Monthly Archives: March 2005

Meanwhile…

As our nation turns its myopic gaze upon a poor vegetable’s final hours, the rest of the world is busy redefining itself. I just sat through 45 minutes of Fox News’ fair and balanced hysteria over the Schiavo case. Nonstop coverage, inciting hysteria and a dogmatic political agenda. When I could stand no more, I turned to CNN to find that a coup d’etat just occurred in Asia. Thank goodness Fox News doesn’t bother to report news during its fair and balanced fear mongering. After all, who gives a damn about Kyrgyzstan anyway? Obviously not Fox’s target demographic. I think the term for their brand of reporting was once called yellow journalism.

For The Record

Let me state here and now: I don’t want to live as a vegetable. If I am ever reduced to a ‘persistent vegetative state’ that requires interminable life support or feeding tubes, let me die. Put a bullet through my head, suffocate me with a pillow, something quick and final. Then harvest my organs for transplants and donate the rest to science. I certainly don’t want to linger as a brain dead vegetable, warehoused in some rehabilitation facility for decades, envying the dead. That’s all I have to say about that.

Bobby Fischer Released From Japanese Jail

Chess legend Bobby Fischer is finally free from a Japanese prison, were he has been held since last July. Fischer was released after Japanese authorities verified paperwork showing Fischer was granted citizenship in Iceland earlier this week. Fischer immediately left Japan for Iceland, via Copenhagen. The United States wants Fischer for violating economic sanctions against Yugoslavia. Many believe the charges are part of a U.S. vendetta against the chess icon for remarks made on September 11th supporting the attacks and making paranoid anti-Semitic statements.

Bobby Fischer Leaving JapanI listened to some of those recordings from Philippine radio. They were nasty, vile racist comments from a person well known to harbor deep anti-Semitic feelings. But look at the guy. He’s bats. He actually resembles the crazy coot who spends his time torturing the postal clerks in Hagåtña and believe me, that is not a favorable comparison. The last thing he needs is to freak out, or a chance to grandstand, and that is exactly what this whole episode has done. Let Iceland take him, apparently they love him in Iceland. I don’t think hiding out in Southeast Asia did Mr. Fischer any good at all. Maybe those cool Scandinavians will improve his radical temperament.

A Couple Science Links

Just a few things in passing that caught my eye.

  • Collapsing bubbles have hot plasma core – New research into sonoluminescence indicates that gas bubbles in liquid and crushed by sound waves actually contain super hot plasma. Why is this important? Physicist suspect that this process could be used to trigger nuclear fusion and provide a virtually limitless source of energy.
  • Voyager Mission Faces Shutdown – Budget constraints in NASA are pushing several venerable missions studying the solar system into retirement. The Voyager Mission is on the chopping block, despite the probes’ continued good health. The glory days of planetary fly-bys for the twin Voyagers but are still transmitting useful scientific data about the extreme limits of the heliopause.
  • Scientific American: 15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense – Read this great editorial from Scientific American about fair and balanced scientific journalism and it prompted me to read this handy reference to refute claims of creationists.

Left Of The Dial

Hat tip to Craig for this bit o’ tasty: HBO will be running an America Undercover documentary about the chaos surrounding Air America. Left Of The Dial covers the turbulent period surrounding Evan (Montvel) Cohen’s reign at Air America, the bounced checks, the blackouts on affiliate stations and his eventual ouster. As Drudge puts it in his grandiose style:

The doubts. The lies. The bounced checks. The heartbreak.

The viewer is taken upclose to witness the ugly business of media ambition.

The main character, Evan Cohen, founding chairman and main investor, is depicted as a complete fraud.

The documentary shows Cohen arriving in the middle of night at AIR AMERICA offices to sign over the company and disappear again, but not before lying about how many ads have been sold and how much money is the bank [zero].

It might be worth getting HBO to watch this. Maybe somebody can tape this for me? I’d really like to see it. The preview looks promising, despite Drudge’s hamfisted gloating in his role in the debacle. But Evan did not emerge from this fiasco smelling of roses. The HBO synopsis tells the story succintly.

With Air America facing severe financial problems, and the conservative media reporting every minute of its travails, Cohen abruptly disappears, leaving (attorney David) Goodfriend and the network’s executive producer, Carl Ginsburg, in the lurch. Silent investor Doug Kreeger steps up to take a more active role in the venture, navigating the staff through a crisis when employees temporarily lose their health benefits. Eventually, Cohen signs over his interest in Air America, and Goodfriend resigns, feeling betrayed by his good friend.

