"If you understood everything I said, you'd be me" - Miles Davis
"There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." - Bertrand Russell
"Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government." - Lenny Bruce
"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!" - Homer Simpson

Utility Fog Banner

Lost / Blast Door Diagram
"Clean" version of blast door diagram
Via The Tail Section

Lost / Blast Door-a-palooza
Lostpedia has a comprehensive analysis of the blast door diagram, including all notations and latin translations.

One of the more interesting aspects of the diagram to me is that it has more than one style of writing. It appears to have been compiled by more than one person. And why keep it secret, and from whom?

I'm guessing that Locke didn't try the pantry vent because he's too big.

Lost / Blast Door
Big annotated picture of blast door diagram-chock full o' clues.
Via 815

Big readable picture of blast door diagram w/o annotations
via The Tail Section

Lost / I'm on Crack
It wasn't Jack's Gabrielle whho had her house inspected by Locke, it was Sayid's long lost Nadia. My apologies. Via IMDB

Lost / Hatch Song
The song Locke was listening to while riding the exercise bicycle is "Compared to What" performed by Les McCann and written by Eugene McDaniels. Lyrics found here.
Via TWOP Lost Forum

Lost/Ep#217-Lockdown - UV Diagram
via Alt.TV.Lost
  • What did Locke do with his $200,000?
  • Why didn't Locke didn't go out the pantry vent instead of prying the blast door?

Spoilers after the space

  • Locke's father's name is/was Anthony Cooper.
    "The title of Earl of Shaftesbury was created in 1672 for Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 1st Baron Ashley, a prominent politician in the Cabal then dominating the policies of King Charles II." I don't think this has anything to do with Locke's father, I just like how it shows any semi-connected wikipedia entry can sound like a Lost clue.
  • What was the jazzy tune Locke was stationary-cycling to?
  • I think I heard the Hatch speaker say "garble garble alarm garble garble".
  • The first playing card numbers were 3-clubs 6-diamonds 4-clubs 8-clubs Jack-hearts. The second set was King-hearts 5-diamonds 7-clubs 2-spades Queen-spades. Notice how they were Dharma "brand" cards.
  • Jack said he learned poker in Phuket, Thailand. He probably got his tattoo there too. What was he doing spending all that time away from doctoring?
  • The bank locker number was 1516
  • The pantry had some food, but wasn't full. I guess I can stop obsessing about the cornflakes-Locke was just bullshitting.
  • "When I need the guns, I'll get the guns"-Jack is getting his alpha-male chops back.
  • Gabriella Pisani from Jack's flashbacks in "The Hunting Party" got the house she was buying inspected by Locke.
  • Locke said "Do you think I'm stupid?" to his father, Just like Jack said to him.
  • Helen said "Are you him?"-the same line as Desmond to Locke
  • I have got to get some hi-def screen shots of the UV diagram on the hatch door.
  • "Henry" is not "Henry Gale". He still might not be an Other, he might just be a very bad man. But why didn't he leave Locke and escape after he punched in the numbers?

After Lost
There's only been one episode, but I liked what I saw of "Heist" on NBC. It's a nice semi-light dessert after the dark main course of "Lost". "Invasion" was good, but to me it was more "what the hell is going on" than I want in one night.

Clear, Concise, and to the Point
Impeach the Motherfucker Already
Via The Slog

What's A Cubit?
Come 2050 and the oceans rise, will you be high and dry or studying "Waterworld" for tips? Flood Maps hacks GoogleMaps to show you the effects of 0-14meters of flooding. My neighborhood comes off pretty well, but the commute south will be a problem.
Via Futurismic

Q: What has four legs and an arm?
A: A happy pit bull

Ask Metafilter considers What's the funniest joke that doesn't involve making fun of anyone?

Firefox Tip
If a web-site removes your Firefox toolbars, and you have the Web Developer extension installed, just "Right-click/ Web Developer/ Miscellaneous/ Show Window Chrome" to get your buttons back.

Adding Insult to Injury
"After Katrina ravaged the Big Easy six months ago, Greg Meffert, the city's chief information officer, got downtown businesses back online by opening the city's wireless mesh network-originally deployed to link surveillance cameras?to anyone who needed it. For free.

"Now it is the lifeblood for so many businesses," Mr. Meffert told Red Herring. With Internet service still down in more than half the city, he estimates more than 15,000 people use the city's 512 kbps (kilobits per second) network.

The city now has a daytime population of about a quarter-million, but about a third of the city is still without even basic phone service. The population is expected to swell this summer as more storm refugees return when the school year ends.
Now telecommunication lobbyists are trying to shut down the network, and Mr. Meffert says it looks like the state legislature will agree. State law prohibits cities from providing more than a relatively sluggish 128-kbps network, but New Orleans offered its faster network as an emergency relief effort.

"The vendors, the BellSouths of this world, are not only going to force us back, making our existing Wi-Fi illegal, but also they want to close a loophole for emergencies so that we would not do this again," said Mr. Meffert.

BellSouth declined to comment. But telecommunications and cable giants have tried to restrict city-sponsored broadband initiatives in other parts of the United States. Several states bar local governments from competing with private telecommunications services.

