Monday, January 31, 2005

First Drink

For all you folks who had a rough weekend, point your browsers in the direction of this bit of monkeymation. Song: "First Drink of the Day" Band: 7 Seconds to Love Animation: Joel Veitch, rathergood.com (Monkeymation is a term I made up today. It simply means animation featuring monkeys).

Waiting for the Made-For-TV Movie...

Man peed way out of avalanche This has all the earmarks of a truly great TV movie: the human drama, the will to survive, the many and obvious chances for beer advertisments. If a story sounds too strange to be true, you can bet that Dave Barry reported it. Via Running Scared.

Sticking to the Figures

I found this story via Tim Boucher's weblog, Adventures of an Occult Investigator: "Students Arrested Over 'Violent' Stick Figure Drawings." I had to read that headline twice before it sunk in. And then I had to check the story link to make certain it wasn't some kind hoax. But it seems to be the real deal. In Florida, two elementary school students, ages 9 and 10, are charged with felonies, accused of making violent drawings ... with stick figures. Yup, these kids were dragged away in handcuffs and suspended from school. The images, you see, are believed to have been drawn for the "sole purpose of intimidating and scaring the victim," said Ocala Police Sgt. Russ Kern. You can read the story for yourself here, here (with comments), and here (even more comments!). In addition to the actual story, you might want to check out Tim's rather passionate arguments regarding creativity and violence. As far as I have read, these kids have not really threatened anyone. Nor have they hurt anyone or anything in the past (including cute little animals). So unless the whole story has not been reported, I don't see the proverbial smoking gun here. In fact, if these kids don't have a history of actual physical violence or other kind of serious trouble, why are authorities making such a fuss over these pictures? I personally feel that they should be damned glad that the kids are working their anger out on paper rather than in public!

Quotable

"At first you will thing of practice as a limited part of your life. In time you will realize that everything you do is part of your practice." Baba Ram Dass

Iraq the Vote

Well, Iraq's first free elections in several decades occurred yesterday. Sure, there were plenty of nay-sayers. But right now, President Bush is basking in an apparent victory just for this vote to have taken place. And conservative pundits are indeed claiming this vote as a victory for both the Iraqi people and especially President Bush. In fact, they're practically giddy. Michael Smerconish, whose morning show is beamed out of the Philly area, said this morning that "the Iraqi people have voted with their feet" and that this election is a validation of President Bush and his policy in their country. I think he may have actually gone so far as to call it a ringing endorsement. A couple of callers bemoaned mainstream coverage of the elections, saying that Dan Rather, for example, actually looked "pained to be reporting something positive about the elections." Bush is certainly getting some good press over it. And the mayor of Baghdad has even suggested the city will build a statue for Bush. (Personally, I think that move will go over just as well as that image of an American soldier draping the American Flag over a statue of Saddam Hussein in April of 2003. But that's just me.) Not everyone is unabashedly singing praises. Some folks are being a bit reserved in complimenting the President (Holy crap, Bush did something right?). While others might be going so far as to completely naysay the election. Of course, only history will judge this with any kind of accuracy.
Update: As usual, Jazz does an excellent job of reminding us what "vindication" is really all about over at Running Scared. While most of the media focuses on Bush's victory and takes snarky swipes at Kerry and Kennedy, they are missing the point that Jazz makes so bluntly:
People wishing George W. Bush ill are not wishing the Iraqi people ill. They are hoping that the people of Iraq can survive George W. Bush's "help."

Friday, January 28, 2005

Great Headline for an Uncomfortable Topic

I just cannot resist posting this. Really, I'm serious. Go check out the headline. I will, in all likelihood, "intentionally [seek] to forget [the details of this story], or forcibly ... inhibit and suppress" any memory of it.

Shafer Ponders Blog Hype

Jack Shafer, editor at large for Slate, ponders who smites whom in an old/new media confrontation -- and if there is any actual smiting or even a shootout. Me, I'm wondering if the topic still has relevance. I mean, hasn't the blush faded from this kind of story by now? I'm blogging it because there are links to several blogs that might be worth checking out. :)
Blog Overkill The danger of hyping a good thing into the ground. By Jack Shafer Posted Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2005, at 5:48 PM PT

...the alleged divide between the old media and this new whippersnapper media of blogs has never seemed real to me. With the exception of the "metro" section reporter covering a 12-car pile-up on the freeway, I think most practicing journalists today are as Webby as any blogger you care to name....

...The premature triumphalism of some bloggers indicates that they haven't paid attention to how Webified journalists have become. They also ignore media history. New media technologies almost never replace old media technologies, they merely force old technologies to adapt and find new ways to connect with their audiences. Radio killed the "special edition," but newspapers survived. When television dethroned radio as the hearthside infobox and cratered the Hollywood box office, radio became a mobile medium, and Hollywood devoted itself to spectaculars that the tiny TV set couldn't adequately display. The competitive spiral has continued, with cable TV, VCRs and DVDs, satellite TV and radio broadcasters, and now Internet broadcasters entering the fray. The only extinct mass medium that I can think of is the movie house newsreel.
Full column: http://slate.msn.com/id/2112621/

Behold .... Darth Tater!

