Tue-Oct 28 2008
"I've been thinking lately about a dream candidate for my nerd habits, my nerdy
business, and the way I live my nerdy life. Regardless of party affiliation, if
you're running for an office from as small as city council all the way up to
president, if you hit on any/all of these things, you just might get my vote.
#2: Universal Healthcare.
Everyone I know that freelances or works a
day job and wishes they could quit and follow their dreams of launching a
company complains about the lack of healthcare. Whenever I used to talk about
freelancing at tech conferences, the first question was always about healthcare
coverage. I've heard that in places like Berlin where you don't have to worry
about where your healthcare is coming from or how much it costs, up to 35% of
working age adults are freelancers. It may sound crazy and anti-capitalist to
consider healthcare for all, but if we flipped a switch tomorrow and everyone
had health coverage I swear a million small businesses would launch overnight. I
know lots of people that keep a job just to get healthcare that are wasting
their creative talents because they had a cancer scare or were born with a
defect or otherwise are deemed uninsurable on their own."
Plus 9 more
How to get my nerd vote
Via Boing Boing
Mon-Oct 27 2008
Sun-Oct 26 2008
Fri-Oct 24 2008
W in the Dock?
Charlotte Dennett for Attorney General
"On September 18th, I announced my candidacy for Attorney General
of Vermont at a press conference in Burlington. Accompanying me was the
legendary prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi, author of the bestselling book The
Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. I indicated that, if elected, I would
appoint Mr. Bugliosi as my Special Prosecutor for the prosecution of George Bush
once he leaves office.
The underlying crime that confers jurisdiction to Vermont courts in this case is
the crime of conspiracy to commit murder, which does not require, as one of its
elements, the death of an individual, whether in Vermont or any other state. All
that has to be shown is an "agreement between two or more people" (i.e. George
Bush and one or more other members of his administration) to conduct an unlawful
war in Iraq, and an "overt act" (no matter how inconsequential) to "further the
object of the conspiracy." To establish jurisdiction, this overt act must have
taken place in Vermont.
Here, as elsewhere in the nation, there were at least two such overt acts, each
of which is equally important.
1) Bush's lies outside Vermont were carried by radio and television straight
into the homes and cars of the American people, including into the state of
Vermont. These lies (that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to the security
of this country, and that Saddam was involved in 9/11), both demonstrably false,
were made by Bush to gain the support of the American people for his war in
2) Another overt act is the Bush Administration's recruitment of young women and
men in Vermont to fight Bush's war in Iraq.
If I am elected Attorney General, George W. Bush will be held accountable for
his acts, in what President Calivin Coolidge once called "the brave little state
Follow Me Here
Thu-Oct 23 2008
Fringe S01E05 & S01E06
AKA known as "Electricity Man" and "Microwave Woman", respectively.
I thought about doing my usual obsessive-compulsive write-up/analysis
for the last 2 episodes when it hit me - I really don't care that much.
Fringe isn't good enough to inspire fascination, or bad enough to
invite criticism. It just sort of lies there. I'll probably keep watching, because
John Noble's acting is light-years beyond his material. But the individual
episodes aren't that compelling and I don't believe that the writers have
a really cool mythology end-game to reveal.
Wed-Oct 22 2008
Screw the Financial Pooch, Win Valuable Bonuses!
"Financial workers at Wall Street's top banks are to receive pay
deals worth more than $70bn (£40bn), a substantial proportion of which is
expected to be paid in discretionary bonuses, for their work so far this year -
despite plunging the global financial system into its worst crisis since the
1929 stock market crash, the Guardian has learned.
Staff at six banks including Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are in line to pick up
the payouts despite being the beneficiaries of a $700bn bail-out from the US
government that has already prompted criticism. The government's cash has been
poured in on the condition that excessive executive pay would be curbed.
Pay plans for bankers have been disclosed in recent corporate statements.
