security Council's main Iran expert until 2004, said Pace's repudiation of the administration's claims was a sign of grave discontent at the top.

"He is a very serious and a very loyal soldier," she said. "It is extraordinary for him to have made these comments publicly, and it suggests there are serious problems between the White House, the National Security Council and the Pentagon."

And from Crimes and Corruption:

Generals as experienced as Pace do not contradict their political masters by accident. The White House got the message, and retreated a bit. "What we don't know is whether the headquarters in Iran ordered the Quds force to do what they did," said President Bush on Feb. 14. But he didn't really back down: "I intend to do something about it ... we're going to protect our troops."

So, if Pace's actions are being interpreted correctly and if indeed these 4 or 5 generals aren't just blowing smoke, the White House could have a real problem. Then again, the wingnut spin machine is so good that even if you are a general (or decorated veteran), they can get the crowd to turn on you in an instant. What will Congress do? They find it hard to have a backbone when it's not their own particular neck on the line as it is. Will they find the nerve to stand up to the foaming, ravening masses and take this once in a lifetime opportunity that's practically being handed to them on a silver platter?

I can see them now, fidgeting in their leather chairs, nervously mopping off the sweat from their brows as they blubber about the pressures of politcal life.

By min | February 27, 2007, 1:52 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon

What the hell? Why wasn't i told about this?

By min | February 27, 2007, 12:35 PM | TeeVee| Link

February 26, 2007

Spider-Man / Voltron Team-Up

Go here. Something about the Japanese army, something something, icons, something something, and then, suddenly: Spider-Man fighting ninjas, and a cowboy, and giant ninjas, and giant robots. Yes. This is our purpose in life.

By fnord12 | February 26, 2007, 5:41 PM | Comics | Comments (5) | Link

Dinosaurs Are Really Unicorns

Well, i guess if you can't accept dinosaurs but you have to come up with some reason for them, why not unicorns?

The existence of unicorns is controversial. Secular opinion is that they are mythical. However, they are referred to in the Bible nine times,[1] which provides an unimpeachable de facto argument for their once having been in existence.

In the original texts, unicorns go by the Hebrew name Re-em whereas the Greek Septuagint used the name Monokeros.[2] Unicorn itself is Latin. All three names mean "one horn".

Post-Noachian references[1] to unicorns have led some researchers to argue that unicorns are still alive today. At the very least, it is likely that they were taken aboard the Ark prior to the Great Flood.

Yes, kids. That's the image they have accompanying the Unicorn post. Thanks to Sadly, No! for this one.

Currently, i'm watching the Atheism page to see how long it takes before they "fix" it.

By min | February 26, 2007, 1:20 PM | Science & Ummm... Other?| Link

3 ways to screw up

Upgrading to MT 3.3 today and then making some additional changes. All in an effort to prevent any of you from getting free GPS systems. So if you come here later and the site is broken, that's why.

By fnord12 | February 26, 2007, 10:35 AM | My stupid life | Comments (10) | Link

February 23, 2007

I can't stand it.

"The Extreme Leader is a generator, a powerful force for action, for progress, and an enthusiastic believer in people and in their capacity to do the awesome!"

By fnord12 | February 23, 2007, 10:59 AM | My stupid life| Link

Filed under "Grant Morrison"

Monkey-brain controlled robots.

By fnord12 | February 23, 2007, 10:35 AM | Comics & Science| Link

Rodney needs Rodney needs love

If you ever run across this gorilla, please purchase him for me. We had one when i was a kid but it's gone.

Update: Rodney acquired.

By fnord12 | February 23, 2007, 10:14 AM | My stupid life | Comments (12) | Link

A different type of deep throat

By fnord12 | February 23, 2007, 10:12 AM | Comics & Liberal Outrage| Link

The remedy to liberal reality.

Found on Kos:

Because reality has that nasty progressive bias, conservatives have again created their own, more comforting version, led by none other than Andrew, House of Schlafly. In response to that bastion of overly tolerant, anti-Americanism called the Wikipedia, we present the Conservapedia, dedicated to insuring that wingnuts young and old maintain their grip on ignorance. Let's look at a few of the evolving definitions, how about, say, global warming?
The theory is widely accepted within the scientific community despite a lack of any conclusive evidence. ...It should be noted that these scientists are largely motivated by a need for grant money in their fields. Therefore, their work can not be considered unbiased. Also, these scientists are mostly liberal athiests, untroubled by the hubris that man can destroy the Earth which God gave him.

A wiki is a sort of encyclopedia/dictionary which can be edited by users at will. This makes for some rather dizzying changes and deletions on the conservative incarnation. Here for example was the reported entire entry on Stalin, at least until it was removed out of either shame or embarrassment:

Josef Stalin was an atheist communist Russian dictator during World War II. He was defeated by Adolph Hitler, despite Hitler also being an atheist.

Hitler, the ever-clever Nazi atheist, not only fooled everyone by couching his perverse ideology in the context of religion again and again, he defeated Stalin in World War II by ingeniously committing suicide while Soviet troops mopped up the last crumbling remnants of the Third Reich in 1945 Berlin.

It's a laugh a minute on the Conservapedia as the base of the GOP discovers how ungainly a resource can be, when the goal is to mislead readers with lies and deception on a venue which can be updated with actual facts and references by anyone who reads it. So go on over, check it out, help make it a success, and enjoy.

By fnord12 | February 23, 2007, 9:44 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

Get him the fuck out of the party.


Back on Sunday, I noted the discordance among Senate Democrats when it has come to finding a single plan the caucus can get behind to stop the Iraq war. Listing all of the Senators who has made different proposals to end the war, I complained about the following:
We need a Democratic Party that is willing to work together to end the war, instead of a Democratic Party whose most visible leaders are more willing to one-up each other in an ongoing attempt to burnish their anti-war credentials to the primary electorate. Unfortunately, right now we have the latter, instead of the former.(...)

At some point, if we are ever going to get anywhere on ending the war in the Senate, Biden, Clinton, Dodd, Feingold, Kennedy, Kerry and Obama--all of whom have introduced different types of binding legislation to end the war--should sit down and fashion a combined bill legislative plan of some sort.

Now I realize that there is a problem to Democratic Senators sitting down and fashioning a joint plan to stop the war. That problem has a name, Joe Lieberman (emphasis mine):

So far, Lieberman is using his clout mostly in ways that discomfit his fellow Democrats, while his relationship with Republicans has involved more collaboration than coercion. When Senate majority leader Harry Reid said Bush's State of the Union proposal for a bipartisan terrorism panel was redundant, Lieberman, who supported the idea, privately sent Reid a letter saying he was "upset." Within days, Reid backed down and negotiated the panel's makeup with the White House. And last month, after Lieberman told Reid he had stopped attending the weekly Democratic lunch because he didn't feel comfortable discussing Iraq there, Reid offered to hold those discussions at another time. Lieberman has started attending again.