"Awwww ... who's da cute widdle space villain? You! You're da cute widdle space villain!"
Darth Tater thumbnail
Yes, that's right, Playskool has unveiled the darker side of Mr. Potato Head. This simply smashing Sith Lord should be available in time for the opening of Episode III in the continuing debasement of the Star Wars universe (er, I meant the third and final of the travesties known as the Star Wars prequels). That little bugger sure is cute, but he is also symbolic of the decline of Vader's iconic nature. I was about 10 years old when the first Star Wars film was released. And I'm not afraid to admit this: The dude was scarey!

This Actually *is* Rocket Science ...

... at least in a virtual sense. Go ahead and call me a space cadet (believe me; you wouldn't be the first to do so), but I was truly excited to read about Spacecamp Online. Via the SciFi weekly newsletter...

If becoming an astronaut is the cherished dream of many an SF fan, it is also one that few can hope to achieve. But—for those of us who won't be on the first manned ship to Mars—the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., provides a taste of the outer space experience with its Spacecamp programs. Offering astronaut training and spaceflight simulations to both children and adults, Spacecamp can take a visitor through everything from a mission briefing to the sensation of weightlessness that comes with being in zero-gravity conditions.

Spacecamp's various learning streams are available to would-be mission specialists, aviators and robotics experts. A robotics track trainee might learn to build a rover designed to rescue a stranded astronaut, for example, while campers interested in piloting a spacecraft study the basics of flight dynamics. Spacecamp Online details on every training regime offered by the center—its general features and goals, its target age group and even the possibility of tie-in college credit.

Though anyone interested in manned spaceflight will find this site well worth browsing, Spacecamp Online is—like many museum sites—largely focused on attracting flesh-and-blood visitors to its facility and programs. Its Current Exhibits section is disappointing, with only a few photographs to tie in to the V2 Rocket and MIR Space Station exhibits currently being shown at the Center. The links available on the site are primarily for referring international visitors to other Spacecamp programs around the world. Rather than providing hard but distant facts about the space sciences, this site invites Web surfers to once again consider personally exploring the unknown, while giving a glimpse into what the reality of an astronaut's life is like.

by A.M. Dellamonica

I'll give my own review of the site after I've had a chance to play with it. Glee!

After the Snow

I finally uploaded a few of my post-blizzard pics. Drop by my photoblog: [sub]urban [text]ure.

Friday Pet Blogging | Otis' Snow Check

And here we see more photographic evidence of the difference between Otis (pictured here) and his brother Milo. While Milo slept, Otis decided to check out this blizzard thing for himself:
CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE -- Otis: Snow Check Otis says: "Holy $@%&! Lookit all that snow!"

Least he could have done was offer to help me, instead of just watching me push the snow around.

Wait-a-minute. Come to think of it -- watching me work is exactly the least he could have done.

The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Meanwhile, I maintain the M & O Archives page, a set of links to other Milo & Otis appearance on Prophet or Madman. Just in case you missed one.

Photo Date: January 22, 2005

Friday Pet Blogging | Blizzard Nap

Here is how Milo dealt with the blizzard of January '05 -- he pretty much slept through it!
CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE -- Milo is snug as a bug ... Milo: No, really, you go shovel. I'm fine right here!

Milo loves that red blanket, and he spends a good bit of a regular day on it. So, by extension, the blizzard was just another day for this pudgeball. My lovely wife thought he needed a pillow, too. Hence the stuffed critter seen with our 'stuffed' cat in this photo.

ASIDE: Oh, he's very much alive folks; by 'stuffed' I just mean that he likes to eat for 2 (or 3 or 4...) cats.

The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Meanwhile, I maintain the M & O Archives page, a set of links to other Milo & Otis appearance on Prophet or Madman. Just in case you missed one.

Photo Date: January 22, 2005

Thursday, January 27, 2005

...for Dummies

ReligionNewsBlog.com reports that senior Army Officers are asked to read a eight books about Islam before their tour in Iraq begins. And Professor Malcolm Clark’s “Islam for Dummies” (Wiley, 2003) is the very first book on that list. I'm not a big fan of the Dummies or Idiots book series, but I admit it is somewhat comforting to know that someone in the Army is at last realizing costly mistakes can be avoided with a little knowledge. Unfortunately, I must also admit I am surprised that this requirement is only being pressed for the officers and not all US reps -- both civilian and military -- serving in the Middle East. In fact, perhaps what we really need is a course/book called Foreign Relations for Dummies. The 2000 US Election Special Edition of said book would of course be subtitled:
Yes, Presidential Candidates with No Real Experience -- and their Potential Administrative Appointees -- Must Read This Book (Start crackin', W!)
Yes, I know it appears that all opportunities for educating the leadership of this country and salvaging this nation's reputation are rapidly decomposing in the dust bin, but we should probably still make the effort and request that some kind of ... for Dummies reading be required for all folks in public office (or those who simply aspire to it). For starters, I would suggest Bruce Feiler's Abraham - A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths or Karen Armstrong's A History of God - The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. That would cover the monotheist traditions, which are pretty central to any activity going on in the Middle East. I would recommend some other books or programs to get the Bush Administration up to speed on other faith paths, but "W" probably couldn't get through the first few pages of Armstrong's scholarly work (maybe one of Bush's aides could dumb it down for him?), and I doubt he's up for learning -- let alone accepting -- anything outside of his nice little Protestant box. Come to think of it, a ...for Dummies book just isn't going to cut it. It might actually cause more problems in that man's head.

