November 2004 Archives

Roxio Popcorn CSS

not to state the obvious, but Roxio's Popcorn doesn't allow you to strip CSS copy-protection. MacTheRipper might, if you are copying a disk you already own.

“Roxio Popcorn (Mac)” (Roxio)

MacTheRipper forum


a few photos of my sojourn to Pedernales State Park, outside of Austin...
(click for larger versions)
Knut Jumps

Andrew Bluff


Sorry to see Hubie go: we all know that 'health reasons' often is a euphemism for 'fired', whether or not this is the case in this instance. Not good news for Grizzlies team rotation spots 8-10......

ABC News: Grizzlies Coach Retires for Health Reasons:

Hubie Brown stepped down as coach of the Memphis Grizzlies because of health problems, just seven months after he was selected NBA Coach of the Year for the second time in his long career.

"Unexpected health-related issues will not allow me to continue coaching the Memphis Grizzlies," the 71-year-old Brown said Thursday. "This situation was unforeseen and absolutely nonexistent at the beginning of the season."

The team said Brown did not have a serious illness, but declined to comment further.

Hot spot

From MacDesign:
To remove hot spots on someone‚s face (skin glare or bright spots of sweat on skin), use the Clone tool and change the blending mode to darken, lower the opacity to 50% and clone over the hot spot areas.


Going to Austex for weekend, updates later. Maybe photos, maybe not. Whoo hoo!

Virgin Toastie sold

We can all go back to mental slumber now....

Yahoo! News - Virgin Mary sandwich sells for thousands

An online casino has won the eBay bidding for a decade-old cheese sandwich bearing what some people consider a likeness of the Virgin Mary and immediately began hawking Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese T-shirts.'s bid of $28,000 (15,000 pounds) was the highest offer for the sandwich when bidding closed late on Monday, the Internet casino's website said.

The seller, Fort Lauderdale, Florida resident Diana Duyser, says she made the cheese sandwich 10 years ago and after taking a bite, saw “the Virgin Mary staring back at me.”

In her eBay ad, Duyser said the sandwich has been kept in a plastic case for a decade and has developed no mold or bacteria. “It is like a miracle,” she said.

“I would like all people to know that I do believe that this is the Virgin Mary Mother Of God,” the ad said. “That is my solemn belief, but you are free to believe that she is whomever you like, I am not scamming anyone.” said on its website that the “sacred sandwich” had received more than 1.7 million hits since being posted on eBay. The company's chief executive, Richard Rowe, said the sandwich would be used to raise money for charity.

The T-shirts, in various styles bearing a picture of the sandwich and a logo, sell for $19.99.

“We believe that everyone should be able to see it and learn of its mystical power for themselves,” Rowe said. - Not All Forms of Vitamin E Should Be Vilified:
In the long-running debate over vitamin E, skeptics won a round earlier this month with the release of a study showing that high-dose supplements don't decrease the risk of early death and may even slightly increase it.

But as some scientists point out, there are different forms of vitamin E, and this study didn't distinguish among them -- a fact that they say may have skewed the results. Research suggests that certain types of vitamin E supplements may be more beneficial than others, and you need to read the fine print to know what you're really getting.

Most vitamin E supplements are synthetic, derived from petroleum. Natural supplements, which are more expensive, come mainly from soybean oil. Research shows that natural vitamin E is more potent and better absorbed than synthetic forms.

Labels aren't always helpful in distinguishing between the two, though. An analysis by the independent testing group found one "natural" brand to contain some synthetic vitamin E. And you'll almost never find the word "synthetic" on any label. You therefore have to decipher the ingredients: "dl-alpha-tocopherol" means it's synthetic; a "d" instead of "dl" indicates it's natural.

The "alpha-tocopherol" part refers to one of more than eight forms of vitamin E found in plants. Most supplements, whether synthetic or natural, contain only the alpha-tocopherol form because it's the most prevalent in our blood and the most studied.

However, some natural supplements also contain gamma-tocopherol, the form of vitamin E found in our diets. These are often labeled as "mixed tocopherols." Test-tube studies suggest that gamma-tocopherol may have certain disease-fighting properties that alpha doesn't. And some human research has associated higher blood levels of gamma-tocopherol with a lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers, especially prostate.

Research also shows that taking high-dose alpha-tocopherol supplements suppresses levels of gamma-tocopherol in the blood. In contrast, taking gamma-tocopherol raises blood levels of both. Some researchers believe that this helps explain why studies focusing on vitamin E from sources that include diet (which presumably means more gamma) have tended to show benefits, while those involving only alpha-tocopherol supplements have often found none.

Because the jury is still out on the effects of supplements containing gamma, experts say your best bet is to get vitamin E through foods such as nuts, vegetable oils, whole grains, and leafy greens. It may also make sense to take a multivitamin that includes 100% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E. If you want more, stick with a natural supplement and don't exceed 400 IUs a day without talking to your doctor.


from Word of the Day

entelechy (en-TEL-uh-kee) noun

1. Perfect realization as opposed to a potentiality.

2. In some philosophies, a vital force that propels one to

[From Late Latin entelechia, from Greek entelecheia, from enteles
(complete), from telos (end, completion) + echein (to have).]

Apple stock ends day up 11 percent

I seriously discussed with D purchasing some Apple stock back when it was $13 a share. We reasoned that we should own stock in companies we liked, and we've both always bought Apple computers. However, I didn't think it would have gone up quite so much as this, or I would have been more focused on actually buying shares.....

Apple stock ends day up 11 percent:
Shares of Apple (AAPL) climbed US$6.18, or more than 11 percent, to close at $61.35 Monday after Piper Jaffray raised its price target on the stock to $100...

Dept of freakin joke

My god, if this is allowed to stand, what about the children! Won't somebody please think of the children?

If all it takes is three people to complain about a show for a $1.2 fine to be levied on it by the FCC, then I say liberals ought to complain about Rush Limbaugh, and his cable talking head buddies like Brit Hume or falafel Bill. Why not?

Television Article |

at a Friday morning gathering hosted by the International Radio & Television Society Foundation, Fox's Gail Berman questioned the FCC's decision-making process in proposing a record $1.2 million fine against 169 affiliates for an episode of “Married by America.” She said there were only three original complaints about the show; she noted that any network programing was likely to offend at least three people in the country. Fox is challenging the proposed fine.

Roxio's popcorn

| 1 Comment
Well, we'll see if this software becomes a target for the copyright thugs in Hollywood and Congress. In the meantime, I'm buying it I think.
Products: Popcorn Overview:
Popcorn™ helps you easily make high quality copies of your DVD movies. Powerful compression technology gives you the fexibility to copy even the largest movies to a single DVD disc. From the creators of Toast®, the fastest and most reliable CD & DVD burning software for the Mac. Versatile Copier Copy non-encrypted* DVD-Video discs, disc image files, and valid VIDEO_TS folders from hard disk. Compatible with DVD-Video content from popular ripping utilities. For over 10 years, Toast has been the #1 selling CD and DVD recording software for the Mac OS. Now the best burning technology for the Mac is available in Popcorn. Compress an entire 9 GB dual-layer DVD-Video to a standard 4.7 GB DVD disc, and maintain high video quality and full audio fidelity.
When you put in an encrypted dvd, you get a link to this note:
Protected Disc Error Message The DVD that you are attempting to back up is encrypted with CSS. CSS is an encryption mechanism used to prevent copying of DVD movies. The use of DVD decryption software is illegal in the United States and some other countries. Not all movies are CSS protected. Many movies are not CSS protected. Some commercial DVDs, public domain movies, your home movies and content that you have recorded on your set-top DVD recorder are not CSS protected. You can use this product to make a backup of DVDs that you have created and of non-CSS protected video or movies. Roxio cannot distribute DVD decryption software. Roxio will not distribute or provide a link to decryption software. DVD ripper or decryption software allows your computer to read CSS encrypted data on a DVD movie before the process of making a backup copy. If you live in a country where you are allowed to use DVD decryption software, you can use Google or another search engine to locate such software, download it and use it for purposes permitted in your country. If you are allowed to download a DVD decrypter and make a backup copy of CSS protected content, you can only do so for your own fair use and international copyright laws still apply. You are responsible for knowing and complying with all applicable copyright laws in your country, and Roxio can make no warranty or representation about the legality of DVD decryption software. DVD decryption software found on the Internet is developed by independent third parties and is not distributed by or in any way associated with this product. Roxio does not provide support for third party ripping software.
not to state the obvious, but Roxio's Popcorn doesn't allow you to strip CSS copy-protection. MacTheRipper might, if you are copying a disk you already own.
“Roxio Popcorn (Mac)” (Roxio)

There is an invisible folder created, when one uses MacTheRipper
just wanted to note that the folder... is created by libdvdcss, and contains the decryption keys to all the DVDs MacTheRipper (and also VLC, if you use that for DVD playback) has processed in the past. The keys are kept to make any future processing of the same DVD faster. We run this same script (along with one to delete the MTR preferences file) every time you launch a new release of MTR for the first time. If demand is high enough, we could have MTR clear this folder each time it's used, however, since it's also shared with VLC, we'd be treading on their turf as well. If you want this functionality to become part of MTR, or don't want it to be included by default, please let us know at
If you wish to clean this folder yourself, use Terminal (for instance, type cd ~/.dvdcss, then type: open . which will open this hidden folder and display the titles- you can then send them to the trash). There are undoubtedly more elegant methods of removing these hidden files, but the above method works fine. MacTheRipper is currently in beta for the next version, but the software developer is not yet ready to announce himself/herself to the public, as CSS decryption is a target. There are ways to get MacTheRipper however, at least so I've heard. Forum here


iPod - restore maximize battery life

Pål Børsting posts a helpful tutorial on reviving an iPod battery. I may try this on D's 2nd generation pod: her battery life is down to two or so hours. This isn't good while we walk, because my 4th G lasts forever, seemingly.

iPod - restore and maximize battery life:
iPod - restore and maximize battery life

JFK shooting game provokes anger

Hmmm, slightly tasteless, but is it any worse than any Tom Clancy based video game? or GTA? Or Janet Jackson's nipples? or even Saving Private Ryan? Should we start wearing burkas now?