So, discussion of Iraq has now been banned from Senate Democratic caucus meetings. No wonder we have nothing resembling a unified plan to stop the war in the Senate. No wonder a dozen different Democratic Senators are offering up their own legislation to stop the war. Because of Joe Lieberman, Senate Democrats are not even discussing what the nation considers to be by far the most pressing issue facing American today: Iraq.

He's threatening to switch parties. Let's help him along with a swift boot to the ass.

By fnord12 | February 23, 2007, 9:07 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 22, 2007

Transformers and Voltron Rolled Into One

Wei-Min Shen of the University of Southern California's Information Sciences Institute recently reported to NASA significant progress in developing "SuperBot," identical modular units that plug into each other to create robots that can stand, crawl, wiggle and even roll. He illustrated his comments with striking video of the system in action.
"Superbot consists of Lego-like but autonomous robotic modules that can reconfigure into different systems for different tasks. Examples of configurable systems include rolling tracks or wheels (for efficient travel), spiders or centipedes (for climbing), snakes (for burrowing in ground), long arms (for inspection and repair in space), and devices that can fly in micro-gravity environment.

"Each module is a complete robotic system and has a power supply, micro- controllers, sensors, communication, three degrees of freedom, and six connecting faces (front, back, left, right, up and down) to dynamically connect to other modules.

"This design allows flexible bending, docking, and continuous rotation. A single module can move forward, back, left, right, flip-over, and rotate as a wheel. Modules can communication with each other for totally distributed control and can support arbitrary module reshuffling during their operation.


They're autonomous and they can SELF-ASSEMBLE into a humanoid robot shape. When Sven leaves the group, i want dibs on his robot lion. But i'm not wearing pink.

Go to this page to watch the movie they made of the thing wiggling around self-assembling. Be forewarned, the "self-assembly" portion is just a tiny bit vulgar. I'm just saying.

By min | February 22, 2007, 12:51 PM | Science & TeeVee| Link

I just wanted to say:


By fnord12 | February 22, 2007, 12:39 PM | Video Games | Comments (16) | Link

Random Lyrics Thursday

This week's Random Lyrics Thursday is in honor of SuperMegaDio:

We Rock by Dio

You watch their faces
You'll see the traces
Of the things they want to be
But only we can see

They come for killing
They leave and still it seems
The cloud that's left behind
Oh, can penetrate your mind

But sail on, sing a song, carry on
Cause We Rock, We Rock, We Rock, We Rock

We pray to someone
But when it's said and done
It's really all the same
With just a different name

So many voices
All giving choices
If we listen they will say
Oh, we can find the way

But we'll sail on, sing a song, carry on
Cause We Rock, We Rock, We Rock, We Rock
We Rock, We Rock, We Rock, We Rock
We Rock!

We Rock
You watch their faces
You'll see the traces
Of the things they want to be
But only we can see

They come for killing
They leave and still it seems
The cloud that's left behind
Can penetrate your mind

Sail on, sing a song, carry on
Cause We Rock, We Rock, We Rock, We Rock
We Rock, We Rock, We Rock, We Rock

Ride out - stand and shout - carry on
Sail on - Sing your song - carry on

Cause We Rock, We Rock, see how We Rock
We Rock
That's rock
We Rock
We Rock

By fnord12 | February 22, 2007, 9:23 AM | Music | Comments (2) | Link

February 21, 2007

Sting & the Police


To those whose memories are faulty (or judgment weak) on this one, the Police were a great band. Great band. They were hard-working, fame-greedy, juvenile, reasonably beau-laid, and even, for a brief formative patch, obscure. Reggae plagiarism aside, what the Police did better than anyone was take their own precious prog-rock musicianship and rack it to the limits of the three-minute pop ditty. This takes more than cheek or talent; it takes craft, and the Police were extraordinary craftsmen. But don't trust, verify: listen to "Man in a Suitcase," "Roxanne" - a perfectly executed tango, no less - "Canary in a Coalmine," "Don't Stand So Close to Me," "Peanuts," "Hole in My Life," "Bed's Too Big Without You," "Regatta de Blanc" (tcha!).

Exquisitely cut little gems, one and all, and the creation, like all the best rock and roll, of multiple talents frequently at war. Before he joined the trio, Andy Summers (now an improbable 64 years old) had played guitar with everyone from Soft Machine to Neil Sedaka. Stewart Copeland, meanwhile, had started making his reputation as a visionary drummer behind the prog outfit Curved Air. Sting may have given the Police lyrics and melodies; but just as critically, Copeland, who founded the band and whose intricately manic polyrhythms define its sound, prevented Sting from impressing too much of his character on its music. Unyoked from Copeland, Sting was free to become what he is today: one-third spirit in the material world, two-thirds scented candle.

By fnord12 | February 21, 2007, 2:58 PM | Music| Link

Just sayin'


As Congress begins to tackle the causes and cures of global warming, the action focuses on gas-guzzling vehicles and coal-fired power plants, not on lowly bovines.

Yet livestock are a major emitter of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. And as meat becomes a growing mainstay of human diet around the world, changing what we eat may prove as hard as changing what we drive.

It's not just the well-known and frequently joked-about flatulence and manure of grass-chewing cattle that's the problem, according to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Land-use changes, especially deforestation to expand pastures and to create arable land for feed crops, is a big part. So is the use of energy to produce fertilizers, to run the slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants, and to pump water.

"Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems," Henning Steinfeld, senior author of the report, said when the FAO findings were released in November.

Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, reports the FAO. This includes 9 percent of all CO2 emissions, 37 percent of methane, and 65 percent of nitrous oxide. Altogether, that's more than the emissions caused by transportation.

The latter two gases are particularly troubling – even though they represent far smaller concentrations in atmosphere than CO2, which remains the main global warming culprit. But methane has 23 times the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2 and nitrous oxide has 296 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Methane could become a greater problem if the permafrost in northern latitudes thaws with increasing temperatures, releasing the gas now trapped below decaying vegetation. What's more certain is that emissions of these gases can spike as humans consume more livestock products.

As prosperity increased around the world in recent decades, the number of people eating meat (and the amount one eats every year) has risen steadily. Between 1970 and 2002, annual per capita meat consumption in developing countries rose from 11 kilograms (24 lbs.) to 29 kilograms (64 lbs.), according to the FAO. (In developed countries, the comparable figures were 65 kilos and 80 kilos.) As population increased, total meat consumption in the developing world grew nearly five-fold over that period.

Beyond that, annual global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tons at the beginning of the decade to 465 million tons in 2050. This makes livestock the fastest growing sector of global agriculture.

Animal-rights activists and those advocating vegetarianism have been quick to pick up on the implications of the FAO report.

"Arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products," writes Noam Mohr in a report for EarthSave International.

Changing one's diet can lower greenhouse gas emissions quicker than shifts away from fossil fuel burning technologies, Mr. Mohr writes, because the turnover rate for farm animals is shorter than that for cars and power plants.

"Even if cheap, zero-emission fuel sources were available today, they would take many years to build and slowly replace the massive infrastructure our economy depends upon today," he writes. "Similarly, unlike carbon dioxide which can remain in the air for more than a century, methane cycles out of the atmosphere in just eight years, so that lower methane emissions quickly translate to cooling of the earth."

