One Down

Retired Adm. John Poindexter will resign his position at the Pentagon after the uproar over a research project he was overseeing that included a kind of futures market on political violence in the Middle East.

I talked about Poindexter earlier in the year, see the Jan 03 archive for more.

Eat Your Baggie

A food wrap is an edible film cut in pre-formed sheets or into envelope-like shapes.  It looks like a piece of paper, except that it’s made from a highly concentrated puree of a fruit or a vegetable, not from a tree.  The wraps come in a wide variety of flavors, including broccoli, carrot, tomato, mango, peach, pear, apple, papaya and strawberry.

The edible wraps are expected to be available in stores by the end of the year.

Turn Your Thoughts to Thoughts That Turn

It may one day be possible to operate a motorized wheelchair with a system that can steer using only thoughts.

The system uses a skullcap covered with electrodes that monitor the electrical activity of its wearer’s brain.  Early trials using a steerable robot indicate that with just two days training it is as easy to control the robot with the human mind as it is manually.

Details in a New Scientist article.

Are You Better Off Now?

In the 1980 Presidential debates, Ronald Reagan asked the memorable question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”  Over twenty years later, this question is being asked again.

Buzzflash asks, “How does the economic record of Bush, Jr. (and Sr.) stand up against Clinton’s on Unemployment, Job Creation, the Stock Market, and the Budget Surplus/Deficit?”  And answers, “No one statistic paints a true picture, but taken together, life under a Bush is dark and not very prosperous.”

Take a look at their graphs.

New Online Music Service is offering 300,000 songs for 79 cents to $1.49 per track. When this one fails, it will again show how free music must be killing the industry. I think it’s another exercise designed to do that.

The restrictions on downloading, transferring and burning are individually listed for each album/song.) That’s just not easy enough (Apple has a site that solved this problem, so it can be done). Pay attention to what you’re buying. Here’s what Buymusic say on their website:

Each record label has control over these license restrictions including the number of times you may:

  • transfer your songs to another computer(s)
  • transfer your songs to an approved portable digital media player.
  • burn your songs to CD complies with each record label and adjusts the SDMI license on each of your music downloads accordingly.

They don’t say anything about the quality of the music on the website. It’s delivered in Microsoft’s encrypted Windows Media format, which is not CD quality.

Downloads require Windows Media Player 9. I’ve avoided it after reading that some people lost access to music they had because of the way WM9 interprets digital rights. And WM9 can’t be removed once it’s installed.

You lose it all if your computer’s drive crashes, other than those files that are allowed to be moved to another computer.

The cost for a CD is more than buying it through one of the CD clubs. For example, they’re selling the Audioslave album for $12.79. (Are we back to calling them albums? I finally trained myself to call them CDs.) I got it through the CD club for about $8 including all the printed material that comes with a CD. Why would I download it at a higher price?

And they think this is a good business model?

Bush Cartoon Is Possible Threat

The Secret Service is studying a pro-Bush cartoon in the Los Angeles Times, showing the president with a gun to his head, as a possible threat, U.S. officials said on Monday.

“We’re aware of the image and we’re in the process of determining what action if any can be taken,” John Gill, Secret Service spokesman, said.

The cartoonist, Michael Ramirez, oddly enough meant the image to have a pro-Bush message.

I’m certainly not a Shrubya supporter, but does anybody remember freedom of speech?

Eating Pizza Cuts Cancer Risk


A study of 8,000 Italians found that regular pizza-eaters were 59 percent less likely to contract cancer of the oesophagus, while the risk of developing cancer of the colon fell by 26 percent.

Now we need a study that shows that pepperoni is an important part of being healthy.

Music Industry Obtains 871 Subpoenas

Stereophile, among other sources, says that as of July 19, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) had sought and obtained “at least 871 federal subpoenas against computer users . . . with 75 new subpoenas being approved each day.”

Some of the subpoenas mention as few as five songs offered or downloaded; under US law, the RIAA could seek damages ranging from $750 to $700,000 each.   Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, subpoenas can be obtained from any US District Court clerk’s office no judicial signature required. The clerk’s office in the US District Court in Washington—a “clearing house” for subpoenas nationwide—is reportedly so busy with RIAA requests that workers had to be recruited from other departments.

