Friday, November 12, 2004

The Conet Project: Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations

Shortwave radio has never received the credit it deserves for shaping electronic music. Most early electronic musicians--especially those in Europe, where shortwave radio is more common than in the US--will tell you that their early musical education came from trying to sift through shortwave bands to pick up pirate stations all over the Atlantic. No doubt the act of sifting through walls of static to pick up a faint but hip signal can be seen as the inspiration for at least some of electronic music's obsession with distortion, aberration, and noise. A lot of electronic music, in fact, can be read as an elaborate attempt to give shape and purpose to random noise: to turn static into a signal.
If you think about it, number stations are doubly encased in interference. Not only are the signals themselves hard to pick up, but the messages are impenetrable. The artists behind The Conet Project understood both of these mysteries. By creating a work that is not only historically important (being, really, the primary introduction of numbers stations to the world at large) but also musically relevant, Irdial has created a powerful, evocative work that has, in recent years, inspired artists as varied as Cameron Crowe (Vanilla Sky) and Wilco (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot) to tap into some of its power. This is a classic in every single sense of that word.
Index of /the conet project (mp3s)

The Onion: I Must Take Issue With The Wikipedia Entry For 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Those who know me either by reputation or through IRC know that I do not suffer fools gladly. If you have been on the business end of one of my notorious outbursts of Internet anger, I do sympathize. And, for what is to come forthwith, I offer you my grim condolence. En garde.
To start: Your entry for "Weird Al" is laughably brief, and fails to account for the grand impact and scope of his career. How can you justify a "Weird Al" biography of only a paltry 850 words?
Particularly galling to this author is the fact that Madonna and U2 were given articles two and three times the length of the Weird One's. Yes, those artists may have sold more records than "Weird Al," but surely the Wikipedia community is not one to confuse net profits with artistic merit. Nevertheless, while we are on the loathsome subject of money, I might point out that nowhere in the article is it mentioned that Yankovic has earned no less than four gold and four platinum records.
Put plainly: The "Weird Al" entry contains omissions so glaring, I can only assume that they are the result of laziness, indifference, or complete incompetence. The article does not even hint at the immeasurable output of Alfred Matthew Yankovic, the man who has dominated the parody-song form since "My Bologna" first topped Dr. Demento's "Funny Five." And, although it did not gain national acclaim, "School Cafeteria," released as the B-side of the "My Bologna" single, is not to be overlooked. The live version, to be found on Dr. Demento's Basement Tapes, contains several amusing riffs, as well. But again I digress...

Running from Brand America

"With the reelection of George W. Bush, American voters have spoken. Now it is the turn of global consumers," writes Thomas Mucha. According to Simon Anholt, a specialist in international branding, the reelection of Bush is "undoubtedly the worst thing that could have happened. Bush has presided over a period of unparalleled decline in the popularity of the United States. Global disapproval of U.S. foreign policy has become so intense that it is spilling over and contaminating the image of U.S. brands and culture." His advice to companies with international marketing operations: "Run as fast as you can from Brand America. Make your brand culture the culture of your organization, not the culture of your country." [from]

Frontline: Is Wal-Mart Good for America? - airs Tuesday

FRONTLINE offers two starkly contrasting images: one of empty storefronts in Circleville, Ohio, where the local TV manufacturing plant has closed down; the other--a sea of high rises in the South China boomtown of Shenzhen. The connection between American job losses and soaring Chinese exports? Wal-Mart. For Wal-Mart, China has become the cheapest, most reliable production platform in the world, the source of up to $25 billion in annual imports that help the company deliver everyday low prices to 100 million customers a week. But while some economists credit Wal-Mart's single-minded focus on low costs with helping contain U.S. inflation, others charge that the company is the main force driving the massive overseas shift to China in the production of American consumer goods, resulting in hundreds of thousands of lost jobs and a lower standard of living here at home.

The Emerald Ash Borer

The shiny green beetle, called the emerald ash borer, came to the USA up to 10 years ago, probably inside a wood packing crate from China.
Since it arrived near Detroit, the beetle has destroyed more than 6 million ash trees in 3,000 square miles of southeast Michigan, an area larger than Delaware. The U.S. Agriculture Department quarantined the area in October 2003, making it illegal to remove ash trees and firewood.
But the emerald ash borer flies up to a half-mile in the summer. It has been found in Ohio, Indiana and Ontario, plus in commercial nurseries in Maryland and Virginia.
Federal and state agriculture officials have launched a major effort to hunt down the beetle and destroy every ash tree within a half-mile of infested trees.
"If we don't stop this in northwest Ohio, it's a death sentence for the nation's ash trees," says Fred Daily, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

“The real glory of war is surviving.”