Researchers at the University of Chicago compared the global warming impact of meat eaters with that of vegetarians and found that the average American diet - including all food processing steps - results in the annual production of an extra 1.5 tons of CO2-equivalent (in the form of all greenhouse gases) compared to a no-meat diet. Researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin concluded that dietary changes could make more difference than trading in a standard sedan for a more efficient hybrid car, which reduces annual CO2 emissions by roughly one ton a year.

"It doesn't have to be all the way to the extreme end of vegan," says Dr. Eshel, whose family raised beef cattle in Israel. "If you simply cut down from two burgers a week to one, you've already made a substantial difference."

By fnord12 | February 21, 2007, 2:39 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

Through the Nose

This minimally invasive approach -- known as the Expanded Endonasal Approach (EEA) -- was pioneered and refined in adults over the last decade by surgeons at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and is now a viable option for tumors in children and in many instances for tumors that were once deemed to be inoperable.
EEA involves using narrow scopes and surgical tools -- often developed by the surgeons themselves -- inserted through the nasal passage to remove tumors as large as baseballs. [emphasis mine]


While i'm happy they found a less invasive way to remove these tumors, i just have to say, "Gah! A baseball through my nose? Are you insane??".

That is all.

By min | February 21, 2007, 2:14 PM | Science| Link

Here you go: Mixtapes

Just happened to come across this. Here's an example of why copyright enforcement for music is a problem outside the entertainment world: Police resources were wasted doing work like this:

Late in the afternoon of Jan. 16, a SWAT team from the Fulton County Sheriff's Office, backed up by officers from the Clayton County Sheriff's Office and the local police department, along with a few drug-sniffing dogs, burst into a unmarked recording studio on a short, quiet street in an industrial neighborhood near the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The officers entered with their guns drawn; the local police chief said later that they were "prepared for the worst." They had come to serve a warrant for the arrest of the studio's owners on the grounds that they had violated the state's Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, or RICO, a charge often used to lock up people who make a business of selling drugs or breaking people's arms to extort money. The officers confiscated recording equipment, cars, computers and bank statements along with more than 25,000 music CDs. Two of the three owners of the studio, Tyree Simmons, who is 28, and Donald Cannon, who is 27, were arrested and held overnight in the Fulton County jail. Eight employees, mostly interns from local colleges, were briefly detained as well.

Later that night, a reporter for the local Fox TV station, Stacey Elgin, delivered a report on the raid from the darkened street in front of the studio. She announced that the owners of the studio, known professionally as DJ Drama and DJ Don Cannon, were arrested for making "illegal CDs." The report cut to an interview with Matthew Kilgo, an official with the Recording Industry Association of America, who was involved in the raid. The R.I.A.A., a trade and lobbying group that represents the major American record labels, works closely with the Department of Justice and local police departments to crack down on illegal downloading and music piracy, which most record-company executives see as a dire threat to their business.

Kilgo works in the R.I.A.A.'s Atlanta office, and in the weeks before the raid, the local police chief said, R.I.A.A. investigators helped the police collect evidence and conduct surveillance at the studio. Kilgo consulted with the R.I.A.A.'s national headquarters in advance of the raid, and after the raid, a team of men wearing R.I.A.A. jackets was responsible for boxing the CDs and carting them to a warehouse for examination.

Of course, even within the world of entertainment copyright enforcement is a problem. Albums that are now considered masterpieces like Paul's Boutique could never be made today because of how expensive it would be to get permission to use all the samples. That's what these people were essentially doing and they were busted and put in jail because of it:

The CDs made in the Aphilliates' studio are called mixtapes - album-length compilations of 20 or so songs, often connected by a theme; they are produced and mixed by a D.J. and usually "hosted" by a rapper, well known or up-and-coming, who peppers the disc with short boasts, shout-outs or promotions for an upcoming album. Some mixtapes are part of an ongoing series - in the last few years, the Aphilliates have produced 16 numbered installments of "Gangsta Grillz," an award-winning series that focuses on Southern hip-hop; others represent a one-time deal, a quick way for a rapper to respond to an insult or to remind fans he exists between album releases. The CDs are packaged in thin plastic jewel cases with low-quality covers and are sold at flea markets and independent record stores and through online clearinghouses like mixtapekingz.com. A mixtape can consist of remixes of hit songs - for instance, the Aphilliates offered a CD of classic Michael Jackson songs doctored by a Detroit D.J. Or it can feature a rapper "freestyling," or improvising raps, over the beat from another artist's song; so, on one mixtape, LL Cool J's "Love You Better" became 50 Cent's "After My Cheddar." In most cases, the D.J. modifies the original song without acquiring the rights to it, and if he wants to throw in a sample of Ray Charles singing or a line from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, he doesn't worry about copyright. The language on mixtapes is raw and uncensored; rappers sometimes devote a whole CD to insulting another rapper by name. Mixtapes also feature unreleased songs, often "leaked" to the D.J. by a record label that wants to test an artist's popularity or build hype for a coming album release. Record labels regularly hire mixtape D.J.'s to produce CDs featuring a specific artist. In many cases, these arrangements are conducted with a wink and a nod rather than with a contract; the label doesn't officially grant the D.J. the right to distribute the artist's songs or formally allow the artist to record work outside of his contract.

By fnord12 | February 21, 2007, 2:12 PM | Liberal Outrage & Music | Comments (1) | Link

Housing Bubble

Dean Baker again:

Economic analysts are now acknowledging the shake-up in the sub-prime mortgage market. Lenders had used ridiculously lax standards, and a high percentage of recent loans are now at some point in the foreclosure prcoess. However, the conventional wisdom assures us that this will only affect the sub-prime market, not the larger mortgage and housing market. I remain a skeptic.

Consider that nearly 20 percent of the mortgages issued in the last two years fell in the sub-prime category. This is a large segment of the market. Now suppose that many of these borrowers can no longer afford to buy homes or at least must pay much lower prices. The homes that sub-prme borrowers would have otherwise bought are the homes that other potential buyers would be selling. Without the sub-prime buyers, many homeowners looking to move up will be getting far less money for their current home. This will affect what they can pay for their move-up home.

Of course, mortgage lenders across the board are also likely to apply tighter standards, since the secondary market for poor quality loans is contracting now that investors realize that you don't make money on defaulting mortgages (see Gretchen Morgenson's fine piece). So, the bubble will continue to unwind. It remains to be seen how far and how fast, but the sub-prime market market will not collapse and leave everything else standing.

Also click on this link to see a group of charts illustrating the state of the housing market in answer to Greenspan (is he still allowed to talk?) saying "The housing slump was all but over."

By fnord12 | February 21, 2007, 10:02 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

Imagine no copyright?

Dean Baker:

The NYT editorial page can always be counted on to harshly condemn protection for agriculture or manufactured goods, but when it comes to much larger economic distortions that are generated by copyright and patent protection, the NYT tells its reporters to look the other way.