Pressure on the US firms to review preparations for annual bonuses increased
yesterday when Germany's Deutsche Bank said many of its leading traders would
join Josef Ackermann, its chief executive, in waiving millions of euros in
The sums that continue to be spent by Wall Street firms on payroll, payoffs and,
most controversially, bonuses appear to bear no relation to the losses incurred
by investors in the banks. Shares in Citigroup and Goldman Sachs have declined
by more than 45% since the start of the year. Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley
have fallen by more than 60%. JP MorganChase fell 6.4% and Lehman Brothers has
At one point last week the Morgan Stanley $10.7bn pay pot for the year to date
was greater than the entire stock market value of the business. In effect,
staff, on receiving their remuneration, could club together and buy the
Golly, I hope we don't go and over-regulate those poor financial folk.
I'd hate it if something got in the way of next year's 70 Billion in bonuses.
Wall Street banks in $70bn staff payout
The God That Failed: The 30-Year Lie of the Market Cult
"Beginning with Margaret Thatcher's election in 1979, government
after government -- and party after party -- fell to the onslaught of an
extremist faith: the narrow, blinkered fundamentalism of the "Chicago School."
Epitomized by its patron saint, Milton Friedman, the rigid doctrine held that an
unregulated market would always "correct" itself, because its workings are based
on entirely rational and quantifiable principles. This was of course an
absurdly reductive and savagely ignorant view of history, money and human
nature; but because it flattered the rich and powerful, offering an
"intellectual" justification for rapacious greed and ever-widening economic and
social inequality, it was adopted as holy writ by the elite and promulgated as
This radical cult -- a kind of Bolshevism from above -- took its strongest hold
in the United States and Britain, and was then imposed on many weaker nations
through the IMF-led "Washington Consensus" (more aptly named by Naomi Klein as
the "Shock Doctrine"), with devastating and deadly results. (As in Yeltsin's
Russia, for example, where life expectancy dropped precipitously and millions of
people died premature deaths from poverty, illness, and despair.)
According to the cult, not only were markets to be freed from the constraints
placed on them after the world-shattering effects of the Great Depression, but
all public spending was to be slashed ruthlessly to the bone. (Although
exceptions were always made for the Pentagon war machine.) After all, every
dollar spent by a public entity on public services and amenities was a dollar
taken away from the private wheeler-dealers who could more usefully employ it in
increasing the wealth of the elite -- who would then allow some of their vast
profits to "trickle down" to the lower orders.
This was the cult that captured the governments of the United States and Britain
(among others), as well as the Republican and Democratic parties, and the
Conservative and Labour parties as well. And for almost thirty years, its
ruthless doctrines have been put into practice. Regulation and oversight of
financial markets were systematically stripped away or rendered toothless.
Essential public services were sold off, for chump change, to corporate
interests. Public spending on anything other than making war, threatening war
and profiting from war was pared back or eliminated. Such public spending that
did remain was forever under threat and derided, like the remnants of some pagan
faith surviving in isolated backwaters.
Year after year, the ordinary citizens were told by their governments: we have
no money to spend on your needs, on your communities, on your infrastructure, on
your health, on your children, on your environment, on your quality of life. We
can't do those kinds of things any more.
Of course, when talking amongst themselves, or with the believers in the think
tanks, boardrooms -- and editorial offices -- the cultists would speak more
plainly: we don't do those things anymore because we shouldn't do them, we don't
want to do them, they are wrong, they are evil, they are outside the faith. But
for the hoi polloi, the line was usually something like this: Budgets are tight,
we must balance them (for a "balanced budget" is a core doctrine of the cult),
we just can't afford all these luxuries, sorry about that.
But now, as the emptiness and falsity of the Chicago cargo cult stands nakedly
revealed, even to some of its most faithful and fanatical adherents, we can see
that this 30-year mantra by our governments has been a deliberate and outright
lie. The money was there -- billions and billions and billions of dollars of it,
trillions of dollars of it. We can see it before our very eyes today -- being
whisked away from our public treasuries and showered upon the banks and the
Let's say it again: The money was there all along.
Money to build and generously equip thousands and thousands of new schools, with
well-paid, exquisitely trained teachers, small teacher-pupil ratios, a full
range of enriching and inspiring programs.