One of Hollywood's biggest crimes of the last quarter-century is being set right this week with the release of "The Big Red One: The Reconstruction", a beautifully restored version of Samuel Fuller's butchered 1980 masterpiece. The stunning new version restores some 15 scenes and more than 40 minutes of footage to Fuller's grittily autobiographical film about his World War II stint as a GI with the Army's First Infantry Division. Filmed in Israel, the film stars Lee Marvin in his greatest performance. The cut version of the film flopped, and Fuller went to his grave in 1997 bemoaning the fate of "The Big Red One," telling every journalist he met that he dreamed of seeing his original vision up on the big screen. Richard Schickel, critic and documentary filmmaker, printed 70,000 feet of film from negatives stored in a vault in Kansas City and supervised the editing according to Fuller's original shooting script. "What they released in 1980 wasn't a bad movie," Schickel said. "What the studio wanted was a gung-ho war movie. What we've added is the real Sam stuff: the boredom, the absurdity of an ordinary soldier caught up in a vast war". [from]

Greensboro Justice Fund

The 1979 Greensboro Massacre occurred against a background of recession in the textile industry, renewed labor organizing, the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan, and efforts on the part of the progressive community to respond. As the Klan paraded across the South through the spring and summer of 1979, civil rights activists marched to protest the Klan's racist violence. In Greensboro, a march and educational conference was planned for Saturday, November 3, 1979. They never occurred. Minutes before the march was to begin, with police withdrawn from the area, a caravan of Klan and Nazis drove into Greensboro's Morningside Homes and opened fire on the crowd, killing five and wounding eleven others. The campaign for justice in Greensboro, spanning six years (1979-1985), was an important battle in the fight to safeguard our constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association, and equal protection under the law.
...The tragedy of the November 3, 1979 Greensboro Massacre has given rise to the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in the United States. On June 12, 2004, after twenty-five years of persistent grassroots organizing, diverse Greensboro communities came together to install a seven-member Commission modeled after the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Researcher Who Raised Concerns About COX-2 Inhibitor Bextra Removed From FDA Advisory Panel

Curt Furberg, a professor at Wake Forest University, has been removed from an FDA advisory panel set to review the safety of COX-2 inhibitors next year, after he publicly questioned the safety of Pfizer's Bextra, the Wall Street Journal reports. Preliminary results of a University of Pennsylvania study presented on Tuesday at the American Heart Association annual conference in New Orleans indicated that Bextra doubles patient risk for heart attack and stroke. Furberg said FDA informed him that he would no longer participate in a committee meeting next year to review the safety of COX-2 inhibitors, including Bextra, Pfizer's Celebrex and Merck's Vioxx, after he was quoted in the New York Times as saying Bextra appeared to have similar risks to Vioxx -- which was withdrawn from the market in September for safety reasons -- and Pfizer tried to conceal that information. The FDA meeting on COX-2 inhibitors is scheduled for mid-February.

Polar people 'will need to adapt'

The four million inhabitants of the Arctic will have to change their way of life if warming trends in the region continue apace, leaders have warned.
A four-year scientific assessment of climate change in the Arctic has been published, and says the area is warming at nearly twice the global average.
The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) will be used by rim nations and indigenous groups to inform policy.

AARP opposes Bush's Social Security plan

Gearing up for battle over the future of Social Security, AARP, the influential lobby for older Americans, said Thursday that it opposed President Bush's plan to divert some payroll taxes into private retirement accounts.

Sorry Everybody

Apologies accepted

JOHN ASHCROFT - Crooning Crusader

Why Me, Lord 2:44
Reach Out to Jesus 2:25
Jesus Hold My Hand 2:22 MP3 (2.2 MB)
The Broken Vessel 3:38
King Jesus 2:13 MP3 (2.0 MB)
Unseen Hand 3:25 MP3 (3.2 MB)

Didn't He Shine 2:40
I Find No Fault In Him 3:00 MP3 (2.8 MB)
More About Jesus 2:14
We've Come This Far By Faith 2:12
Come Holy Spirit 2:25
Jesus Is Lord of All 2:56

Top CIA Anti-Terrorist Expert Resigns

Senior CIA anti-terrorism officer Michael Scheuer, who publicly criticized the agency's handling of the war on terrorism, resigned Thursday but said he wasn't forced out despite the fact the CIA was considering disciplinary action against him.
The 22-year CIA veteran who once headed the agency's Osama bin Laden unit, resigned effective Friday, according to Christina Davidson, the editor of his book, "Imperial Hubris."
Earlier this year, the CIA gave Scheuer permission to publish the book under the name "Anonymous" and to conduct interviews for it without revealing his identity. The book is critical of how the United States is fighting the war on terrorism.
See also:
CIA Official Quits So He Can Tell Truth About Agency Problems
"I have concluded that there has not been adequate national debate over the nature of the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and the forces he leads and inspires, and the nature and dimensions of intelligence reform needed to address that threat," Scheuer said in a statement sent to reporters Thursday via electronic mail.