Roosters with Gloves

Via Jazz over at Middle Earth Journal. CNN reports that a lawmaker wants to put tiny boxing gloves on roosters. State Sen. Frank Shurden (Democrat!) is a long-time defender of cockfighting and is apparantly pining over the fact that a ban on the bloodsport "had wiped out a $100-million business." In an attempt to revive his beloved pasttime, he has proposed little boxing gloves and chicken-sized vests configured with sensors to record hits and keep score:
"It's like the fencing that you see on the Olympics, you know, where they have little balls on the ends of the swords and the fencers wear vests," said Shurden. "That's the same application that would be applied to the roosters."
Okay. I have to respond to this with the same comment I left at MEJ: Does this mean he thought up this idea by watching Olympic Fencing? How does someone make the great leap in reasoning from a fencer's garb to reviving cockfighting?!? I can only hope this isn't a prime example of how he deals with other issues for his constituents.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Satan's Laundromat

I am really enjoying this photolog.

More ORION ONLINE Features

After Tomorrow BY PETER deMENOCAL Ignoring global warming doesn't change the science; it just leaves us unprepared for the potentially catastrophic consequences. The New Amazon BY MARISA HANDLER Lessons in resistance: Defending a land and a way of life, the Sarayacu people decline Chevron-Texaco's kind offer of economic "progress."

Coda | Wrestling with the Heart BY BRIAN DOYLE Will the human heart ever develop and evolve beyond the constraints of political and cultural reality?

The Conscience by the Pond | by Tom Hayden

Orion Magazine is featuring a new column about Thoreau and the Spirit of Resistance by Tom Hayden:

Walden Pond in Snow Walden Pond | Photograph by Kathy Tarantola

ON THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY of Walden, several new editions of the classic were published. Some are elegantly footnoted or designed. Others explore the recurring significance of Thoreau as a mirror reflecting America's nature, and Barksdale Maynard's detailed history of Walden Pond itself contains invaluable new material for students of Thoreau.

Rachel Carson kept Walden by her bedside. Annie Dillard wrote her master's thesis about Walden Pond. Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac were affected by it in their early years, as was Pete Seeger. Arlo Guthrie named his cat after Henry; my wife named a dog. Besides these individuals, millions of anonymous backpackers carry their own paperback editions of Walden wherever they seek respite.

These days Thoreau is mainly remembered for the self-conscious life he lived, and for his vital role in the creation of environmentalism. In his own time he embodied ideas that others merely discussed in their parlors. The liquid clarity of Thoreau's sentences arose from the natural simplicity in which he was grounded.

The danger in such memories is that he becomes a harmless icon whose example is salutary but obsolete. The problem is that Thoreau cannot be understood through Walden alone. One wonders if the prestigious publishers of these volumes will issue new editions of the whole Thoreau, the Thoreau who drafted Civil Disobedience (1849), who penned Slavery in Massachusetts (1854), A Plea for Captain John Brown (1860), and Life Without Principle (1863), who kept thirteen notebooks on Native Americans, and whose last mysterious words were "moose" and "Indians" -- or whether he will be reduced to an ascetic hermit... [Read the full column]
TOM HAYDEN, a social activist since the 60s, has been a California State Assemblyman and state senator. He is a professor at Occidental College and the author of nine books.

Quotable

For forty years I’ve been selling water By the bank of a river. Ho, ho! My labors have been wholly without merit.

SOGAKU HARADA (1871-1961) Zen founder of Sanbo Kyodan lineage

Living in Zen (essay)

Monday, January 24, 2005

Curiously Strong MP3 Player

For the electronic do-it-yourselfer, here is the Minty MP3!

curiously strong?

Complete instructions for fabricating your own Minty MP3 are available. Please note that this is an advanced project, for people with at least 1 year of SMT Soldering experience

A New Pledge...?

Does Wiley's Non Sequitur feature a new Pledge of Allegiance, or did he simply give words to a subconscious understanding that has permeated our society? I've posted the first panel of the strip to give you the basic idea. Click the image to view the rest of today's strip (which will only be available for a week or so):

Pledging Allegiance Click to read full comic strip...

