October 2003

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The Road to Babylon

Police also arrested Robert Campbell on Wednesday for engaging in sex with minors for money. Also arrested was 23 year old Maxine Billy, who allegedly arranged the teenage girls for both Campbell and Haim Habib.

Speaking of Habib, I was thinking last night about another pedophile with the initials H. H. – Humbert Humbert.

Erwin and I had a pretty good chuckle about this. The idea that an electronic voting system would be based in Microsoft Access is just plain silly.

Kill Bill

Oh yeah, Kill Bill.

I went to see Kill Bill last week and promised a review. It was okay, full of cartoonish violence and fake blood. Tarantino is a disturbed gentleman, with some pronounced sadistic tendencies and a misogynistic approach to women.

That said, I found the movie a trifle boring. It was like I was watching somebody play Soul Calibur for two hours, with the Bride slashing her way through waves of underlings to get to the ‘mini-boss’ (Go Go) and finally the level boss (O Ren Ishii). The final ‘boss’ showdown with Lucy Liu in the garden with snow falling was achingly beautiful, but overall I felt like it was a waste of time. Kill Bill certainly doesn’t have the visceral pop and crackle that Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction had.

Jimmy Dee, Guam’s answer to Don Ho, was arrested yesterday on two counts of criminal sexual conduct. According to police he make sexual and derogatory remarks to a teenage girl last Tuesday, and then sexually assaulted her later that evening.

Arbitration panel sets PacifiCare rates.

I got to thinking about the new ID badges they passed out at work a while ago. We now have to pass the badge over a scanner to gain access to different areas and departments at work. How do those things work? Obviously some kind of radio frequency was being used, but the badges contain no batteries. They must be transponders of some kind. What’s going on here?

Well this led to a little research on the internet. The badges use a device called Radio Frequency ID, or RFID. Get used to that term, they are about to burst into the mainstream. These tiny little radio transponders could bring about some big changes in society. Unlike bar codes which must be manually scanned, RFID tags are automatically read when they come in proximity to a reader. Since passive RFID tags require no batteries or moving parts, they offer long term durability and shelf life. New RFID tags are so small they can be embedded in just about anything, bank notes, clothes, pets, and even students. Okay, maybe they’re not implanted in students yet, but the principal in that Wired article sounds like he would be amenable to such a development. He touts the ability of the system to track students location in and out of school, to constantly monitor students for their own safety. Uh, kinda like Big Brother?

RFID is poised to become ubiquitous due to a big push by Wal-Mart to replace bar codes with RFID tagged items in stores. And when Wal-Mart talks, suppliers listen. The fear of civil libertarians is that RFID tags will be used to intrude on personal privacy. Think of last year’s movie, Minority Report. Whenever Tom Cruise walked around in public, retinal scanners instantly ID’ed him. People fear something just like that, but instead of using eyes to ID somebody, a halo of almost microscopic RFID tags would signal a person’s presence and their every move.

My G3 is getting old. Pokey. Not quite up to snuff anymore. Hell, come January and this machine will be 5 years old. It’s been a wonderful machine, and it still fulfills most of my needs in computing.

Mac OS 9, which is what I am running on this G3, is starting to feel a little long in the tooth. My software options are steadily diminishing, and the promised land of Unix beckons. Mac OS X is too much for this dependable old processor to handle, but I am really giving Yellow Dog Linux a serious look-see. Yellow Dog is basically a port of Red Hat to the PowerPC chip. I am already running Red Hat on my server, so Yellow Dog wouldn’t be that great a gulf to bridge.

OS News, a very competent web site, has run a variety of stories on Yellow Dog, and I think I could make the switch soon. Probably start with a dual boot, see how that goes.

If you’ll excuse me, I got some ISO’s to download.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a bunch of ISO’s to download.

I swear my friend Kirino can beat anybody at Jan Ken Pon. Even this dude: Canadian Beats World at Rock, Paper, Scissors. I mean, the guy is Canadian, how can he be the best at anything?