Green and Libertarian Presidential Candidates to Demand Ohio Recount

David Cobb and Michael Badnarik, the 2004 presidential candidates for the Green and Libertarian parties, today announced their intentions to file a formal demand for a recount of the presidential ballots cast in Ohio.
“Due to widespread reports of irregularities in the Ohio voting process, we are compelled to demand a recount of the Ohio presidential vote. Voting is the heart of the democratic process in which we as a nation put our faith. When people stand in line for hours to exercise their right to vote, they need to know that all votes will be counted fairly and accurately. We must protect the rights of the people of Ohio, as well as all Americans, and stand up for the right to vote and the right for people’s votes to be counted. The integrity of the democratic process is at stake,” the two candidates said in a joint statement.

Quechua 1.0: Microsoft to launch Windows in the language of the Inca

Microsoft will translate its blockbuster computer software Windows and Office into Quechua, the language of the indigenous Inca, for Andean nations from Argentina to Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, where it is spoken, the company said.

South Korean activist ends risky diet of junk food

Yoon Kwang-Yong, 31, began his diet on October 16 in an attempt to re-enact "Super Size Me," an US documentary showing the effects of fast food on the human body.
But he stopped Wednesday on the 24th day after doctors said his health was deteriorating so rapidly that his life could be in danger.
..."The most critical problem was a rapid decline in his liver," said Green Clinic doctor Yang Kil-Seung. "His liver was severely punished, plus were found signs of heart problems."

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Scientists Disappointed at Bush Win

Michael Oppenheimer, a climate change researcher at Princeton University in New Jersey, is mulling over the morale of fellow scientists following the re-election of George W Bush. "Let me put it like this," he says. "No one I know is happy."
It's an observation echoed by many American scientists, not least those who threw their weight behind the rare campaign of protest in the run-up to the vote. Whether they were critical of the administration's restrictive policy on stem cell research; its lack of action on global warming; the prospect of drilling for oil in the pristine Arctic wildlife refuge, or the twisting of scientific data to suit a political agenda, scientists were largely united in their opposition to President Bush winning four more years in the White House.

Students Fight Copyright Hoarders

Students at a dozen colleges around the country are organizing to teach their peers about the consequences of overly broad copyright law, hoping to prevent creative freedom from being stifled.
They are forming Free Culture groups on campuses to explain copyright law to fellow students. Stressing its importance for culture and society, the group says copyright law is being abused. To illustrate their point, the groups hold remixing contests, promote open-source software and rally against legislation like the Induce Act, which would hold technology companies liable for encouraging people to infringe copyrights.

Diebold to Settle E-Voting Suit

Diebold agreed Wednesday to pay $2.6 million to settle a lawsuit filed by California alleging that the electronic voting machine company sold the state and several counties shoddy voting equipment.
Although critics characterized the settlement as a slap on the wrist, Diebold also agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to partially reimburse Alameda, San Diego and other counties for the cost of paper backup ballots, ink and other supplies in last week's election. California's secretary of state banned the use of one type of Diebold machine in May, after problems with the machines disenfranchised an unknown number of voters in the March primary.

Incredible Origami

Complete with crease patterns.

ACLU Challenges Behavior Profiling

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts today filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a so-called "behavioral assessment" program adopted by the Massachusetts Port Authority and the Massachusetts state police to stop and detain people for questioning at Logan Airport.
"This program is another unfortunate example of the extent to which we are being asked to surrender basic freedoms in the name of security," said John Reinstein, Legal Director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. "This allows the police to stop anyone, any time, for any reason."

Gonzales' Memo to Bush on the Geneva Convention


The 2004 Scientific American 50 Award

The magazine's Board of Editors has compiled a diverse list of those who during 2003-2004 exhibited outstanding technology leadership in the realms of research, business and policymaking. Most of the members of this year's honor roll are from the U.S., but they also hail from as far afield as India, Ghana and Israel. These awards demonstrate the love of knowledge driving basic research, the entrepreneurial spirit spurring development of, say, a nanotube microchip, and the desire to find new ways to make tiny fuel cells or to use the Internet to assist poor south Asian farmers. All originate from a common need to take what we know one step further.