Money to revitalize the nation's crumbling inner cities, making them safe and
vibrant places for businesses and families and communities to grow.
Money to provide decent, affordable and accessible health care to every citizen,
to provide dignity and comfort to the elderly, and protection and humane
treatment for the mentally ill.
Money to provide affordable higher education to everyone who wanted it and could
qualify for it. Money to help establish and sustain local businesses and family
farms, centered in and on the local community, driven by the needs and knowledge
of the people in the area, and not by the dictates of distant corporations.
Money to strengthen crumbling infrastructure, to repair bridges, shore up
levies, maintain roads and electric grids and sewage systems.
Money for affordable, workable public transport systems, for the pursuit of
alternative sources of energy, for sustainable, sensible development, for
Money to support free inquiry in science, technology, health and other areas --
research unfettered from the war machine and the drive for corporate profit, and
instead devoted to the betterment of human life.
Money to support culture, learning, continuing education, libraries, theater,
music and the endless manifestations of the human quest to gain more meaning,
more understanding, more enlightenment, a deeper, spiritually richer life.
The money for all of this -- and much, much more -- was there, all along. When
they said we couldn't have these things, they were lying -- or else allowing
themselves to be profitably duped by the high priests of the market cult. When
they wanted a trillion dollars -- or three trillion dollars -- to wage a war of
aggression in Iraq, they found it. Now, when they want trillions of dollars to
save the speculators, fraudsters and profiteers of greed in the global market,
they suddenly have it.
Who then can believe that these governments could not have found the money for
good schools, health care, and all the rest, that they could not have enhanced
the well-being and livelihood of millions of ordinary citizens, and helped
create a more just and equitable and stable world -- if they had wanted to?
This is one of the main facts that ordinary citizens around the world should
take away from this crisis: the money to maintain, secure and improve the lives
of their families and communities was always there -- but their governments, and
their political parties, made a deliberate, unforced choice not to use it for
the common good. Instead, they subjugated the well-being of the world to the
dictates of an extremist cult. A cult of greed and privilege, that preached iron
discipline to the poor and the middle-class, but released the rich and powerful
from all restrictions, and all responsibility for their actions.
This should be a constant -- and galvanizing -- thought in the minds of the
public in the months and years to come. Remember what you could have had, and
how it was denied you by the lies and delusions of a powerful elite and their
bought-off factotums in government. Remember the trillions of dollars that
suddenly appeared when the wheeler-dealers needed money to cover their own greed
Let these thoughts guide you as you weigh the promises and actions of
politicians and candidates, and as you assess the "expert analysis" on economic
and domestic policy offered by the corporate media and the corporate-bankrolled
think tanks and academics.
And above all, let these thoughts be foremost in your mind when you hear -- as
you certainly will hear, when (and if) the markets are finally stabilized (at
whatever gigantic cost in human suffering) -- the adherents of the market cult
emerge once more and call for "deregulation" and "untying the hands of business"
and all the other ritual incantations of their false and savage fundamentalist
Sun-Oct 19 2008
Discredit Where Discredit is Due
Matt Taibbi and Byron York Butt Heads Over Whether McCain Deserves Blame for the Wall Street Meltdown
"Oh, come on. Tell me you're not ashamed to put this gigantic
international financial Krakatoa at the feet of a bunch of poor black people who
missed their mortgage payments. The CDS (
credit default swap)
market, this market for credit default
swaps that was created in 2000 by Phil Gramm's Commodities Future Modernization
Act, this is now a $62 trillion market, up from $900 billion in 2000. That's
like five times the size of the holdings in the NYSE. And it's all speculation
by Wall Street traders. It's a classic bubble/Ponzi scheme. The effort of people
like you to pin this whole thing on minorities, when in fact this whole thing
has been caused by greedy traders dealing in unregulated markets, is
Via Glenn Greenwald
Fri-Oct 17 2008
We've got economic meltdown and mass species extinction, but one extremophile
bacteria is totally self-sufficient:
Bold traveler's journey toward the center of the Earth
"The first ecosystem ever found having only a single biological
species has been discovered 2.8 kilometers (1.74 miles) beneath the surface of
the earth in the Mponeng gold mine near Johannesburg, South Africa. There the
rod-shaped bacterium Desulforudis audaxviator exists in complete isolation,
total darkness, a lack of oxygen, and 60-degree-Celsius heat (140 degrees
D. audaxviator survives in a habitat where it gets its energy not from the sun
but from hydrogen and sulfate produced by the radioactive decay of uranium.
