Saturday, January 31, 2004

Detroit's giant stove and tire have nothing on the giant cash register

Friday, January 30, 2004

Alan Pollack's intensely rigorous analysis of Beatles songs.
I know a lot of Beatles fanatics, but this guy takes song deconstruction to microscopic granularity. Even if you're just a casual fan, and not interested in the exquisite details of the songs' arrangement, be sure to read Alan's fantastic "Other Thoughts" at the bottom of each page for a more subjective analysis. This site is an absolute treasure chest for anyone interested in the Beatles. Brilliant work.
Steganography: How to send a secret message. A couple-year-old but still very interesting article.
Whale explodes. (From Bifurcated Rivets)
Speaking of stinking behemoths, Disney is losing Pixar.
A guy went for an entire month eating nothing but McDonalds fast food, and made a film about it. A CNN Interview with Mr. Spurlock is here. Eric Schlosser, who wrote Fast Food Nation, did something similar while researching his book.

In just one month, 33-year-old Morgan Spurlock goes from being a slender, robust man to a bloated slug with creaky knees and drastic mood swings.
He gains 25 pounds. His cholesterol soars. His liver function is dangerously impaired. At one point, his doctor gravely warns him about when he might want to call 911.
Yet all this physical and mental distress is self-imposed. In order to make a point about the deteriorating American diet and resulting obesity epidemic, Spurlock vowed to eat nothing but food offered at McDonald's for 30 days. The result is "Super Size Me," ...
[The outlawing of Science]
Georga Education official wants the word "evolution" removed.
The state's school superintendent has proposed striking the word evolution from Georgia's science curriculum and replacing it with the phrase "biological changes over time."
Cox, a Republican elected to the post in 2002, repeatedly referred to evolution as a "buzzword" Thursday and said the ban was proposed, in part, to alleviate pressure on teachers in socially conservative areas where parents object to its teaching.

Any math teacher who insisted to her students that 2+2=3 would be removed from her position in a hot minute. It's disturbing how this assault on proven science goes unpunished in these intellectual backwaters. Perhaps they'll replace this hole in their curriculum with some good ole lynchin' classes.
The complete text of the Bhagavad-Gita on a link found on the giant Internet India History Sourcebook

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Make a digital picture frame out of an old laptop.
Bush is the worst environmental president in the nation's history. Period. The proofs are irrefutable, and the list of his administration's sinister assaults on the pale blue dot we all call home is painful and tragic and punishable in the afterlife by seven billion years of listening to Lynne Cheney being scraped across a chalkboard.

No natural resource has been left unmolested: From forest management to air quality to water pollution to emissions standards to land management to industrial farming to reduced controls on heavy polluters to global warming to nuclear waste to our energy policy, BushCo has made atrociously efficient progress in decimating, in just three short years, 30 years of staunch environmental protections.

Mother Jones article on a free-market, green alternative to the Bush environmental slaughter
Oh no, no, no, no, NO! Say it ain't so, GodFather. James Brown, here looking decidedly funky-bad, on a domestic violence arrest.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Bird Training Records, with fantastic cover art scans
Mr. Gasser: Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's Show Cars
Some people modify toy cameras.
Creating an army of clones (with a Safeway frequent shopper card)
A Visit from the FBI (The Register UK)

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Wired did an article on bands who cover only soundtracks from Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games: Minibosses vs. NESkimos
Although the Minibosses come through with almost prog-like rendition of MegaMan 2, I have to give it to the NESkimos for their Double-Nickles Minutement-era rendition of "Mario" (although I subtract a point for using the totally bullshit CafePress for merch)
Both bands are insane for learning this stuff.
Jive Photo of the month.
The Internet Museum of Flexi/Cardboard/Oddity records
Want to see some really disturbing stats? Take a look at Bush's daily fundraising numbers
The Most Hated Company in Tech
Geometry as a proof of Truth from TruthInStuff, which has a bunch of interesting articles
The Real Real Deal
While John Kerry suffers from "terminal Senatitis," John Edwards exudes life and optimism.
New discoveries in Polar Bear physiology (NYTimes)