Gonzales from Enron to the "Quaint" Geneva Convention

Alberto Gonzales, Mr Bush’s White House legal counsel and longtime confidant, is to take over from John Ashcroft who resigned on Tuesday.
...In one memo to Mr Bush, Mr Gonzales said the realities of the War on Terror superceded the “quaint” demands of the Geneva Convention. Republicans hold an effective 55-45 majority in the Senate and Mr Gonzales’s eventual appointment is not necessarily in doubt. But he faces a grilling as tough as the four-day showdown Mr Ashcroft suffered at the hands of senators before he was approved four years ago.
Most at issue is a January 2002 memo written by Mr Gonzales to Mr Bush in which he argued that Mr Bush could waive the protections of anti-torture laws and international treaties when it came to Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters.In one memo to Mr Bush, Mr Gonzales said the realities of the War on Terror superceded the “quaint” demands of the Geneva Convention. Republicans hold an effective 55-45 majority in the Senate and Mr Gonzales’s eventual appointment is not necessarily in doubt. But he faces a grilling as tough as the four-day showdown Mr Ashcroft suffered at the hands of senators before he was approved four years ago.
Most at issue is a January 2002 memo written by Mr Gonzales to Mr Bush in which he argued that Mr Bush could waive the protections of anti-torture laws and international treaties when it came to Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters.

Bush Ignores Global Warming Warnings

President Bush is holding fast to his rejection of mandatory curbs on greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming, despite a fresh report from 300 scientists in the United States and seven other nations that shows Arctic temperatures are rising.

Vets return, but not always with healthcare

One of the biggest problems, according to advocates and a report by the Government Accountability Office, is a lack of resources to deal with battle fatigue, or posttraumatic stress disorder, as it's now called. Another is providing support for Reserve and National Guard troops, who make up 45 percent of the troops in Iraq.
"The bottom line is that the VA [Department of Veterans Affairs] wasn't prepared for the 33,000 troops that have come back and gone to the VA needing care," says Paul Rieckhoff of Operation Truth, a nonprofit advocacy group for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. "They're definitely not ready for the flood that's going to come back next year."

CJR: How ‘Balanced’ Coverage Lets the Scientific Fringe Hijack Reality

As a general rule, journalists should treat fringe scientific claims with considerable skepticism, and find out what major peer-reviewed papers or assessments have to say about them. Moreover, they should adhere to the principle that the more outlandish or dramatic the claim, the more skepticism it warrants. The Los Angeles Times’s Carroll observes that “every good journalist has a bit of a contrarian in his soul,” but it is precisely this impulse that can lead reporters astray. The fact is, nonscientist journalists can all too easily fall for scientific-sounding claims that they can’t adequately evaluate on their own.

US Infant Mortality Up for First Time in 40 Years

[T]he US child mortality rate increased slightly between 2003 and 2004, the first uptick in 40 years. The United States now has an infant mortality rate of 7 deaths per 1000 live births, putting it behind 27 other nations.

We Confuse, You Decide

Women seeking abortions in Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and Kansas are told that "abortion can increase their risk of breast cancer," and "legislation to require such notification has been introduced in 14 other states." But "a panel of scientists convened by the National Cancer Institute reviewed available data and concluded there is no link. A scientific review in the Lancet, a British medical journal, came to the same conclusion, questioning the methodology in a few studies that have suggested a link." A Kansas Health Department spokesperson defended their practice, saying that women "can do further research on their own" to sort out opposing claims. [from]

Matrix ping-pong

[Flash] Better quality 2MB wmv here.
Check this out, it's a pretty brilliant bit of theater.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

NAFTA Supports Mexico's Restrictions on Genetically Modified Corn

Mexico is trying to limit the importation of genetically modified corn from the United States after a NAFTA watchdog group recommended better regulation of the crop, something U.S. officials have said is unnecessary.
This country imports about 5.6 million tons of American corn a year. Between 30 percent and 50 percent of that corn is genetically modified.
A study released Monday by the trilateral Commission for Environmental Cooperation said biotech corn is not likely to displace Mexico's native species, which gave rise to modern corn.
But it said no one knows for sure how much genetically modified corn has already been mistakenly planted in Mexican fields and recommended that steps be taken to slow the amount of biotech corn pouring across the border.

EFF, Nonprofits Challenge Secret Government Blacklists

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today joined the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a number of other nonprofit organizations in filing for an injunction from the US District Court in Washington, DC, to stop the federal government from requiring the charities to use blacklists in order to receive payroll donations from federal employees. The groups argue that the new requirement, which was implemented without any notice or public comment period, is not authorized by statute and violates the First and Fifth Amendments.
..."The government can't force charities to become its 'anti-terrorism enforcers' simply because federal employees donate to those charities," said Kevin Bankston, EFF Attorney and Equal Justice Works/Bruce J. Ennis Fellow. "EFF refuses to violate the privacy of its clients and employees by screening them against secretly compiled blacklists. It was wrong during the McCarthy era, and it's wrong now."

Major Changes for AFL-CIO

In a sign of the jockeying and soul-searching, Andrew L. Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.'s largest union, called yesterday in a letter for far-reaching changes in labor designed to increase its membership, proposing a $25-million-a-year campaign to unionize Wal-Mart and a near doubling in the amount spent annually on organizing.
The meeting comes as long-simmering differences in the A.F.L.-C.I.O. have been intensified by President Bush's re-election, with many union leaders fearing retaliation because organized labor spent more than $150 million to try to defeat him.