I said it before, I’ll say it again: This is his modus operandi. Thankfully the network survived the turmoil under his management and made groundbreaking strides in the radio marketplace.

Dust Devils On Mars

I cannot believe those two rovers are still going strong on Mars. In fact, both rovers are producing more electricity now than they were six months ago. NASA attributes this to high winds which removed the dust from the solar panels on the rovers.

In fact, the Spirit rover actually caught two whirling dust devils in action on the plains of Gusev Crater. Heck, NASA suspects a ‘cleaning event’ occurred on sol 420, when the autodrive system switched off due to poor visibility and then the power levels suddenly spiked back to levels not seen since Spirit’s arrival in January 2004. Put simply, the rover drove into a sandstorm that blew all the dirt off the solar panels and left it squeaky clean.

Escaped Convicts

I’m so glad it only took the newspaper four days to finally run some pictures of the escaped prisoners that are considered armed and dangerous. I mean I wouldn’t want them to rush to any conclusions, maybe try and enlist the populations help or anything. After all, they’re only three prisoners considered armed and dangerous.

Snows Of Kilimanjaro No More

For more than 11,000 years the snow capped peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro stood as a beacon over the African savanna. NASA scientists were shocked when satellite photos revealed the ice cap and glaciers shrank radically between 1993 and 2000. The ice cap lost 80% of it’s area in the 20th century. Scientists originally thought the snows would be gone by 2020, but current NASA estimates predict the snowcap will be completely gone by the end of this decade. More information at WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Goodbye, Kilimanjaro on the shrinking snowcap.

Blogger Again

I’ve been getting a lot of hits from Drupal.org after I got linked from the projects home page with my ‘Blogger Sucks’ post. So hello drupal people! Yes this site runs Blogger – sorry. My drupal installation lives on my iBook’s hard drive right now, and it certainly isn’t very interesting or worthwhile yet. More of a test bed for my hacking and geek tendencies. When I’m ready I’ll probably put something up online, but not just yet.

Speaking about Blogger’s troubles, I scribbled up a post over on my new WordPress blog, Tales of Brave Ulysses about the problems lately with Blogger. My theory had something to do with spammers gunking up the works with Blogger’s newly release API. The official word is that the slowness is due to problems installing and powering up new machines in the server farm. Electrical problems actually. I still favor the spambot theory, but I’ll take their word for now.

Blogger Epidemic

Seems I am not alone in lamenting about Blogger and how difficult it is to post or comment these days. I thought it had something to do with spammers, so do other people.

And here’s some proof:

These were all found by clicking the ‘Next Blog’ button on the blogger toolbar. Each populated with crap by what must be a robot. I suspect this has something to do with Blogger’s recent release of their Atom API documentation, which opens up the Blogger interface to scripting tools (and unfortunately unscrupulous spammers). Looks like Blogger is a victim of their own success. I guess I better start looking at migrating everything over here post haste.

Color Me Interested

I had no idea color laser printers were so affordable now. The HP Color LaserJet 2550 is only $499, $599 with ethernet support. Wow. That’s pretty damn cheap. I know inkjets are much cheaper initially, but they really sock it to you on the never ending voracious need for fresh ink cartridges. I switched to a laser printer years ago and I love having it around. But if it ever goes belly up, I will seriously look at a color laserjet instead of plain old black and white.

It Came From The Fever Dream Of John Deere

A Bugbot walking tree devourerCheck out this freaky new machine: Plustech Walking Technology introduces a six legged walking tree devouring machine. I for one welcome our new mechanical, tree eating overlords…

Seriously though, this machine is touted as the solution for sustainable forestry management. Basically it lets timber companies reach stretches of forest previously to remote or steep to strip every last possible tree off the face of the planet. And as an added bonus, it consumes enormous quantities of fossil fuels while chopping down those last few trees.

Hernandez El Sarape Restaurante

I was playing around with Google Maps today and I remembered this killer Mexican restaurant in Delavan Wisconsin that was the holy grail of restaurants during my college days at Beloit. I couldn’t remember the name of the place though – it has been 15 years after all. I typed it into Google Maps and voila, Hernandez El Sarape Restaurante sprang up instantly. Yeah, that’s the place. Ay carumba, they were a tasty restaurant. I loved going there, tons of really good food, great prices, and lots of cold beer.

Did I Mention Blogger Sucks Ass?