In case you miss it, the entire pledge reads:
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the corporate states of America. And to the Republicans for which it stands, one nation, under debt, easily divisible, with liberty and justice for oil."
There is also a Katie Couric slam which is tied to a general slam against network news. I guess that is the real punchline, but I think it soft pedals the message behind this pledge. In my opinion, Wiley should have been a bit stronger with the implied message of the first two panels (which cover the pledge). The young girl reciting this pledge -- and doing so voluntarily, almost gleefully -- sends a not so subtle hint that we as a society should not harbor any illusions that school age children are not picking up on the "lessons" that the current culture of greed pushes into the collective consciousness. If we ignore the affect on children, we do so at our peril. We cannot leave the cleanup to the next generation -- particularly if that generation has been taught to revel in the excesses of the current one. There is another point here, one that Wiley most likely did not intend to make. The strip itself buys into a common oversimplification of issues as "the current administration, all Republicans, and corporate America are bad, bad, bad, and the USA is going down the crapper with the media playing tour guide." The little girl in today's strip is a reminder of the fact that kids can pick up on this oversimplification and really digest it to the point that it becomes part of their worldview. And this will fuel future generations of partisan politics. [Not that there isn't at least a grain of truth in the oversimplification; but it is kind of an easy target for the funny pages.]

Friday, January 21, 2005

Knowledge@Wharton: Is Pro Football "the Perfect Symbol" of American Values?

In honor of NFL Playoff Weekend (Go Pittsburgh Steelers!), I would like to share this article about strategic management and football. The following description is quoted from the monthly Knowledge@Wharton Newsletter that I receive via email:
"On any given Sunday, any team in our league can beat another team." That famous adage of the National Football League not only validates pro football's competitive spirit but also points to one of the most successful commercial philosophies in the last half century of American business. As illustrated in Michael MacCambridge's new book, America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation, the rise of pro football was the result of an egalitarian structure conceived by league officials and approved by team owners whose playing squads battled on the gridiron with the zeal of warriors. MacCambridge weaves accounts of pivotal NFL games, as well as character sketches of key players, coaches and commissioners, into a detailed analysis of the NFL's road to preeminence.
Read the article: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/1119.cfm Visit the Knowledge@Wharton Newsletter for more stuff to read: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu

Quotable

Here are two gems from Richard Cohen's column yesterday. You can read the full column at the NY Daily News.
"Alchemy is the purported science of turning base metals into gold. It does not exist. Political alchemy is the ability to turn hard failures into gossamer triumphs. It does exist. The inauguration of President Bush for a second term proves it."
and ..
"The result [of Bush's economic policies like the "reckeless tax cuts"] has been a burgeoning national debt that can be paid off only if space exploration discovers a planet of suckers willing to buy U.S. bonds. Is the universe that big?"

Friday Pet Blogging | Headfirst

There I was on Monday evening, January 17. I was just sitting in the living room, catching up on my reading, and pretty much minding my own business. I was dimly aware that Otis had jumped onto the couch, and that he had sauntered down to the other end. But I had not really noticed him. When I finally set aside my books so I could stand and stretch my legs ... I saw him. Otis had fallen asleep with his face pressed against the arm of the sofa. The poor thing probably had a cold nose and was missing my wife (with whom he usually snuggles in the evening). I did the only thing I could in this situation, even though I knew it wouldn't be much help to him.
I took a picture:
CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE -- Otis Napping - Headfirst Otis dives headfirst ... into a nap! (Apparently, the forecast calls for cold, kitty noses.)

The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Meanwhile, I maintain the M & O Archives page, a set of links to other Milo & Otis appearance on Prophet or Madman. Just in case you missed one.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Cubed?

OK. Maybe I don't get out much, but I had never heard of a cubed day or Gene Ray, the man behind the concept. And now that I have ... well ... quite frankly, it is making my head hurt. Gene Ray, with globe-inside-a-cube paperweight in hand, is on a one man quest to change the way we think and speak about time. Ray calls himself a cubist and is the self-proclaimed smartest man ever:
"I am a cubic thinker, and far wiser than any God, any scientist, and any educator that preaches the evil singularity of a single first corner."
Whew! He is certainly confident. You could surf on over to his website and learn all about his theories, but the layout alone might give you a migraine. Far better to sample Ray's genius in small doses ... like in this video interview. Believe it or not, this guy is not alone. These folks Time Cube Central have set up some kind of church or something based on Ray's ideas. Well, at least they have some really cool swag. So remember these little nuggets: Truth is Cubic ... and Stupid equals Evil. Riiiiiiight.

Jib Jab's Second Term

Also in honor of W's inauguration, I watched the latest video by Jib Jab. You know, those guys repsonsible for that great This Land is Your Land parody. This time, they take aim at W getting his second term. Of course, no one is really safe from Jib Jab, and this bit of animation "pokes fun at President Bush, conservatives, liberals, and just about anyone else vying for political power." Go watch it now!

Uncle W goes back to Washington -- CLICK for Jib Jab animation W Laughs All the Way to Washington

Happy Inauguration Day

Mitchell can be sooooo dead on....