BBC: JFK shooting game provokes anger:

A computer firm is criticised by the Kennedy family for producing a game recreating the president's death.


Traffic Games said the objective was for a player to fire three shots at Kennedy's motorcade from assassin Lee Harvey Oswald's digitally recreated sixth-floor perch in the Texas School Book Depository.

Points are awarded or subtracted based on how accurately the shots match the official version of events as documented in by the Warren Commission, which investigated Kennedy's assassination.

Shooting the image of Kennedy in the right spots in the right sequence adds to the score, while "errors" like shooting first lady Jacqueline Kennedy lead to deductions.

Each shot can be replayed in slow motion, and the bullets can be tracked as they travel and pass through Kennedy's digitally recreated body. Players can choose to see blood by pressing a "blood effects" option.

Players can view the motorcade from a number of angles, including the perspective of filmmaker Abraham Zapruder and a view from the "grassy knoll" where some conspiracy theorists believe a second gunman was stationed.

The game will be available via download for $9.99.

Witch remnant

| 1 Comment

Also went west to Oak Park. Found a Halloween left-over. Someone had too much candy and swerved off their broom....

Witchy Oops Oakpark

zoo photos

Lincoln Park Zoo photos.

Click for larger version

Primary colors

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avoid the dreaded 'poop' grass


jumpman 23 still lives in the city

Yesterday's batch

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and I am in awe of the warmth of my new hat.

found photos at the zoo

more Lincoln Park Zoo photos

Farmers market
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Lion's den

Bus stop propaganda

Hole In The Wall
Hole in the wall

more photos from the Lincoln Park zoo yesterday.


Dirty Coal

Again, so-called Red states are reaping benefits of the energy-friendly Bush administration. However, nobody really wants to live near a coal plant: they spew tons of sulfur, mercury, and other toxic materials. And I suspect that most people who voted for Bush didn't really expect that would translate, in the real world, in having new coal plants being built nearby, away from burdensome federal regulations. Those so-called Blue states restrict pollution, as much as possible.
The New York Times:
a coal project ... in northern Nevada is one of more than 100 coal-fueled plants that are vying for approval around the country - the largest increase in such projects since the 1970's.

The reason for coal's resurgence is an intensifying fear in the United States that supplies will become scarce in electricity's other main fuel source, natural gas. And coal is a lot cheaper.

Altogether, energy companies in the United States have announced plans to build more coal-fired power plants in the last 12 months than they did in the last 12 years. If all those projects get off the ground, utilities would invest more than $100 billion.

The electricity industry's back-to-the-future approach to coal is soon expected to pit dozens of communities around the country against energy companies that are planning coal-based expansion strategies in their midst.

The Bush administration has significantly shifted policy away from three decades of federal efforts to reduce the nation's dependence on coal, which is significantly cleaner than it once was, but still dirtier than natural gas.

But until coal-fired plants become even cleaner, clashes over their impact on air quality are expected to multiply. Because of restrictions elsewhere, many coal-fired power plants will be put in places with pristine air quality and relatively relaxed pollution restrictions.

Gerlach's location near Nevada's border with California, an energy-hungry state where environmental standards make it nearly impossible to build coal-fired plants, is one attraction for the builder, Sempra Energy. Gerlach, which has fewer than 200 residents, is at the crossroads of rail lines that can haul coal from Montana strip mines and an electricity transmission line that can send the power southward to Los Angeles and San Diego.

Gerlach has a "combination of ideal factors," said Marty Swartz, a director for project development at Sempra. As for Gerlach itself, he said, the project would generate about $30 million in tax revenue for Washoe County, which encompasses this tiny hamlet as well as Reno, a two-hour drive south.


"If it's such a great deal, then let them build the thing in California," Mr. Bogard, 56, the owner of a pottery business, said. "I'm not sure if anyone involved with this realizes what a nightmare it is to have a plant spewing coal fumes go up in their backyard. This would simply destroy our life out here."

The tensions arising from Sempra's plan - known as the Granite Fox Power project - and from similar plans for other coal-fueled plants are an inevitable outcome of energy policies pursued in the 1990's. During that period, nearly every new electricity plant was built to be run on natural gas, which is cleaner-burning and was generally thought at the time to be in ample supply in North America.

But in the last five years, natural gas prices have skyrocketed as imports from Canada slowed and domestic production failed to keep up with demand. Prices have shot up to more than $6 for each thousand cubic feet from just $2 in 1999.

Coal, meanwhile, has remained relatively cheap, and the United States has the world's largest reserves. As a result, while it costs more to build a coal-fired plant than it does to build one to use natural gas, the running cost of a gas plant has soared in comparison with coal. A typical coal-fired power plant spends 2 cents per kilowatt-hour to fuel its operations, compared with 5 cents per kilowatt-hour for a plant fueled by natural gas.

In the partly deregulated power-generating business, much of that electricity can be sold at prices reflecting the cost of the most expensive source. "Running a coal-fired plant in these times is a gold mine," said Robert McIlvaine, a coal industry consultant in Northfield, Ill., who does research on new power plants around the country.

There's a riot goin' on, right-chere


So, I'm watching a Tivoed NBA game, waiting for the Sacramento Kings v. Memphis Grizzlies game which is going to follow, and a freakin' riot breaks out between the Pacers and the Detroit Pistons. Crazy! Ron Artest runs into the stands to punch some guy who had thrown a bottle at him, Stephen Jackson is throwing punches, Jermaine O'Neal is punching fans in the face, and Detroit fans are sucker punching players, throwing chairs, flinging whatever they can get their hands on, etc. Jesus. What a melee!

Ron Artest, post melee

Ron Artest

New Way to Bag Airport Delays

| 1 TrackBack - New Way to Bag Airport Delays:
Can a simple plastic bag help alleviate the long lines expected to clog airport security checkpoints during the holiday travel season?

The Transportation Security Administration, working with Travel Sentry, a consortium of travel product companies, is conducting a test at seven airports around the country to see if providing travelers with Ziploc bags for their car keys, change, watches and other pocket items will speed up passenger security screenings.

"Initial indications show it has worked. It has been speeding up the back end of the process," says TSA spokeswoman Amy von Walter.

The plastic sacks, slightly larger than a sandwich bag and some printed with advertising, make it easier for passengers to move quickly through the metal detectors and retrieve their property from the screening bins afterward, says John Vermilye, Travel Sentry's managing director. Last year, the Washington-based group helped luggage makers develop a series of new baggage locks that allow federal security screeners with standardized keys to gain access to locked luggage without harming it.

David Rowell, publisher of Travel Insider newsletter in Seattle, says using bags "in theory should help a little bit." He says the small bags encourage waiting travelers to get their loose items ready before they go into the X-Ray machine. The longest delay in most lines is when passengers are stopped at the X-Ray machine without having emptied their pockets, he says.

The bags are being used at airports in San Francisco, Nashville, St. Louis, Kansas City, Washington, Oakland and Colorado Springs. Orlando International Airport will start using the bags Monday.

TSA officials say use of bags will be expanded to other airports throughout the country if it speeds backlogs during the holidays.


Still waiting for either a trip to Europe, or a U.S. release of BeerTender. I had correspondence with Heineken marketing a year or two ago, and they claimed not to have plans to release in the U.S. for quite some time.



Heineken Holding NV said it has sold 1 million BeerTender kegs using the Heineken brand in the Netherlands since the appliance was introduced in March. The compact home draft beer system was developed by Heineken and German domestic appliance maker Krups.

Heineken said it will now introduce the Amstel Brand in BeerTender kegs in The Netherlands.

The BeerTender is available in The Netherlands and Switzerland, with plans for a further rollout in the making, Heineken said.

Tests Find Poisonous Chemical In Water

The vindictive part of me wants Red State (ne' Bush voters) to choke on perchlorate: they voted for the Environmental President after all, however, ill-health is too serious of an issue to wish on anyone. Plus Washington D.C. voted 85% for Kerry and obviously is not a Red State.