Monday, January 26, 2004

$477 Billion deficit.
Children should write letters to thank Mr. Bush for damning their generation to pay for his evil, murder, fake ideology, cronyism, and war-profiteering.
Googlebombing: Manipulating search results for fun and political agenda.
CBS on SuperBowl Ads: Alcohol, Tobacco and Bush are welcome; is not.
During this year's Super Bowl, you'll see ads sponsored by beer companies, tobacco companies, and the Bush White House.(1) But you won't see the winning ad in Voter Fund's Bush in 30 Seconds ad contest. CBS
refuses to air it.(2)

Meanwhile, the White House and Congressional Republicans are on the verge of signing into law a deal which Senator John McCain (R-AZ) says is custom-tailored for CBS and Fox,(3) allowing the two networks to grow much bigger. CBS lobbied hard for this rule change; members across the country lobbied against it; and now our ad has been rejected while the White House ad will be played. It looks an awful lot like CBS is playing politics with the right to free speech.

To sign the petition to CBS to let them know what you think about Government/Industry censorship and their support of the interests of the illegitimate ultraright regime, go here.
Small victory in war against Bush's environmental rampage.
A federal appeals court overturned a Bush administration decision to weaken energy-efficiency standards for new air conditioners, a move which could save American consumers $20 billion and avoid the need for up to 200 new electricity plants by 2030.
In 2001, 10 states including New York, California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts sued the U.S. Department of Energy to block it from scaling back an increase in minimum air conditioner energy-efficiency standards.

Friday, January 23, 2004

World's Largest Roadside Attractions
World's Largest Ball of Twine
World's Largest Ketchup Bottle
World's Largest Solar System Model
World's Largest Family of Jugglers
World's Largest Wagon
World's Largest Chair vs World's Other Largest Chair
World's Largest Toothpaste Collection
World's Largest Pipe Organs
World's Largest Flower (mystery solved!)
World's Largest Snake caught!
World's Largest Bed
World's Largest Published Book
World's Largest Wooden Nickel
World's Largest Color Photograph
World's Largest Glass of O.J.
World's Largest Teepee
World's Largest Chicken Skillet
World's Largest Fish Fossil
World's Largest Tree
Speaking of viscous farm attacks, the awesomely titled "Cruelest Farmer in Britian" got popped for throwing two people into a pit of 'slurry'.

He first grabbed Mr McCulloch, 28, by his overalls, dragged him across the yard and attempted to dunk him in the putrid liquid - consisting of mud, animal faeces and urine.

This sounds pretty bad. Even if we're not sure whether the slurry consisted animal faeces and animal urine, or animal faeces and cruel farmer urine. Either way. I'm also not sure how an almost-70 farmer did this to two people. Maybe, like some kind of farming, redneck hulk, his excess of cruelty manifested itself in superhuman strength. Leave it to the Brits to refer to a double-count of shit-dragging as an "affray".

[Your Tax Dollars at Work]
The ever-ridiculous Dick Cheney massacres farmed pheasants. Lots of them.
No report on whether he actually tried to shoot a few while they were still in their cages.
The court-appointed menacing pile topped off his slaughter-filled day by getting a ride in the ultimate asshole-mobile. I wonder if he's ever eaten a human baby?

More than 400 birds were killed in one lackadaisical afternoon. Dick himself blasted the living crap out of 70 birds, all by himself. That's right, 70. Plus an unknown number of mallard ducks. Then they had them all plucked and vacuum packed and sent back home to show off to the staff. Dick was driven back to the airport in a Humvee.
Democracy at Risk (NYTimes)
The disputed election of 2000 left a lasting scar on the nation's psyche. A recent Zogby poll found that even in red states, which voted for George W. Bush, 32 percent of the public believes that the election was stolen. In blue states, the fraction is 44 percent.

The operative word here is "stolen". Not stolen, as in "The Eagles had the playoffs stolen from them", but maliciously, criminally stolen by a fake.
Water (Ice) on Mars confirmed by European mission.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

How to build a simple robot
[Senate panel's GOP staff pried on Democrats]
The office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle has already launched an investigation into how excerpts from 15 Democratic memos showed up in the pages of the conservative-leaning newspapers and were posted to a website last November.