Sign of the Times, by Bill Mitchell -- CLICK FOR FULL COMIC Click for the full comic

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Land of the Free ... but Not Transparent

The United States may be a beacon of freedom and capitalism -- the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, and all that -- but it ranks as only #17 on an index of the least corrupt countries. That means only 16 countries are considered less corrupt than the USA: #1 on the index (Finland) is least corrupt, while #146 needs some serious intervention by their governed. The ranking was released last October, but it was only recently reported in some US magazines such as Family Circle (thanks Tina!):
Finland, New Zealand and Denmark are the least corrupt countries, according to Transparency International, a Berlin-based non-profit that monitors and exposes corruption around the world. Its annual Corruption Perception Index found rampant corruption in 60 of 146 countries surveyed. Of the three mentioned above, Finland has ranked as the least corrupt nation for the past five years. Why? This Scandinavian country -- along with Sweden, Norway and Iceland -- has an admirable and long-standing tradition of honesty and integrity in government and private business (most state documents are required to be made public, for example). So where did the U.S. rank amond the 146 countries surveyed? The United States ranked 17 (Canada is #12), tied with Belgium and Ireland.
Good news for US citizens: The US has improved it's ranking from #18 in 2003 to #17 for 2004. The bad news: The US slipped from a rank of #14 to #18 between 2000 and 2003. Yeah, that drop occured under Mr. Bush's watch. Anyone surprised?

Something Rotten in Redmond: The Latest BS from MS

In case you had no idea, Microsoft is entering the anti-spyware market: http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx Why should this announcement about a new product rollout from a large software company be considered newsworthy or even of interest? Because it means that MS is a few scant inches away from completing another one of their brilliant marketing maneuvers, and the computer using public is largely unaware of their impending victimization. You see, the gang at Microsoft works like this:
  1. Create a browser with enough (security) flaws that it has to be regularly patched.
  2. Be so agonizingly slow to address these flaws that a whole fleet of third-party businesses arise to offer products that protect a user's computer from virus and/or spyware threats that could exploit the holes in the aforementioned browser. Some of these products are free, some are not.
  3. Continue development of said browser, adding new features but doing very little in the way of correcting critical problems. All the while waiting for consumers to not only become comfortable with the concept of using third party software for protection, but also dependent upon such products.
  4. Acquire one of the third party companies (in this case, GIANT) and offer the purchased company's product (GIANT AntiSpyware), newly re-branded as a free beta under the MS flag.
  5. Once an established user base is dependent on the beta product, discontinue it and replace it with a paid version -- a paid version that will undoubtedly cause its own problems that require further patching down the road.
  6. Rinse. Spit. Repeat as needed.
Nice, huh? Personally, my computer usage is split. Only some of my time is spent in the realm of Microsoft Windows and the remainder of my time spent on UNIX and MacOS machines. And I am actually somewhat fortunate in that I did not get locked into GIANT AntiSpyware (although it was highly recommended). But will Microsoft's acquisition of GIANT nullify the remaining competitors in this niche market? The browser wars are over and -- except for small pockets of resistance (Mozilla and Opera, for example) -- the majority of computers out there are using Microsoft Internet Explorer, simply by default. Perhaps that is a bad example simply because IE is free (well, free with the Windows OS). I just don't know how this will eventually pan out. But I am disgusted with this bold new initiative for Microsoft and paid support. I think I need a little (geek) humor right now: Microsith

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Peak Oil, by Edward Anderson

About a week ago, on Grimner's Gate, I read a thought-provoking post about oil and economic growth. Not the usual topic for that list, many members there share an interest in things of a political and environmental nature, particularly when such topics have an effect on the heathen community. I could post a link to the message, but the Gate's mailing list archives are for members only. So I asked the author, Edward Anderson, for permission to share it here on Prophet or Madman. He was happy to provide permission with the following email message:
From: Edward Anderson Date: Wed Jan 12, 2005 12:05:16 AM US/Eastern To: "brainwise" Subject: Re: [Grimnirs_Gate] Peak Oil, the End of Economic Growth Yes you can post links to my post on GG, or you can post this else where, but of course please keep my name on it.
Mr. Anderson then provided a modified copy of his article in which he had made one minor correction: The U.S. strategic oil reserve is closer to 700 million barrels and not the 70 billion barrels that he typed on the original GG post [membership required]. So, please keep in mind that the post below was authored by someone other than me. If you want to comment on it, go right ahead. If you would like to contact the author, let me know and I will forward your information to him. He didn't say I couldn't post his email address, but I never bothered to ask him. So until I hear otherwise, you probably won't see his email addy on this site.