Legal or not, Mr. Meffert said he and Mayor Ray Nagin plan to keep offering the service as long as they feel an emergency exists."
Wi-Fi Fight Brews in Big Easy
Via del.icio.us/popular

  • Why did Danielle tell Sayid about Henry? If she's convinced he is an Other, why doesn't she just torture him herself? We know she's motivated and capable of it. Some people on the web have theorized that Danielle made a deal with the Others. While this is just twisted enough to be true, I think she did it because the writers needed a way to get Henry into the show.

  • How did Henry Gale draw a map to his balloon if he doesn't know where he is?

  • If Henry is an Other, what was he doing running around the Jungle alone? My theory is that when Locke didn't enter the numbers in "The Long Con" it resulted in something that made the Others abandon the Medical Hatch in a big hurry. Henry was in the Medical Hatch and got separated and errr... Lost in the rush to evacuate.

  • Anna and Sayid seemed typically incurious about Charlie having a gun.

  • Where did the box of Dharma cereal come from? Didn't they eat all the Hatch food (except for Hurley's stash) in the big beach BBQ? And Locke said to Henry "The pantry's full of food". Are they getting deliveries? This is just weird.

Holy Crap
"A gunman opened fire early Saturday in a home, killing six young partygoers and critically injuring at least one other before committing suicide when confronted by police outside.

The heavily armed shooter, dressed in black, fired repeatedly as he made his way into the house, killing four men and two women, police said. He then went upstairs and tried to get into a locked bathroom where a young couple were hiding. Unable to enter, he fired through the door before leaving the pair unharmed.
...the shooter left the home briefly and returned with a handgun and a 12-gauge pistol-grip shotgun, which Kerlikowske described as "a weapon not designed for hunting purposes but for hunting people." The gunman, identified only as a local man in his late 20s, also wore bandoliers of shells for the shotgun and carrying additional clips for the handgun, the chief said. In his truck, police found an assault rife and multiple "banana clips" carrying 30 bullets each. As the gunman walked the half block from his truck to the house, he spray painted the word "NOW" in orange twice on the sidewalk and once on the steps of a neighbor's home, police said."
This is unsettling. I've been to parties just like this, though not usually till 7am, and not on Capitol Hill. No angry voices, no fighting, no warning. The shooter doesn't sound like somebody who just lost it-he had stocked up. I wonder if we'll ever know what the orange "Now" was all about.
Gunman Kills Six, Self in Seattle Home

The Fairer Sex
Overheard on the street:
Preteen girl: "Hey Natalie, we're going to burn army men!"

"About 6,000 non-Iraqi security contractors are operating in Iraq. During nine months in 2004-05, contractors reported firing into 61 civilian vehicles; no one was ever prosecuted. Security analysts say it is likely that such incidents are vastly underreported.

Security contractors supporting the U.S. effort in Iraq regularly shoot into civilian cars with little accountability, according to a News & Observer analysis of more than 400 reports contractors filed with the government.

In the documents, which cover nine months of the three-year-old war, contractors reported shooting into 61 vehicles they believed were threatening them. In just seven cases were Iraqis clearly attacking -- showing guns, shooting at contractors or detonating explosives.

There was no way to tell how many civilians were hurt, or how many were innocent: In most cases, the contractors drove away. No contractors have been prosecuted for a mistaken shooting in Iraq."
Hired guns unaccountable
Via robot wisdom weblog

No Fun
Windshield wiper blades are clearly the work of the Dark Lord, the enemy of mankind, Satan. Oh, they're your friends when they're shiny and new, but just wait until they start to wear out and get all soft and floppy. Then try to replace them. They will resist you like the demonic minions they are.

Lost/EP 216 "The Whole Truth"
If you haven't seen the episode, SPOILERS AHEAD

  • Sawyer was reading "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" by Judy Blume,
    ..typically categorized as a novel for young adults, is about a preteen girl who grew up with no religion. Margaret has one Christian and one Jewish parent, and the novel explores her quest for a single religion. Margaret also confronts many other pre-teen issues, such as buying her first bra, having her first period, and liking boys.
  • The song playing in the Hatch was "Pushin' Too Hard" by The Seeds.
  • It's raining on Anna-Lucia, Sayid, and Charlie. My theory: Rain means bad things will happen.
  • The pregnancy test was made by "Widmore Labs". The easter egg in "Fire + Water" was a sign for "Widmore Construction".
  • Henry is still reading "The Brothers Karamazov".
    "Men reject their prophets and slay them, but they love their martyrs and honor those they have slain."
  • Henry Gale may not be an Other, but he is definitely not a nice man. His creepy scenario of sending Sayid, Anna-Lucia, and Charlie into an ambush begs the question of how the Others would know where to wait. Unless the Hatch is bugged. I think the Hatch is bugged.
  • But at least Henry asks questions. And he's right on the money about Jack and Locke's incuriosity.
  • Promo for Ep 217/Lockdown
    Canadian Promo for Lockdown

    via The Tailsection
  • Also, according to The Evil Puppet Masters, the 2-hour season finale will be May 24th. By my count, if there are 24 hours per season then we have 8 hours left. If the last show is a double then there are 7 shows remaining to fill 9 days. Ergo 2 reruns left. YMMV

They Could Be Your Neighbor!
"American's increasing acceptance of religious diversity doesn't extend to those who don't believe in a god, according to a national survey by researchers in the University of Minnesota's department of sociology.