Today's article on the development of new software that can detect the presence of copyrighted material on the web provides yet another example of the NYT's selective protectionism. The article includes no discussion whatsoever of the economic losses that result from imposing copyright protection. Think of the enormous gains to the economy and society if all books and articles, music and video were available to everyone in the world at zero cost over the web. These gains would dwarf any potential gains from eliminating trade barriers in manufactured goods or agricultural products.

In addition, think of how much we would gain by eliminating all the rent-seeking behavior associated with copyright protection. For example, we could have software developers doing productive work, instead of trying to develop software that tracks copyrighted work. We also wouldn't need legions of copyright lawyers (okay, maybe these lawyers couldn't do anything productive anyhow).

Also, imagine that creative workers didn't have to feel boxed in by copyright restrictions. Suppose we gave creative workers the right to write their own version of Harry Potter or Star Wars or any other work they choose. (Actually, I thought the constitution did give them this right [freedom of speech], but the copyright protectionists argue otherwise.)

Creative workers need to be compensated for their work, but copyright is an inefficient and antiquated system. Unfortunately, the NYT and most media outlets (which depend on copyright protection) do not even let the inefficiencies of copyright protection be discussed. This makes the process of promoting alternatives more difficult.

I dunno. I mean, i think i only want Marvel writing Marvel comics characters. I am definitely interested in looking at alternatives to copyright, but Baker's proposals (see links to pdfs) seem... a little too pat, a little too simple. Still, his larger point stands, that until we acknowledge that the current system is a form of protectionism that isn't in society's best interest, we won't even begin to really discuss and debate alternatives.

By fnord12 | February 21, 2007, 9:53 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (9) | Link

February 20, 2007

Totally Rootin' For McMahon

Trump and World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon will pick a wrestler to represent them in the ring April at Wrestlemania 23 at Detroit's Ford Field on April 1.

If their pick is beaten in the "Battle of the Billionaires," the loser will get his head shaved after the match, the Detroit Free Press reported Monday.

Can't stand Trump's goddamn comb-over. He's got billions of dollars. He can't spend a few hundred on some hair plugs ferchrissakes? The wrestler he chooses should just throw the match no matter what agreement Trump and McMahon actually hashed out just so that the rest of us don't have to keep looking at his stupid hair.

By min | February 20, 2007, 8:34 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (4) | Link

February 19, 2007

If Willis is Busy, How about Affleck?

Possible asteroid collision scheduled for April 13th, 2036.

A group of astronauts and engineers warns that an asteroid may pass uncomfortably close to Earth that day. The chances it will actually hit are just one in 45,000, but even at those odds, the scientists warn, the United Nations should consider a response.
Nobody knows for sure what it would take to push a massive asteroid off its course, but the theoretical possibilities include detonating weapons on an asteroid's surface or using a gravitational pull to alter a possible collision course.

But it could also break an asteroid into many pieces, all still headed toward Earth.

Everybody knows the best way to survive an asteroid collision is to ride your bike to the top of the nearest hill. Duh.

By min | February 19, 2007, 11:44 AM | Science| Link

February 16, 2007

Just for that, i will buy a copy

Galatic Civ II:

No CD copy protection. Once you install, you never need your CD again. You can even use the included serial # to re-download the entire game from us years from now

By fnord12 | February 16, 2007, 1:31 PM | Video Games| Link

I hope you've learned to love the bomb

Report: Russia May Exit 1987 Arms Treaty

On the grounds that they were the Soviet Union, not Russia, when they signed the treaty. This is not without precedent, of course.

The US's actions (specifically around pursuing a "Star Wars" program, and especially around putting components of that program in central Europe, but also more generally) are pushing Russia, China, and India closer together (also check out the comments on that article to see how your fellow americans are representing you).

By fnord12 | February 16, 2007, 1:10 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 15, 2007

Once again: facts are liberal


Yesterday over at Election Central we reported that GOP Reps. John Shadegg and Pete Hoekstra had sent out a letter containing a set of talking points for GOP Congressmen to use in the debate in the House this week over escalation. As we noted yesterday, the letter was pretty interesting, particularly in that it urged GOP members not to talk about escalation and instead to change the subject to the wider war on "terror."

But there's another part of the letter that I'd missed yesterday -- and it may be even more revealing in a perverse sort of way. Look at what these two leading Republicans told their GOP troops about the media:

Thanks to the liberal mainstream media, Americans fully understand the consequences of continuing our efforts in Iraq -- both in American lives and dollars. The American people do not understand the consequences of abandoning that effort or the extreme views, goals, and intentions of the radical Islamist movement that is fueling the war in Iraq and the attacks on westerners and unbelievers throughout the world.

I think that's as clearly revealing as one could want. The problem with the liberal media, according to these two top Republicans, is that it's enabling Americans to understand the consequences of the war. But the media's bias is preventing it from reporting the "consequences" of not doing what the President wants.

This is really, really interesting when you unpack it. The media is being faulted for emphasizing the factual -- that is, for reporting on the factually observable things associated with the war that are happening right now, i.e., mounting deaths and skyrocketing costs.

Meanwhile, the thing that these two Republicans are criticizing the media for not doing is interpreting the war as being "fueled" by a single "radical Islamist movement." It's not doing enough reporting on what might happen if we pull out of Iraq. The idea here seems to be that the media's "liberalism" is preventing it from interpreting the war and speculating about the future in the way conservative war supporters want the media to.

By fnord12 | February 15, 2007, 5:46 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Quid Po-Po

Any automakers out there also video game fans? The VP of Sony America* has vowed to fix any backwards compatability issues with the PS3 in return for a favor:

SCEA VP on Backwards Compatibility: "I Would Like My Car To Fly and Make Me Breakfast"

*characterized on Penny Arcade as having Tourette's.

By fnord12 | February 15, 2007, 5:23 PM | Video Games| Link

Meaningless but Catastrophic Resolution

Dana Milbank:

As head of the House Republican Conference, the 32-year-old redhead is leading his caucus into a public-opinion meat grinder: supporting President Bush's increase of U.S. troops in Iraq, against the wishes of more than 60 percent of Americans. Worse, he is leading them with a pair of somewhat contradictory arguments: (a) that the Democrats' resolution opposing Bush's Iraq buildup is a meaningless gesture, and (b) that the Democrats' resolution will cause the end of civilization as we know it.

By fnord12 | February 15, 2007, 12:12 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

Random Lyrics Thursday

Gila Copter by the Revolting Cocks (with Timothy Leary)

Hey kids!
You want a soundtrack that's gonna make you feel tense?
Let you express your frustration?
Make ya scared, wanna ruuuuun out and buy a guuuuun?
You're looking for another rock'n'roll record that'll make you feel like a victim.
You're like a victim - you love to be a victim.
You love the United States prime time victim show.
Hey, bells, gilacopters, machine guns.
Listen to that! Listen to that!
Kill for Allah. Kill for Jesus.
1980´s shit - turn it down.
Tone it down

Hey! Listen to me!
All that 1980s shit is over.
Brothers and sisters - we'll turn the volume down.
Brothers and sisters - we're gonna shut down this mechanical stuff, that makes us feel like victims.
Take those machine guns, and turn 'em down.
Yeah. Turn off those cop shows.
Listen to those gilacopters, listen to the sirens.
Makin´ ya feel nervious, and angry.
1980s shit - turn it down.
Tone it down.