Peak Oil, the End of Economic Growth Back when I was in College we heard about peak oil. Peak oil is when the world wide supply of oil no longer meets demand. Peak oilwill first limit, then end and finally reverse all of theindustrialized economies of the world. Due to the input ofpetroleum in fertilizers, pesticides, and to fuel farm machinery,peak oil will also cause agricultural output to drop world wide. This was supposed be something that would happen during the nextgeneration or two. However since the economy of China has been growing at a 9 percent rate, since India and other areas have grownso fast, peak oil is nearly here now. Currently there is about a one million barrel a day production buffer that Saudi Arabia is capable of still pumping on a daily usage of about 80 millionbarrels. In August China starts to fill it's strategic oil reserve. The United States currently has a strategic oil reserve ofabout 700 million barrels on a planned 750 million barrel reserve, which is equal to about 60 days of imported oil. A very large factor which might bring on peak oil is the fact that OPEC exports were originally pegged to a countries oil reserves. Hence every single OPEC country lied about the size of their oil reserves so that they could export more. Some believe peak oil may have already occurred. Some annalists believe the actual peak will occur around next Thanksgiving (I personally favor this estimate). Many think that it will occur in2008, and a final group thinks that it will happen as late as 2014. After peak oil, things like the United State's national and trade deficits become especially onerous since it will no longer bepossible to economically grow out of these deficits. Future economic activity, rather than growing to dwarf the current deficits will most probably be actually shrinking. Peak oil also tends to mean an endless recession and then economic depression. The one ray of hope that I see is the 3 billion dollar nuclear fusion (not fission) project which is to be built in Japan in a few years. This project had been intended to be a 6 billion dollar project that wasto be possibly built in Canada. Unfortunately the United States has largely dropped out and the project was scaled back to a 3 billion dollar version. Fortunately our former European, Japanese and Russian partners in the project feel that an alternate half priced design might still work as a viable nuclear fusion demonstration project. Hopefully this nuclear fusion project's prospect of success is real and it is not just a carefully timed publicity stunt to act as a distraction timed to occur at the beginning of peak oil and world wide recession. Lately Patricia and I have been going to some public gatherings which focus on the subject of peak oil. One bit of propaganda thatI have seen which I do not like is the claim that the current Iraq war is some how linked to and is in some way an American military solution for peak oil. Since oil, like gold, is a fungible commodity there is no way a war can permanently change by much the world wide price of oil. This issue of peak oil is no truejustification at all and is only being used as a false and obscuring justification for the Iraq war. Concerning the future of Asatru, peak oil might be a good thing. So many things will change that the Christian beliefs of the masses might also be one of the things which largely change. Other than a Mad Max type of world, I am looking forward to the return of the Chicago based Great Lakes freight trade by sail boats,as the cost of the fuel for truck freight makes trucking less economically competitive. Below I have posted a link to a peak oil site. They are quite depressing, so I have also included a link to the planed nuclear fusion sites. A clearing house and linking site for peak oil. http://drydipstick.com/ Deutsche Bank report on peak oil coming in 2014. http://www.btinternet.com/~nlpwessex/Documents/peakoil2014.htm Uppsala University in Sweden has done a lot of work on the peak oil topic. http://www4.tsl.uu.se/isv/UHDSG/ http://www.peakoil.net/ Nuclear fusion sites: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/tt/2002/sep25/magnetpulse.html http://www.ca.emb-japan.go.jp/ITER1.html http://www.ipp.mpg.de/~Wolfgang.Suttrop/ppcfsites.html http://www.eubusiness.com/afp/041220030916.ykizqqm7 This looks like a real thing that will happen and that will change many things. It has been suggested that it might be a good time to begin preparing for these changes, if such preparations are indeed possible. by Edward A. Anderson II January 2005

I hope you enjoyed this "guest" column today. I know I did.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Friday Pet Blogging | Breaking Character

Well, well, well. It would seem that Milo actually will endulge himself in a little game of swat-the-ribbon -- but only when he knows he is away from Otis' incriminating gaze (and he forgets to sweep the area for cameras and recording devices).
Milo plays a bit more, shall we say... daintily ... than does his brother. But he is enthusiastic in his own way.
CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE -- Milo plays with ribbon. Milo forgets himself, breaks character, and springs into action!

The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Meanwhile, I maintain the M & O Archives page, a set of links to other Milo & Otis appearance on Prophet or Madman. Just in case you missed one.

Friday Pet Blogging | Brothers are Different

I've said it before, and today I offer more photographic proof: Between the two brothers, Milo is definitely the more reserved one. I mean, just look at the photo below. Otis wants nothing more than to get that ribbon ... over and over and over again. Meanwhile, check out Mr. Attitude watching from the landing. Can't you just hear his thoughts? [Well, if not, can't you at least imagine that you hear him thinking or saying something along the lines of]:
"My idiot brother... Look at him prance for the human female. Simply pathetic!"
CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE -- Milo does not share Otis' enthusiasm. Milo does not approve of Otis' enthusiastic prancing. (Or ... is he merely jealous?)

They are just SO CUTE!

The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Meanwhile, I maintain the M & O Archives page, a set of links to other Milo & Otis appearance on Prophet or Madman. Just in case you missed one.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

King for a Day

Running Scared has cited a good -- no, let's say essential -- commentary on the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It's written by pundit John Sugg of Creative Loafing. The whole thing is pasted at Running Scared, but if you want to go digging for the original, it is currently at http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/fishwrapper.html. Go. Read it NOW. Then pass it on: MLK was a revolutionary, and we need him (or his spirit) more than ever.