From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in "sharing their vision of American society." Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.

Even though atheists are few in number, not formally organized and relatively hard to publicly identify, they are seen as a threat to the American way of life by a large portion of the American public. "Atheists, who account for about 3 percent of the U.S. population, offer a glaring exception to the rule of increasing social tolerance over the last 30 years," says Penny Edgell, associate sociology professor and the study's lead researcher."
Atheists identified as America?s most distrusted minority
Via del.icio.us/popular

Owning Reality
"* The Earth revolves around the Sun.

* The speed of light is a constant.

* Apples fall to earth because of gravity.

* Elevated blood sugar is linked to diabetes.

* Elevated uric acid is linked to gout.

* Elevated homocysteine is linked to heart disease.

* Elevated homocysteine is linked to B-12 deficiency, so doctors should test homocysteine levels to see whether the patient needs vitamins.

Actually, I can't make that last statement. A corporation has patented that fact, and demands a royalty for its use. Anyone who makes the fact public and encourages doctors to test for the condition and treat it can be sued for royalty fees. Any doctor who reads a patient's test results and even thinks of vitamin deficiency infringes the patent. A federal circuit court held that mere thinking violates the patent.

All this may sound absurd, but it is the heart of a case that will be argued before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. In 1986 researchers filed a patent application for a method of testing the levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, in the blood. They went one step further and asked for a patent on the basic biological relationship between homocysteine and vitamin deficiency. A patent was granted that covered both the test and the scientific fact. Eventually, a company called Metabolite took over the license for the patent."
This Essay Breaks the Law
Via Viridian Mailing List

With broadband, you can do things like going to TinyPic.com and clicking away on the "random" button for say, a good hour or more. And if you did you would come across a lot of kitschy anim-gifs, pictures of new cars, and stuff like this:

military school gone bad
Soldiers of the future discover that gas masks make stylish codpieces.

pacifier with teeth
Relax-That's a pacifier, not Grandma's false teeth crammed into a newborn's mouth.

Wild Scottish Kangaroos
Via Fortean Times

No Bailout
"Two key players in the city's decision whether to overhaul KeyArena at taxpayer expense are saying they have limited money, limited sympathy for the Sonics' owners and limited fear of the team's threat to leave.

Life would go on -- including life at KeyArena -- even if the Sonics' owners make good on threats to sell or move the team unless they get the $220 million renovation sought by the Sonics and WNBA Storm, Mayor Greg Nickels told KING/5 News this week.

"That's one of the things that makes this a vibrant place," Nickels told the television program. "But we can also imagine a future without NBA basketball that could be perfectly fine out at the Seattle Center.""
I'm amazed (and delighted) that Seattle may opt out of the national pastime of subsidising the business of major league sports. But then again we are still paying for 3 stadiums (including one that's been demolished) and there are lots of expensive transportation projects in the works.
City playing hardball with Sonics?

"Most federal agencies that play key roles in the war on terror are doing a dismal job of protecting their computers and information networks from hackers and viruses, according to portions of a report to be released by a key congressional oversight committee Thursday.

The Department of Homeland Security, which is charged with setting the government's cyber security agenda, earned a grade of F for the third straight year from the House Government Reform Committee. Other agencies whose failing marks went unchanged from 2004 include the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, State, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs."
Explain to me again how Republicans are the "Strong on Defense" party.

DHS Gets Another F in Computer Security
Via Slashdot

Product Lust
I need a "Dick Cheney Hunts People" T-Shirt
Via Metafilter

Sloppy And/Or Illegal
"Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) has alleged in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card that President Bush signed a version of the Budget Reconciliation Act that, in effect, did not pass the House of Representatives. Further, Waxman says there is reason to believe that the Speaker of the House called President Bush before he signed the law, and alerted him that the version he was about to sign differed from the one that actually passed the House. If true, this would put the President in willful violation of the U.S. Constitution."
Congressman writes White House: Did President knowingly sign law that didn't pass?
"The $2 Billion Typo

After months of haggling, the Senate passed S. 1932, a law that would purportedly reduce the deficit. (In fact, it has failed to do so. That, however, is not the subject I wish to address.) The means the bill employed were grim: It placed much of the financial burden upon the elderly, the poor and the young, hacking away at benefits previously available under Medicare, Medicaid and student loan programs. No wonder that to pass this measure through the Senate required Vice President Dick Cheney to fly back from the Middle East to cast a tie-breaking vote. S. 1932 passed the Senate 51 to 50 just before Christmas 2005.

