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Showing posts from 2005

The American Enterprise: A 2005 Rollick

A 2005 Rollick By James Lileks Behold: 2005 was the most important year in human history. Okay, maybe not. There have been better years, and worse ones. The Goths did not sack New York City. No plague. Asteroids didn’t deform the globe. The center held, and if some rough beast was slouching toward Bethlehem it appears he was diverted to a time-share in Branson for the season. Nothing blew up—over here at least. Despite the usual rash of false alarms, Americans no longer seem to be waiting for the other shoe bomber to drop. The economy grew much more than gloomy reporters expected. The Batman movie was good, for a change. No one on the Supreme Court tested positive for steroids. Politically, the Administration seemed determined to get the third year of its second term out of the way in the first."

Norton VS Bad Electric Fairies

Over on thisisbroken luser Susan Dombrow is upset with Symantec's response to her request that a question be answered in "plain english" and not "conmputerese" here is part of Symatec's response: Please note that the Email Protection feature of Norton AntiVirus works by monitoring traffic on the ports used by the POP3 email protocol. All data that enters or leaves your computer through these ports is stopped and scanned before being passed onto its destination. HTTP email services, such as those offered by America OnLine, Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail, do not use the POP3 ports, and cannot be scanned by Email Protection. I think that she would have been happier with the following: Please note that the Email Protection feature of Norton AntiVirus works by monitoring little dancing electric fairies that travel through the magic doorways used by the Garden Gnome's email protocol. All fairies that enters or leaves your computer through these magic doorways a

NYC School Chancellor: Reality Check- When does the idiocy end?

An Educational Voyage! : Sir, it is time for a real hard reality check for you and your administrators. Please show NYC teachers a floor plan of an honestly functional 'typical size' NYC classroom that has: 30-35 desks and chairs - arranged in cooperative groups (remember- larger children have larger furniture) A teacher's desk and chair A work space for an Educational Assistant. All adults deserve a chair. You have a chair, don't you? The Famous Rocking Chair A Classroom Library with a little space to browse. Usable Reading, Math, Writing, and Science 'Centers' that are not so crammed together that only one child at a time can fit at them. A Word Wall A Bulletin Board wall A Chalk Board Wall A Wall with Windows and A Computer area that allows a logical traffic flow that teachers and children can move around in comfortably. NYC school buildings were just not built for the class sizes we have today. 15-18 child classes are few

The Taming of theScrew : "For centuries now the screw has held things together, and for almost as long it has been frustratingly inept at its central purpose. Concrete cracks when it is punctured by a screw. Plastic creeps away from the pressure, sliding down the threads so that even a tightened screw loosens almost instantly. Carmakers have to mold brass inserts into plastic parts to accept screws; otherwise they might loosen and cause a dreaded rattle. Kenneth LeVey has a better idea. A product development director at Illinois Tool Works, the nation's biggest screwmaker, he has reinvented what the company dubs the threaded fastener in a way that lets it grip tight where it used to let loose--and compete with cheaper screws made by offshore rivals. "

New Orleans - the ideal place to get shot

Times Online : "I SPENT the early part of last year in New Orleans recovering from gunshot wounds received as I was being robbed. It happened in the early evening as I walked down a quiet street with my girlfriend. There was a football game in town and the streets near the French Quarter were empty. The police presence was elsewhere. The incident itself was over in a flash but it plays over and over in my head and perhaps one day it will make sense to me. I found out later that there were fewer than 2,000 police in New Orleans at that time and it reached such a point that there was talk of the city was importing officers from Cleveland. Anyway, thanks to someone’s mobile phone, the police eventually got to the scene. Later, as I was carried into the emergency room at Charity hospital, a doctor reassured me that “New Orleans really is the best place to get shot”. They had, he explained, had plenty of practice." Ray Davies was lead singer of the Kinks.

eyeteeth: Their cousin called monotreme

"Monotremes are really weird. Everything about them seems to have been thought up past some kind of deadline. Take the method by which they reproduce: after mating, the female lays an egg (echidna) or two (platypus). Then she carries them around until they hatch. Monotremes are mammalian, even if what they have is a kind of free demo version of mammalianism without the really useful features like live birth, so they lactate. But they have no nipples. The milk just leaks right out of glands in their skin, and the baby monotreme laps it up with sweeps of its tiny bill."

Comment: 'Our dreams are gone' : "I am disappointed. Women are going to lose their rights. Resolution 137 (which eliminates Iraqi family laws relative to women's rights and replaces it with Islamic legal doctrine) is coming back. Our civil family law will be canceled. We will go on Sharia law. We will be part of Iran. ..We, as constitution-drafting members, don't know what's happening. We finished on Aug. 15. The (big guys) started from zero. They changed everything in it. They are dividing the cake into pieces. It is personal. ... It is a shame we have reached this point. The big guys, every one counts how much he will benefit. My request to the women of San Antonio, my friends, can you please support the Iraqi women, to bring back our rights? Or it is our own case, nobody will help?" Dr. Rajaa Khuza, a member of the committee to write the Iraqi constitution, sent this e-mail Saturday.

he Adventures of Cece Bibby: On and Off The Launch Pad : "In 1959, Cecelia 'Cece' Bibby found her way into the RCA graphics arts department located at Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Arriving at the dawn of the space age, she would soon find herself surrounded by what was then the men-only world of high performance jets and rocketry. An artist by trade, talent, and self-determination, Bibby would become the first to design and paint a logo on the outside of a U.S. manned spacecraft destined for orbit. She would work with three of the Mercury astronauts to customize their craft and in the process see her artwork become as recognizable as the astronauts themselves. Bibby's path to becoming the first woman allowed on the launch pad was not one without its hurdles."