Never Let Them See You Blinkx

Has anyone out there tried blinkx? It's supposed to be some kind of free, uber-search application that "automatically and intelligently links to relevant information anywhere and in any format: on the Web, in the news or on the desktop. Utilizing blinkx, users are no longer limited to Boolean keyword search. Instead, blinkx automatically and implicitly conducts searches based on the content being view by each individual user. " I would like to hear some first-hand experiences from folks before I take the plunge and install something that -- while I really like the proposed functionality -- seems kind of ... I don't know ... invasive. (Note: blinkx does state that they don't do anything suspect with the search data.)

blinx logo

Help with Spyware

What's on your hard drive? You're on the web, so you worry about spyware. You do worry about it, don't you? Well, maybe you should be doing more than just worrying. Bookmark this site: Spyware Warrior: http://www.spywarewarrior.com/ There's help to be found here. They maintain a blog with the latest news (threats and utilities) on the spyware front, as well as a list of suspected programs that pretend to be spyware -- but are actually trading on the good names of actual applications. They also test anti-spyware programs and provide a forum where you might be able to find help with a spyware problem you have right now.

Ice-mageddon | Slow Moving Demo

What do you get when you have a massive iceberg (about the size of, oh, Long Island, NY) moving on a collision course with a floating glacier near the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica?

Iceberg image from tvnz.co.nz

Apparently nothing too deadly news-worthy. That is, at least, according to Monkeyfilter where a member has reported that the world media has largely ignored this event, even in the midst of "dramatic evacuation procedures of all personel assisted by the Russians" Here is the story: A massive 3,000-square-kilometer/1,200-square-mile iceberg is about to impact with a glacial peninsula of ice in McMurdo sound known as the Drygalski Ice Tongue. NASA scientists believe the collision will occur before or on January 15, but even they are unsure as to what will really happen.
"It's a clash of the titans, a radical and uncommon event," says Robert Bindshadler, a researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and if the two giant slabs of ice collide, we could see one of the best demolition derbies on the planet. "Even a 'tap' from a giant can be powerful. It will certainly be a blow far larger than anything else the ice tongue has ever experienced," says Bindshadler.When the iceberg and the ice tongue collide, the impact will likely "dent their bumpers," says Bindshadler. The edges could crumple and ice could pile or drift into the Ross Sea. But if the B-15A iceberg picks up enough speed before the two collide, the results could be more spectacular. The Drygalski Ice Tongue could break off.
Now, I've only found a few news stories about this thing, but nothing to suggest a large evacuation. Among the pieces I have found:
  • New Zealand's STUFF reports that "no lives were expected to be in danger. Staff at Scott Base and McMurdo Station 250km away would monitor the collision. So would scientists in the United States via a webcam on the iceberg, while Nasa scientists hoped to observe the action via a satellite."
  • Tech News World has a quick blurb.
  • The BBC quotes from the same NASA sources, also mentioning that "US space agency scientists are studying the iceberg's progress by monitoring satellite images of the region. The Modis instrument on Nasa's Aqua and Terra satellites captured 13 images of the shifting B-15A iceberg between 9 November and 2 January 2005. "
  • Japan Today focuses on the penquins who are adversely affected by the iceberg's course, reporting that "thousands of penguin chicks threatened with starvation because their mothers cannot bring them food."
  • And back in the middle of December, EurekAlert reported that the "Iceberg poses no threat to Antarctic personnel." (Yep, that iceberg is moving slowly enough that statements made weeks ago are still accurate.)

But no evac info. Still, the sparse chatter on a story regarding a terrestrial collision of this magnitude is ... puzzling.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Meditation and the Brain (Brain ... Brain ... Brain ...)

Within the last decade, research has shown that connections among brain nerve cells are not fixed early in life and unchanging in adulthood as scientists used to believe. Scientists are now embracing the concept of ongoing brain development and "neuroplasticity." Current research conducted at the University of Wisconsin, where researchers have been working with Tibetan monks, translates the mental experiences of meditation into "the scientific language of high-frequency gamma waves and brain synchrony, or coordination." And this translation has been paying off:
"What we found is that the longtime practitioners showed brain activation on a scale we have never seen before," said Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the university's new $10 million W.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior. "Their mental practice is having an effect on the brain in the same way golf or tennis practice will enhance performance." It demonstrates, he said, that the brain is capable of being trained and physically modified in ways few people can imagine.
The Washington Post's website has the full article. It's a good read.

Quotable

"When the people are afraid of the government, that's tyranny. But when the government is afraid of the people, that's liberty."
-- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

British Parish to be Punished with Opus Dei Appointment

Well, no one really said they are being punished, but they are getting an unlikely new pastor. The Times-Online reports that Opus Dei, that rag-tag group who are known for secrecy and mortification (a most painful way to god), is getting their first British parish. No news on whether a parishoner has to purchase or otherwise provide his/her own flagellum.