In one provision of the bill, the Senate voted that oxygen equipment used in the home was to be paid for by Medicare for only up to 36 months. (Previously, the law had sensibly paid these expenses as long as needed by the patient.) The Senate placed an even tighter cap of 13 months' payment for other durable equipment, like wheelchairs, for Medicare beneficiaries.

But when the Senate sent the bill back to the House, a Senate clerk mistakenly put the 36 months, from the vote on the oxygen provision, in place of the13- month cap for other equipment -- thus providing up to36 months' coverage for all such equipment. It was a $2 billion error.

On February 1, 2006, S. 1932 squeaked through the House - after heavy lobbying by Republican leaders - by a vote of 216 to 214. When this measure was returned to the Senate, however, the Senate clerk simply changed the provision that had been mistakenly sent to the House to reflect the Senate-passed version. That is, the clerk restored the Senate's 13 month cap for the other durable equipment, notwithstanding the fact the House had voted for a longer 36-month cap.

House Speaker Hastert and president pro tempore of the Senate Ted Stevens certified the Senate measure and sent it to the White House, where the President quickly signed it.

The $2 Billion Typo and Its "Correction" Are Revealed

When Democratic members of the House leaned that the Senate and Speaker Hastert had sent the President legislation that was substantially different that what the House had passed - different to the tune of $2 billion dollars -- they were understandably upset. They had already been shut out of the process: The entire legislative package of cuts had largely been agreed upon behind closed doors, without any Democrats present - now standard procedure in the GOP controlled Congress -- and the vote in the House had been taken after midnight, which is another ploy frequently relied upon by the GOP leaders. But this added injury to insult: The legislation that had gone to the President, was materially different from the legislation upon which they had voted!

When such mistakes occur, they are usually corrected with appropriate legislation. Often, this is done by unanimous consent of both the House and the Senate. But this time, House Democrats refused to roll over. They decided they would demand a record vote - the kind that, for good reason, frightens Republicans in an election year - and they wanted the vote to be taken on the entire bill, not merely on corrective legislation, because they believed that Republicans might not have a majority again for these harsh measures.

But that was not what happened. Instead, Senate GOP leaders simply changed the bill, and Speaker Hastert rolled over, on behalf of the House.

Was this constitutional? It's very doubtful. Will they get away with it? Very possible.

The Unconstitutionality Of This Slap Dash Procedures

California Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman solicited the views of a number of Constitutional experts on this very question. FindLaw's Michael Dorf advised the Congressman that "Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution specifies that a bill becomes a law when passed by both house of Congress and signed by the President. S. 1932 was not passed by the House of Representatives. Thus, it is not a law."

University of North Carolina School of Law professor Michael Gerhardt similarly said, "This legislation is question does not satisfy the requirements of the Bicameral Clause of the Constitution." And American University law professor Jamin Raskin reported, "The 'Deficit Reduction Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 2005' may be something but it is not law within the meaning of the Constitution."

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley noted, "Obviously, the Speaker cannot certify a different bill as the will of the House of Representatives. If he could do that, he cold become a House unto himself." And Georgetown University law professor David Vladeck told Congressman Waxman that these actions violated "one of the most fundamental guarantees in the Constitution.""
The Broken Branch

"The single word most frequently associated with George W. Bush today is "incompetent,"and close behind are two other increasingly mentioned descriptors: "idiot" and "liar." All three are mentioned far more often today than a year ago."
Bush Approval Falls to 33%, Congress Earns Rare Praise

Clear Flying
transparent butterfly
Transparent Butterfly
Via del.icio.us/popular

Lost/Big Sister Alias
In another futile effort to penetrate the mystery that is "Lost" I went over some episode guides to "Alias", J.J. Abram's previous show, in order to get some idea of what sort of plot devices we might expect.

Alias Plot Elements

Used in "Lost"
  • Double agents/Moles - Ethan/Goodwin
  • Disguises, either makeup or medical/biological (doppleganger) - Zeke/Others
  • The Eye as symbol "" - Opening scenes/Hatch Mural
  • Amnesia - Claire/Charlie
  • Torture - Sayid vs Sawyer/Henry Gale
  • Con Jobs/Secret Agendas - Sawyer/Original Sawyer/Kate/Locke's Parents/Others
  • Brainwashing/False Memories/Drugs - Claire
  • Enigmatic Geniuses with grand master plans for humanity - Alvar Hanso?
  • Nazi search for ancient treasures/power Alvar Hanso?
  • Children given spy training, and then hypnotized to forget it until needed
  • Faked Deaths
  • People transformed into violent "zombies" - The "Illness"/Quarantine?

See No Evil
"Budget cuts and poor management may be jeopardizing the future of our eyes in orbit America's fleet of environmental satellites, vital tools for forecasting hurricanes, protecting water supplies and predicting global warming.

"The system of environmental satellites is at risk of collapse," said Richard A. Anthes, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. "Every year that goes by without the system being addressed is a problem."

Anthes chairs a National Academy of Sciences committee that advises the federal government on developing and operating environmental satellites. In a report issued last year, the committee warned that "the vitality of Earth science and application programs has been placed at substantial risk by a rapidly shrinking budget."