With the help of forensic computer experts from General Dynamics and the US Secret Service, his office has interviewed about 120 people to date and seized more than half a dozen computers -- including four Judiciary servers, one server from the office of Senate majority leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, and several desktop hard drives.
Winston Churchill's pet parrot is still alive (at 104 years old) (realaudio) and still cursing Nazis

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Big index of Surviving Steam Locomotives
Some are in better shape than others. Here's a U.S. Navy 0-6-0 beauty sitting behind a shed in Lewes, Delaware.
Spies, Lies, and Weapons: What Went Wrong
How could we have been so far off in our estimates of Saddam Hussein's weapons programs? A leading Iraq expert and intelligence analyst in the Clinton Administration—whose book The Threatening Storm proved deeply influential in the run-up to the war—gives a detailed account of how and why we erred.
Destressing in the geekosphere (Nature)
[Lying liar and the lie-filled liefest]
Dems on Bush's speech (Guardian)
Why do only European newspapers honestly confront this buffoonery?

On what planet is our economy considered "strong"? What color is the sky in this idiot's world?
Razor wars
Cooking a whole fish (NYTimes)
The Sons of the Pioneers
The massive Folk Music Index
Top 10 Open Source Tools for eActivism (via Bifurcated Rivets)

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Obsessive collectors: Japanese Pull-tab milk carton collection (courtesy of Coudal)
Lie Detector Glasses coming. Politicians nervous.
The company showed plain sunglasses outfitted with the technology at the 2004 International CES in Las Vegas earlier this month. The system used green, yellow and red color codes to indicate a "true," "maybe" or "false" response. At its CES booth, V Entertainment analyzed the voices of celebrities like Michael Jackson to determine whether they were lying.
Yee Haw! My vote cancels out y'alls! (from the Onion, who archived all of the brilliant T. Herman Zwiebel editorials)
You won't see this in the OnStar commercial.
The Independent sums up the President-pretend's record: George W. Bush and the Real State of the Union
The biggest deficit in U.S. history and tens of thousands of deaths are only part of the picture in this imbecile's history of abject failure.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Real Life Fight Club
Fight Club SF is a semi-clandestine operation, which surfaces from time to time, like "Brigadoon," and then disappears again. It was founded by a character who goes by the moniker of "Bloody Knuckles." Repeated efforts to talk to Bloody Knuckles were unsuccessful.

Mr. Knuckles appears to be obeying the First Rule.
Minnesota, home to multi-legged frogs, just stuffed and shipped their 6-legged cow.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Index of Japanese street trees
Nicked from my man Kurt, aka KidOfTokyo.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Republicans hate democracy. Lately they've been tampering with web poll results to falsify grassroots support for capturing Saddam.
Like cowards, they yanked the poll and replaced it with a vacuous Mars rover trivia question as of today.

Friday, January 16, 2004

The Ugliest Cars in Britain. Park them in front of the world's ugliest buildings, and you've got something.
[It was a searing sea of murderous lava and it was unstoppable]
A Gallery of New Scientist's favorite catastrophes
["The musicians instilled a suffering to the work that made you feel as if you were suffering yourself."]
Music Appreciation: Notes from the all-time greatest blowoff class ever offered anywhere.
From Concert Notes: "I like [Hoedown] because it made me feel like rustling up some cattle and eating a big juicy steak."
The Living Almanac of Disasters
God Hates Unmarried Losers (SfGate)
Chuck Close prints at the Met. The show includes an amazing 113 color, 27 plate Japanese woodblock print, "Emma" carved and executed by printmaker Yasu Shibata.
Met link.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

[Welcoming a surveillance society with open arms]
Supreme Court approves 'informational roadblocks' by police

Vile, Nazi practice approved 6-3 by the conservative Supreme Court.
Fallout from the Republican Regime's war on intellectualism and creativity
"Creative Class War: How the GOP's anti-elitism could ruin America's economy" by Richard Florida
Obviously, this shift has come about with the changing of the political guard in Washington, from the internationalist Bill Clinton to the aggressively unilateralist George W. Bush. But its roots go much deeper, to a tectonic change in the country's political-economic demographics. As many have noted, America is becoming more geographically polarized, with the culturally more traditionalist, rural, small-town, and exurban "red" parts of the country increasingly voting Republican, and the culturally more progressive urban and suburban "blue" areas going ever more Democratic. Less noted is the degree to which these lines demarcate a growing economic divide, with "blue" patches representing the talent-laden, immigrant-rich creative centers that have largely propelled economic growth, and the "red" parts representing the economically lagging hinterlands. The migrations that feed creative-center economies are also exacerbating the contrasts. As talented individuals, eager for better career opportunities and more adventurous, diverse lifestyles, move to the innovative cities, the hinterlands become even more culturally conservative.
Worlds fastest train will start running next week in China
When the War on Terror becomes a war on foreign grad students (Nature)