Living alone, D. audaxviator must build its organic molecules by itself out of
water, inorganic carbon, and nitrogen from ammonia in the surrounding rocks and
fluid. During its long journey to the extreme depths, evolution has equipped the
versatile spelunker with genes – many of them shared with archaea, members of a
separate domain of life unrelated to bacteria – that allow it to cope with a
range of different conditions, including the ability to fix nitrogen directly
from elemental nitrogen in the environment. "
"One question that has arisen when considering the capacity of other planets to
support life is whether organisms can exist independently, without access even
to the sun," says Chivian. "The answer is yes, and here's the proof. It's sort
of philosophically exciting to know that everything necessary for life can be
packed into a single genome."
Previous work had identified sulfates as the most readily available energy
source in D. audaxviator 's environment. D. audaxviator not only has the
equipment to reduce sulfates, this capacity is backed up by additional genes
that appear to have been borrowed from archaea by horizontal gene transfer, the
incorporation of genetic material from an unrelated species. Archaea, a domain
distinct from bacteria, first attracted attention as extremophiles, although
many other kinds of archaea have been found since. Some 280 types of bacteria
and 44 types of archaea have been found in microbial communities in the South
D. audaxviator can get its carbon from a number of sources, depending on the
local surroundings. It can digest sugars and amino acids, suggesting that one
source of carbon might be the dead cells of other microbes in locations where
the concentration of cells permits. But in the fluid from level 104, where
biodensity is low, D. audaxviator is able to survive because its genome also
contains genes equipping the organism to get carbon from carbon monoxide, carbon
dioxide, bicarbonate, formate, and other nonbiological sources.
Its nitrogen comes from ammonia released from rocks and dissolved in the fluid
at level 104, but D. audaxviator also has a gene for a nitrogenase that could,
if necessary, extract nitrogen from its surroundings after first converting it
to ammonia – a gene that also appears to be shared with high-temperature
Other genes shared with archaea confer such traits as defense against viruses,
but one system of self-protection is unique to D. audaxviator 's bacterial
phylum, Firmicutes: the ability to form endospores, tough structures that shield
DNA and RNA from drying out, and from heat, starvation, and chemical attack.
Like many bacteria, D. audaxviator is equipped with a flagellum, a whiplike
structure that allows it to swim toward sources of nourishment such as might be
found in pores in the rock and other mineral surfaces.
About the only thing D. audaxviator can't do is resist oxygen, which suggests it
hasn't been exposed to pure oxygen for a very long time. For D. audaxviator to
have evolved its remarkably versatile genome, key parts of which are shared with
archaea, it must have been on its deep journey for many generations, perhaps as
long as the water in the fracture from which it was captured, which has not seen
the surface for millions of years.
Beyond the Beyond
Tue-Oct 14 2008
Making a List, Not Checking It at All
"The Maryland State Police classified 53 nonviolent activists as
terrorists and entered their names and personal information into state and
federal databases that track terrorism suspects, the state police chief
Police Superintendent Terrence B. Sheridan revealed at a legislative hearing
that the surveillance operation, which targeted opponents of the death penalty
and the Iraq war, was far more extensive than was known when its existence was
disclosed in July.
The department started sending letters of notification Saturday to the
activists, inviting them to review their files before they are purged from the
databases, Sheridan said.
"The names don't belong in there," he told the Senate Judicial Proceedings
Committee. "It's as simple as that." "
They are so sued.
Md. Police Put Activists' Names On Terror Lists
Via Boing Boing
Mon-Oct 13 2008
Sat-Oct 11 2008
Testing, 1 2 3
UFog Blog has upgraded to run under
. Now I need to see if the RSS feeds work.