Tests Find Poisonous Chemical In Water:
A more refined test of the water in the Washington Aqueduct has revealed the presence of perchlorate, a toxic chemical typically found in weapons and explosives, federal officials said Thursday.

Manhole covers?


I would actually like to witness someone stealing a manhole cover. That sounds like a difficult way to make a hundred bucks- those suckers are heavy.

From the Trib:

A jump in the price of scrap iron could explain a spree of manhole cover thefts, city officials said Thursday.

The city's Department of Water Management has replaced more than 150 manhole covers so far this month, “which represents a sharp increase,” said department spokesman Tom LaPorte.

“This is a crime, but it is also a safety issue,” he said. “These holes are a danger to pedestrians and drivers.”

Water department workers have noticed the greatest number of exposed manholes in alleys and side streets on the South and Southwest Sides. Perforated manholes are the most popular among thieves, LaPorte said, because the holes make them easier to remove.

New park in West Loop

Although I would prefer a park nearer to me, this is still good news. There needs to be much more green-space in the West Loop, no doubt.

Patterns of Behaviour tinted

From the Chi-Tribune

The city of Chicago intends to buy a 65,000-square-foot parcel at Adams and Sangamon Streets to turn the property into a public park.

Chicago officials have agreed to pay more than $6 million to obtain the property from the University of Illinois at Chicago, said Pete Scales, spokesman for the city's Planning Department.

The purchase of the land will culminate a years-long effort by community activists, said Ald. Madeline Haithcock, whose 2nd Ward includes the site.

Community meetings will be held to determine how the park in the neighborhood should be designed. Work on the site will end in about 19 months, according to the West Loop Community Organization, which pushed for the park.

Until the recent housing boom, the Near West Side was primarily a commercial and industrial neighborhood.

There are more than 6,000 lofts and town houses in the area bounded by the Chicago River, Ashland Avenue, the Eisenhower Expressway and Grand Avenue, according to the community organization.

The city is set to buy the property for the park from UIC in early 2005.

update here (7/2005)

Technorati Tags: ,

Bill Gates gets 4 million emails a day

Yeah, that Bill Gates guy is really focusing on spam. I've averaged 700+ junk emails a month this year so far, and when I didn't have a computer, I got even less.

No jokes and pseudo-jokes aside, I doubt that Gates is going to have much success eliminating spam, it's been a problem for a long time, and Microsoft Outlook has been around almost as long.

Oh, and how is that "Secure Initiative" going? Remember, last year there was hype about how MS was going to make their products more secure?

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Bill Gates gets 4 million emails a day :
Bill Gates. The Microsoft founder is the most spammed man in the world, with 4m emails arriving in his inbox each day.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief executive, told a conference in Singapore that being the world's best-known software billionaire has its down side: "Bill receives 4m pieces of email per day, most of it spam."

The upside of the Microsoft founder's bulging inbox is that it appears to have focused his mind on the problem.
... Unlike ordinary people though, Mr Gates doesn't get a sore finger from deleting unwanted missives. The company has a team of people dedicated to ensuring he only gets mail that he wants to read.

Ha, haunted by something else, if you ask me and the Chicago Health Dept.

Chicago - Bars and Clubs, drinking establishments, dive bars, gay bars, college bars, pool halls and party :

Is it true that Bluepoint Oyster Bar is haunted? --Nate

Are you afraid of the dark? You will be. Yes, Bluepoint Oyster Bar is indeed haunted. Managers say that late at night when they're closing up shop, they hear music, people dancing and talking, much like in "The Shining." In the morning they also hear voices, but thankfully, no freaky twin girls have shown up yet. So who or what's rattling their chains? The staff thinks it's folks who were in the place from around the time of the Haymarket Square riots (that'd be 1883), back when the joint was called Barneys.


I have a Powerbook G3 laptop, also called the Lombard model, with quite modest specs: 333 MHz G3 chip, 4 gig HD, 246 megs ram (give or take). It's been sitting, unused for at least 2 years. So, I loaded Panther on it, and am sending it to a friend who is still running OS 8.1 on a 7500 PowerMac. However, after booting into Panther successfully, I started updating various items via Software Update, and after a reboot, stuck on this screen for two days.
I finally pushed the PMU reset button (or whatever the heck it is, on the back of the computer), and then all was well. I am boxing it up this evening for a UPS pickup tomorrow to send it to a new home.....
Click for larger version

Of course, OS X takes up 3/4 of the available space, but what the heck.

Rhythm's anniversary party

The only smoke-free bar in my neighborhood is a drum club. I don't go as much as I should, probably because the cover is high sometimes (if I just want to have a drink, I don't think I should have to pay to get in the door too, but then I'm a freakin' anarchist!). Anyway, good place to go hang out.


Saturday 11/20 8-9pm- Complimentary Stoli vodka cocktails 9pm- Groove Ova (All female drum ensemble) 9:30pm- Drum circle (With Jeni Swerdlow) 10pm- 9 Miles Band (Percussive Rock) $5

Doors open at 8 o'clock
RHYTHM: Drumming, Live Music, Drinks
1108 W. Randolph St., Chicago * 312.492.6100

The Pope

The pope, only slightly digitized, further proving that having new toys is a lot of fun (Nikon D70).

The Pope

Merchandise Mart

Taken of the Merchandise Mart, sometime last summer. Wonderful building, with different colored lights, seasonally adjusted. I miss seeing this from my window. Damn you CTA

Merchandise Mart
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Window washers

Window washers at the new CTA building. Who knows. However, this building blocked my view of the spectacular Merchandise Mart and the four pillars of the Bloomingdales building. Boooo.

windows need to be washed, even on brand new buildings

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Snapshot of the new lamps installed at the Chicago Haymarket Riot Memorial site, 2004. Taken with my old camera....

Haymarket Lamps
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Greg Palast does the math

Falluja math, that is, and it doesn't add up.

Falluja Arithmetic Lesson

by Prof. Greg Palast

Monday's New York Times, page 1:

"American commanders said 38 service members had been killed and 275 wounded in the Falluja assault."

Monday's New York Times, page 11:

"The American military hospital here reported that it had treated 419 American soldiers since the siege of Falluja began."

Questions for the class:
1. If 275 soldiers were wounded in Falluja and 419 are treated for wounds, how many were shot on the plane ride to Germany?

2. We're told only 275 soldiers were wounded but 419 treated for wounds; and we're told that 38 soldiers died. So how many will be buried?

Monday's New York Times, page 1:

"The commanders estimated that 1,200 to 1,600 insurgents had been killed."

Monday's New York Times, page 11:

"Nowhere to be found: the remains of the insurgents that the tanks had been sent in to destroy. ...The absence of insurgent bodies in Falluja has remained an enduring mystery."

block Party Applescript

Doug Adams, the invaluable iTunes/AppleScript guy, has posted a new, intriguing applescript....

New: Block Party!:

Being a former radio guy, I've woked my share of "Block Party Weekends", "Twofer Tuesdays", "Double Edge Weekends", "Triple X Weekends", and so on. Correspondent Jeff Click suggested that a script might acomplish making a playlist of randomly selected artists and a specific number of random songs for each artist. Loving a challenge, I've got Block Party! ready to go. Just tell the script how many Artists you want and how many of their Songs you want in a row, and a "Block Party!" playlist is generated. I really like this script! Thanks, Jeff.

I couldn't imagine running iTunes (or previously, SoundJam Pro) without the scripts provided by Mr. Adams. Check out his site, and throw him some dollars if you can.....

Power of Napping

| 1 Comment

All I know is that I work from home, and most days (not all), I take between a 30-60 minute nap sometime after 2 pm, and if for whatever reason, I can't indulge, I become sluggish. - Cubicle Culture:

No one exactly schedules a slumberous coma each afternoon, but for many people, it's more punctual than the coffee cart. No sooner do you get back from lunch than every document seems like an opiate, every colleague a sheep to count, and the creepy carpeting an enticing feather bed. It's the only time of day when the incessant chatter of a cube mate can fade like a lullaby. Even insomniacs can't always withstand the contagion of a yawn in the middle of the afternoon.

The tussle to stay awake is clearly a sign that work is at odds with our nature. We're a society that has ritualized the sleep deprivation that caused such disasters as the Exxon Valdez and Chernobyl, so our daily battle is also evidence of just how dumb the planet's smartest beings have become.

"You're phenomenally stupid when you're sleep deprived, and you're too stupid to realize it," says Bob Stickgold, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. "We are certainly the only known organism that sleep deprives itself."

Most mammals are designed to stay awake if there's rapidly changing emotional input, Prof. Stickgold says. But monkeys, for example, don't tend to put their social needs on a collision course with their sleep needs, the way humans do.

The main problem is that the mechanics of the human body don't mesh very well with a 9-to-5 work day. Researchers have found that when humans are fed at regular intervals and deprived of all sources of time, such as light and clocks, they have the greatest tendency to fall asleep during two periods of the day: between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. These are natural dips in our biological clocks, or circadian rhythms, and the core body temperature drops along with a person's eyelids.

Potentially plunging us farther into oblivion is a metabolic tendency -- called the post-prandial dip -- to get tuckered out after a meal, though researchers disagree on how much of it is attributable to the meal....