In the immediate aftermath of those events, the state department began expanding its 'Technology Alert List', designed to prevent dangerous technologies getting into the hands of terrorists or hostile states. It is now classified, but a version issued in August 2002 contained roughly 150 items, including such broad labels as 'microbiology', and common pieces of lab equipment such as low-energy lasers. So if you work on, say, infectious disease, or use relatively innocuous devices that have found their way onto the state department's list, your application to enter the United States is likely to be referred to the FBI and other federal agencies for a security review.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Prelinger Archives was founded in 1983 by Rick Prelinger in New York City. Over the next twenty years, it grew into a collection of over 48,000 "ephemeral" (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films. In 2002, the film collection was acquired by the Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Prelinger Archives remains in existence, holding approximately 4,000 titles on videotape and a smaller collection of film materials acquired subsequent to the Library of Congress transaction. Its goal remains to collect, preserve, and facilitate access to films of historic significance that haven't been collected elsewhere.

What's especially fantastic is the archive's GPL-like license to do whatever you want with the material on the site.
[Screw your customers]
Rental car companies are spying on car usage, then applying huge fees for fine-print contract violations.
Mr. Son received a shock when he returned the car. The $259.51 bill he expected had ballooned to $3,405.05 - most of it a result of a $1-a-mile fee for each of the 2,874 miles driven. It turned out that by crossing the state line, he had violated his contract with Payless.
Nice programmers shirt.
[Spammers vs. Baysean Blocking]
Wired on the random gibberish words that you get in spam.
The Register weighs in on the same. is exactly what it sounds like. Monks selling laser printer and inkjet supplies. The picture on their front page is great.
Bush is planning on spending 1.5 Billion dollars to promote marriage. Forcing right-wing ideology on people is nothing new to dark age Republicans, but to ask 1.5 Billion to do it is galling. People can't find work, can't feed their children, and can't provide healthcare, and they're wasting money on a narrow values agenda. Sickening. Its no surprise that the so-called Christians who are conspicuously silent when it comes to slaughtering innocent civilians during an illegal invasion are behind it.

The president's proposal may not be enough, though, for some conservative groups that are pushing for a more emphatic statement from him opposing gay marriage.

"We have a hard time understanding why the reserve," said Glenn T. Stanton, a policy analyst at Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian organization. "You see him inching in the right direction. But the question for us is, why this inching? Why not just get there?"

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Environmental Enemy: Subaru (NYTimes)

"This is a new low for the auto industry, and it would make George Orwell proud," said Daniel Becker, a global warming expert at the Sierra Club.


Oppose Airline Passenger Profiling
Despite strong opposition from airlines, privacy advocates and Members of Congress, the Bush Administration is pushing ahead with plans to implement a computerized airline passenger profiling program that would -- without making us any safer -- create secret blacklists of innocent people prevented from flying.
This new profiling system would use giant databases of personal information and secret intelligence information to perform a background check on any person who wishes to fly. Innocent people misidentified as terrorists could be barred from flying with no way of clearing their names.
The Year of the Fake (The Nation)

The blacklisting of the almanac was a fitting end for 2003, a year that waged open war on truth and facts and celebrated fakes and forgeries of all kinds. This was the year when fakeness ruled: fake rationales for war, a fake President dressed as a fake soldier declaring a fake end to combat and then holding up a fake turkey. An action movie star became governor and the government started making its own action movies, casting real soldiers like Jessica Lynch as fake combat heroes and dressing up embedded journalists as fake soldiers. Saddam Hussein even got a part in the big show: He played himself being captured by American troops. This is the fake of the year, if you believe the Sunday Herald in Scotland, as well as several other news agencies, which reported that he was actually captured by a Kurdish special forces unit.

It was Britain, however, that pushed the taste for fake to new levels. "Her main aim is to meet as many Nigerians as she can," the Queen's press secretary, Penny Russell, said of the monarch's December trip to Nigeria. But just as Bush never made it out of the airport bunker in Baghdad, the Queen's people decided it was too dangerous for her to mingle with actual Nigerians. So instead of the planned visit to an African village, the Queen toured the set of a BBC soap opera in New Karu, constructed to look like an authentic African market. During the "fake walkabout," as the Sunday Telegraph called it, the Queen chatted with paid actors playing regular villagers, while actual villagers watched the event on a large-screen TV outside the security perimeter.