Thu-Oct 09 2008
Panopticon In Blighty
The sound of Erich Honnecker, wanking furiously in his grave
"Putting it together, here's the big picture of life on
Airstrip One (aka The UK) in 2013:
When you leave your home you remember to
take your mobile phone (which the government is tapping, as they do, and logging
the location of to within 50-100 metres at all times) and your ID card (because
if you're stopped by a police officer without it you can be fined, heavily). As
you walk to your car, you are being recorded by the CCTV network, and ID'd by
your gait or facial features. Your emotional state may also be monitored at this
time for crude signs of aggression or depression that affect your posture or
movement. When you get in your car and drive somewhere, your vehicle is tracked.
You arrive at your place of work, where you are under CCTV surveillance by your
employers' security staff, and your internet usage is both filtered and
monitored by the government. Any email you send is cc'd to the big government
database and scanned for suspicious content that may indicate criminal or
terrorist (or just plain weird) activity. And when you get home again in the
evening and slump in front of your laptop to surf the net, remember that our
lords and masters have decided that the 1950s vintage Obscene Publications Act applies to
fanfic, the definition of
'extreme' pornography is so vague that you can be jailed for looking at
images of sex acts that are legal, and you can be banged up for years
if you accidentally stumble across a web site containing
network monitoring tools or
to terrorists (a term with no set boundary, as Gerry Adams and Nelson
Mandela can attest).
And don't look to me for help; I'm either in
prison or I fled the country some time ago.
I'm in little doubt that the ghost of Erich Honnecker is wanking
furiously in his grave. And laughing. At us. Because the UK is within a couple
of years of becoming the ultimate surveillance state, far more intrusive and
efficient than the fishbowl built by the Communist party of the GDR.
wonder if they think it'll help them ride out the economic
Sun-Oct 05 2008
I thought Bush was painful to listen to, but Palin hurts to read:
Palin, on Offensive, Attacks Obama's Ties to '60s Radical
"If we can be that beacon of light and hope for others who seek freedom and
democracy and can live in a country that would allow intolerance in the equal
rights that again our military men and women fight for and die for all of us."
Fringe S01E04 - "The Arrival"
Yes, it's Massive Dynamic
, not Massive Dynamics
- Homeland Security refers to the bald guy as "The Observer".
- The diner's jukebox is playing Willie Nelson's cover of Patsy Cline's
Crazy - a song regularly featured on Lost.
- Why was the Observer so specific about the jalapenos?
Why eleven - why not a dozen?
Screenshots of Observer's Notebook. He was writing from right to left.
Screenshots of View Through Observer's Binoculars
Text appears to be a Unix/Linux shell script:
I may be the first person to notice this - worship my mighty
otaku geek skills.
- Crane had Massive Dynamic sign on it
- Peter - "There's nothing special about me" - foreshadowing that
there is something unusual about him, probably due to something
- Fringe seems to be fond of the element
Iridium. Walter used
an "organo-iridium compound" to enable Roy McComb to perceive the
"Ghost Network" in episode S01E03.
Fun facts: Only 3 tons of iridium are produced a year, and the
is linked to the massive extinction event that killed off the dinosaurs.
- The guy in the watchcap is John Mosley, wanted in connection for a
double homicide in Seattle a month ago. He has a record of drug felonies.
- IMDB lists Mosley as
I don't know what the source of this is or whether it's canon or not.
- Mosley's watchcap has
Green and Red Dots. The dots have appeared in the view through the Observer's
binoculars and on Olivia's Uncle's kayak in her hallucinogenic contact with John Scott.
- It seems like Mosley "heard" the signal Walter elicited from the macguffin.
- Mosley's Duster doesn't have Washington State plates.
- Nitpick: the warehouse where the macguffin was a secure site, complete
with FBI and Army guys in full combat gear. Why is their total perimeter defense
one balding, slightly overweight, overly polite, FBI guy talking on his cellphone?
- Slight Nitpick: OK, Mosley has a cool gun. That doesn't explain why no one
in the warehouse even gets a shot off at him.