"In the afternoon, all these physiological and mental processes begin to go into a dip," says Sara Mednick, a researcher at the Salk Institute. "This dip used to be thought of as a post-lunch dip. But it's been shown to occur when people eat or don't eat." In fact, from the moment you wake up in the morning, she says, "there's pressure driving you back to sleep."

There's also increasing evidence that in the Middle Ages people napped all the time, Ms. Mednick says. But the advent of timepieces, light bulbs and factories made naptime inconvenient for all but the crankiest toddlers. "We're allowing society and pressures of modern age to prescribe our sleep and thought schedules," she says.

TiVo to start placing ads

Hmmm, as a TiVo devote, I shall be skeptical, until I see this technology at work. If it is unobtrusive, then I won't mind. If it is obnoxious, I'll be pissed.

Chicago Tribune:

When it debuted in 1999, TiVo revolutionized the TV experience by wresting control of screen time from advertisers, allowing viewers to record shows and skip commercials. TiVo's slogan said it all: "TV your way."

Behind the scenes, though, TiVo was courting advertisers, selling inroads to a universe most customers saw as commercial-free. The result is a groundbreaking new business strategy, developed with more than 30 of the nation's largest advertisers, that in key ways circumvents the very technology that made TiVo famous.

By March, TiVo viewers will see "billboards," or small logos, popping up over TV commercials as they fast-forward through them, offering contest entries, giveaways or links to other ads. If a viewer "opts in" to the ad, their contact information will be downloaded to that advertiser — exclusively and by permission only — so even more direct marketing can take place.

By late 2005, TiVo expects to roll out "couch commerce," a system that enables viewers to purchase products and participate in surveys using their remote controls.

Perhaps even more significant is TiVo's new role in market research. As viewers watch, TiVo records their collective habits — second by second — and sells that information to advertisers and networks. (It was TiVo that quantified the effect of Janet Jackson's Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction," reporting a 180% increase in the number of replays reported by viewers.)

Wilco world discount

As a little thank you, we've set up a special promotional code for you to use in the store to get a one-time only 10% discount on an order. This code can be used in conjunction with the special holiday discounts we just started in the store today.

With that being said, enter the code "wilcoholiday" when prompted at check out and the 10% discount will be applied to your order.

Virgin Toastie

as noted by the BBC


Mrs Duyser has since kept the toastie surrounded by cotton wool, in a plastic container on a stand.

She says a decade on from its conception, it has not shown any sign of mould or crumbling - which she considers "a miracle".

She also believes its mystical properties have brought her blessings, including $70,000 won in a nearby casino.

Other visitors to the website were sceptical, however.

Mocking imitators posted pictures of Elvis and a "burnt George Bush" depicted on slices of toast.

Another tried to sell T-shirts showing Mrs Duyser's sandwich, while a budding artist posted a watercolour based on the image. There were no bids.

Quoted without commentary, it's all implied!

Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Back Up on EBay (AP):
AP - The Internet auction house eBay Inc. reversed itself Tuesday and is allowing bids for half of a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich that its owner says bears the image of the Virgin Mary.

holy mold spores, batman!

Miraculously no mold grows to disfigure the VM.
Diana Duyser, of Hollywood, put the sandwich up for sale last week, drawing bids as high as $22,000 before eBay pulled the item Sunday night. The page was viewed almost 100,000 times before being taken down.

An e-mail Duyser received from eBay said the sandwich broke its policy, which "does not allow listings that are intended as jokes."

But Duyser, a work-from-home jewelry designer who has bought and sold items on eBay for two years, said the grilled cheese wasn't a joke.

The auction was back on Tuesday afternoon with a top bid of $5,100. The winning bidder also has to pay $9.95 for shipping. In mocking response, two similar items were later posted — grilled cheese sandwiches bearing the images of the Virgin Mary's used gum and Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.

... Duyser thought eBay would be the best place to show off the sandwich, made on plain white bread and American cheese and cooked with no oil or butter. She said she took a bite after making it 10 years ago and saw a face staring back at her from the bread.

Duyser, 52, put the sandwich in a clear plastic box with cotton balls and kept it on her night stand.

At first, she was scared by the image, "but now that I realize how unique it is, I wanted to share it with the world," Duyser told The Miami Herald.

She said the sandwich has never sprouted a spore of mold.

I'm still waiting for my tortilla

Sears, Kmart to Merge in $11B Deal

News tidbit

Not sure how this will shake out yet, we are exploring marketing programs with both companies....
Sears, Kmart to Merge in $11B Deal:
Sears and Kmart, troubled in recent years by declining sales and dwindling market share, announced a merger today that will create the nation's third largest retailer.

Is it just me, or does everyone get annoyed by the overuse of military metaphors? Sports writers and athletes are among the worst offenders, but marketers are guilty as well. It irks me to read crap like this:

Creative declares marketing 'war' against iPod:
Creative Technology Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Sim Wong Hoo told reporters in Singapore his company plans to spend US$100 million in 2005 in a marketing war aimed squarely at Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod. "The MP3 war has started and I am the one who has declared war," Hoo said.



I'm sort of annoyed that Land Rover has appropriated music from one of my sleeper band favorites from the Garage Rock era (mid-60's, famously compiled by Lenny Kaye in Nuggets)

Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era is a compilation album of garage rock from the mid to late 60s, assembled by Jac Holzman, founder of Elektra Records. Assisting him was Lenny Kaye, who later became the guitarist for the Patti Smith Group. Together, the two men assembled a 2-LP set of American garage rock cuts. The LP was originally released in 1972. The liner notes, penned by Lenny Kaye, gave a brief biography of each band.

The stripped-down music of groups like the 13th Floor Elevators, the Electric Prunes, the Blues Magoos and the Chocolate Watchband resonated with budding musicians of the 1970's, who were tired of slick, corporate rock. Many credit the influence of these groups on the punk movement that was to soon explode in both the UK and the US.

or check out the song

The SonicsHave Love Will Travel

Some Sonics albums

Here are the Sonics
Here are the Sonics

Anyway, the Sonics best song, Strychnine, isn't used on the Land Rover commercial (the commercial uses, Have Love, Will Travel), but since all of the Sonics songs have a similar driving rhythm, with some exuberant screams by the lead vocalist (Gerry Roslie), I'm afraid I'll grow disenchanted with the band. I cannot listen to London Calling anymore since Jaguar appropriated it, and played the hell out of it. There should be some law that music I like cannot be overplayed by commercial entities.

NBA's new marijuana policy

Cheap shot, but hey...

“I don't know what to expect right now, but we as players have to do what we've got to do to make sure that the pot is spread equally.” -- Jim Jackson on a new collective bargaining agreement
as quoted by The Sports Guy


Steve Gilliard has a valid point; America has been a police state, and not that long ago.

Steve Gilliard's News Blog : An American police state in action:
The reason I'm pretty harsh on the people talking about leaving America for more politically suitable climes is simple: America hasn't been all that good for black people.

I remember reading Jack Greenberg's autobiography. Now, Jack Greenberg was the head of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund after Thurgood Marshall and his long time deputy.

One of his cases which sticks in my mind is one he had in North Carolina. The state wanted to give him eight years for walking across the street from a white woman and looking at her. That's it. Looking at a white woman. Didn't even whistle at her. When Emmitt Till did , he was beaten, castrated, murdered and tossed from a bridge with a refrigerator tied to his back. At the age of 14.

Unless George Bush brings back segregation, I think fleeing is a severe overreaction. Because many of you really don't understand how hellish America can be. Until 1967, blacks couldn't go into the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They would be refused entry by the guards. Thomas Hoving stopped that as one of his first acts as director. That wasn't Alabama, that was New York, three years after my birth.

People forget or are unaware of what a real American police state was like. You can call it Mississippi. When ONE black man, a crazy man named James Meredith, tried to go to Ole Miss, there were days of riots. People died. When little girls wanted to go to a "white" school, they had to bring in the 101st ABN.

Read the rest

However, I doubt many liberals are actually going to move to Canada: it is nothing more than a rhetorical device, expressing disgust with the election results. It's gotten some press because it fits the 'soundbite' media template, but if you look at actual immigration statistics a year from now, I bet there isn't going to much of a spike.

More from Steve:

People forget what American used to be like. They forget that repression actually didn't just exist in America, it was the law of the land.

Could things get bad? Sure. But you don't whine about it, you fight to change it. These people weren't playing, they weren't talking about adjusting the law, they didn't follow any law and they damn near killed Hamer for asking for the right to vote. They followed her, sent informents on her, used the law to get her.

People forget that if there had been a national vote on segregation, the law would not have changed. The FBI and state police fed every dirty tidbit of info they had on these people, leaked it to the media, tried to pick more suitable leaders. People remember the civil rights strugle from a few key moments, but it was an 11 year fight from Brown to the Civil Right Act of 1965. And even within the black community, challenging the white power structure was not a popular act. It was nasty political battle from day one, and a lot of people sat on their hands or sided with the people in power, and they had good excuses. But they were only excuses.