Winning ads have been posted at Bushin30Seconds! focuses on the political landscape of rural America (8055 = 80% of the land; 55 Million people)
[LiarWatch] Army Study shreds Bush's motivations for war
A scathing new report published by the Army War College broadly criticizes the Bush administration's handling of the war on terrorism, accusing it of taking a detour into an "unnecessary" war in Iraq and pursuing an "unrealistic" quest against terrorism that may lead to U.S. wars with states that pose no serious threat.
The Bubble of American Supremacy by George Soros (the Atlantic)
Declaring war on terrorism better suited the purposes of the Bush Administration, because it invoked military might; but this is the wrong way to deal with the problem. Military action requires an identifiable target, preferably a state. As a result the war on terrorism has been directed primarily against states harboring terrorists. Yet terrorists are by definition non-state actors, even if they are often sponsored by states.

The war on terrorism as pursued by the Bush Administration cannot be won. On the contrary, it may bring about a permanent state of war. Terrorists will never disappear. They will continue to provide a pretext for the pursuit of American supremacy. That pursuit, in turn, will continue to generate resistance. Further, by turning the hunt for terrorists into a war, we are bound to create innocent victims. The more innocent victims there are, the greater the resentment and the better the chances that some victims will turn into perpetrators.
Princeton Astronomers draw New Map of the Entire Universe (NYTimes)
The world's smallest, lightest helicopter

Monday, January 12, 2004

[Journalism or Surrealism?] Is it just me or does anyone else think that ultra-right appologist William Saffire is laughing his ass off when he writes this absurd crap? (NYTimes)

"... taken together, this phased array of fallout to our decision to lead the world's war against terror makes the case that what we have been doing is strategically sound as well as morally right."
Wow! A massive archive of Commodore 64 game covers. I was always partial to Spelunker, and I still think someone needs to port it to the GameBoy Advance. What? No Space Taxi? (Courtesy of Metafilter)
No safety net for U.S. programmers when jobs go overseas. (Salon, 1-day membership reqd)
While on unemployment, Fusco, now 50, who lives in East Brunswick, N.J., applied for additional government support for workers whose jobs have been casualties of free trade and globalization.

But the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration determined that programmers like Fusco do not qualify, because of the nature of what they'd produced on their old jobs: software. The government cited commerce and trade rules that classify software as a "service" and "not a tangible commodity," rather than an "article" as the trade act stipulates.

In other words, code doesn't count.

This brings into question what other ways the difference between service and goods/commodities may be applied when speaking of software: Piracy? IP Ownership? Licensing rights?

SFGate has a good related column: The Decline and Fall of the American Job

I don't know what we or our government can do to reverse the movement of the United States toward Third World status. In Washington, it's all about money. The Republicans have always been the party of big business and money, and now the Democrats have joined them. The corporations are wonderfully represented, the people much less so.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

This is probably old-hat for many, but I just found the Covers Project, which shows what artists covered what by whom. Take a look at everyone who's covered the Beatles
Former Treasury Paul O'Neil on his former idiot boss
Never reluctant to speak his mind, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has aimed a few well-chosen words at President George W. Bush, describing his old boss at cabinet meetings as a "blind man in a room full of deaf people."

The president was disengaged and did not encourage a free flow of ideas or open debate, O'Neill said during an interview with CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" to be broadcast Sunday. O'Neill, who was dumped during a December 2002 purge of the Bush economic team, also said the president never asked him a single question during their first one-on-one meeting, which lasted an hour.

Friday, January 09, 2004

1978 Chewbacca Holiday Special (last link has some clips)
I used to think that this disturbing trend was a Philly/NYC thing, but apparently London candy-asses are getting guy manicures as well. Nancies!
The Condiment Packet museum - nicked from Bifurcated Rivets
[Rights Assault XXXIV]
The FBI and Justice Departments are upping their efforts to wiretap VoIP phone communication, effectively banning point-to-point encryption.
His Court-Appointed Imbecility is going to announce a space initiative in a speech next week. Initial projections predict that the speech will both a) be edited into very short sentences with vocabulary pinned to a sub-4th grade level, and b) contain loads of crap that he doesn't understand. He'll probably say something about keeping the moon free of "terr", and sincerely mean it. Looks of confused, simian aggression will be inflicted upon cameras as his tiny mind spins fantasies of goosestepping across Mars to designate new "free-speech" zones, or possibly drilling the Sun for its vast oil reserves. His eyes will certainly be way too close together ... almost as if they're straining to reach one another to join... to unite in a single, all-seeing ball of flaming, unblinking, seething hatred.