Chandra :: Field Guide to X-ray Astronomy :: Dark Matter Mystery

Beyond Einstein: What is Dark Energy?

The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty by James Thurber. Hello again Thurber Carnival. It’s been a long time.

I read a lot of Thurber when I was younger, but I stopped for some reason. I think it’s time to get reacquainted.

Ah, the sweet sounds of Johnny Cash on the radio and the soft whispers of Glenmorangie on the rocks in a tumbler. Time to decompress…

Last week marked KPRG’s fall pledge drive. I cannot stress enough how valuable KPRG is to Guam. The sole public radio, community radio station on island, KPRG offers a diverse mix of NPR, PRI, and local programming. This is an unusual situation. Other public radio stations are usually entirely NPR or entirely PRI programming, never a mix of the two. And community radio is usually something completely different. Only here on Guam is there a blend of all three. A highly eclectic blend.

This morning KPRG played a rerun of an old Performance Today broadcast from last month, the final partitas #6 of The Bach Partitas with Richard Goode. Excellent. The second hour of PT was the current program, climaxing with Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring at the new Walt Disney Concert Hall. Wow.

And All Things Considered ran a fascinating piece by Walter Cronkite about his involvement in CBS’ television show “You Are There” during the 1950’s. Unknown to Cronkite and most of the show’s staff, all the writers on the “You Are There” were blacklisted screenwriters. The writers used historical allegory to make thinly disguised comments about the communist witch hunts of the McCarthy era. It was an absolutely fascinating story, and a true delight to hear Walter Cronkite’s voice again.

When I think of the drivel being broadcast on commercial radio on a daily basis, it makes the value of a station like KPRG and NPR truly exceptional. Now if only they would run Whad’Ya Know here on Guam. That is one of my favorites on PRI.

My brother lives in Temecula, northeast of San Diego. I’ve been worried about him and his family during this emergency. I finally located a map of the affected areas at the L.A. Times, and it looks like Temecula is okay right now.

Please excuse the link. I am going to need this later, so I want it in a place I can find it.

Timex – Data Link (Previous Products) – Software

Two vessels from the People’s Liberation Army Navy South Fleet docked at Apra Harbor last week. The destroyer Shenzen was accompanied by a supply ship, the Quinghai Hu on an official visit to the U.S. Naval Station Marianas. The goodwill visit was the first time a Chinese warship has stopped at Guam.

It seemed like the island was crawling with Chinese sailors last Friday. I guess they had liberty, and most spent it shopping.

Haim Habib, a local attorney, was arrested this weekend in a lurid sex case which involves child pornography, child abuse and the harboring and rape two runaway teenage girls. Two other local residents were arrested in connection to the case, including the mother of two toddlers found in ‘deplorable’ conditions in a house in Dededo.

iMac Envy

Dianne returned to Guam last week with a little something extra; a 17 inch iMac. Wow. It looks gorgeous. Now she has the iMac and her G4 Powerbook. I have a serious case of Macintosh envy. My aging G3 looks positively dowdy next to these sleek beauties.

Ah well, I got no money for a new computer right now. The G3 will continue to suffice for now – it does everything I need.

Check out this guy’s Panther Observatory, a home observatory in Austria. Pretty nice. I really like his astrophotography. Be sure to look at his photos of Mars during the closest approach in August. I especially enjoyed the comparisons between his photos and images from the Hubble Space Telescope taken at the same time. His results are really impressive.

I never would have thought the term military-industrial complex came from a speech by Dwight Eisenhower. Wow. Interesting speech. He cautions against the undo accumulation of political power in the military-industrial, warning future presidents and senators to be vigilant against incursions by the permanent armaments industry.

Eisenhower also mentions the dangers inherent in federally funded research at universities, as lone inventors tinkering in their shops are replaced by research labs with government funding.

A strangely prescient speech.

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