Ferndale Accepts Instant Runoff Voting

Proposal B on Ferndale, Michigan's ballot passed overwhelmingly today by a margin of 6,522 (69.75%) to 2,828 (30.25%). The proposal amends Ferndale's city charter to provide for election of the mayor and City Council through the use of an Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) system pending the availability and purchase of compatible software and approval of the equipment by the Ferndale Election Commission.
Instant Runoff Voting is a simple to use, full-choice voting system whereby, when three or more candidates run for a single seat, voters are allowed to rank the candidates 1-2-3, etc. rather than simply choose their one favorite candidate. If no candidate wins a majority of votes on the first count, the last place candidate is eliminated, and then all ballots are counted again with each counting for the highest ranked candidate still in contention. This process continues until one candidate has a majority of the votes and is declared the winner. In Ferndale's two-seat Council races, the process would be similar. Runoffs would be held until one candidate wins over 50% of the votes, earning the first seat. This candidate would then be removed from the counting and a similar process would take place until a second person won over 50%, earning the second seat.

EPA Scraps Program for Home Movies of Poisoned Children in Poor Families

The Environmental Protection Agency has suspended a controversial study aimed at exploring how infants and toddlers absorb pesticides and other household chemicals, officials said Tuesday.
Several rank-and-file EPA scientists had questioned the ethics of the two- year experiment, which would have given the parents of 60 children in Duval, Fla., $970 apiece as well as a camcorder and children's clothing in exchange for having their children participate. The critics said low-income Floridians might continue to use pesticides -- which have been linked to neurological damage among children -- in their homes to qualify for the project.

Persuasion and Devotion, in Brand America

"As long as we become uncritical consumers who trust our irrational, visceral gut feeling over intellect, [marketers and advertisers] will be able to reach us through all the din of messages, and get us to do what they want us to do," said Barak Goodman, one of the producers of the new public television documentary "The Persuaders." The documentary "examines the advertising arms race that's left the American landscape carpet-bombed with marketing and promotional clutter," including guerrilla marketing, branding and product placement. One advertising executive interviewed in the film "found that devotion to brands and membership in cults inspired similar feelings of belonging and zeal." [from]

Beatles Hit Voted Worst Song

The Beatles' 1968 song Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da has been voted the worst song ever in an online poll.
The track was on the band's White Album - which is often regarded as one of the best albums ever made.
It was rated as being worse than former footballer Paul Gascoigne's Fog On The Tyne in a Mars survey of 1,000 people.
In third place was Meat Loaf's 1993 hit I'll Do Anything For Love, while 5ive, Cliff Richard, Vanilla Ice and Steps were also in the top 10. [thanks to Sharon]

The Persuaders

In "The Persuaders," Frontline takes an in-depth look at the multibillion-dollar “persuasion industries” of advertising and public relations. To cut through mass-media clutter and to overcome consumers’ growing resistance to their pitches, marketers have developed new ways of integrating their messages deeper into the fabric of our lives. Through sophisticated market research methods to better understand consumers and by turning to the little-understood techniques of public relations to make sure their messages come from sources we trust, marketers are crafting messages that resonate with an increasingly cynical public. In this 90-minute documentary essay, correspondent Douglas Rushkoff (NYU professor and correspondent for Frontline’s “The Merchants of Cool”) also explores how the culture of marketing has come to shape the way Americans understand the world and themselves and how the techniques of the persuasion industries have migrated to politics, shaping the way our leaders formulate policy, influence public opinion, make decisions and stay in power. [text from Washington Post]

Global warming alters US wildlife

"The message is that human-driven climate change has affected species all across the United States, from new tropical species arriving in Florida to changes in the basic functioning of ecosystems in Alaska," says Parmesan.
The greater the rate of climate warming, the smaller the number of species that will be able to adapt without disrupting their lifestyles or ecosystems. Climate experts point out that some parts of Alaska warmed by 4°C during the twentieth century, compared with a global average of around 0.6°C. And they fear that warming could accelerate if greenhouse-gas emissions are remain unchecked."With warming for the next century projected to be two to ten times greater than the last, we're heading towards a fundamental and potentially irreversible disruption of the US landscape and wildlife," warns Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center.

US ready to put weapons in space

The new doctrine means that pre-emptive strikes against enemy satellites would become 'crucial steps in any military operation'. This week defence experts will attend a conference in London amid warnings that President Bush's re-election will pave the way to the arming of space.
Internal USAF documents reveal that seizing control of the 'final frontier' is deemed essential for modern warfare. Counterspace Operations reveals that destroying enemy satellites would improve the chance of victory. It states: 'Space superiority provides freedom to attack as well as freedom from attack. Space and air superiority are crucial first steps in any military operation.'

The Writings of Charles Darwin on the Web.

