"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

Geek Out

"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

Warning: Insane Cuteness
Saddest Puppy That Ever Lived

It's Like They Read My Mind
Skulls and Bacon Blog
Via Bacon Today

Lost - Season 5
Lost - Season 5 Promo
Via SF Signal

W in the Dock?

"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 Iraq.

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 of Vermont.""

Charlotte Dennett for Attorney General
Via Follow Me Here

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.



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 annual payouts.

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 collapsed.

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 bank."

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
Via Empire Burlesque

Priorities

"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 public policy.

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 brokerages.

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 environmental restoration.

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 and stupidity.

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 faith."

The God That Failed: The 30-Year Lie of the Market Cult
Via Sentient Developments

Cute
Play with Spider (Flash)
Via MetaFilter

Discredit Where Discredit is Due

Links Added:

"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 despicable."

Matt Taibbi and Byron York Butt Heads Over Whether McCain Deserves Blame for the Wall Street Meltdown
Via Glenn Greenwald

Good News
We've got economic meltdown and mass species extinction, but one extremophile bacteria is totally self-sufficient:

"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 Fahrenheit).

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 African mines.

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 archaea.

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.

Bold traveler's journey toward the center of the Earth
Via Beyond the Beyond (Bruce Sterling)

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 acknowledged yesterday.

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

Not The Other One
vote for that one obama 08
Utility Fog is voting for That One
Via Some Velvet Blog

Testing, 1 2 3
UFog Blog has upgraded to run under Blosxom 2.1.2. Now I need to see if the RSS feeds work.

Panopticon In Blighty

"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 illegal '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 information useful 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.

I wonder if they think it'll help them ride out the economic storm?"

The sound of Erich Honnecker, wanking furiously in his grave

Mangle
I thought Bush was painful to listen to, but Palin hurts to read:

"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."

Palin, on Offensive, Attacks Obama's Ties to '60s Radical

Teh Economy, Ur Doin It Wrong
lolfed table of fail
LOLFed.com
Via Technoccult

Universal
Milkcrate Digest, Living the Milkcrate Lifestyle
Via need coffee dot com

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:

    fringe s01e04 the arrival - view through binoculars - linux unix 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 Walter did.
  • 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 Iridium Anomaly 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 "The Rogue". I don't know what the source of this is or whether it's canon or not.
  • Mosley's Gun:

    fringe s01e04 the arrival - john mosley rogue - strange gun

  • 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?
  • Nitpick:

    fringe s1e02 same old story - observer broyles hospital

    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?
  • The Observer:

    1. Doesn't taste things very well, hence his choice of condiments.
    2. Is expressionless, but not emotionless.
    3. Calls the macguffin "the beacon".
    4. 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 dinner.
  • Questions and Inferences:

  • Consider:

    1. Mosley's mind reading equipment could be related to Observer's abilities.
    2. Mosley's cap and the Observer's binoculars share the 4-dot logo. sidebar: When did secret conspiracies start putting their logos on products?
    3. Mosley as "Rogue"
    4. 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:

    1. A Watch
    2. Money (and he's a generous tipper)
    3. Binoculars
    4. Notebook
    5. Cellphone
    6. Gun
    7. Food


That Sound Was My Frontal Lobes Vaporizing

John Lydon butter commercial

Via Laughing Squid

Thanks, Interweb!
I was wondering about this very question thursday -

What happens if a presidential candidate passes away at the last second?

Via J-Walk Blog

Anti-Apocalypse

On September 26, 1983, Stanislav Petrov probably saved your life.

Via Charlie's Diary (Charlie Stross)