So when people talk about Bush, I remember America has been a lot worse if you weren't white.

Jeff Tweedy on File Sharing

Jeff Tweedy interviewed by Wired Magazine says:

A piece of art is not a loaf of bread. When someone steals a loaf of bread from the store, that's it. The loaf of bread is gone. When someone downloads a piece of music, it's just data until the listener puts that music back together with their own ears, their mind, their subjective experience. How they perceive your work changes your work. Treating your audience like thieves is absurd. Anyone who chooses to listen to our music becomes a collaborator. People who look at music as commerce don't understand that. They are talking about pieces of plastic they want to sell, packages of intellectual property. I'm not interested in selling pieces of plastic.

More from Wired:

Wired News: Music Is Not a Loaf of Bread;:
WN: What are your thoughts on the RIAA's ongoing lawsuits against individual file sharers?

Tweedy: We live in a connected world now. Some find that frightening. If people are downloading our music, they're listening to it. The internet is like radio for us.
WN: You don't agree with the argument that file sharing hurts musicians' ability to earn a living?
Tweedy: I don't believe every download is a lost sale.
WN: What if the efforts to stop unauthorized music file sharing are successful? How would that change culture?
Tweedy: If they succeed, it will damage the culture and industry they say they're trying to save.
What if there was a movement to shut down libraries because book publishers and authors were up in arms over the idea that people are reading books for free? It would send a message that books are only for the elite who can afford them.
Stop trying to treat music like it's a tennis shoe, something to be branded. If the music industry wants to save money, they should take a look at some of their six-figure executive expense accounts. All those lawsuits can't be cheap, either.

i wish Tweedy could convince a few record company execs of this line of reasoning. Read entire interview here

Conet Project

I have the Conet Project, referenced in this article from Wired, and it is quite a listen. D, a less adventurous listener than I, asks me to fast-forward when tracks play on the iPod (in the car). Sometimes I comply, but sometimes not, the 'tracks' are frequently quite short.

I like it a lot.
The great S.F. record store, aquarius records, has it available, if you feel adventurous.

Wired News: Dark Side of the Band:
Across the world, high-powered transmitters with global reach are broadcasting seemingly meaningless strings of numbers or letters, along with a lot of buzzing and beeping noises.

Some have speculated that the signals from these "numbers stations" are operated by drug cartels. However, it's more likely they're run by intelligence agencies, as tacitly acknowledged by the British government, and accidentally by the Cubans.
A subculture of obsessive listeners has built up around the stations, despite the fact that they have little hope of ever decoding the signals.

Such is the curiosity value of these oddball transmissions that they have had an impact on popular culture and have been featured in the movie Vanilla Sky and music by Wilco, Porcupine Tree and Stereolab. A U.K.-based label, Irdial Discs, released a four-CD recording of various stations, an odd soundtrack approaching conceptual art.

Read more

Wrigley To Buy Life Savers, Altoids

Business Brief

Wrigley To Buy Life Savers, Altoids:
Candy and gum maker Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. announced Monday it has agreed to buy a number of candy brands, including Life Savers and Altoids, from Kraft Foods for $1.48 billion.

Bacteria waiting for their movie

This article about the life and power of bacteria creeps me out, but I can foresee a Sci-Fi plot being written from some of the tenets....sounds pretty much like they are beings from another galaxy, in struggle to take over, slowing killing their hosts. Or something like that...

From the Chicago Tribune Magazine:

When Christopher Reeve died last month of a bacterial infection, he was surrounded by doctors who were powerless to prevent the lethal microbes from overwhelming his body's defenses. ... The problem is increasingly alarming because of bacteria's well-known ability to develop resistance to even the most up-to-date antibiotics. Although many patients contract infections they didn't come into the hospital with, many also bring along germs that have been living peacefully inside them for their entire lives and which suddenly flare up. These patients often die because no drugs work against the microorganisms.

But continually inventing new antibiotics isn't the answer, says Dr. John Alverdy, a gastroenterological surgeon and researcher at the University of Chicago. Instead of trying to kill bacteria, Alverdy is developing an approach that, in effect, makes them feel safe and content inside their human host. If they don't sense a need or opportunity to attack, he reasons, they remain happy campers and no infection occurs.

A similar problem exists with the most deadly pathogen of all, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the one that's getting Alverdy's attention. It is antibiotic-resistant, extremely quick to act and metabolically diverse; that is, it can grow anyplace it finds one of the vast array of nutrients it can subsist on. It is found almost everywhere, including drinking fountains, faucets, streams, moist soil and the surface of vegetables.

"The average person is exposed to Pseudomonas aeruginosa every day," says Dr. Alan Hauser, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Northwestern University.

An estimated 70 percent of those infected with it die. It claims the lives of 60 percent of patients in burn units, 50 percent of AIDS patients and most of those with cystic fibrosis. Alverdy reasoned that he should start with this most wanton of killers. "If I could defeat the worst [form of bacteria], then I could apply that template of discovery to defeat many of the others," he says.

Those include germs like the ones that cause bacterial pneumonia and are now 20 percent resistant to penicillin. In some cases, says Salyers, half the bacteria of a particular species are resistant to at least one antibiotic. "What's at stake," she says, "is the possible loss of the effective use of antibiotics. This would be the first time in history that a cure was actually lost."

Alverdy argues that killer bacteria are innately benign and only turn virulent when they sense the host's tissue defenses are weakened, threatening their environment-the intestines, in the case of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

"When the host is traumatized, bacteria like Pseudomonas aeruginosa are like rats leaving a sinking ship," says Dr. James Shapiro, professor of genetics at the U of C and an expert on bacterial behavior. "It makes sense for bacteria in a dying host to escape" by killing the host with its lethal toxins.

Based on pioneering research by Shapiro showing that bacteria are social organisms that can communicate with each other, Alverdy and his partner, Dr. Eugene Chang, professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, developed a compound that interferes with those communications.

In a recent study, they induced stress in laboratory mice and then introduced Pseudomonas aeruginosa directly into their intestines. All the mice died of the resulting infection, called gut-derived sepsis. However, when Alverdy and Chang treated the mice with their compound, a form of polyethylene glycol, the mice were completely protected. Amazingly, a virulent attack was prevented though not a single bacterium was killed.

Chang explains that the high-molecular-weight polyethylene glycol they used acts as an artificial mucus. A non-toxic polymer, it coats the bacteria and intestines and blocks the signals the microbes would otherwise send each other to mass for war and release lethal toxins. The study was recently published in the journal "Gastroenterology.


Alverdy believes his study shows that the strategy of foiling bacterial communication holds more promise than using antibiotic drugs to fight an attack after it starts.

"Drug companies have spent billions of dollars trying to manipulate inflammation after it is initiated and have universally failed," says Alverdy. "Why not interdict before it occurs?"

Antibiotic treatment merely creates a never-ending, escalating arms race between medical researchers and bacteria, he says. And the bacteria always stay one step ahead of advances by quickly generating a genetic defense against the drugs. "Because generations of bacteria have faced multiple attempts at their elimination," he notes, "they have evolved the means to perpetually develop and refine their virulence capabilities."

Able to divide every 20 minutes, a bacterial cell could produce 5 billion progeny cells in just under 11 hours. "In the short term, we may be more clever than the bugs," says Alverdy, "but in the long term, they are more clever than we are . . . . We are just starting to understand how clever they are about changes in our biochemistry."

Shapiro agrees: "Bacteria are small, but they're not stupid," he says, noting that bacteria are very sophisticated in their information processing. "Every time a bacterium divides, tens of millions of biochemical processes have to be coordinated and controlled. The bacterial cell is the ultimate, just-in-time production facility."

This cell-to-cell communication is what allows Pseudomonas aeruginosa to make decisions about whether to assemble and secrete lethal toxins, Shapiro's research shows. "A single bacterium would not take on a host," he says. "They can sense their population density. When they sense how many of their own group are around and realize that the numbers are sufficient to kill the host, they attack."

On average, we have 500 to 700 species of bacteria living in or on our bodies, 3 trillion in all. A newborn baby has no "flora," a term used to describe the full array of microbes that inhabit our intestines and other structures. But around the 7th to 10th day the baby acquires all the flora it will have for the rest of its life from the environment.

The trillions of bacteria live in our intestines, sharing a kind of peaceful coexistence. But certain stresses, like surgical trauma, send signals that can cause bacteria to become virulent.

And a hospital intensive-care unit "is a strange new world for the bacteria," Alverdy says. "It's as though the bacteria is saying, 'I've been in your body for 50 years, and now I'm in an intensive care unit. They're attacking you with drugs. They won't let you eat, won't let you poop. They put the food in your veins so I have to go into your bloodstream to eat.' "

Although the bacteria have been alerted to the fact that the host is diseased and vulnerable, they have no reason to attack until the severity of the illness and the harshness of the therapies converge to create an alarming change in the bacterial environment. At that point they sense that the host has become a liability and signal each other to ascertain if there are enough of them to invade, inflame or kill the host. If the numbers are sufficient, they launch an assault.

Conversely, says Alverdy, when patients in the ICU are fed again, taken off morphine and begin to have bowel movements, the infection disappears. This, he believes, is because the bacteria sense that the host's health is improving.