Since that report came out, NASA has chosen to cancel or mothball at least three planned satellites in an effort to save money. Cost overruns have delayed a new generation of weather satellites until at least 2010 and probably 2012, leading a Government Accountability Office official to label the enterprise "a program in crisis." "
Yea, what do we need those satellites for anyway? It's not like a major American city was just destroyed by a hurricane or that 2% of Texas has burned this year. America needs to develop a broader concept of "National Security".
Budgets Imperil Environmental Satellites
Via Daily Kos

Oldy But Goodie
"Anne V - 01:31 pm PDT - Sep 9, 1999 - Elk. Elk are very big this year, because of the rain and good grazing and so forth. They aren't rolling. They are alternately napping and eating. They each have a ribcage. Other dogs are working on them from the outside. It's all way too primal in my yard right now. We tried the hose trick. At someone elses house, which is where they climbed in and began to refuse to come out. Many hours ago. I think that the hose mostly helps keep them cool and dislodges little moist snacks for them. hose failed"
This might have been the first "look what I found" thing that I ever emailed, back before blogs, when dinosaurs ruled the interweb.
Dogs In Elk

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate."

Of course that's not happening here.

I've always taken comfort in the knowledge that no matter how funked up my car is, there will always be somebody driving something worse. And now I see that the principle applies to bad websites too.
Via The Presurfer

The Big MoboDaddy's heads-up on the New collection of short stories by Bruce Sterling led to a
forthcoming anthology/overview of the Space Opera which led to
Scott Westerfeld's site and a Westerfeld interview
(I highly recommend his "Succession" series: "The Risen Empire" and "The Killing of Worlds") which led to
the New Weird literary movement which led to
Valerio Evangelisti, at which point I had to pause in order to blog.

Taco Post-It Mural
post-it taco mural
Via Mighty Girl Blog

bad psychedelic album cover
The Museum of Bad Album Covers
Via The Big Mobodaddy

Led Jacksons
DJ Moule's mashup of the Jackson 5 and Led Zeppelin brings a smile
Via Arty Fufkin Presents

mmmmmmmm, Lego
lego homer simpson
Four foot tall Lego Homer Simpson
Via Neatorama

Not A Euphemism
Sand Collecting
Via linkfilter.net

Add YouTube Saving
How To Download And Save Youtube Videos-Requires Firefox
Via Eyebeam reBlog

The most frightening thing I've seen all month. The bad plastic surgery is one thing, but those two guys are going to star in their own nightmare. Click at your own risk.
Via Bifurcated Rivets

"The promise of data mining is compelling, and convinces many. But it's wrong. We're not going to find terrorist plots through systems like this, and we're going to waste valuable resources chasing down false alarms. To understand why, we have to look at the economics of the system.

Security is always a trade-off, and for a system to be worthwhile, the advantages have to be greater than the disadvantages. A national security data-mining program is going to find some percentage of real attacks and some percentage of false alarms. If the benefits of finding and stopping those attacks outweigh the cost -- in money, liberties, etc. -- then the system is a good one. If not, you'd be better off spending that capital elsewhere.

Data mining works best when you're searching for a well-defined profile, a reasonable number of attacks per year and a low cost of false alarms. Credit-card fraud is one of data mining's success stories: all credit-card companies mine their transaction databases for data for spending patterns that indicate a stolen card.
Terrorist plots are different. There is no well-defined profile and attacks are very rare. Taken together, these facts mean that data-mining systems won't uncover any terrorist plots until they are very accurate, and that even very accurate systems will be so flooded with false alarms that they will be useless.
Let's look at some numbers. We'll be optimistic -- we'll assume the system has a one in 100 false-positive rate (99 percent accurate), and a one in 1,000 false-negative rate (99.9 percent accurate). Assume 1 trillion possible indicators to sift through: that's about 10 events -- e-mails, phone calls, purchases, web destinations, whatever -- per person in the United States per day. Also assume that 10 of them are actually terrorists plotting.

This unrealistically accurate system will generate 1 billion false alarms for every real terrorist plot it uncovers. Every day of every year, the police will have to investigate 27 million potential plots in order to find the one real terrorist plot per month. Raise that false-positive accuracy to an absurd 99.9999 percent and you're still chasing 2,750 false alarms per day -- but that will inevitably raise your false negatives, and you're going to miss some of those 10 real plots."
Why Data Mining Won't Stop Terror

Lost/"Evil" Twins
Egoplex Blog provides more grist for the concept of twins/duplicates on Lost

Say Goodbye to Time
Cool Flickr Hack
Via Digg

Big O
"According to a printout from a computer controlled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Justice, I am an enemy of the state.

The printout, shown to me recently by a friend who works for Justice, identifies me by a long, multi-digit number, lists my date of birth, place of birth, social security number and contains more than 100 pages documenting what the Bureau and the Bush Administration consider to be my threats to the security of the United States of America.

It lists where I sent to school, the name and address of the first wife that I had been told was dead but who is alive and well and living in Montana, background information on my current wife and details on my service to my country that I haven't even revealed to my wife or my family.