The world's first environmental porn movement

Independent Online Edition : "Their scheme is simple enough. Tommy and Leona advertise for like-minded souls to have sex for free on camera, then upload the finished movies and pictures on to their website. Subscribers pay $15 a month to access the pictures and movies, and the subscriptions are donated to save the world's forests. Though the product is amateur and invariably involves lots of twittering birds, insects and twigs as props, it seems even this kind of sex sells. The couple say they have collected more than $100,000 since the site went live in April last year. These days the site gets 800-1,000 subscribers each month, and extra cash is raised by selling their own branded T-shirts for $20 a pop. It's a success, they say, because their subject matter and charitable goal are intrinsically linked. 'Sexuality,' explains Tommy, as if I am a bit stupid, 'is a reee-ally natural thing. Like nature, you know? I think we're all a little bit afraid of the na

Tom Ridge’s Duct Tape

Cold Fury : "Do you remember when the last Homeland Security Secretary, Tom Ridge, told us that to be prepared for emergencies, we should put together a readiness kit? I do. The kit layout is suggested at Ready.Gov. The portion of the kit for dealing with attacks and natural disasters should have, ideally, “at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food” and a corresponding amount of water - a gallon per day per person. Yet when he announced the suggested measures that we all take to prepare for potential terror attacks or natural disasters, he was met with nothing but mockery. So much so, that his name is synonymous with duct tape - since that’s the only thing anybody in the MSM (or for that matter the lefty blogosphere) cared to discuss. Thanks for undercutting it, my patriotic left wing friends, and calling it partisan scare mongering. What kind of a warped mind, can spin basic common sense as partisan bickering. So answer me this, how many of the displaced persons

Conics, then and now

Tall, Dark, and Mysterious Alas, I don’t think that this meme will spread very well. But if I can get to the top of the Google results for "fucking graphing calculator" , my purpose as a blogger will have been fulfilled.

Read a Book, Get Oral Sex?

Yahoo! News : "NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York officials were red-faced on Friday after they discovered that clothing ads on city buses that appeared to promote reading suggested a love of books could be rewarded with oral sex. The advertisements that ran on about 200 buses across the city in recent months carried posters displaying a suggestively posed woman in hot pants kneeling among a pile of books beside the snappy slogan 'Read Books, Get Brain.' What unhip, unsuspecting local transportation officials did not know was that 'get brain' is street slang for oral sex. The ads -- from hip-hop clothing maker Akademiks, which intended the double-entendre -- was stripped off New York buses on Friday after transportation officials discovered the street slang meaning. Metropolitan Transit Authority spokesman Tom Kelly condemned the 'vulgar street phrases' in the racy ads he said were 'demeaning women.' 'To me and I believe to everyone else, while it w

Excite - News

Excite - News : "NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. Army has long lured recruits with the slogan 'Be All You Can Be,' but now soldiers and their families can receive plastic surgery, including breast enlargements, on the taxpayers' dime. The New Yorker magazine reports in its July 26th edition that members of all four branches of the U.S. military can get face-lifts, breast enlargements, liposuction and nose jobs for free -- something the military says helps surgeons practice their skills. 'Anyone wearing a uniform is eligible,' Dr. Bob Lyons, chief of plastic surgery at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio told the magazine, which said soldiers needed the approval of their commanding officers to get the time off. Between 2000 and 2003, military doctors performed 496 breast enlargements and 1,361 liposuction surgeries on soldiers and their dependents, the magazine said. The magazine quoted an Army spokeswoman as saying, 'the surgeons have to have someon
Currently on c-span Rep. Tubb Jones is blathering on about the disaster relief as pert of a black caucus press conference. She is calling for cruise ships to come to house refugees (or the political correct term they're asking us to now use is "taxpaying american citizens"). Seems that she missed Brown discussing this on Wednesday, when he said the contracts were being negotiated. I'll bet there will be an announcement about this on Sunday, which she'll take credit for initiating.

Guinea-pig breeding farm to shut down : "The Hall family, who have been subjected to a six-year hate campaign by extremists, said they hoped the decision to close the business at the end of the year and return to traditional farming would prompt grave robbers to return the body of 82-year-old Gladys Hammond. Mrs Hammond was the mother-in-law of Christopher Hall, who co-owns Darley Oaks Farm. Her body was stolen from a grave at St Peter's Church in nearby Yoxall last October In a statement, the family said: “David Hall and Partners' involvement in breeding guinea pigs for biomedical research will cease at the end of 2005. “The business, which has operated for over three decades, will undergo a phased closure until then to ensure the welfare of animals involved.” A Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs spokesman, who has been protesting peacefully at the farm for six years, said: “This is the most fantastic day of my life. It's a victory for the animals and it's a fundamental victory fo

A Very Special Concert : "She was retarded. Among the several hundred or so gathered for the concert, roughly 10 percent seemed to have some sort of developmental disability. Huey really is a phenomenon; it's not just with my clients. A bunch of people from a group home had set up camp on the opposite side of the stage, laying out blankets and picnic food. Bobbi recognized some of her friends and waved. 'Huuuuueyyyy!' they all yelled back. It was just like people who yell 'Bruuuce!' at a Springsteen concert, only more retarded. In fact, Huey Lewis is a retarded version of Bruce Springsteen. Think about it. All of his songs are three-chord chug-a-lugs about working-class schlubs trying to make it through this crazy thing we call life. 'Workin' for a Livin',' 'Walking on a Thin Line,' and 'I Want a New Drug' are all slightly less soulful embodiments of the Springsteen ethos."