Now I ask you -
I ask you in quiet tone of voice:
Is the gilacopter a machine of pleasure?
Is the gilacopter a love machine?
Turn it on.
Silence those church bells.
Fuck the sirens.
Lets have some quiet, quiet silence
Yeah.. Yeah... I wanna hold you close.
You wanna hold... someone close.
Hey. We wanna- we wanna feel good!
I wanna make you laugh.
Turn down that shit.
Oh yeah. Yeah thats better.
Hey- we wanna look each other in the eye.
Doing a high-five.
When I whisper. When I whisper it sorta stings in your ear.
I wanna tremble your earbones.
Open your trembling earbones.
Turn that gilacopter off baby!
We will not be angry victims no more!
We're gonna- we're gonna say yeah...
Turn it off! Turn it off!
Turn that gilacopter down!
We're gonna say yeah. We're gonna say yeah.
We're gonna say yeah. We're gonna make it all.
We're God!
We're gonna have a moment of silence now.

Turn down the machines.
Turn down the gilacopter.
Turn down the prime time.
Shut those guns down.
Yeah. yeah...
Isn't that better?

By fnord12 | February 15, 2007, 8:56 AM | Music| Link

February 14, 2007


We are ice-storming it today in NJ.

Any sane society would just stay home on a day like this, but we just cover our roads with mud and slip and slide our way to work.

By fnord12 | February 14, 2007, 9:30 AM | My stupid life| Link

February 13, 2007

Clash of the Titans

AP Headline on Yahoo News:

God, Darwin clash again in Kansas

I'm rooting for Darwin, but we all know God's gonna kick his ass.

By fnord12 | February 13, 2007, 2:35 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

February 12, 2007

Snappy Answers to Stupid Comments

From dailyKos:

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard blasted Senator Obama's policy on the Iraq war and said al-Qaeda would "be praying as many times as possible for a victory for not only Obama but also for the Democrats".
Obama : "If Prime Minister Howard truly believes what he says, perhaps his country should find its way to contribute more than just 1,400 troops so some American troops can come home," [Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs] said. "It's easy to talk tough when it's not your country or your troops making the sacrifices."

By fnord12 | February 12, 2007, 4:49 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Civil War

Paul O'Brien:

By the way, my favourite Marvel feature of the week is the house ad for Civil War, which proudly proclaims "Civil War is intriguing because of its pointed, albeit allegorical exploration of a question that faces us in the present era of surveillance, detention and the Patriot Act." That's a quote taken from the Miami Herald, no doubt reviewing the series before the berserker cyborg clone of the Norse god Thor showed up. Perhaps he symbolises Bill O'Reilly.

Disclaimer: I like Civil War.

By fnord12 | February 12, 2007, 4:07 PM | Comics & Liberal Outrage| Link

February 9, 2007

Death Report

Found on Atrios:

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Is Anna Nicole Smith still dead, Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, we're going to -- updating our viewers coming up shortly on...

CAFFERTY: I can't wait for that.

BLITZER: ... the mysterious circumstances surrounding that, Jack. Thank you.

By fnord12 | February 9, 2007, 2:18 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4) | Link

February 8, 2007

Electrostatic Shock

Two days ago, i shocked someone when i handed them a wooden pencil. We were both only touching the pencil.

Yesterday, i went to flip the switch to turn the light on. When i touched the switch, there was a big, blue spark.

Everytime i get out of my chair, i make sure i'm touching something metal before i actually get up so that i can discharge.

I constantly get little shocks on my legs while i'm walking if i'm wearing my winter coat. Occasionally, i get slight shocks on my sternum, too.

By min | February 8, 2007, 2:51 PM | My stupid life | Comments (3) | Link

We Freeze Greenhouse Gases

Fresh from the "Just make it go away" idea factory:

Researchers from the University of Leicester and the British Geological Society (BGS) have proposed storing carbon dioxide in huge underground reservoirs as a way of reducing emissions- and have even identified sites in Western Europe that would be suitable.

Their research, published in the journal, Planet Earth, reveals that CO2 can be contained in cool geological aquifers or reservoirs, where it can remain harmlessly for many thousands of years.

Any country willing to allow the use of their reservoirs for CO2 storage should charge a fee. For one thing, they say it's safe, but you never know. The gases might start to vaporize, building up pressure in the reservoirs, and then KABLOOEY. The U.S. being the biggest producer of greenhouse gases would end up paying through the nose. Unless we invade Western Europe and bring them some of our democracy, i guess.

How will they capture the CO2? And how will it be transported? As gas or in the solid hydrate form? And what happens when there's no more room in the reservoirs? Rest assured, if we found a way to sweep CO2 under the proverbial (and seemingly literal, in this case) carpet, no way in hell would anyone continue talking about reducing emissions. Why worry? We can just freeze it and stick it underground indefinitely.

Math and science teachers were wrong all along. It's not the infinite that's difficult to contemplate. It's the finite we can't seem to grasp.

By min | February 8, 2007, 1:24 PM | Science | Comments (1) | Link

Next Step - Transporters

Physicists have for the first time stopped and extinguished a light pulse in one part of space and then revived it in a completely separate location. They accomplished this feat by completely converting the light pulse into matter that travels between the two locations and is subsequently changed back to light.
Within a Bose-Einstein condensate -- a cloud of sodium atoms cooled to just billionths of a degree above absolute zero -- a light pulse is spatially compressed by a factor of 50 million. The light drives a controllable number of the condensate's roughly 1.8 million sodium atoms to enter into quantum superposition states with a lower-energy component that stays put and a higher-energy component that travels between the two Bose-Einstein condensates. The amplitude and phase of the light pulse stopped and extinguished in the first cloud are imprinted in this traveling component and transferred to the second cloud, where the recaptured information can recreate the original light pulse.


If they can figure out how to turn matter into light and then change it back to matter in a completely different location, we could start beaming people and stuff all over the place.

The only thing i don't get is what happens to the lower-energy component? The light pulse is divided into the low- and high-energy components. Then the info about the light pulse is transmitted via the high-energy component and the low-energy component doesn't move. So......when the light pulse gets recreated at the new location, isn't it missing part of the original pulse? Are the original and the transmitted pulses just 2 halves of an incomplete whole?

What happens to the low-energy component in the first location now that it's a lesser version of its former self? And how much energy is required to make this happen? You've got to super-cool the gas, generate the pulse, manipulate the matter, then revive the pulse in the new location with a laser just to move it 2/10 mm.

By min | February 8, 2007, 12:21 PM | Science | Comments (1) | Link


I couldn't remember his name.

By fnord12 | February 8, 2007, 8:56 AM | TeeVee | Comments (2) | Link

Random Lyrics Thursday

Dave the Moon Man by Looper

Drunk, and lying outside on the lawn-

Dave the Moonman.