Pardon me if this is up here already – I WOULDN’T KNOW SINCE BLOGGER SUCKS ASS!!

I’ve gotten some emails about how comments are not working. Trust me, I feel your pain. About half the time Blogger bonks out when I try to post something. It’s really becoming a major pain in the ass. I am actually saving posts to my hard drive before trying to publish them since it fails so often – it really sucks to lose a post after carefully crafting the damn thing for a half hour or 45 minutes. I think Blogger is really getting slammed – last I heard there’s a new trend of setting up spam blogs that redirect to porn and scam sites. Since Blogger is free, the lowlifes spend their time creating these blogs and then spamming other people with the address. To make matters worse, I really don’t think Blogger is getting much love (or support) from their overlords at Google. Pessimistic rumors say Blogger will fold within a year.

The problems with Blogger have tipped my hand. I’ve been looking at using a different system, and taking some packages out for a test drive. I am currently playing around with a weblogging system called WordPress. Like Blogger, WordPress is free. Like Blogger, I can post to WordPress from computer with access to the internet and a web browser. Unlike Blogger, WordPress is actually installed on my own server, and it serves only myself and not several million other mopes. Interested parties can check it out at Tales of Brave Ulysses – there’s not very much there just yet, so don’t expect much. WordPress looks cool, plus it pushes all the right geek buttons – MySQL, PHP, and CSS.

I’m also looking at a couple other alternatives, Tinderbox, Expression Engine, TextPattern and Drupal. A couple are free, a couple aren’t, but they all have their good points.

Last summer I also took Xanga for a spin, and took a look at Plone. Neither really fit the bill for me. One offered too little and the other too much.

About Blogger

I’ve gotten some emails about how comments are not working. Trust me, I feel your pain. About half the time Blogger bonks out when I try to post something. It’s really becoming a major pain in the ass. I am actually saving posts to my hard drive before trying to publish them since it fails so often – it really sucks to lose a post after carefully crafting the damn thing for a half hour or 45 minutes. I think Blogger is really getting slammed – last I heard there’s a new trend of setting up spam blogs that redirect to porn and scam sites. Since Blogger is free, the lowlifes spend their time creating these blogs and then spamming other people with the address. To make matters worse, I really don’t think Blogger is getting much love (or support) from their overlords at Google. Pessimistic rumors say Blogger will fold within a year.

The problems with Blogger have tipped my hand. I’ve been looking at using a different system, and taking some packages out for a test drive. I am currently playing around with a weblogging system called WordPress. Like Blogger, WordPress is free. Like Blogger, I can post to WordPress from computer with access to the internet and a web browser. Unlike Blogger, WordPress is actually installed on my own server, and it serves only myself and not several million other mopes. Interested parties can check it out at Tales of Brave Ulysses – there’s not very much there just yet, so don’t expect much. WordPress looks cool, plus it pushes all the right geek buttons – MySQL, PHP, and CSS.

I’m also looking at a couple other alternatives, Tinderbox, Expression Engine, TextPattern and Drupal. A couple are free, a couple aren’t, but they all have their good points.

Last summer I also took Xanga for a spin, and took a look at Plone. Neither really fit the bill for me. One offered too little and the other too much.

A New Storm Tracker Link

I found a new link to track tropical storms, typhoons, cyclones and hurricanes. Tropical Storm Watch gives a nice global view of storm activity around the planet. The site is funded by insurance firms and offers damage forecasting and estimates in addition to storm data.

Legend Of Earthsea

Last night Sci Fi Channel rebroadcast the Legend of Earthsea miniseries that originally aired back in December. I taped the broadcast and I finally got a chance to watch the series tonight.

Yep, it sucked. Pretty darn bad show. It’s obvious somebody thought this would be a good chance to mix a Lord of the Rings type quest (look, our small and insignificant hero bearing his magical talisman right into the heart of the evil empire, with a fat guy sidekick in tow) together with some Harry Potter wizardry school crap (spells going poof in the background, wacky wizard teachers, and an annoying popinjay to serve as our hero’s foil). The screenwriters took the plot of two novels and created an unseemly chimera, with no charm and very little sense. This show cheapens Earthsea and is a true disservice to Ursula Le Guin’s enchanting stories.

The brand new tape I bought for this purpose must have some problems since the last 45 minutes or so did not record. But that’s okay, I think I’ll manage without watching that dreck sink to its lousy, inevitable conclusion. Maybe I’ll go page through the books instead and try to recapture the magic of Earthsea.