Most Darwin texts on the internet exclude essential bibliographical information such as edition, publisher, place of publication, etc. Page numbers are nowhere to be seen. These factors vastly reduce the usefulness of these texts as they cannot be easily cited. It is impossible to know if one is reading a first or sixth edition. An example are the many online 'first editions' of Darwin's Origin of Species. Often these cannot be correct as the text contains the phrase 'survival of the fittest'—famously coined by Herbert Spencer and first included in the 5th edition of 1869. Many other online copies of the Origin purport to be the first edition yet contain the 'Historical Sketch', first found in Britain in the 3rd edition of 1861. Most historical texts on the internet contain silent additions or omissions—footnotes are changed to endnotes or formatting altered without informing readers where this has been done. If scholars are to find digital texts more useful, it must be perfectly clear which historical text is represented and the text must be useable and citable in conventional ways. The texts provided here are an attempt to do so for the writings of Darwin. The site also provides many more Darwin texts than are available anywhere else—in fact almost the complete works. View the list of Darwin's works available: Darwin's writings. See also Related texts.

Lose Money Fast!

If you click on this link, you'll go to an apparent sales site for "FatFoeTM Eggplant Extract" another 'miracle' weight loss aid. But click on the Order Now! link and you get a lecture from the FTC on how to avoid getting scammed by diet products that are too good to be true, all part of the US Federal agency's campaign against diet fraud.

Maps and cartograms of the 2004 US presidential election results

[thanks to Mint]

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

CIA role inside the USA greater

The CIA has assigned dozens of case officers and analysts to work with FBI agents throughout the USA in the most extensive deployment of intelligence officers on domestic soil in the spy agency's history.
Officials at both agencies say the deployment, which pairs CIA officers with FBI agents in the bureau's offices to assist with terror-related investigations, also represents the CIA's broadest association with federal law enforcement since the CIA was created after World War II.

Taylor Believer Kills Nonbeliever to Prove Point

Following this discussion, the suspect said, he went into another room and removed his shirt. Then he shaved his face.
He tried once more to convince the victim to believe in God, but this time, he had the shotgun.
"How long would it take you to believe in God?" the suspect said he asked the victim.
"Not until I hear Gabriel blow his horn," the victim allegedly replied, while tipping his hat.
That's when the suspect shot him.
"I did it because he is evil; he was not a believer," the suspect told police.

Revealed: secret plan to push 'happy' pills

Britain's largest drug company drew up a secret plan to double sales of the controversial anti-depressant Seroxat by marketing it as a cure for a raft of less serious mental conditions, The Observer can reveal today.
The contents of the 250-page document have alarmed health campaigners who accuse the firm, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), of putting profit before the therapeutic needs of patients by attempting to broaden the market for the drug which has been linked to a spate of suicides.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

We speak with John Perkins, a former respected member of the international banking community. In his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man he describes how as a highly paid professional, he helped the U.S. cheat poor countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars by lending them more money than they could possibly repay and then take over their economies.

Non-Disclosure Agreement for Unclassified Government Documents

In a momentous expansion of the apparatus of government secrecy, theDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) is requiring employees andothers to sign legally binding non-disclosure agreements as acondition of access to certain categories of unclassifiedinformation.Up to now, non-disclosure agreements have only been used bygovernment agencies to regulate access to classified information.In fact, they are one of the defining features of the nationalsecurity classification system, along with security clearances andthe "need to know" principle. As far as Secrecy News coulddetermine, such classification-like controls have never beforebeen systematically imposed on access to unclassified information.But now at DHS a non-disclosure agreement must be executed in orderto gain access to any one of a panoply of new and existingcategories of unclassified information, including:"For Official Use Only (FOUO); Official Use Only (OUO); SensitiveHomeland Security Information (SHSI); Limited Official Use (LOU);Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES); Safeguarding Information (SGI);Unclassified Controlled Nuclear Information (UCNI); and any otheridentifier used by other government agencies to categorizeinformation as sensitive but unclassified."The proliferation of controls on unclassified information signifiesa massive increase in government secrecy, particularly since thenumber of officials who are authorized to designate information inone of these categories dwarfs the number of officials who cancreate classified information.And while the classification system operates according to certainwell-defined rules and limitations, including procedures for reviewand challenge of classification decisions, the same is not true ofthe "sensitive but unclassified" domain. Furthermore, there isnothing like the Information Security Oversight Office to monitorand oversee the restriction of unclassified information.(Some types of sensitive but unclassified information are notspecifically protected by statute and can still be successfullyrequested under the Freedom of Information Act. But with JusticeDepartment encouragement, agencies take an expansive view of thescope of the Act's exemptions and access is increasinglyuncertain.)The DHS non-disclosure agreement is apparently the first suchdocument crafted in the Bush Administration. It represents a newhigh water mark in the rising tide of official secrecy.A copy of DHS Form 11000-6, Non-Disclosure Agreement for SensitiveBut Unclassified Information, dated August 2004, was obtained bySecrecy News and is posted here:

Flying Cars - Still in the Future

Things have been a little quiet of late on the flying car scene, and we appear to be no closer to a Moller M400 on the front drive than we were a couple of years back when we first reported on the Transport of the Future™
Despite the hype, we've been waiting fifty years for visionaries to come good on their promise of the freedom of the skies for the average Joe. From time to time there is a little teaser - a report that the Swiss or the Indians are about to get us all airborne for the price of a small family car - but on every occassion our expectations soon turn to bitter disappointment.
So it is with a great deal of scepticism that we point readers in the direction of Avcen, a British (sort-of) flying car outfit which reckons it will fills the skies above Blighty with its $1m Jetpod by 2010. The said vehicle comes in a range of flavours: the T-100 "low-cost world-class city airtaxi"; P-200 "easy and safe to fly personal twinjet aircraft"; M-300 "battlefield Transpeeder"; E-400 "civil air ambulance variant"; and the U-500 "civil or military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)".
[And since they won't be on roads, they'll be incredibly safe! --ed.]

Guantanamo Trial Is Ruled Unlawful

The first military commission trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was halted Monday after a federal judge here ruled the proceedings invalid under U.S. and international law — dealing a blow to the legal process set up by the Bush administration to handle accused terrorists.
...The ruling affects all of the nearly 500 detainees from Afghanistan at Guantanamo.

Poverty, Political Freedom, and the Roots of Terrorism

[PDF] Political freedom is shown to explain terrorism, but it does so in a non-monotonic way: countries in some intermediate range of political freedom are shown to be more prone to terrorism than countries with high levels of political freedom or countries with highly authoritarian regimes. This result suggests that, as experienced recently in Iraq and previously in Spain and Russia, transitions from an authoritarian regime to a democracy may be accompanied by temporary increases in terrorism. Finally, the results suggest that geographic
factors are important to sustain terrorist activities.

World's second fastest computer built in just 120 days

The previously top-ranked supercomputer, Japan's Earth Simulator, was knocked into third place, and IBM's BlueGene/L system came top, having performed an impressive 70.7 trillion calculations per minute (70.7 teraflops) in the test imposed by the TOP500 panel.But the second spot on the list with 51.9 teraflops was taken by a new entry, called Columbia. Developed by California technology company Silicon Graphics, with chipmaker Intel and NASA, Columbia was built in just 120 days. A machine this fast has never been built so quickly, its makers say. Prêt à porterColumbia was quick to build because it relies on hooking up off-the-shelf components into a single machine, says Erich Strohmaier, who helps to compile the TOP500 list.It expands the approach used to build previous supercomputers, such as the Earth Simulator. "Columbia is an evolutionary development," says Strohmaier. "That was one of the reasons they were able to build it very quickly."

Statute allows druggists to refuse prescriptions

For a year, Julee Lacey stopped in a CVS pharmacy near her home in a Fort Worth suburb to get refills of her birth-control pills. Then one day last March, the pharmacist refused to fill Lacey's prescription because she did not believe in birth control."I was shocked," says Lacey, 33, who was not able to get her prescription until the next day and missed taking one of her pills. "Their job is not to regulate what people take or do. It's just to fill the prescription that was ordered by my physician."
Some pharmacists, however, disagree and refuse on moral grounds to fill prescriptions for contraceptives. And states from Rhode Island to Washington have proposed laws that would protect such decisions.Mississippi enacted a sweeping statute that went into effect in July that allows health care providers, including pharmacists, to not participate in procedures that go against their conscience. South Dakota and Arkansas already had laws that protect a pharmacist's right to refuse to dispense medicines. Ten other states considered similar bills this year.

JPEG Patent May be Enforced

Since 1986, Patent No. 4,698,672 has done little more than languish in the archives of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Government examiners first issued the patent, which covers a "coding system for reducing redundancy" to a San Jose, California, company called Compression Labs. The approval came more than a decade before the digital imaging technology known as JPEG reached mass-market popularity.
Sixteen years later, however, the Austin, Texas, software developer that now owns the patents is seeing fresh value in an old document. The company, Forgent Networks, says the patent directly applies to a compression technique used in the creation of JPEG images.
Now, Forgent says it is seeking licensing revenue from companies that implement JPEG in "all fields of use," with the sole exception of the satellite broadcast business.
In a statement published last week, Forgent said the patent could apply to a broad range of companies that make "devices used to compress, store, manipulate, print or transmit digital images." Potential licensees include makers of digital cameras, digital camcorders with still image functions and PDAs.