'Kutztown 13' hackers offered deal

The case against the "Kutztown 13" - a group of high school students charged with felonies for tinkering with their school-issued laptop computers - seems to be ending mostly with a whimper. In meetings with students over the last several days, the Berks County juvenile probation office has quietly offered the students a deal in which all charges would be dropped in exchange for 15 hours of community service, a letter of apology, a class on personal responsibility and a few months of probation. The probation department realizes this is small potatoes, said William Bispels, an attorney representing nearly half of the accused students. The 13 were initially charged with computer trespass and computer theft, both felonies, and could have faced a wide range of sanctions, including juvenile detention.">AP Wire | 08/25/2005 | 'Kutztown 13' hackers offered deal : "The case against the 'Kutztown 13' - a group of high school students charged with

Trading with the 'schoolyard bully'

The Globe and Mail : He notes that the Americans insist they are not in violation, although all of those interviewed found the reasoning of Rob Portman, the U.S. trade representative, ludicrous and incomprehensible. Language this strong usually comes from opponents of the FTA, NAFTA and the globalization movement. That the very architects of free trade between Canada and the United States should be speaking in such terms is, frankly, shocking. Even more shocking is that, to a man and woman, they believe Canada should impose retaliatory tariffs, or other restrictive measures, unless the Americans are prepared to negotiate a new softwood lumber agreement that accommodates Canadian, and not just U.S., concerns, even though such a move could lead to a trade war between the two countries. "I would sit them down and I would say to them, 'All right. Enough of this. You are out of line, and you know that you are out of line,' " says Mr. Reisman, who was chief negotia

Who killed Richard Cullen?

Guardian Unlimited Money : "An image keeps popping into my head. It's the old days. A customer in need sits down with their bank manager who says, '£1,000? You must be crazy!' I wonder: is there some economic sage out there who effectively invented the new way - someone who drew up a utopian image where banks would fall over each other to loan money to whoever wanted it. And so I call Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach. He's the vice chair-man of Goldman Sachs International, a former director of the Bank of England, and once the head of Margaret Thatcher's Domestic Policy Unit. I'd been told that if anyone could answer that question, he could. I ask him if this whole mess can be traced back to one man. I expect him to say something like, 'Oh no, it's far more complicated than that. It is a gradual shift. Nobody is to blame.' But he doesn't. Instead, he says, 'I hate to say it, but I was one of the people who argued strongly in favour of

Of Knowing And Not Knowing

Fred : ".......Trouble comes when the sciences overstep their bounds. It is one thing to study physical phenomena, another to say that only physical phenomena exist. Here science blurs into ideology, an ideology being a systematic and emotionally held way of misunderstanding the world. A science is open and descriptive, an ideology closed and prescriptive. A scientists says, in principle at least, “Give me the facts and I will endeavor to derive a theory that describes them.” The ideologist says, “I have the theory, and nothing that does not fit it can be a fact.” Having chosen his rut, he never sees beyond it. This has not been the way of the greats of science, but of the middle ranks, adequate to swell a progress or work in a laboratory. In the limitless confidence of this physics-is-all ideology there is a phenomenal arrogance. Perhaps we overestimate ourselves. As temporary phenomena ourselves in a strange universe we don’t really understand, here for reasons we do not kn

Life... and Death is Just a Bowl of Cherries....

Inspector falls into cherry vat and dies : " Co-workers found Mendoza, 38, in a large vat of cherries and brine just after 7 p.m. Tuesday at the company's Kroupa Road facility, said Grand Traverse County sheriff's Capt. Tom Emerson.       Emerson said Mendoza, a long-term employee at the company who worked as a quality control inspector, was pulled from the wooden container and given CPR before she was transported to Munson Medical Center.       'My understanding is that her job was to inspect the vats when they fill them full of cherries,' Emerson said. 'Apparently, she was on a steel walkway on top of these things looking down into them when the accident happened.'"

Terrorism Lessons From 1870

TCS: Tech Central Station : ".....'And because I think that would be a disaster, it is essential that the Muslim world wake up to the fact that it has a jihadist death cult in its midst. If it does not fight that death cult, that cancer, within its own body politic, it is going to infect Muslim-Western relations everywhere. Only the Muslim world can root out that death cult. It takes a village. Friedman's point of view seems eminently reasonable and logical. He is calling on moderate Muslims, for the sake of self-preservation, to do something to stop the barbaric theatrical gestures of the terrorists. Up to this point, however, moderate Muslims have seemed paralyzed. We might wonder why this is the case. In Fools Crow, there are moderate native Americans. However, they, too, are paralyzed. Their failure to restrain a small group of terrorists is what leads to the massacre. Perhaps James Welch, writing from the native American point of view, can offer some insights

Andy Rooney is a security idiot

jaynote: I was taping 60 minutes tonight because they had a segment on new flying machines, so I saw Rooney's bit. He did a list of things that are true, and one of them was; "Numbers are longer than they used to be. There's something wrong with a personal identification number on a credit card or a bank check that is larger than the number of people that there are in the world." no no no Mr. Rooney, there is nothing wrong with that. Suppose the number of id numbers was twice the population. This gives 2 problems; a 50% chance that any random number would be valid, and when the population grows you run out of numbers (like we are with Vehicle Identification Numbers in 2011) With 12 digits for a credit card individual account identifier there's a trillion (10 raised to the 12th power, or 1,000,000,000,000) possible account numbers, so odds are a valid number can't be guessed, nor will we run out of numbers in the near future.