Bacteria know that their survival is dependent on their host's survival, says Alverdy. "Organisms have a history of jumping to new hosts to survive, having moved, historically, from crops into cows and into man. A bacteria that kills its [sick] host has the chance that a bird will eat the carcass and ingest it, giving it a new lease on life."

Alverdy, Chang and others have formed a company in an effort to continue their research. "We have just had an offer in the millions of dollars for the licensing rights to high molecular weight [polyethylene glycol]," says Alverdy. They are awaiting approval from the FDA to begin human clinical trials. The first two populations that will undergo the trials are bone marrow transplant patients and children at risk for a type of colitis.

George Bush

George Bush:
"I have opinions of my own -- strong opinions -- but I don't always agree with them."

I think this is a pretty inane idea. I seriously hope it doesn't catch on. If you can't figure out how to transcribe your ideas and thoughts into written words, I don't really care to hear your self-absorbed blather. I get plenty of that in the 'real world'.

thanks, but no freakin' thanks!

Visual Communicator - Award-Winning video blog software makes creating video blogs easy.:
Video Blogs

Visual Communicator makes it incredibly easy to create and share personal video messages in just minutes. Create your very own video blogs to share your opinions about anything and everything—politics, sports, hobbies, travel, work, movies—you name it. The software works with any webcam or camcorder, and includes a teleprompter to help you deliver your message professionally, graphical templates to save time, and dazzling TV effects. You can easily publish your videos for the Internet so they can be uploaded to any website and shared with people all over the world.

If you are bored enough to watch the little video demo, you'll have to laugh. A blow-dryed blonde, trying to look sincere. Cheese classic!

Bob Dylan, subversive

WTF! Pretty freakin' scary events in our former-republic. First a Livejournal writer (anniesj) gets investigated by the Secret Service for some sarcastic remark about the President, and now this- you might think that free speech lost on Nov 3rd as well. From ABC News:
ABC News: School Talent Show Draws Secret Service:
Parents and students say they are outraged and offended by a proposed band name and song scheduled for a high school talent show in Boulder this evening, but members of the band, named Coalition of the Willing, said the whole thing is being blown out of proportion.

The students told ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver they are performing Bob Dylan's song “Masters of War” during the Boulder High School Talent Exposé because they are Dylan fans. They said they want to express their views and show off their musical abilities.

But some students and adults who heard the band rehearse called a radio talk show Thursday morning, saying the song the band sang ended with a call for President Bush to die.

Threatening the president is a federal crime, so the Secret Service was called to the school to investigate.

Students in the band said they're just singing the lyrics and not inciting anyone to do anything.

The 1963 song ends with the lyrics: “You might say that I'm young. You might say I'm unlearned, but there's one thing I know, though I'm younger than you, even Jesus would never forgive what you do ... And I hope that you die and your death'll come soon. I will follow your casket in the pale afternoon. And I'll watch while you're lowered down to your deathbed. And I'll stand o'er your grave 'til I'm sure that you're dead.”


The students told KMGH they never threatened the president and never changed the lyrics to the song.

“It's just Bob Dylan's song. We were just singing Bob Dylan's song ... If you think it has to do with Bush that's because you're drawing your own conclusions. We never conveyed that Bush was the person we were talking about,” said Allysse Wojtanek-Watson, a singer for the band.

“She never said anything about killing Bush ... It's crazy, it's chaos. We have nothing in there it says about killing Bush,” band leader Forest Engstrom told KMGH.


[Principal Ron] Cabrera said Secret Service agents questioned him for 20 minutes and took a copy of the lyrics. They did not ask to speak to any of the students but they did question a teacher who had supervised a student protest that was held at the school last weekend. ... “I feel that the school and these students have been accused without being able to confront their accusers,” Cabrera said, adding that no student or parent had talked to him about the allegations. “Why would someone do that?”

story link via Juan Cole's Informed Comment

NBA news: Artest for Peja?

Hmm, the Kings need to shake something up, obviously, and Ron Artest is a quality player, but seems a little 'tightly wound' to fit in to the vaunted (or previously vaunted anyway) Kings clique. On the other hand, Brad Miller and Artest played together on the Chicago Bulls for a season or two, and were traded to Indiana together, so who knows? Seems like Miller and Artest were good friends. Could be interesting.

From the Detroit FreePress:Artest is ridiculous, but so was ESPN - 11/14/04:
The Indiana Pacers and the Sacramento Kings have been talking about a straight-up Artest for Peja Stojakovic trade. Stojakovic, unhappy and feeling alienated by his teammates in Sacramento, is merely going through the motions, averaging 13 points. The Kings are in the same position as the Pacers. They know they are going to have to trade one of their All-Star players.

Expect this trade to happen fairly soon.

Update 1/23/06 - Took the Pacers a while, but apparently the deal has gone down today. This event, a scant 6 days later, might have had something to do with the trade.

Or not

Windy City not

| 1 Comment

Another urban legend debunked, by Cecil Adams, of the Chicago Reader....

The Straight Dope: Did 90,000 people die of typhoid fever and cholera in Chicago in 1885?
...Chicago's nickname “the Windy City.” Common but erroneous belief had it that the sobriquet was coined circa 1890 by New York newspaper editor Charles Dana to lampoon Chicago's logorrheic boosters. Barry [Popik] established that, on the contrary, the term was already being used in 1885 with reference to the city's lake breezes, and he's since found instances dating from as early as 1876. Ignorance dies hard in Chicago, however. Despite Barry's tireless efforts, the discredited Charles Dana story is still being flogged by leading local institutions, including the Chicago Historical Society, the Chicago Public Library, and the Chicago Tribune.
Which brings us to cholera. In between helpings of the Dana fable, Chicagoans have repeatedly been told that 90,000 (or some other large number) of their predecessors perished from cholera, typhoid, and other waterborne diseases in 1885 when sewage discharged into Lake Michigan fouled the city's water supply. The most recent recounting of this tale (or anyway the most recent I've seen) appeared in the Chicago Tribune Magazine on March 21, 2004. Five minutes of research will suffice to demonstrate that the story is absurd. Chicago's population in 1885 was roughly 700,000. The loss of 90,000 to cholera would have meant a mortality rate of over 12 percent, or about one person in eight, an epidemiological catastrophe with few parallels in modern times. (For comparison, during the global influenza pandemic of 1918-'19, which some consider the most devastating disease outbreak in history, Philadelphia, the hardest-hit U.S. city, lost nearly 13,000 people, or less than 1 percent of its population.)

For the facts we turn to The Chicago River: A Natural and Unnatural History by Libby Hill (2000). Hill informs us that sanitary facilities in Chicago were wholly inadequate in 1885: sewers emptied into the Chicago River; after heavy rains, runoff caused sewage to flow far out into the lake, the city's source of fresh water. A torrential storm on August 2 of that year dropped five and a half inches of rain on the city in 19 hours, which under other circumstances might have meant disaster. To the relief of all, however, nothing happened, possibly because winds were out of the northeast, which may have kept effluent from reaching the water intake two miles offshore. No cholera deaths were reported (the disease was unknown in Chicago after the 1860s), and the typhoid rate for the year was only slightly above average. Typhoid deaths during the 1880s never exceeded 1,000, peaking in 1891 at 1,700. (Alarmed by the 1885 close call, the city undertook the massive canal project that permanently reversed the flow of the river and ended the typhoid threat.)


Alan Corenk

Alan Corenk:
"Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they've told you what you think it is you want to hear."

Scotland smoking ban to go ahead

I wouldn't object if this ban was also instituted more here in the big Spud. Coming home after a night in a bar, everything smells like stale smoke: clothes, hair, skin, dna. Or, make reefer smoke acceptable, I wouldn't mind having that lingering thc smell, even though I don't smoke myself.
From the BBCScotland smoking ban to go ahead

Smoking is to be banned in enclosed public places in Scotland, the Scottish Executive decides.

The decision, which was a unanimous one by Scottish ministers, was announced in the Scottish Parliament by the First Minister, Jack McConnell.

Doctors and anti-tobacco groups had urged the executive to "be brave" and opt for a ban to improve public health.

Licensees have vowed to fight the ban, which follows similar moves by Ireland, Norway and parts of the USA.

Mr McConnell told MSPs that the ban would be in force from the spring of 2006.

Gadget Envy -Logitech Z-5500

I have serious gadget envy.

Ummm, can I have one? I've been good!

From Wired:

Wired News: These Speakers Go to 11:

It's Logitech's awesomely loud Z-5500 speakers.

Logitech's brand-new Z-5500 is a magnificently muscular speaker set for computers, game consoles and home theaters.

Costing about $300, the 500-watt system features five satellite speakers and a subwoofer with a huge 10-inch speaker. One of the largest on the market, the subwoofer really pumps it out. Put your hand next to it when it's cranking, and you can feel the wind.

In fact, the Z-5500 goes to 11. No kidding. When you reach the top of the volume dial, keep turning. The system goes into a boost mode, numbered 1 to 11.