Although the file finds no criminal activity by me or members of my immediate family, it remains open because I am a "person of interest" who has "written and promoted opinions that are contrary to the government of the United States of America."

And it will remain active because the government of the United States, under the far-reaching provisions of the USA Patriot Act, can compile and retain such information on any American citizen. That act gives the FBI the authority to collect intimate details about anyone, even those not suspected of any wrongdoing.
"Much of this information was gathered through what we call "national security letters,"" he said. "It allows us to gather information from a variety of sources."

A "national security letter" it turns out, can be issued by any FBI supervisor, without court order or judicial review, to compel libraries, banks, employers and other sources to turn over any and all information they have on American citizens.

The FBI issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year. When one is delivered to a bank, library, employer or other entity, the same federal law that authorizes such letters also prohibits your bank, employer or anyone else from telling you that they received such a letter and were forced to turn over all information on you.

According to my file, the banks where I have both business and checking accounts have been forced to turn over all records of my transactions, as have every company where I have a charge account or credit card. They've perused my book borrowing habits from libraries in Arlington and Floyd Counties as well as studied what television shows I watch on the Tivos in my house. They know I belong to the National Rifle Association, the National Press Photographers Association and other professional groups. They know I attend meetings of Alcoholic Anonymous on a regular basis and the file notes that my "pattern of spending" shows no purchase of "alcohol-related products" since the file was opened in 2001.

In the past, when information collected on an American citizen failed to turn up any criminal activity, FBI policy called for such information to be destroyed.

But President George W. Bush in 2003 reversed that long-standing policy and ordered the bureau and other federal agencies to not only keep that information but place it in government databases that can be accessed by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

In October, Bush also signed Executive Order 13388 which expands access to those databases to "appropriate private sector entities" although the order does not explain what those entities might be. In addition, the Bush Administration has successfully blocked legislation and legal actions that have tried to stop the expansion of spying and gathering of information on Americans."
An enemy of the state
Via Cryptome

Why didn't anybody tell me that triple-clicking in Firefox selects a line of text? I was using left-drag, but this is cleaner.

"What was once a global network financed by elusive donors and administered by Al Qaeda "fund- managers" has now fragmented into a constellation of franchises that sustain themselves primarily through crime.

This, experts say, is partly a result of the vigorous multinational effort since 9/11 to break up the Al Qaeda network and stanch the cash flows that sustained terror attacks. But it's also due to the reduced cost of mounting terror attacks, they say.

Estimates suggest that the 9/11 attacks may have cost as much as $500,000 to stage. By contrast, the Madrid bombings of 2004 are believed to have cost no more than $15,000, and last year's London attacks perhaps $2,000.Four bombs, four rucksacks, some train tickets, a little gasoline, and a few phone calls.

"Terrorist financing is very different today," says Loretta Napoleoni, author of "Modern Jihad: Tracing the Dollars Behind the Terror Networks." "Five years ago, we had large movement of funds which went through the international financial system.

"Now we are just talking about four friends who raise 1,000 to stage an attack," she adds. "The unit cost of terrorist financing has crashed to the floor. They [terrorists] don't need another 9/11. They can do a small thing and create the same hysteria.""
Why terror financing is so tough to track down
Via Slashdot

"For some years I have chronicled carnivals across different cultures - sense of duty -- and the creative power that goes into scratching an itch called America never fails to stun. This year's sojourn included several sleepy but splendid towns in Portugal's countryside. In one, Torres Vedras, the centerpiece -- not a float, the centerpiece -- is called "Bushlandia".

The artfully rendered sculpture, five or so stories high, offers up President Bush as a primitive king dressed in fur scraps, crowned, holding a scepter with a golden skull and a jeweled club, the skull of a Texas longhorn among the bones before him. He wears a crucifix upon which is a soldier, and sits within the jaws of the skull of the Statue of Liberty, which also hosts wormy critters in turbans, (NONE of them depicting Mohammed). Other heads of state supporting him in Iraq == I get confused as to which are Old Europe and New Europe -- are in his court. The most prominent is Prime Minister Tony Blair, who as W's right hand man fans him with feathers and scratches his backside.

On the flip side, the sculpture has a bearded fellow with a turban (I hasten to add it is clearly NOT a depiction of Mohammed, so call off the fatwa), with a wheelbarrow of explosives he's planting in the base of what's left of Liberty. Beneath him is a government minister struggling to feed the world's poor children. Nuclear missiles flank W, and to the side are penguins with distress or time-out whistles, on the other side toxic nuclear and chemical waste washes over nature."
A Carnival View of America

"The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee rejected a proposal to investigate the Bush administration's program of conducting electronic eavesdropping without warrants, while agreeing to create new congressional panels to increase oversight."
Senate Panel Rejects Proposal to Probe Eavesdropping

"A recent Congressional Budget Office report shows that, between 1979 and 2003, the top 1 percent of households enjoyed a 129 percent gain in after-tax income after inflation. That compares with 15 percent for the middle one-fifth of all households and 4 percent for the bottom fifth.