Professor says Bush administration is keeping a species off the endangered list. : "In May the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it could not declare the Miami Blue an endangered species, even though the butterfly met the criteria, because it lacked the staff and money to protect it. The Center for Biological Diversity, a non-profit group based in Tucson, Ariz., on Thursday filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the service over the decision. In announcing its decision, the wildlife service claimed that scientists had failed in their attempts to reintroduce the butterfly to its former range. Since releasing Miami Blues at Biscayne and Everglades national parks, researchers detected only 'an inconsistent or sporadic presence of only a small number of individuals,' stated the agency's written evaluation, published May 11 in the Federal Register. 'Monitoring results do not indicate that the Miami Blue has become established at any of the release sites.' Thomas Emmel, professor of zoology and entomology at the Uni

Could a hotel be built on the land owned by Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter?

Freestar Media, LLC : "On Monday June 27, Logan Darrow Clements, faxed a request to Chip Meany the code enforcement officer of the Towne of Weare, New Hampshire seeking to start the application process to build a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road. This is the present location of Mr. Souter's home. Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel on 34 Cilley Hill Road than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land. The proposed development, called 'The Lost Liberty Hotel' will feature the 'Just Desserts Café' and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel 'Atlas Shrugged.' Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone lar

UC scientist says ethanol uses more energy than it makes

A lot of fossil fuels go into producing the gas substitute : "Ethanol, touted as an alternative fuel of the future, may eat up far more energy during its creation than it winds up giving back, according to research by a UC Berkeley scientist that raises questions about the nation's move toward its widespread use. A clean-burning fuel produced from renewable crops like corn and sugarcane, ethanol has long been a cornerstone of some national lawmakers' efforts to clear the air and curb dependence on foreign oil. California residents use close to a billion gallons of the alcohol-based fuel per year. But in a recent issue of the journal Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences, UC Berkeley geoengineering professor Tad Patzek argued that up to six times more energy is used to make ethanol than the finished fuel actually contains. The fossil energy expended during production alone, he concluded, easily outweighs the consumable energy in the end product. As a result, Patzek

Little dogs take care of big jobs : "Wright, 40, has her own service dog, a 5-pound Chihuahua named Joe. He sniffs out changes, undetectable to humans, that occur about 20 minutes before the onset of an epileptic seizure. Joe's warning gives his owner time to prepare herself so she won't fall and hit her head during a grand mal seizure. 'That keeps me safe,' Wright said. 'It puts me back in control.' Before she had the dog, she had no way to predict when seizures would strike. Since Joe moved in, he has accurately predicted more than 20 seizures."

Synagogue Sued Over Missing Ashes

The Democrat Houston Chronicle June 10, 2005 When relatives of Vivian Shulman Lieberman went to visit her final resting place in a Houston mausoleum one year ago today, they discovered that the cedar chest containing her ashes was missing. In its place, behind the locked, glass door of Lieberman's niche in Congregation Beth Israel's mausoleum, was a can of sour-cream-and-onion potato chips. jaynote: This is not surprising, as Vivian was known for saying "are you hungry? oy, you look so thin. Have a nosh."

Longer Yellow Lights Reduce Accidents

American Chronicle:s : "Longer yellow lights will do more to reduce crashes at intersections than any other method, including the use of red-light cameras, according to a new report. The report from the Texas Transportation Institute is the result of a three year study of 181 intersections using police reports in three Texas cities. The purpose of the research was to determine the most effective solutions for problem intersections. The research revealed that many yellow lights are shorting than the recommended minimum, causing a jump of 110 percent in the number of red-light violations. The finding gave support to motorists who are caught by red-light cameras. They frequently complain that a short yellow light forced them to chose between slamming on the brakes and getting rear-ended and continuing through the intersection. The report concluded that the best way to improve safety statistics at intersections is to lengthen yellow lights to one second more than the minimum

voices ring the halls

WIL WHEATON dot NET : "This may seem like stupid semantics on my part, but actors are so often misrepresented in the press, I feel it's important to set the record straight here. Residual payments are not profit-sharing. Residual payments are reuse fees that producers pay to actors when they've re-used the actor's performance a certain number of times. For example, when an actor works on a TV show (commercials are a much more complicated beast, so I'll stick with TV for this example) the initial fee that actor earns usually includes one or two re-airings by the producer. If the producer chooses to run the show again, a cycle begins, where the producer pays the actor a residual, or re-use fee, that slowly diminishes over time. The logic behind this is that if producers are re-running an old show, rather than creating a new one, actors have fewer opportunities to work. Also, if a show is re-run very often, the producer will continue to profit from advertising sale

Kodak to End B&W Paper Production : "Kodak to End B&W Paper Production By Mike Pasini, The Imaging Resource (Thursday, June 16, 2005 - 12:25 EDT) With publications turning to color digital imaging and amateurs to their inkjets and image editing software, sales of black and white photo paper have been steadily declining. The Associated Press has reported that Eastman Kodak Co. will discontinue production of black and white photo paper by the end of the year. The move follows bankruptcies by Britain's Ilford, the largest black and white paper manufacturer, and Germany's AgfaPhoto GmbH. According to Kodak spokesperson David Lanzillo, the story notes, demand for black and white paper is declining 25 percent a year. Lanzillo said the decline is the result of the imagining industry's transition from film to digital. Kodak will continue to make both black and white film and processing chemicals. The decision to discontinue the paper made at plants in Rochester and Braz

Death by Tech Support

Mobile Magazine : "To test tech support, we made three calls to each of 10 major notebook manufacturers (we've added three additional vendors since last year). We also called three third-party providers of PC help. On the whole, what we found was a sea of ignorance -- and annoying fixation with pinning down our name, address, and serial numbers. Just how bad is tech support? Things haven't gotten any better since our 2004 test -- and most of the vendors we tested have actually gotten worse. Read on to see our report cards on each manufacturer. And don't miss our review of three third-party tech support providers, plus our tips on how to fix PC problems yourself and avoid tech support altogether. The Tests We subjected each vendor to three increasingly difficult support tests designed to simulate frequent real-life technical problems. In each case, we used an actual notebook from the corresponding vendor, and made three separate calls."