He'd look up at the blurred stars, as the dew on the grass soaked through the back of his jacket and the back of his trousers, and then he'd look towards the moon. All that distance from the surface he was pinned down on to the surface glowing in the darkness, with nothing but space all the way in between. Nothing to hold onto. And yet, someone had managed to get there. Someone had managed to do that. A truly impossible thing. So he'd get up out of the grass, light-hearted again. It made everything else possible. Anything you could think of, anything you were stuck with, it could be done. Because that had been done. Someone had got up and gone to the moon. And nothing else was more impossible than that.

Dave the Moonman.

But sober and playing around on the internet he started to find bits and pieces, Dave the Moonman. Things about the Van-Allen Belt, and about Kodak film and dual light sources. And he talked to people who knew about similar stuff, and he read bits in magazines and books.

The first time I met him was at a party. He was surrounded by a group of people and he was giving short lectures about all the stuff he had learned, going round the party one group at a time with all the energy of someone newly-born to a religion. You had to wait your turn if you wanted him to tell you about it, so I waited my turn.

The first thing was the Van-Allen Belt, he said; an outer layer of the atmosphere that all the shuttle flights stay inside, that protects the earth from radiation. He raid somewhere that if the astronauts had really gone beyond that, and gone all the way to the moon, the radiation would have killed them soon afterwards. Then there were the photographs of the astronauts walking on the moon. He said you could tell from the shadows that the light sources were all wrong, which suggested studio lighting. And there was something about the photograph of the footprint too. If a moon boot could leave such a deep impression on the surface of the moon, then the thrust of the rocket when it was landing should have forced two big mounds up on either side of the rocket. But there are none in the pictures.

There was a whole load of stuff. A whole load of stuff more than that. And so he was coming to believe it was a hoax, and that no-one had ever been to the moon.

I thought he had a mission, Dave the Moonman, to prove to everyone that no-one had ever landed on the moon. But that wasn't it at all. He was telling everyone all this stuff he'd learned cause he was hoping someone could prove to him it was wrong, and it wasn't just a hoax. Cause dreaming was so much harder otherwise. And it was so much harder to find the belief to get things done- lying out on the lawn at night, drunk, with the dew soaking through the back of your jacket. And all that distance between here and there. And he really wanted to believe that people had travelled to the moon in that crazy rocket, that looked as if it was made out of tin-foil and cardboard. He really wanted to believe that they'd managed to get it there, just by strapping enough fuel on, even though today you probably wouldn't trust it to get you down the shops.

Dave the Moonman...

By fnord12 | February 8, 2007, 8:48 AM | Music| Link

February 7, 2007

What Does This Mean For Me?

Researchers at the University of Rochester have shown that people who played action video games for a few hours a day over the course of a month improved by about 20 percent in their ability to identify letters presented in clutter - a visual acuity test similar to ones used in regular ophthalmology clinics.

In essence, playing video game improves your bottom line on a standard eye chart.
The experimental group played Unreal Tournament, a first-person shoot-'em-up action game, for roughly an hour a day. The control group played Tetris, a game equally demanding in terms of motor control, but visually less complex.

After about a month of near-daily gaming, the Tetris players showed no improvement on the test, but the Unreal Tournament players could tell which way the "T" was pointing much more easily than they had just a month earlier.


First-person shooters make me nauseous. And i pretty much suck at Tetris. I suspect that at some point, i also stop breathing when i play video games. This prolly contributes to the headaches and nausea. So, i can't improve my motor skills or my eyesight. This blows.

By min | February 7, 2007, 3:43 PM | Science & Video Games| Link

Gadgets Banned in Crosswalks

State Senator Carl Kruger on Wednesday will introduce legislation that would allow officers to fine people crossing the street while chatting on a cellphone, using a Blackberry or listening to an MP3 player in New York City or Buffalo.

Kruger says that when people use the electronic gadgets, they disengage from the world, and are oblivious to other pedestrians and vehicles.

"I'm not trying to intrude on that," Kruger told Reuters. "But what's happening is when they're tuning into their iPod, or Blackberry, or cellphone or video game, they're walking into speeding buses and moving automobiles. It's becoming a nationwide problem."

Krueger says the government has a responsibility to protect citizens. His proposal comes after the death of three Brooklyn residents who were listening to music when they were struck by vehicles at a busy intersection. Kruger says that in one case, bystanders shouted warnings but the person could not hear their appeals.


Now, i'm all for the government protecting its citizenry in certain respects. They should protect you from the recklessness of others. I'm less inclined to go along with them protecting me against me. The harsh, cold view of it is that these 3 people were morons and that's why they walked into speeding vehicles.

If you're crossing the street, as a pedestrian, you certainly have right of way and in court that will definitely work in your favor. But when it comes down to your soft, human body versus a 10 ton metal vehicle plus momentum, you had damn well watch where you're going and get the hell out of the way. Dead is dead. Screw right of way.

Plus, these people were from NYC. If there's one thing i've learned about NYC, get the hell out of the street cause that cabbie is not slowing down for your ass. Nobody's saying the cabbie's right or that he's not an asshole and a danger to society. I'm just saying the smart people out there have some sense of self-preservation, ferchrissakes, and will not be walking into a speeding bus with or without an ipod.

By min | February 7, 2007, 3:12 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (6) | Link


Spork. What more needs to be said?

By min | February 7, 2007, 12:53 PM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (2) | Link

Public Directed Financing

This seems a little bit round-a-bout to me, but i like the fact that this plan avoids the criticism that "I don't like my tax money going to a candidate whose views i oppose. (to which my response has been "tough. i don't like my tax money going to fund wars." but this is probably more palatable):

Under the new plan, anyone who registered to vote would receive $10 to donate to House candidates, $15 to Senate candidates and $25 to presidential candidates. They could make their pledges essentially any way they chose. They could fund long shots or front-runners, spend their wads in the primary or the general election, in their home state or across the nation. They could split their allotments among dozens of contenders or just choose one Senate candidate, one House candidate and one presidential candidate. They could not cheat and spend the money on dinner. The $50 would be issued as a kind of electronic voucher that would expire on Election Day, and Ackerman and Ayres suggest that people could register their donations using the Web, ATM machines or even their electronic food stamp cards. At fifty dollars per 2004 voter, that would be $6 billion in public financing available for candidates. In comparison, all federal candidates -- House, the Senate and POTUS -- spent a combined $4 billion in 2004.

Step two, and this is the beauty of the plan, is that they want to decouple the act of giving to politicians from the identity of the giver, and make political contributions anonymous:

You could still make additional private contributions. Indeed, the professors call for raising significantly the current contribution limit of $2,300 per donor per candidate. ...