Big Questions about Black Boxes

Several groups are investigating how electronic voting machines performed during the U.S. elections. Three Democratic Representatives asked the General Accountability Office for "an investigation into irregularities with voting machines," including a memory card reader in Ohio that gave Bush "3,893 more votes than he should have received"; North Carolina e-voting machines that lost 4,500 votes; and Florida machines from ES&S that counted absentee ballots improperly. Although the Information Technology Association of America's president said, "The machines performed beautifully," computer scientist Avi Rubin commented, "We'll never really know if [this election] was actually successful." [from]

Persuasion and Devotion, in Brand America

"As long as we become uncritical consumers who trust our irrational, visceral gut feeling over intellect, [marketers and advertisers] will be able to reach us through all the din of messages, and get us to do what they want us to do," said Barak Goodman, one of the producers of the new public television documentary "The Persuaders." The documentary "examines the advertising arms race that's left the American landscape carpet-bombed with marketing and promotional clutter," including guerrilla marketing, branding and product placement. One advertising executive, who "found that devotion to brands and membership in cults inspired similar feelings of belonging and zeal." [from]

SEC Investigating Major Brokerages

Examiners at the Securities and Exchange Commission discovered the trading patterns - in which the brokerages apparently failed to obtain the best available stock price for customers - and notified the agency's enforcement attorneys about two weeks ago, two people said, confirming a report Monday in The New York Times. They spoke on condition of anonymity.
In an investigation described as preliminary, the SEC examiners also formally notified the firms of the problems, according to these people. They include Ameritrade, E-Trade Financial, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Charles Schwab.

EU Fighting US Over Growth Hormones in Beef

The European Union executive asked the World Trade Organization on Monday to rule that it was illegal for the United States and Canada to retain sanctions on EU exports to counter the bloc's ban on hormone-treated beef.
The EU's ban on beef treated with growth hormones -- despite agreements that each side recognizes the other's food as safe -- has long been a thorn in the side of transatlantic food trade ties.
The U.S. sanctions apply to a variety of EU exports, such as Roquefort cheese, mustard, truffles, French hams and soups worth $116.8 million a year. Canada's sanctions are worth $9.5 million a year.
"There is no reason why European companies should continue to be targeted by sanctions when they export to Canada and the United States," EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said in a statement.
"The EU ban on certain growth promoting hormones is now in full respect of our international obligations," he added.

New Prize Set for Space Flight

Anyone who wants to follow in the shoes of Burt Rutan and win the next big space prize will have to build a spacecraft capable of taking a crew of no fewer than five people to an altitude of 400 kilometers and complete two orbits of the Earth at that altitude. Then they have to repeat that accomplishment within 60 days.
While the first flight must demonstrate only the ability to carry five crew members, the winner will have to take at least five people up on the second flight.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Trailer for Star Wars Episode III

Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked

In Baker County, for example, with 12,887 registered voters, 69.3% of them Democrats and 24.3% of them Republicans, the vote was only 2,180 for Kerry and 7,738 for Bush, the opposite of what is seen everywhere else in the country where registered Democrats largely voted for Kerry.
In Dixie County, with 9,676 registered voters, 77.5% of them Democrats and a mere 15% registered as Republicans, only 1,959 people voted for Kerry, but 4,433 voted for Bush.
The pattern repeats over and over again - but only in the counties where optical scanners were used.

Errol Morris on Artistic Representations of History

Imagining HistoryKurt Andersen and documentary filmmaker Errol Morris look at how writers and artists reshape history.
Errol Morris has become one of our most celebrated documentary filmmakers, covering offbeat subjects like a pet cemetery, a swamp town in Florida and Stephen Hawking’s views of physics. His investigation of a Texas murder case, The Thin Blue Line, is credited with overturning the conviction of death-row inmate. His most recent film, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamara, won the Academy Award in 2004.

Don't Forget - America Kicks Ass (posting from Anonymous Canadian)

I'm a Canadian. Born and raised. And I only really know the U.S.A. through your movies, which I've watched for as long I can remember. Those movies never said that America always wins. Not to me. They said that good always triumphs over evil. So what if the good guys were always waving an American flag? That's just the surface. It never mattered because the real message of these American myths is simple and good. It doesn't matter how many techs the bad guys have, how much money, or how clever they think they are. They always lose. And the good guys never lose heart. Rocky had the crap pounded out of him in Rocky 1 and he lost the match but he fought to the end and he fought hard. In part 2 he came back and won. Do you think he would have given up and moved North? Do you think Bush will give up? Moving North, I wouldn't put past him. [thanks to Donna]

Shoplifter Surrenders After Chased by 260 lb. Off-Duty Police Officer in a Shrek Costume

Const. Mark Smallbones, a six-year veteran of the Lethbridge Police Service, was on his way to a Halloween party Saturday when he stopped to pick up some beer. The chase was on after the bald and burly officer, skin painted green and accompanied by a stuffed donkey, saw two people swipe a couple of bottles and flee.