…My heart’s in Accra

Iqbal Quadir at PUSH 2005 : "Iqbal found himself challenging some myths about economic development and the poor. Can shared costs overcome the problems of low individual buying power? Can the value of purchasing a productivity tool make it possible for people to “overinvest” in communication technologies, because these technologies can increase income? What’s the real problem with digital divides in Bangladesh? The lack of other infrastructures. There are no credit checks, rpads for repairmen, banks to collect bills, schools for the children of workers. Grameen Bank looked like a solution to a lot of these infrastructural problems. Would it make sense to put GSM towers within Grameen offices? Grameen had 1138 branches in Bangladesh, 2.3 million borrowers, 94% female, with $33 million lent per month. The core model - a woman borrows money from the bank, buys a cow, sells the milk and repays the loan. So why can’t a cellphone be a cow? There was a great deal of skepticism a

Suicide Bridge : "Her children stared at his brains, which oozed into the spikes of green and yellow grass. More neighbors gathered. Then the police. An hour or so later, the body was carted away. Shreve knew the routine. After all, she lives beneath the suicide bridge. Since its construction in 1981, the Y-Bridge has served as the launch site for 43 suicides and countless more attempts. But unlike most bridges that seduce jumpers, the bodies here don't fall into rivers, lakes, or forests. They fall onto buildings and houses, and into backyards, like some weird, ominous plague."

What if driving a car was as hard as using a computer?

techsupport : "------------------------------------------------------ Operator: 'AA helpdesk, Dave speaking.' Customer: 'I can't back out of my garage.' Operator: 'Is that because the garage door is closed, or because your car engine isn't turned on?' Customer: 'All I know is I could back out of my garage yesterday, and now I can't.' Operator: 'Are you in your car at the moment?' Customer: 'Yes.' Operator: 'Okay, I'd like you to turn around and look through your car's back window for me. What do you see?' Customer: 'Grey.' Operator: 'Grey like clouds, or like a garage door?' Customer: 'Like a door.' Operator: 'It sounds like your garage door is closed. You'll just need to open it, and you'll be able to back out.' Customer: 'Look, I don't understand any of this automotive stuff. I just want to drive my car.' Operator:

A Modest Proposal for Saving Our Schools

Senator Tom McClintock Date: May 15, 2005 Publication Type: Column The multi-million dollar campaign paid by starving teachers’ unions has finally placed our sadly neglected schools at the center of the budget debate. Across California, children are bringing home notes warning of dire consequences if Gov. Schwarzenegger’s scorched earth budget is approved – a budget that slashes Proposition 98 public school spending from $42.2 billion this year all the way down to $44.7 billion next year. That should be proof enough that our math programs are suffering. As a public school parent, I have given this crisis a great deal of thought and have a modest suggestion to help weather these dark days. Maybe – as a temporary measure only – we should spend our school dollars on our schools. I realize that this is a radical departure from current practice, but desperate times require desperate measures. The Governor proposed spending $10,084 per student from all sources. Devoting all

American Airlines contest fiasco

jackmccall : "I was shocked, to say the least. I did the math, and determined that my tax liability on this prize, between federal, state, and local taxes, would be somewhere between $15,000 and $23,000, depending on my other income for the coming year. I know it’s the law that taxes must be paid on winnings, and this certainly makes sense where winnings are in cash, or are items that can be sold if necessary to cover the taxes. However, in this case, I would not be able to sell the flight vouchers, and even if I was, I can’t imagine anyone who would be willing to pay $2200 for a restricted economy ticket. Yet this is what American Airlines has valued each flight voucher at. "

Hoax movie that horrified a nation

Telegraph : "Two Czechs conned thousands with an anti-consumerist prank. Chris Sullivan met them It's unusual for a small document ary to stir up national outrage, but that's just what happened with Czech Dream, released in the UK later this month. The film provoked more than 195 articles in the Czech press, spawned intense governmental debate and made stars of its creators. Consumerism's 'manipulative powers': shoppers race towards an imaginary supermarket in Czech Dream The reason for the outrage is that it documents what is essentially an anti-capitalist hoax. The two filmmakers, Filip Remunda and Vit Klusak, explore what they call 'the manipulative powers of consumerism' by creating an ad campaign for a hypermarket that doesn't actually exist. In a climactic scene, we see 4,000 people turn up for the store opening in a meadow on the outskirts of Prague. The crowd run to claim the bargains they have been promised, only to discover tha

John J. Miller on Archeology on National Review Online

John J. Miller on Archeology on National Review Online : If a lucky paleoanthropologist ever unearths hobbit bones on federal land, scientists won’t get to study them — at least not if Sen. John McCain and his allies have their way........When a team of Australian and Indonesian scientists found the first Homo floresiensis, in a cave on the Indonesian island of Flores, its members started referring to her as a “hobbit.” The nickname stuck. How did she get to be so short? And why does John McCain care? The first question is easy to answer. In biology, there’s a form of natural selection known as “island dwarfing.” Take a species, put it on an island, and watch it shrink over time..... It also has been documented here in the United States — on the Channel Islands, off the coast of southern California. If hobbit bones were to turn up on Santa Rosa, however, we might never have a chance to learn about them. That’s because McCain has proposed adding two words to the Native American Gr