It's an undocumented feature; a little Easter egg for juvenile fans of loud music -- like me.

Even at 11, there's no distortion, and there's no annoying buzz when the speakers are not in use.

Admittedly, the Z-5500 is played at sub-ear-splitting level most of the time, and it produces satisfyingly deep, rich and detailed sound. Thanks to the giant, house-shaking subwoofer, the system rumbles, even at low volumes.

The Z-5500 is one of the few systems that is LucasArts THX-certified, a guarantee it accurately re-creates the sound of a movie theater.

The system has a variety of inputs, including digital optical, which hooks into my Power Mac G5's digital optical-out port for flawless six-channel sound. Many DVD players, home theater systems and game consoles also have digital optical-out.

The system also has three stereo mini-jack connectors. Hook it to an iPod and you have the loudest iPod speaker system in the known universe.

The mini-jacks can be plugged into a PC sound card, individually or in combination, to deliver two, four or six channels. Otherwise, they can be plugged into three separate sources -- a CD player, game console and DVD.

Longing for a Blogging Candidate

Somehow, I don't see federal office-seekers taking the time to write daily blogs anytime soon, not until some of the old-timers retire at least. Bob Graham, maybe. Dick Durbin, probably not. I could see staffers from the campaign blogging, but the reason I read Atrios or Daily Kos is that they have quick tongues (keyboards), and campaign offices are notoriously risk-adverse. I don't see campaign blogs as very interesting reads.

Longing for a Blogging Candidate:
Although blogs like Daily Kos have demonstrated some possibilities of the medium, political candidates haven't bought into them, and probably won't anytime soon. By Daniel Terdiman.


Jay Rosen, another popular blogger, said bloggers who want their medium to have more influence in politics need to find a way to demonstrate to candidates the many benefits of blogging, and try to find a trailblazer to set an example.

"We should get the highest person we can in 2006," Rosen said, "a politician in office, to understand that if he blogs himself, he'll be able to revolutionize (communication) for his constituents."

While a blog offers the promise of a two-way discussion between bloggers and their visitors, there's no practical way for any individual blogger to interact with more than a few readers. And that would be especially true in the case of a politician blogger, as the number of readers would easily outstrip any possible direct communication.

Biddle, who was not at BloggerCon, thinks much of the barrier to effective blogging by candidates is fear and ignorance of the medium.

"I think candidates are still not aware of the value of them blogging and communicating with people through the internet and creating those kinds of conversations," Biddle said. "The only way it works is when the candidate is confident enough and the campaign is confident enough for them to be transparent. I mean that they're willing to expose themselves to a two-way conversation, and not (just) the message, the message, the message constantly."

Biddle also said he can't imagine many candidates taking the time to blog with any kind of frequency, given the demands on their time. But he doesn't agree with many of the BloggerCon attendees that a candidate's blog must be exclusively his or her voice. Instead, he said it's fine for a campaign to have a regularly updated blog written by someone able to act as a liaison between the community and the candidate, as long as the candidate sometimes participates personally.

"There are times when the readers need to hear from the candidate," said Biddle, "particularly when there are issues (like the Swift Boat attacks on Kerry) that the candidate needs to address."

But while Biddle said he thinks serious candidate blogging needs to begin at the top -- with presidential or federal-level candidates -- others disagree.

"I don't think it's going to happen from this level down," said Edward Cone, the moderator of a BloggerCon discussion on elections, and the author of "It's going to be from the ground up, not some big-name person deciding to do it."


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Panic, the makers of my FTP software (Transmit), also wrote Audion, now available for free. I used Audion in the (pre-OS X) past, along with SoundJam Pro, but iTunes has pretty much captured the OS X mp3 player market these days.

Panic - Extras - The True Story of Audion:
Consider this Audion's last day of high school. He'll still be off chilling at college, now completely free (of charge), probably growing a goatee, but he won't be running around like the crazy wildman he once was, in a state of — um — active development. And with that, my metaphor has strained to the bursting point.

In short, we didn't want Audion, flashy crazy Audion, to go with a whimper. We felt it was time to celebrate this one application — this one tiny tale in a world of millions — that's done so much for us, and whose customers and fans have helped us become what we are today, to whom we owe so much. It's time to inscribe in the great Mac App Yearbook.

It's time to tell Audion's story.

Read more, it's a fascinating story. Apparently, Audion was going to be bought by Apple (as the basis of iTunes), but because of scheduling problems, Apple bought Soundjam instead.


For some dad-blamed reason, my site-styles.css file keeps reverting to an earlier version. I am not sure how this is even freakin' possible! I've changed it three times so far. There must be somewhere that the old version gets updated when I re-create my site (say, after adding something to my index template). I'm trying to use one so kindly provided by

Can I make it stop? It's messing with my Feng-shui!

Now, I checked this page in Firefox 1.0 (instead of Safari), and the correct style sheet is being used. Apparently Safari is keeping the style-sheet.css in its cache, and even a "shift"-reload doesn't force it to grab the correct version.

A version of whack-a-mole? or just a glitch?

As U.S. Pushes Deeper Into Falluja, Rebels Attack Elsewhere:
Insurgents pressed attacks in the northern provincial capital of Mosul, opening a major new front in the fighting.


Haymarket, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

From the old Haymarket Memorial, now removed

A photo, displayed 50 times on various sites, but since I took it, I'm allowed. Taken May Day, of the old Haymarket Riot memorial, on Randolph and Desplaines, Chicago

My Telecom Co

I am slightly anxious about XO, they bought up my telecom co.: Allegiance, and if they fold as well, we might have to move. We have consolidated our phones and data both, and reconfiguring would figure to be a real biatch. SBC sucks, and their DSL service was such a joke we only lasted less than a month before switching to Allegiance.

From X-Change:Analysts: XO Results Disappointing

XO Communications Inc. Chief Executive Carl Grivner said this week the telecommunications company met its expectations in the third quarter, but a Wall Street research firm expressed doubt XO is fully funded.

XO reported a net loss of $134.1 million through the first nine months of 2004 and its cash balance has essentially been cut in half since the beginning of the year. XO, a national phone and data carrier to businesses, had $237.4 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Sept. 30, down from $478.6 million at the end of last year.

The company listed long-term debt of $354.1 million and accrued interest of $4.8 million as of Sept. 30, but XO does not need to make payments on its credit facility until 2009.

Still, Needham & Co. analysts say XO may no longer be fully funded. XO has promised to realize savings through the acquisition of Dallas-based Allegiance Telecom Inc., but analysts say integration of the companies is proving more difficult than anticipated.

“This company doesn’t look like they are anywhere close to the plan of integrating Allegiance and getting $150 million of synergies,” says Needham & Co. analyst Vik Grover.

Grover, who recommends a “hold” on XO shares, said XO is not generating sufficient EBITDA. XO reported consolidated EBITDA of $20.5 million, but the company noted settlements of disputes with other carriers and one-time adjustments improved its net loss and EBITDA by approximately $15 million. Excluding carrier settlements, Needham & Co. expected XO to generate EBITDA of $7 million, compared to actual results of $5.5 million. Grover says Allegiance alone was generating more than $5 million in monthly EBITDA.

“It’s not over but these guys have serious challenges,” Grover says.

NBA salary cap news

No word if Eddy Curry is affected by this projection; no doubt Shandon Anderson and Eddie Robinson both were bought out/cut because of - NBA - Slams and Dunks: Mile High summer:

One possible explanation for the leaguewide willingness to splash big dollars this offseason: Teams have been notified that a forthcoming $37 million lump-sum payment to the Lakers from a local cable operator should - stress should -- increase Basketball Related Income this summer by roughly $74 million.

If that payment goes through, as expected, the probability of the luxury tax being triggered next season could be as low as 10 percent. That's according to University of North Carolina-Greensboro economics professor Dan Rosenbaum, our longtime luxury-tax expert. Rosenbaum estimates the probability of a luxury tax after the 2004-05 season at 50 percent if the lump-sum payment to the Lakers is held up in court or for any other reason.


Molly Ivins, a good read as always, makes this point(s)....

The Bush administration is going to be wired around the neck of the American people for four more years, long enough for the stench to sicken everybody. It should cure the country of electing Republicans.

And at least Democrats won't have to clean up after him until it is real clear to everyone who made the mess.

In some circles, that will be seen as sour grapes. But in Texas, we've been losing elections to the demagogic triad of God, gays and guns long enough to be pretty cynical about how it works out. I'm sure millions of Americans voted for George W. under the honest impression that he stands for moral values -- family, patriotism, faith in God. I'm sure it's the Democrats' fault that such a silly ruse is allowed to stand. What Bush actually does stand for is nicely summed up by a rather common news story that got stuck on the business pages lately.

In September, Merck & Co., the huge drug manufacturer, pulled Vioxx off the market. Vioxx was a popular pain-killing, anti-arthritis drug, but Merck said it was putting patients' safety first. A new study from the Federal Drug Administration showed high doses of Vioxx triple the risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death.

From there, the story bifurcates -- it takes two directions. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa revealed that the FDA had tried to silence the author of the study, Dr. David Graham, associate director of science in the Office of Drug Safety. Grassley said the FDA first sat on Graham's study and that then he was "ostracized" and "subjected to veiled threats and intimidation."