Fox-Proof

Jazz (Losing my faith in humanity... one neocon at a time) Shaw has posted this humorous bit about a quaint device called the FoxBlocker. I showed it to my pal Loki, and he responded: "Thats a good idea, but I just use my remote and never bother to turn that crap on in the first place." Loki doesn't shiv.

Monday, January 10, 2005

CBS News: 'Great Satan' Helps Muslims

Yep. That's the title of this article from the CBS News website. It points out a very clear contrast:
The very day President G.W. Bush reached out to Democrat Bill Clinton and recruited his father, Republican G. H. W. Bush, to generate private tsunami-relief donations, Osama bin Laden's comrades detonated three car bombs in Baghdad, killing 16 Iraqi cops and soldiers toiling to rebuild their country. Once again, "the Great Satan" rescues endangered Muslims while Islamic zealots blew their co-religionists to bits.
Apparently, the news media would like to see the Iraqis -- if not the international Muslim community -- issue a big cry of "what have you done for us lately?," directed right at Osama bin-not-so-nearly-forgotten. Will the US jump on this good PR opportunity? Well, the story was posted on January 6th, but I have not seen any change in diplomacy efforts. But maybe that is just because the focus is on helping victims and there has been no time or inclination to think, "Gee, how can this help us?" If that is the case, I applaud it and hope they keep at it.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Friday Pet Blogging | Radiant Sleeper

Although he does not have the bulk of his brother, Milo, Otis really knows how to stay warm. He will cozy up next to me or my wife, or -- as shown below -- park himself next to the radiator in the living room. Anything he can do to ensure a nice, warm nap.
CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE -- Otis takes advantage of the radiator. Otis = Radiant Sleeper. (Click for larger image)

The Modulator has a compilation of today's pet posts from other bloggers. Meanwhile, the M & O Archives sports a set of links for other Milo & Otis appearances on Prophet or Madman.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Museum of Bad Art

In their own words, the Museum Of Bad Art (MOBA) is "the world's only museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition and celebration of bad art in all its forms." Take, for example, this interactive piece entitled, The Haircut:

'The Haircut' presented by the Museum of Bad Art

Yes, you can spend hours gazing in awe at simply atrocius attacks upon -- er, I mean, works of -- art. Well, maybe not hours. I could only take about 15 minutes of it. But I hope you enjoy it, and "If you must leave a lock of your hair, please return the scissors to the center of the seat."

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Tsunami | Before and After

"Before" and "After" satellite photos: http://homepage.mac.com/demark/tsunami/3.html Every single dollar will make a difference. There are several agencies collecting funds to help Tsunami victims: http://www.msnbc.com/modules/interactive.asp?id=/d/ip/tsunami_aid_04/data.js&navid=6758618&GT1=5936 Contributions can be made using credit cards: http://www.worldvision.org/site/pp.asp?c=fvKVLbMVIwG&b=277262

Will Eisner: 1917 - 2005

Will Eisner's website, carries the sad news:
Will Eisner passed away on January 3rd, 2005 at the age of 87 following quadruple bypass heart surgery.
I don't know what I can say about this. For one thing, I can't believe that I just found out today. My news sniffers -- or at least the sites I frequent -- should have clued me to this yesterday. But I guess maybe it is just getting out today (posted 2 hours ago according to Google News). Will Eisner was a legend in the comic book industry. And even though his own "costumed character" creation, The Spirit, revolutionized the way such stories were told, Eisner is credited as one of the men responsible for lifting comics from the "juvenile" realm of superheroes to a visual artform known more or less as graphic storytelling. He was a master of sequential art, authoring two definitive works examining the creative process, Comics and Sequential Art and Graphic Storytelling. In addition to these books, Eisner spent 25 years of his life in educational and promotional comics, teaching his craft to others. The man even has a prestigious comics industry award named after him: The Eisner Awards. Rest in peace Mr. Eisner. And thank you for all you gave to comics, visual art, and your fans. Will Eisner Links:

Redefeat Bush?

No, your eyes do not decieve you. And this is not a lost post from before the 2004 election. This is going on right now as reported on January 3, 2005: Liberal Group Seeks Support for Challenge of Bush Electors. According to the story...

a federal political action committee known as the Committee to ReDefeat the President -- or ReDefeatBush.com -- is organizing protest rallies to take place before a joint session of Congress gathers to count the electoral votes from the November 2004 election.

I guess everyone needs a hobby, but this is bordering on obsession.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year | Resolution

I really cannot make a better New Year's Resolution than Huey Freeman, the lead character in Aaron McGruder's strip, The Boondocks: "I resolve to mercilessly abuse my illusions and smack stupidity in the mouth. I resolve to never acquire a taste for the bitter lies I am fed. I am making a resolution for revolution!"

snip from BOONDOCKS strip (12-26-2004).

The full strip appeared on 12-26-2004, but it will only be available for a week or so.