Boing Boing: May 2005

Michael Hyatt says : "In the Eighties I worked at Polaroid's floppy disk factory in Santa Rosa, where they made 5¼ floppys.  They had a product they called 'Data Rescue.'  The deal was, you paid extra for them, but if they got damaged or screwed up in any way (from spilled sodas to accidental erasure) you could send them in and we'd try to recover the data.  The marketing kit included a disc and some mustard and ketchup packets.  The idea was you put some data on the disk, then covered it in goo, ran over with your desk chair, spilled whatever you wanted on it, and sent it in.  We'd get the data back and you'd be so impressed you'd buy the damn things no matter what they cost.  The secret?  We cut the disk jacket open, slid the 'cookie' out and gently washed it in the sink.  After much expermentation, we determined that Dawn dish detergent was best.  We then hung them up to dry in the lunch room on a piece of twine with wood clothes pins.  When

True Believers at the World Bank : "In the McNamara era, the bank began to make loans on the condition that nations privatize public services and allow foreign money to move in and out of the country with little regulation. The idea was to create a climate in which private investment would lift people out of poverty. For the next 30 years, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund followed this market-oriented strategy, which came to be known as 'the Washington Consensus.' Before the McNamara years, the poorest people didn't get much richer. But during the Washington Consensus years, they got poorer and poorer. I saw how that could be possible when I became a shareholder in the French water company Suez, which took over the water system of Johannesburg, South Africa. To get ready for privatization, South African communities followed the World Bank/IMF suggestion that water rates be raised so consumers would get used to paying the full cost. The water of many people w

Marlene Zuk: Grade 'em high in self-esteem, low in realism : In the face of all evidence to the contrary, my students exhibit an unswerving confidence in their own abilities. They earnestly assure me that despite test scores in the single digits and an inability to answer questions posed by their teaching assistant, they really know the material: "It just doesn't show in my grades." The implied fault, no doubt, is mine, for giving such unfair and inappropriate exams, but it is never clear just why they do think they understand the material. They readily confess to me that they have not consulted the text and do not remember my lecture. They have nothing to say about the concepts we've covered. Yet somehow, a kernel of faith stays resolutely sheltered in each undergraduate bosom -- they believe honestly and with conviction that they get it, and therefore deserve a high grade.......... "Once again, I explained how to answer the question, and once again the student was pleased. The error was just a t

Washington Examiner: Opinion

Washington Examiner: Opinion : "R. James Woolsey knows espionage - he was director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1993 to 1995. Today he is a vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton and an adviser to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He also likes to read and discuss spy novels. EXAMINER: What's the best spy novel? WOOLSEY: I can't pick one best book because different books are trying to do so many different things. For giving a feel for what case officers actually do, the best one is 'Agents of Innocence,' the first novel by David Ignatius. It's modeled in part on a real guy who was a case officer and then a division chief in the Near East. He penetrated the PLO but was killed in the Beirut embassy bombing in 1983. Woolsey recommends: *"Agents of Innocence," by David Ignatius *"The Spy Who Came in from the Cold," by John le Carre *"Our Man in Havana," by Graham Greene *"Judgment on Deltchev,

For one day, schools must teach the same topic - May 25, 2005 : "The Education Department outlined Tuesday how it plans to enforce a little-known provision that Congress passed in 2004: Every school and college that receives federal money must teach about the Constitution on September 17, the day the document was adopted in 1787. Schools can determine what kind of educational program they want, but they must hold one every year on the now-named 'Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.' And if September 17 falls on a weekend or holiday, schools must schedule a program immediately before or after that date."

AI Breakthrough or the Mismeasure of Machine? : "If a computer program took the SAT verbal analogy test and scored as well as the average college bound human, it would raise some serious questions about the nature and measurement of intelligence. Guess what? Artificial intelligence with human-level performance on SAT verbal analogy questions has been achieved (warning: PDF) using corpus-based machine learning of relational similarity. Peter D. Turney's Interactive Information Group, Institute for Information Technology of the National Research Council Canada, achieved this milestone. The timing of this achievement is highly ironic since this is the first year that the College Board has given the SAT's without the verbal analogy questions."

Army recruiters nationwide will "stand down" today for a refresher class in ethics

Rocky Mountain News: Local : "The premise was simple: McSwane would try to join the Army as a high school dropout with an insatiable fondness for marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms. No matter how stoned and stupid McSwane acted, a pair of recruiters wouldn't wouldn't let him go. McSwane insisted to the recruiters that he couldn't lick his drug habit, but one recruiter told him to take some 'stuff' that would 'clean you out.' It turned out to be a detoxification kit the recruiter said had worked with other applicants. McSwane said the recruiter even offered to pay half the cost of the kit. McSwane's claim of being a dropout didn't discourage his recruiters either. He was encouraged to take a high school equivalency diploma exam, which McSwane deliberately failed. That's when he said one recruiter introduced him to the 'home-school option.' McSwane was told to order a phony diploma and transcripts from an online diploma mill.

My sign is "Stop"

acw : "I cannot begin to tell you how offended I am whenever anybody even pretends to know things about me based solely on the time and place of my birth. It is hard enough to make a good impression without people who don't know me telling lies that others will believe. And you know that stuff people always say? 'Oh, I don't believe it, I just read it for fun!' I don't buy it. You're only saying that because I've revealed my skepticism and you don't want to get into a fight about it. I appreciate that; I don't want to fight about it either. But my feeling is that you wouldn't bother reading the thing, you wouldn't put in the energy to drag your eyes over the smarmy, self-righteous lines, if you didn't think there was something to it. And I just don't want to give you any fodder; I don't want to tell you my sign and have you say, 'Oh, all Orions are skeptical like that!' and no matter what I say, your attitude to me

Universal: another word for watered down?

Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated : How about second rate? Any time that the government opines that something sould be univeral, your antennae should go up and you should engage your bullshit monitor, because, in the words of Mark Twain, “taffy is being distributed”. This nation was founded on equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. Case in point: Education is an opportunity. A high school diploma is an outcome"

Philip Greenspun's Weblog:

Philip Greenspun's Weblog: Ehrenreich notes that the official poverty line was defined in 1964 as a multiple of the cost of food (see and has barely been revised since then.  The marketplace, however, has changed.  Real estate and rents have become much more expensive and food has stayed relatively cheap.  Thus it is easy to envision a family whose income is 3X the cost of eating at McDonald's but who can't afford rent.  Ehrenreich finds that almost no unskilled worker would be able to afford rent plus a car at the same time.  If they can't team up with a spouse and they need the car to get to work they are forced to live in the car. Ehrenreich's conclusion is that this can't last.  The workers will rebel and demand their right to at least an efficiency apartment plus some means of transportation to a job.  She predicts a Proletarian Revolution.  Six years have elapsed since Nickel and Dimed was written a

Twenty-Five Years of Post-it Notes

The Rake : "On April 6, 1980, though, the endless and complicated march of progress took a short break as a remarkable new technology arrived in stationery stores around the nation. It was so simple to use, even a CEO could master it. It was so perfectly designed, it didn’t require semi-annual upgrades. It was so versatile, it actually performed better than advertised. It was the Post-it Note. Two and a half decades later, as the little yellow notes celebrate their silver anniversary, it’s easy to forget what a recent innovation they are. Thanks to their material simplicity, they seem more closely related to workplace antiquities like the stapler and the hole-punch than integrated chips. Instead, they’re an exemplary product of their time. Foreshadowing the web, they offered an easy way to link one piece of information to another in a precisely contextual way. Foreshadowing email, they made informal, asynchronous communication with your co-workers a major part of modern office

Historic Manhattan diner moves to Sullivan County

Hudson Valley News story : The Munson Diner is moving from West 49th Street in Manhattan to the South Main Street district of Liberty, N.Y.  The historic diner will soon be hauled over the George Washington Bridge to make its grand entrance up Main Street to Lake Street, where it will find a permanent home. The diner, which was the scene of a Seinfeld episode, radio interviews and TV commercials, is expected to arrive in Liberty in May.  Then, with an intensive schedule of construction, landscaping, restoration and selection of an operator, the diner will celebrate a grand opening early in the summer.  If all goes well, it will open just in time for Liberty’s July 4 Festival on Main Street. `“The Munson Diner will be Downtown Liberty’s new national tourist attraction,” said Allan Berube, who, as coordinator of Community Development at the Liberty Economic Action Project , got the ball rolling when he learned the diner was for sale. “We believe the move, restoration, community

Sign-language interpreter had hand in Ukraine's election

South Florida Sun-Sentinel : "Dmytruk, 48, made sign language her vocation and today interprets for Ukraine's state-run television. Her face and hands appear in a little box at the bottom of the screen as she sends out the news on the mid-morning and early afternoon telecasts to the hearing-impaired. During the tense days of Ukraine's presidential elections last year, Dmytruk staged a silent but bold protest, informing deaf Ukrainians that official results from the Nov. 21 runoff were fraudulent. Her act of courage further emboldened protests that grew until a new election was held and the opposition candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, was declared the winner."

The Doctor Is In » EMR Blues

The Doctor Is In » EMR Blues : "This is a subject with which I have a more than a passing familiarity, having designed and developed an EMR software application for my practice over the past 12 years. Using an obscure but wonderful database application platform called 4th Dimension, I began in the early 1990’s to seek a solution for the repetitive mindlessness of dictating or hand-writing charts. Needless to say, a small project to create a database of chart notes and templates got wildly out of hand, and has now grown to well over 100,000 lines of code. Don’t try this at home, folks — at least if you want a life. I became so engrossed in this project that I even considered abandoning medicine and doing it full-time — a delusion which by God’s grace has since passed. But the logical-sequential perfectionistic obsessive-compulsive in me found a natural home in software development. Now, apart from the huge black hole of time and effort in its development, my EMR is about as go

Tularemia Associated with a Hamster Bite

Brief Report: Tularemia Associated with a Hamster Bite --- Colorado, 2004 : "In April 2004, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) was notified about a boy aged 3 years with diagnosed tularemia associated with a hamster bite. Tularemia has not been associated previously with pet hamsters. CDPHE conducted an investigation to determine whether other owners of hamsters were at risk. Clinicians and public health officials should be aware that pet hamsters are a potential source of tularemia. During January 2--February 8, the boy was exposed to six hamsters that his family had purchased from a pet store in the Denver metropolitan area. Each hamster reportedly died from 'wet tail disease' (i.e., diarrhea) within 1 week of purchase. One hamster bit the child on the left ring finger shortly before it died. Seven days later, the child had fever, malaise, painful left axillary lymphadenopathy, and skin sloughing at the bite site. After treatment with amox

Good Morning America and Simon & Schuster screw over amputee teenager

GMA and Simon & Schuster Present The Story of My Life - A Powerful Platform with Paltry Compensation : " Last fall, Good Morning America and Simon & Schuster recruited America’s aspiring solipsists for a contest called “The Story of My Life.” Some 6,000 people submitted everything from UFO-abduction accounts to recipes. A panel of “celebrity authors”—including Mary Karr and James McBride—selected three finalists, who worked with ghostwriters on their entries. Then last Friday, Charles Gibson announced the grand-prize winner: Farah Ahmedi, a teenager from Afghanistan who—having lost a leg and most of her family there—fled with her mother and is now an Illinois high-school student. Viewers voted for her online, and she’ll get a fairly massive 175,000-copy first printing. .... Because, unlike the winner of, say, America’s Next Top Model, Ahmedi doesn’t get a contract. The rules state that she holds no rights to the book and will not receive any royalties. She gets a flat $