- Nitpick: Walter mention Project Thor, a "subterranean torpedo" that
he worked on for the Army. Nobody asks him: how was Thor supposed to work,
how far did you get on it, did William Bell work on it too?
Broyles has a room and 2 people devoted exclusively to the Observer -
a totally bald guy who always wears a suit. Yet he walks around him at the hospital
(in episode s01e02 - Same Old Story) and never notices him.
- Everyone at the warehouse is dead.
- Major Nitpick: Why is there NO security for the macguffin at Walter's lab?
At the warehouse it looked like a good portion of the 10th Mountain Division was
there in full battle gear, yet Broyles and Olivia leave it at Harvard with only
Astrid, Peter and Walter. And Broyles didn't want to move it because it wouldn't
be safe. This is so undeniably stupid that it soured the whole episode for me.
- Nitpick: Mosley shot Colonel Henry Jacobson point-blank before he hooked him up to the
mind-reading machine, yet the Colonel isn't dead and doesn't appear wounded.
- Mosley's mind-reading machine looks cobbled together, not slick and hi-tech.
- Maybe Nitpick: It's 700 miles from Boston to Roseville, Virginia. I don't know if the
plot allows for John Mosley and his baby-shit yellow Duster to spend
10+ hours driving back to Boston from questioning Jacobson in Virginia .
Unless of course he flew, but how did he
get his gun and mind-reading device onto an airplane?
- Doesn't taste things very well, hence his choice of condiments.
- Is expressionless, but not emotionless.
- Calls the macguffin "the beacon".
- Says he can't touch the Beacon.
- From the titles:
"Observers Are Here" - Plural?
Tombstone Screenshots. The dates are wrong for Robert Bishop to
be Walter's father -
Robert died in 1944 and Walter was born in 1946.
- Mosley (refering to Peter's buried relative Robert):
"Shame you never met him" - Has Mosley met Robert Bishop, prior to 1944?
- Why the heck does Peter need to dig carefully? The Beacon travels through
the earth but can be damaged by a shovel?
- Serious Nitpick: Why doesn't Olivia have the whole 7th cavalry with her?
She learned where Walter hid the Beacon at the Federal Building, I dare say there
might be some law-enforcement types hanging around.
- Mosley can kill an entire warehouse full of heavily armed and armored
soldiers and FBI agents, but he has to run away from from Olivia armed with a pistol?
- Mosley isn't bulletproof, or even bullet-resistant
- Observer: "Departure on schedule"
- Apparently the Observer can read minds.
- Nitpick: You know what Broyles doesn't mention at the hospital? That
they've recovered Mosley's weird-ass gun, and his homebrew mind-reading machine
that he likely had in his car. They're like...clues.
- Walter's story about how the Observer saved his and Peter's lives suggests
that the Observer had knowledge of the future.
- You know why I'm going to watch Fringe next week?
Because Olivia considers Johnny Walker whiskey and dry granola a suitable
Questions and Inferences:
- Mosley's mind reading equipment could be related to Observer's
- Mosley's cap and the Observer's binoculars share the 4-dot logo.
sidebar: When did secret conspiracies start putting their logos on products?
- Mosley as "Rogue"
- Is it significant that Mosley never took off his watchcap? Didn't
it seem kind of bulkier than normal?
Hypothesis: Mosley worked for whatever group the Observer is in. He went awol,
cobbled up a mind-reading machine from what he learned in the group, and has
some kind of mind-reading/mind-control blocking tech under the watchcap-like
aluminum foil or copper mesh.
- What was Mosley going to do with the Beacon once he acquired it?
- Mosley and the Observer are not part of the Latin-Speakers.
- Who sent the Beacon, and for what purpose? Both times it has appeared it
seems that it hasn't actually done anything worthwhile.
I would suggest that you don't make
strange things suddenly appear in Quantico unless you want them to
be noticed by the Federal Government.
The Observer may have some superhuman abilities, but he still needs:
- A Watch
- Money (and he's a generous tipper)
Wed-Oct 01 2008
On September 26, 1983,
probably saved your life.