Part 2: On July 16, Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Howard Berman (D-CA) introduced a bill that would subject copyright violators to incarceration.  The Conyers-Berman bill would define the sharing of movies, music, and other intellectual properties over computer networks as felonies—criminal acts punishable by up to five years in jail.

Many estimates show that, in the United States alone, over 57 million people (about 25%) have downloaded music.  One government survey estimates 83 million (about 37%) of those 12 and over have tried pot.  (Possible conclusion: more file sharing is needed?)  The jails are already full with smokers (nearly 60% are in for drug-related offences), so I guess we will just have to keep building more prisons to keep up with this file sharing craze.  How about a goal of 50% of the USA in jail by the year 2005?

France Bans E-mail

The Culture Ministry has announced a ban on the use of the word email in all government ministries, documents, publications or websites, in the latest step to stem an incursion of English words into the French lexicon.  They must now use “courriel” – a shortening of “courrier electronique” (literally: electronic mail) – when they are referring to the messages sent via the internet, the ministry said in a statement.

Some Internet industry experts say the decision doesn’t reflect reality.  “The word ‘courriel’ is not at all actively used,” Marie-Christine Levet, president of French Internet service provider Club Internet, said. “E-mail has sunk in to our values.”

It’s probably a lot like trying to get people to stop saying French Toast and French Fries.

An Intro to The Daily show

I like The Daily Show every time I see it, but it comes on at 11 PM, so I usually miss it. I’m either asleep or watching the news.

It’s host, Jon Stewart, doesn’t come off as well in print because the inflections and expressions are missing, but here is a great interview of him by Bill Moyers on Moyers’ PBS Now show. Makes me want to stay up late and skip the news.

Wacks On, Wacks Off

“If these findings hold up,” (no pun intended, I’m sure), “then it’s perfectly reasonable that men should be encouraged to masturbate,” says Anthony Smith, deputy director of the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University in Melbourne.

Blindness and hairy palms are a thing of the past, in part because the latest research shows that frequent self-pleasuring could protect against the most common kind of cancer: prostate. Suddenly I can see, and I feel so protected…

A Metallica Joke, I Hope

Metallica are taking legal action against independent Canadian rock band Unfaith over what they feel is unsanctioned usage of two chords the band has been using since 1982 : E and F.

I can’t find it anywhere except this article. It seems like it would make a bigger splash if it was real. (BTW: Chords can’t be copyrighted, only melodies.)

Classic Comic Covers

Copies of books from the 50’s featuring the Good Girl style of art, which has been used in humor, adventure and sci-fi comics. Good girl art is usually drawn in the pin up tradition and might be risqué for the time of publication. Prominent breasts (known as ‘headlights’) were the rule. Good girls were usually athletic, smart women who might fall into precarious positions.

So go look.

Why People Are Here

Most people end up here due to a search they did;  the most common are “Ganguro Girl” and “Cameltoe”.  I’m also pleased to see that there were a couple of hits for “The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas”, “Naked Ice Borer” and “Flying Viking Kittens want to take you to a Gay Bar”.

I hesitate to make this post because it will probably raise my rankings in the search engines, making it even more likely that people will come here and not really find what they want.  OK, that’s not really true.  I do want them to come here.

But really, what’s up with all the people looking for Cameltoe?  (Rating up!)  Ganguro Girl (Ratings up!) finally made sense because there is a game with that name.  (For those of you looking for it, it is:  It’s a “dating sim” game but in this mature rated game you can eventually have sex (Rating up!) with your Amine Ganguro girl (Rating up!) date. 

Really now people, camel toe? (Ratings up!)

Beer For The Homeless

Yes, it’s a serious organization with a serious mission.  You can donate, although it only helps one locality of homeless people.  It really seems like there should be a national organizaion to do it — it’s such an obvious idea once it’s stated.

I’m not homeless, so they won’t help me.  Maybe someday, but until then you can buy me a beer instead:  just  e-mail me.

Haunted Mansion Trailer Online

The trailer for the Haunted Mansion movie is here.  A comedy?  I should probably wait to see Pirates of the Caribbean before questioning how good HM will be.

Does this mean Disney is completely out of ideas?  Oh — never mind:  They used to get their ideas from the public domain before they started pushing for longer copyrights.  Guess they never really had that many ideas in the first place.