So much of the fruits of economic productivity growth from 1966 to 2001 went to the top 10 percent that little was left for the other 90 percent, notes a new paper by Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon and student Ian Dew-Becker. Productivity is the source of growth in real per-capita income.

This research also shows that the richest of the rich, the top 1/1,000th, enjoyed a 497 percent gain in wage and salary income between 1972 and 2001. Those at the 99th percentile, who made an average $1.7 million per year in 2001, enjoyed a mere 181 percent gain."
What a new 'gilded age' may bring
Via The BigMoboDaddy

Kill the Messenger
"Using many of the questionable surveillance and monitoring techniques that brought both questions and criticism to his administration, President George W. Bush has launched a war against reporters who write stories unfavorable to his actions and is planning to prosecute journalists to make examples of them in his "war on terrorism."

Bush recently directed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to use "whatever means at your disposal" to wiretap, follow, harass and investigate journalists who have published stories about the administration's illegal use of warrantless wiretaps, use of faulty intelligence and anything else he deems "detrimental to the war on terror."

Reporters for The New York Times, which along with Capitol Hill Blue revealed use of the National Security Agency to monitor phone calls and emails of Americans, say FBI agents have interviewed them and criminal prosecutors at the Justice Department admit they are laying "the groundwork for a grand jury that could lead to criminal charges,"

CIA Director Porter Goss told Congress recently that "it is my aim and it is my hope that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present being asked to reveal who is leaking this information. I believe the safety of this nation and the people of this country deserve nothing less."

As part of the investigation, the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency are wiretapping reporters' phones, following journalists on a daily basis, searching their homes and offices under a USA Patriot Act provision that allows "secret and undisclosed searches" and pouring over financial and travel records of hundreds of Washington-based reporters.

Spokesmen for the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security admit there are "ongoing investigations" regarding publication of stories "involving threats to national security" but will not reveal what those investigations include.

In addition to using the USA Patriot Act to pry into the lives of journalists, the Justice Department has also dusted off a pre-World War I law to prosecute people who receive classified information, although the law was aimed at military personnel not civilians.

"This is the first administration that I can remember, including Nixon's, that said we need to think about a law that would put journalists who print national security things up in front of grand juries and put them in jail if they don't reveal their sources," says David Gergen, who served as President Regan's director of communication and also worked in the Nixon and Ford White Houses.

Political scientist George Harleigh, who worked in the Nixon administration, says such use of federal law enforcement authority was illegal when Nixon tried it and still so today.

"We're talking about a basic violation of the Constitutional guarantee of a free press as well as a violation of the rights of privacy of American citizens," Harleigh says. "I had hoped we would have learned our lessons from the Nixon era. Sadly, it appears we have not."

In recent weeks, the FBI has issued hundreds of "National Security Letters," directing employers, banks, credit card companies, libraries and other entities to turn over records on reporters. Under the USA Patriot Act, those who must turn over the records are also prohibited from revealing they have done so to the subject of the federal probes.

"The significance of this cannot be overstated," says prominent New York litigator Glenn Greenwald. "In essence, while the President sits in the White House undisturbed after proudly announcing that he has been breaking the law and will continue to do so, his slavish political appointees at the Justice Department are using the mammoth law enforcement powers of the federal government to find and criminally prosecute those who brought this illegal conduct to light.

"This flamboyant use of the forces of criminal prosecution to threaten whistle-blowers and intimidate journalists are nothing more than the naked tactics of street thugs and authoritarian juntas."

Just how widespread, and uncontrolled, this latest government assault has become hit close to home last week when one of the FBI's National Security Letters arrived at the company that hosts the servers for this web site, Capitol Hill Blue.

The letter demanded traffic data, payment records and other information about the web site along with information on me, the publisher.

Now that's a problem. I own the company that hosts Capitol Hill Blue. So, in effect, the feds want me to turn over information on myself and not tell myself that I'm doing it. You'd think they'd know better.

I turned the letter over to my lawyer and told him to send the following message to the feds:

Fuck you. Strong letter to follow. "
Bush declares war on freedom of the press
Via Cryptome

MIT Student Origami Competition - Amazing stuff
Via MAKE: Blog

Vinyl is Stealing
vinyl is stealing
Via The Adventures of Accordian Guy in the 21st Century

Lost/Doctor vs Henry Gale
comparison of med-hatch doctor and henry gale
Was Henry Gale the doctor in the Medical Hatch? (Original Photo)
Via Fuselage Forum thread: "DHARMA/Others Surgical Team and Henry Gale"

That's Entertainment
Baby + Bubbles + Krautrock (YouTube Video)
Via lacunae

Please, Have Another Slice, I Insist
japanese smiling, bleeding pig advert
Via White Noise, Red Sun

Lost/Medical Hatch Abandonment
There's a theory bouncing around that the Medical Hatch was abandoned by the Others as a side effect of Locke's late entry of the numbers in "One of Us". I like this theory. If the Others were panicked by whatever effect not pushing the button has (something certainly sounded like it was winding up) that would explain the desheveled state of the hatch and the costumes being left behind. The Others could have cleaned out the nursery back after Claire escaped.