The Wall Street Journal followed the other fork, finding internal memos from Merck showing that company officials may have been aware of the dangers of Vioxx as long ago as 1996, including a memo apparently instructing its sales reps to "dodge" the question when doctors asked about the cardiac record of Vioxx.

In short, we have a toothless regulatory agency in the pocket of the industry it is supposed to patrol. We have an administration-wide contempt for science and plain facts. And the allegation against the folks at Merck is that they were making such enormous profits on a drug that killed people that when they knew or suspected it was killing people, they kept right on selling it. When the information that Merck had known for a long time about Vioxx and heart attacks became public, the company's stock fell by 9.6 percent.

That's the system George W. Bush stands for: where a corporation can knowingly kill people for profit and, when it finally comes out, everyone knows the penalties will be so light the company doesn't even lose a tenth of its worth. Hey, just a little bump in the road.

Now playing, Hallelujah, - Buckley, Jeff, from the album, Grace

PS: Killer halftone effect

PS: Killer halftone effect:

In PhotoShop you can create halftone effects (like the background of the type behind the word halftone in the image above) in just few steps with the help of the Bitmap Image Mode. This effect is very popular because it confuses and mesmerizes your eyes if used with enough contrast.

First create an object that you gonna use as your base for your halftone effect. Use the grayscale image mode at this stage. Try bulky typefaces or simple shapes to achieve the best effect.


Eugene McCarthy

| 1 Comment

Ah, Politics....

Eugene McCarthy:

"Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important."

Fonts and CSS

I guess the days of winging it are over, and I'll have to tackle learning MTs Style sheets, which in turn means I have to learn how to use CSS, which means I might have to buy a book about it or something. Yikes!

Roots, Religion & Dylan

From BeliefNet we read:

Bob Dylan memoir traces his musical and spiritual journey --

"Those old songs are my lexicon and prayer book," Bob Dylan said in 1997, when the release of his "Time Out of Mind" album returned him to his rightful place front and center in the rock ‘n roll consciousness after years of uncertain drift. "All my beliefs come out of those old songs, literally, anything from ‘Let Me Rest on that Peaceful Mountain’ to ‘Keep on the Sunny Side.’ You can find all my philosophy in those old songs. I believe in a God of time and space, but if people ask me about that, my impulse is to point them back toward those songs. I believe in Hank Williams singing ‘I Saw the Light.’ I’ve seen the light, too."

Around this time, Dylan gave another interview about American roots music—like the songs of Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers, several of which he was singing in his concerts. "That’s my religion," he said. "I don’t adhere to rabbis, preachers, evangelists…I’ve learned more from the songs than I’ve learned from any of this kind of entity."

yeah, brother, testify!


I have gotten frustrated with my blogger account, so signed up for a month with typepad. I might tackle using MovableType, but the installation looks like it isn't trivial. I printed instructions, but I might have to move B12 Partners to another host to use perl. Maybe not, but possibly.

I prefer having my blog on my own site, but blogger is really giving me problems and I'm tired of fighting just to make a post.
Ok, I think I've gotten MT to work, but I'm not sure how.

Processes: 73

Averages: 0.47 0.34 0.21

Uptime: 2 days 4:04

Movable Type

First time through my movable type installation didn't take. Eventually, I deleted it (I think), and am trying to reinstall. Yeesh. I found one error: I neglected to remove a "#" for StaticWebPath

James Dolan, Dorkweed

Maybe Bloomberg and Dorkweed Dolan could rent a room and spank each other for a while. It could be a pay-per-view event, but I imagine the ratings would be pretty low....

From - NFL - NY mayor rips Cablevision over anti-stadium ads

NEW YORK -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg scolded Cablevision on Tuesday, saying the corporate owner of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and Madison Square Garden should spend money on its stumbling sports teams instead of on ads criticizing him and a proposed West Side stadium for the Jets.

“The Knicks are going to have a struggle,” Bloomberg said. “I think the coach is a good coach. He could use a lot more money. They'd be better off spending their money there than (on) these ridiculous ads. As for these ads, they are outrageous lies.”

Cablevision Systems Corp., the primary opponent of a $1.4 billion sports complex on the West Side of Manhattan, has produced a series of television ads that have become increasingly disparaging of the mayor.

The advertisements, which air regularly on television and radio, claim that the city's $300 million contribution to the project makes no sense given its potential budget deficits for the next three years. Cablevision also is concerned that a new stadium would compete for entertainment events with Madison Square Garden, located a few blocks away.


On Tuesday, Bloomberg, who attends Knicks and Rangers games regularly, belittled Cablevision for its ad costs given the amount of tax breaks the company receives from the city.

“Well, I don't know why the stockholders of Cablevision put up with it,” Bloomberg said. “Cablevision has probably spent the same amount of money producing ads that the tax break that the taxpayers of this state have given them. If they spent $11 million more on the Knicks, maybe the Knicks would be a better team and that would fill Madison Square Garden.”

Madison Square Garden Chairman James Dolan, Dorkweed, responded: “The mayor is trying to hide a flawed and financially risky plan by taking cheap shots at Madison Square Garden.”

The stadium would be built on the three blocks bound by 30th and 33rd streets and 11th and 12th avenues. Besides housing the Jets, it would be designed to host conventions and concerts.


The city hopes to begin construction next spring, but the state Legislature and the City Council must approve the plan. Public hearings will be held soon.

Glenn Robinson, over-rated

The 76ers need to make a decision on Glenn Robinson tomorrow, when he is eligible to come off the injured list. They could trade him, buy out his contract, activate him or leave him in the limbo where he currently finds himself. Whatever they intend to do, president and general manager Billy King is not tipping his hand. King said the Sixers are actively shopping Robinson, a career 20.8-point scorer who has yet to play a game this season. But he indicated that talks with other teams aren't yielding the names of players who would appeal to the Sixers in return.
Philadelphia Inquirer


Figuring out how to configure this new site, but the categories don't seem to be clickable. Something sort of odd. Turned out that I needed to copy mt.js to the static location. Wheeee.....

Andrew Sullivan and Buttoxia

I watched Bill Maher's last HBO show, before hiatus, with his guest, the irritatingly smug and duplicitous Andrew Sullivan, but TiVo cut out the last minute or so, where apparently Sullivan started massaging his own buttocks.

James Wolcott caught it however:

The strangest thing in the broadcast happened when the show was over. The panelists stood, Sullivan's back to the camera, and as the credits rolled, he began squeezing, massaging his own buttocks with his hands. I thought he might be trying to dislodge a thong strap that had run up rather deep, but no, he seemed to be feeling up his own butt. I've never seen anything quite like it, unless I was hallucinating, and if I start hallucinating about Andrew Sullivan copping a feel of his own butt, it's time to check into the clinic for a little Elizabeth Wurtzel layoff.

So I beg any blogger able to do a “screen-grab,” if you're pardon the expression, to study the last few minutes of this week's Real Time with Bill Maher and assure me my mind's not playing mad tricks.

Sullivan is such an ass, the B12 viewing party had to stop the show periodically to yell at the screen in disgust. I especially hate his repeated point that Kerry lost because of liberal elitist condescension towards Red-Staters. Uh, huh. I'm sure there were so many Christian Evangelicals who were going to vote for Kerry, but because they heard that Tim Robbins was campaigning for Kerry, they changed their minds and voted for Bush instead. Puh-lease.

Sullivan also tried to portray liberals and especially Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky (looking a little older than last time I've seen him speak) as America-haters. Sullivan, you jack-ass, I've heard both men repeatedly proclaim America is a great country, and that neither would want to live anywhere else. Since when does criticism of policy equal rabid-foam-mouthed hatred?

Wolcott again:

Like an infant banging his spoon on the high-chair tray, Sullivan threw quite a tantrum last night after Maher had the GALL to interview Noam Chomsky. Sullivan sputtered that Chomsky made “millions” going around the world telling audiences America was “evil.” Now I don't pretend to have read or heard all of the millions of words Chomsky has written and spoken, but “evil” doesn't seem to be a prominent word in his vocabulary, being so theological; he tends to talk in terms of brutal realpolitick and self-interest. And it's highly unlikely he's raking in “millions”--if he is, he isn't splurging on wardrobe and pimpmobiles.

Since every war criminal in the current Bush administration will be able to command huge honoraria on the lecture circuit and lucrative positions on corporate boards once they leave the bloodshed behind, working up ire over a professor's speaking fees seems a bit much.

Unable to impart the red depths of Chomsky's villainy to host and panel, Sullivan attacked Chomsky for being symptomatic of an America-hating elitist left.

update - thanks to the miracle of YouTube, this moment is captured for posterity. Err, something.

direct link here

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Rainy day

Why can't I be here (Isle of Capri, I think), instead of rain-filled 49 degree Chicago?

Isle of CapriImage courtesy of Mermaniac

See more of his photos, here

popular cds

Now playing, Hanzvadzi (Zimbabwe), - Thomas Mapfumo, from the album, Vanhu Vatema

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