Imagine that you are a politically connected Hollywood producer, and Hillary Clinton calls you up and asks you for $50,000. What do you do? In truth, you'd rather give to Barack Obama, whom you consider more electable, but you don't want Clinton to know that. After all, what if she wins? Then you'll never see the inside of the Lincoln Bedroom. So you tell Clinton that you're definitely on her side. Fortunately, under the Ackerman-Ayres plan, you'll make your check out to the Federal Election Commission, not Clinton. The FEC will wait five days before adding your money to Clinton's account. In those five days, you could contact the FEC and redirect the money to Obama if you chose. And regardless of which candidate ultimately gets the money, its origin will be masked. The FEC will distribute the cash to the candidate's account anonymously, in pieces, over several days, using a secret algorithm to vary the pattern by which it deposits the money. So even though you promised the New York senator your support, she'll have no way of knowing whether you really went through with it. You could send your money to Obama and Clinton would have no way of knowing whose side you were actually on.

In other words, if this works, politicians will never know who wrote the big checks.

You'll want to read the whole article to see how independent expenditures become a factor, among other complexities, but I think it's an intriguing read. One question I've had with this plan is what this does to fundraising events -- if wealthy contributors can no longer buy access to wine and cheese functions with large checks (since you can't verify that they were given), then what can campaigns offer as inducement to write the large checks, other than "this candidate believes the right things"? If this means fewer fundraising events, will candidates spend more time with ordinary voters? I'm sure you'll have your own questions.

By fnord12 | February 7, 2007, 12:50 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

All this fuss

Over a bill that doesn't actually do anything.

Oh, and the Republicans are obstructionists.

By fnord12 | February 7, 2007, 12:35 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

Our Arrogance Never Wavers

So, not only did the U.S. military's pilots open fire on allies and kill a British soldier, they covered up having a tape of the occurrence. And now that it's come out, they're saying it's the British government's fault they didn't get the tape sooner - they just didn't ask the right people.

The transcript reveals as many as six errors immediately before the attack near Basra in southern Iraq on March 28, 2003. On several occasions the pilots, a Major and a Lieutenant Colonel of the 190th Fighter Squadron, the Idaho Air National Guard, say they can see orange panels used to identify coalition forces, but convince themselves that they are enemy rocket launchers. The pilots were not sure what red smoke released on the ground to show them they had hit friendly forces meant, and had switched off communications with the ground so they did not hear instructions to stop firing.

At least, that's the Yorkshire Post's version. The story you get from the U.S. government is that the soldiers followed procedures and made no errors and it helps the terrorists when you let the dead soldier's family know that he got killed by friendly fire.

The soldier's widow, Susan Hull, said the video was the "one and only chance" to hear how and why her husband was killed. On it, one of the US pilots is heard saying: "We're in jail dude," after realising the mistake. "God dammit," said the other pilot, who opened fire. Mrs Hull said she "felt sick" when she finally watched the video and heard the American pilots apparently joking about hitting the convoy. She said L/Cpl Hull's life had been wiped out by "people who don't seem to know what they were doing or seem to care". After realising they had made a terrible mistake, the pilots were "more concerned for themselves than their victims", she added. Mrs Hull told the Sun: "I always knew there was a cover-up -- and this proves it. All I ever wanted was the truth about what happened to Matty, but no one was prepared to be honest with me. "I've waited four long years to see this footage. Finally here I am seeing my husband die at the hands of two imbeciles."

They were prolly hepped up on amphetamines. The pilots take them because they can be expected to stay up for 48 hours on long flights. In 2002, U.S. pilots bombed Canadian infantry in Afghanistan, once again, thinking they were the enemy. The combination of lack of sleep and drugs caused them to pretty much hallucinate and think what they were seeing really was the enemy instead of allies. So strange that these two incidents are so similar...

By min | February 7, 2007, 11:27 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

February 6, 2007

Burning Sensation

I think i finally found the movie i've been searching for for a loooooong time. When i was little, i saw a movie at my cousin's house. It was a chinese movie that involved a ghost and a demon (ofc). I always thought it was kinda funny, but i never knew what it was called or who was in it. And my cousin would be no help in this department. She never remembers anything. But i think this is it.

A firefighter salvages a spiritual shrine from an old burning building, which releases the gentle ghost of a Chinese opera singer, killed in a stage fire 30 years before. Grateful for saving her, the ghost falls for the firefighter and will stop at nothing to ensure his safety from the evils that lurk ahead. At the same time, the firefighter doesn't realize he is dating a ghost.

Doesn't sound too interesting, right? Well, that's because IMDB left out the part where the "evils" include a demon with a 6ft long tongue.

It's on sale here for pretty cheap. I think i'm going to have to make this purchase.

By min | February 6, 2007, 3:31 PM | Movies | Comments (4) | Link

February 5, 2007

Recap #6

Thanks to min for this recap.

By fnord12 | February 5, 2007, 9:06 AM | D&D| Link

February 2, 2007

I'm in

First presidential candidate to say "get them out". Between that and universal health care, he's now my candidate*.

Here we go. Barack Obama is introducing binding legislation mandating the phased removal of combat brigades from Iraq to start in a few months, with the goal of getting "all" -- we repeat, "all" -- removed by March 2008. From a release just sent out by his campaign:
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today introduced binding and comprehensive legislation that not only reverses the President's dangerous and ill-conceived escalation of the Iraq war, but also sets a new course for U.S. policy that can bring a responsible end to the war and bring our troops home.

"Our troops have performed brilliantly in Iraq, but no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else's civil war," Obama said. "That's why I have introduced a plan to not only stop the escalation of this war, but begin a phased redeployment that can pressure the Iraqis to finally reach a political settlement and reduce the violence."

The Obama plan offers a responsible yet effective alternative to the President's failed policy of escalation. Realizing there can be no military solution in Iraq, it focuses instead on reaching a political solution in Iraq, protecting our interests in the region, and bringing this war to a responsible end. The legislation commences redeployment of U.S. forces no later than May 1, 2007 with the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008, a date that is consistent with the expectation of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.

This is a very big gamble by Obama, and it's clearly designed to put some heavy pressure on the other Dems in the primary to come up with something similar.

*That's not good news for him. I've never supported a presidential candidate that won.

By fnord12 | February 2, 2007, 4:41 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (3) | Link


Believe it or not, that's called a Democracy. Everybody gets a voice, not just the people you approve of.

(from Hullabaloo):

But if [we had public financing of elections], black helicopter conspiracy theorists off their meds, the dysfunctionally unemployed, irresponsible young men and women who have multiple babies out-of-wedlock, repeat felons and various other burdens to society without means might have as much to say about our nation's political leadership and direction as folks who soberly get up every morning, lovingly raise their children, productively hold jobs, responsibly pay taxes, and occasionally write checks, huge or otherwise, to the political campaigns of their choosing.

By fnord12 | February 2, 2007, 4:34 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Full-Pipe Recording

More creepy surveillance by the gestapo we call the U.S. Government.