Still unanswered: Why didn't the Others make any more attempts to snatch Aaron after he was born? Is something (like the Black Smoke) stopping them, or did they find out that they really wanted Walt instead?

Unexplainable: Why didn't the Ladies Hatch Finding Expedition do more exploring or scrounging of the Medical Hatch? It didn't look like the place had been cleaned out to bare walls-I know if I was stranded on that island I would have left with all the stuff I could carry. Like wire-very handy stuff, wire is, and the walls and ceilings are full of it.

Lost/Wizard of Oz
Beyond "Henry Gale" being the name of the Wizard, the blog Thin Blue Mime has some interesting shot comparisons between Oz and Lost with the promise of more theory to come. He may be on to something-the "ruby slipper" and "emerald hallway" comparisons are very interesting.

Lost/"Vaccine" vials
The vials from the Swan hatch and the Medical hatch aren't identical. 2 differences: No Dharma logo on Desmond's bottles, and an extra notation "GND" after "Rx-1" on the Ethan's bottles. Since "Rx-1 GND" also appears on the theatrical glue bottle it probably doesn't refer to a prescription.
Via Alt.TV.Lost

All Month Long
March is National Noodle Month. Celebrate
Via WFMU's Beware of the Blog

Fixing Bloglines w/Greasemonkey
I've always been annoyed at posts in Bloglines that are wider than than their frame, forcing me to scroll sideways to read them. But I've found a fix. If you use Firefox, there is a Greasemonkey script to fit posts within the frame. You can go to Max Width and the mutant GreaseMonkey to read more and get the script.

Pimp My Firefox
Too Many Firefox Extensions
Via MetaFilter

Lost/Ep#215-Maternity Leave
If you haven't seen this episode, spoilers ahoy


Books- Locke gave Henry Gale The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
"Several influences can be gleaned from the very early stages of the novel's genesis. The first involved the profound effect the Russian philosopher and thinker Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov had on Dostoevsky at this time of his life. Fyodorov advocated a Christianity in which human redemption and resurrection could occur on earth through sons redeeming the sins of their fathers to create human unity through a universal family"
The first book in "The Brothers Karamazov" is "A Nice Little Family".

Sawyer was reading "Lancelot" by Walker Percy.
One of Percy's most difficult books is Lancelot. As I read it, I felt that I'd never hated a book (or simply a central character) more, and that this was truly the depths of whatever nihilistic side Percy harbored. Until the last word. I'm not kidding. Astonishing, and almost shocking - a novel in which the very last word of the novel gives shape and a profound moral dimension to the entire work. Now, don't ruin it for yourself, and run ahead and peek at the end before you read the whole thing. But do read it.
Hmmm, a central character you hate until the very end. Link- Walker Percy's Courageous Life

The "vaccine" Ethan injected Claire with had "the numbers" on the label, just like Desmond's vials. Desmond was still taking the "vaccine", but you don't need to do that with real vaccines.

The man Ethan talked to was a clean-shaven and neatly-dressed "Mr. Friendly" aka Seabilly boat captain aka "Zeke" in the jungle.
Mr. Friendly - "You were supposed to make the list and then bring her in, was I unclear?

Nathan - "Its not my fault, they knew I wasn't on the plane, they had a manifest"

Mr. Friendly - "Well what am I supposed to tell Him? You what he's going to do when he finds out"
Even the bottle of theatrical glue has the dharma logo-don't these guys buy anything retail?

matching dharma logo on canteen and shark
Ethan's "sour" canteen and the shark had the same logo.

Ethan to Claire: "We're good people, we're a good family"

I find it hilarious that a stoned-to-the-gills Claire is the only character who asks good questions, like "where did this stuff come from?". Of course they don't get answered.

It's clear now that the Others are running a giant con on the Losties. They aren't scraggly, dirty manson types. But they might be a clean-cut Aum Shinrikyo-esque death cult. The costumes left in the medical hatch are inconsistent with the hatch being "abandoned". Claire was kidnapped about 45 days ago (in Lost time) but the costumes were used only last week. Why clean out the medical hatch but leave the costumes?

I have NO IDEA what is up with Mr Eko, but I bet Henry Gale from Minnesota is praying he never gets a visit from Eko and Sayid at the same time.

Even if the Losties do find a balloon it doesn't mean that Henry Gale was on it.

Those last few minutes of "Freddie" before "Lost" 'Starts Now' bug me every time.

Cheaper Than Sending The FBI
"This week the Minnesota Republican Party is distributing a new CD about a proposed state marriage amendment. Along with flashy graphics, the CD asks people their views on controversial issues such as abortion, gun control, illegal immigration, and so on.

The problem-the CD sends your answers back to headquarters, filed by name, address, and political views. No mention of that in the terms of use. No privacy policy at all. The story concludes: "So if you run the CD in your personal computer, by the end of it, the Minnesota GOP will not only know what you think on particular issues, but also who you are.""
The Minnesota GOP's Stealth Attack On Privacy
Via Slashdot

doll in milk
I found this picture of a doll in milk fooling around in Flickr