'I wasn't teaching - my role was just one of crowd control. I felt useless'

The Observer : "Sylvia Thomas taught in many rough schools throughout the Seventies without ever needing to raise her voice to keep control. ....But then, last autumn, she returned to education as a supply teacher. She was so shocked by what she saw that she joined forces with the award-winning veteran documentary maker, Roger Graef, to expose it. 'Most people are talking about low-level disruption in schools but very few get to see it,' she said. 'In only two schools out of the 18 at which I taught was there anything even resembling the acceptable level of disruption a supply teacher would expect. Every other school I taught at reduced me to tears,' she added. 'I would be hoarse with shouting and desperate not to go back the next day.' Thomas spent six months recording the chaos of classrooms in state schools across the country using hidden cameras without the knowledge of the schools, parents or students involved. The result, Classroom Chaos, will b

SWAT Monkey

My Way News : "MESA, Ariz. (AP) - The Mesa Police Department is looking to add some primal instinct to its SWAT team. And to do that, it's looking to a monkey. 'Everybody laughs about it until they really start thinking about it,' said Mesa Officer Sean Truelove, who builds and operates tactical robots for the suburban Phoenix SWAT team. 'It would change the way we do business.' Truelove is spearheading the department's request to purchase and train a capuchin monkey, considered the second smartest primate to the chimpanzee. The department is seeking about $100,000 in federal grant money to put the idea to use in Mesa SWAT operations. The monkey, which costs $15,000, is what Truelove envisions as the ultimate SWAT reconnaissance tool. Since 1979, capuchin monkeys have been trained to be companions for people who are quadriplegics by performing daily tasks, such as serving food, opening and closing doors, turning lights on and off, retrieving obj

Mad Max fans' convoy ends with arrests : "Mad Max SAN ANTONIO  — Eleven 'Mad Max' fans were arrested after alarming motorists as they made their way to a movie marathon in a theatrical convoy in which they surrounded a tanker truck armed with fake machine guns. As the group was headed to San Antonio from nearby Boerne Saturday morning, police received several calls from motorists who reported a 'militia' surrounding a tanker truck, a police report states. Police charged nine people with obstruction of a highway and two others with possession of prohibited knives in addition to obstruction of a highway. One of the organizers of the convoy, Chris Fenner, said the arrests were unfair. He said he didn't know why anyone would have confused the costumed crew recreating a scene from 'Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior' — set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland — with a real threat. 'I honestly don't know how that could be, because 'Road Warrior' was so over the

Combine Solicitation

76 -- Comic Book : General Information Document Type: Combine Solicitation Solicitation Number: H92239-05-T-0026 Posted Date: Mar 28, 2005 Original Response Date: Apr 08, 2005 Current Response Date: Apr 12, 2005 Original Archive Date: Apr 23, 2005 Current Archive Date: Apr 23, 2005 Classification Code: 76 -- Books, maps & other publications Set Aside: Total Small Business Naics Code: 511120 -- Periodical Publishers Contracting Office Address Other Defense Agencies, U.S. Special Operations Command, USASOC, ATTN:E-2929, Fort Bragg, NC, 28310 1.1. BACKGROUND.     In order to achieve long-term peace and stability in the Middle East, the youth need to be reached.     One effective means of influencing youth is through the use of comic books.     A series of comic books provides the opportunity for youth to learn lessons, develop role models and improve their education.     2.     Qualifications, Experience and Requirements.     2.1.     Contractor must demons

Local Politician Unknowingly Funky, Freaky : "Rick James (search) is the name of both a Hattiesburg City Council candidate and the flamboyant singer of the 1981 hit 'Super Freak,' who died last August just as he was poised to make a comeback. The self-described 'king of punk funk,' jailed later in his career for drug abuse and violence against women, is the subject of a recurring skit on the Comedy Central cable-TV hit 'Chappelle's Show,' in which host Dave Chappelle (search), dressed as the singer, acts bizarrely and randomly shouts out 'I'm Rick James, b*tch!' According to the New York Post, people in Hattiesburg have been stealing 'Vote Rick James' signs at such a rate that the aspiring city councilman's wife has asked Comedy Central for compensation. 'We would appreciate a small campaign donation for more signs, as we are working-class people and financing this campaign out of our own pockets,' wrote Diane James to the cable channel. '

What are Statistically Improbable Phrases? : "'s Statistically Improbable Phrases, or 'SIPs', show you the interesting, distinctive, or unlikely phrases that occur in the text of books in Search Inside the Book. Our computers scan the text of all books in the Search Inside program. If they find a phrase that occurs a large number of times in a particular book relative to how many times it occurs across all Search Inside books, that phrase is a SIP in that book."

Nearly half of teachers have suffered from mental illness

Education : "By Richard Garner, Education Editor 23 March 2005 Nearly half of the country's secondary school teachers have suffered mental health problems due to worsening pupil behaviour, a survey has revealed. The research, by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, on 300 secondary school teachers, showed that abuse at the hands of pupils had left 46 per cent taking antidepressants or facing long lay-offs from school through stress. One teacher told researchers he had been assaulted 10 times during 18 years in the profession and had suffered two breakdowns. He said he had been on antidepressants for more than three years as a result. The survey also revealed that 72 per cent of teachers had considered quitting their jobs because they were worn out by some pupils' persistent disruptive behaviour, such as threats, swearing, locking teachers out of classrooms, vandalising school property, letting down car tyres, stealing keys, throwing eggs at staff and spi