Courtesy of the King of Zembla:

You are certainly aware of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's recent, rather disingenuous announcement that President Bush's illegal wiretapping program would henceforth be conducted under the supervision of the FISA court, as the law of the land dictates. You may be unaware, however, that the government has simultaneously undertaken a program of "full-pipe surveillance" -- that is to say, warrantless recording of internet traffic, from web browsing to e-mail -- on an unimaginably vast scale. The legal justification? Federal law says that snoopers must "minimize the interception of communications not otherwise subject to interception," which means that even if you have a warrant to bug a criminal suspect, you must take pains not to eavesdrop on innocent people. There is, however, an exemption for intercepted communications "in a code or foreign language" -- and one DoJ functionary, quoted in the story below, claims that since all digital communications amount to a foreign language or code, it should be perfectly obvious that "federal agents are legally permitted to record everything and sort through it later"

Since we've got the Mooninite up there in our banner today, i suppose we'll be put into the "to be monitored" pile. Also, we do tend to use the terms "terrorist" and "fascist" and "iraq" and "bush is a moron" quite frequently. And, we're big proponents of the Constitution and all. Oh, oh. We're part of the Reality-Based community. Not lookin' good for us at all...

Gee, what with all this freedom and democracy going on, it's hard to imagine anyone not wanting to get in on this.

By min | February 2, 2007, 2:40 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Wasn't Wei just talking about the death of PC games?

Penny Arcade:

I've been the PC holdout in my group for awhile, now. Kiko plays RTS, a genre until very recently dominated by the platform, but the moment a viable interface was available on the 360 he pulled the emergency stirrup and let his computer crash to earth. Gabe plays WoW on his PC sometimes, but (and this is serious) only if he happens to be upstairs, because he prefers to play on his MacBook. There's no allegiance there.

He never had to massage conventional memory. He never played Civilization or Star Control II, and wouldn't like them if he had. Nine times out of ten these days my friends are playing the games they play on consoles. Many of my favorite, historically PC centered developers are now focused on the dedicated consumer hardware called consoles, I assume because people actually buy software for them, which is great if you are a person who makes software.

And here i am, having decided not to move on to the next generation of consoles, thinking about going back to PC games. I am excited about BioShock for example, and would have already bought Elder Scrolls: Oblivion (also on next gen consoles) if i didn't know deep in my heart that i don't have time to play a game that big. I hear Galactic Civ II is also a good expansion on the first.

Man, i wish i would get laid off.

By fnord12 | February 2, 2007, 12:58 PM | Video Games | Comments (14) | Link

February 1, 2007

Endless war

Robert Parry at Consortiumnews:

Military and intelligence sources continue to tell me that preparations are advancing for a war with Iran starting possibly as early as mid-to-late February. The sources offer some differences of opinion over whether Bush might cite a provocation from Iran or whether Israel will take the lead in launching air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.

But there is growing alarm among military and intelligence experts that Bush already has decided to attack and simply is waiting for a second aircraft carrier strike force to arrive in the region -- and for a propaganda blitz [See Dick Morris below] to stir up some pro-war sentiment at home.

One well-informed U.S. military source called me in a fury after consulting with Pentagon associates and discovering how far along the war preparations are. He said the plans call for extensive aerial attacks on Iran, including use of powerful bunker-busting ordnance.

Another source with a pipeline into Israeli thinking said the Iran war plan has expanded over the past several weeks. Earlier thinking had been that Israeli warplanes would hit Iranian nuclear targets with U.S. forces in reserve in case of Iranian retaliation, but now the strategy anticipates a major U.S. military follow-up to an Israeli attack, the source said.

Both sources used the same word "crazy" in describing the plan to expand the war to Iran. The two sources, like others I have interviewed, said that attacking Iran could touch off a regional - and possibly global -conflagration.

"It will be like the TV show '24'," the American military source said, citing the likelihood of Islamic retaliation reaching directly into the United States.

Though Bush insists that no decision has been made on attacking Iran, he offered similar assurances of his commitment to peace in the months before invading Iraq in 2003. Yet leaked documents from London made clear that he had set a course for war nine months to a year before the Iraq invasion.

In other words, Bush's statements that he has no plans to "invade" Iran and that he's still committed to settle differences with Iran over its nuclear program diplomatically should be taken with a grain of salt.

Meanwhile, here is Dick Morris stirring up support:

But there is a risk that our struggle against Iran will come to be seen by the American people as a subset of the war in Iraq, a bit like Cambodia was a subset of the War in Vietnam. If challenging Iran comes to symbolize an escalation of the war in Iraq, it will soon lose public support and become tainted with the tar which smears our work in Iraq.

By fnord12 | February 1, 2007, 12:16 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link

Volunteers Wanted

Who volunteers to test a new product that's supposed to block HIV transmission?

Two major studies of a vaginal gel being tested as a substance to block HIV transmission were halted Wednesday after early results from one of them appeared to show that the women who used it had higher infection rates than those who were given a placebo.
Monitors found that 35 women had already become HIV-positive since enrollment began in July 2005, and the majority of them were getting the actual microbicide, cellulose sulfate, instead of an inert placebo gel.

If they're doing clinical trials of it, that means they don't know yet if it works. This is not like testing a deodorant or an acne cream. If it fails, you have HIV. And if, like in this case, it actually facilitates infection, you're totally screwed.

The response from the scientists:

The results were "unexpected and disappointing,'' said Dr. Lut Van Damme of the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va., the principal investigator in the study.

Not as disappointing as finding out you are now HIV positive.

The trials were conducted in Africa and India. Perhaps the payment offered to volunteers outweighed their self-preservation instinct.

By min | February 1, 2007, 12:05 PM | Science| Link

For no good reason at all

By fnord12 | February 1, 2007, 11:56 AM | Video Games | Comments (1) | Link

Awaken... the Doooooooomsday Man!!!!!

Why is it that when i hear Putin pledging a "highly effective" response to the US installing an "anti"-missle program in Central Europe, i think of some giant killer robot that was smuggled into the country during the Cold War suddenly activating and going on a rampage through Kansas?

Look at this guy. He will destroy you. Dick Cheney has got nothing on him. Their super-villain can kick our super-villain's ass.

By fnord12 | February 1, 2007, 8:51 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Big Baby

I demand a follow-up story on this kid in 15 years.

By fnord12 | February 1, 2007, 8:48 AM | Science & Ummm... Other?| Link

Random Lyrics Thursday

Guns of Brixton by The Clash

When they kick out your front door
How you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun

When the law break in
How you gonna go?
Shot down on the pavement
Or waiting in death row

You can crush us
You can bruise us
But you'll have to answer to
Oh, Guns of Brixton

The money feels good
And your life you like it well
But surely your time will come
As in heaven, as in hell

You see, he feels like Ivan
Born under the Brixton sun
His game is called survivin'
At the end of the harder they come

You know it means no mercy
They caught him with a gun
No need for the Black Maria
Goodbye to the Brixton sun

You can crush us
You can bruise us
But you'll have to answer to
Oh-the guns of Brixton

When they kick out your front door
How you gonna come?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun

You can crush us
You can bruise us
And even shoot us
But oh- the guns of Brixton

Shot down on the pavement
Waiting in death row
His game was survivin'
As in heaven as in hell

You can crush us
You can bruise us
But you'll have to answer to
Oh, the guns of Brixton

By fnord12 | February 1, 2007, 8:46 AM | Music| Link

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