Need more proof?
A South Dakota construction worker does the ole "nail-through-the-skull' trick. That should teach them to build things in South Dakota...
[I'm #1]
A while back my band recorded a song and posted it to on a lark. I just found out that it has been rated the "best elevator song of all time", beating out legions of other hard-luck suckers such as ... well, everyone. Because its the best elevator song of ALL TIME. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the many, many Japanese who listen to this stuff and who mysteriously put our idiot songs on their playlists. Rest assured, with your continued support, hundreds more tuneful melodies will be caressing the eardrums of Asian elevator occupants for years to come.

As a matter of fact, our next album will be for Japanese consuption only. Screw everyone else. All hail the mighty Japanese.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Alphabetical list of NYC Buildings
Video artists on BushCo's lies, fraud, waste, cronyism, greed, opportunism, bloodlust, and bad faith:
Gamer wins back virtual booty in court battle
War Profiteers go Tradeshow (The Nation)
The screen at the front of the room is playing an advertisement for "bomb resistant waste receptacles": This trash can is so strong, we're told, it can contain a C4 blast. And its manufacturer is convinced that given half a chance, these babies would sell like hotcakes in Baghdad--at bus stations, Army barracks and, yes, upscale hotels. Available in Hunter Green, Fortuneberry Purple and Windswept Copper.

Fortuneberry purple?
"I have closed more companies than anyone in the world, so no one knows better about all the things that can go wrong in a business." Silicon Valley liquidator says that 2004 is going to be a boom year in the tech shutdown business with "6,500 to 7,500 companies out there who are among the walking dead."
Army awards contract to build "large, robotic dog" for battlefield use.
A suit alleges that George Harrison's doctor forced him to sign a guitar while he was dying.
``George was literally lying there dying and the doctor forced George to sign a guitar,'' Paul LiCalsi, an attorney for Harrison's estate, said Tuesday. ``The doctor should not be permitted to profit from this behavior.''

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

U.S. Deficit Threatens Global Economy: Thank you, again, BushCo. As long as your cronies want for nothing...

With its rising budget deficit and ballooning trade imbalance, the United States is running up a foreign debt of such record-breaking proportions that it threatens the financial stability of the global economy, according to a report made public today bythe International Monetary Fund.

In nearly 60 pages of carefully worded analysis, the report sounded a loud alarm about the shaky fiscal foundation of the United States, questioning the wisdom of the Bush administration's tax cuts and warning that large budget deficits posed "significant risks" not just for the United States but for the rest of the world.

The analytics of music
Acoustic scientists studying complex sounds typically measure their 'power spectra': a measure of the patterns with which volume changes over time. For music with a thumping, regular rhythm, for example, the loudness power spectrum would have a peak corresponding to the main beat.

But power spectra are rather crude measures, Jennings and colleagues say, and can hide some of the complexities of different musical forms. For one thing, a power spectrum might not distinguish a series of sequential changes in rhythm from several overlapping rhythms.

To get around this, the researchers fed four-minute stretches of music into a more sophisticated technique, called detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA). This has been used in the past to study complicated signals in economic, genetic and heartbeat data.

The method produces a number, denoted alpha that quantifies the complexity of patterns in a signal - in this case, the volume of music. A low alpha (less than 1) indicates relatively non-complex music, whereas more complex musical signals have a value of alpha closer to 1. Music with alpha larger than 1 will tend to have long patches of loud and quiet, and will tend to be quite boring, says coworker Plamen Ivanov of Boston University in Massachusetts. But for alpha=1, the sound will probably be judged more interesting and pleasant, he says.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Screw the phone system! Scype is a free broadband internet phone app from the Kazaa guys.
Businessweek Online's article on Skype
The corrupt U.S.D.A. works with the cattle industry to cover up the risks of contaminated beef. (by Fast Food Nation author Eric Schosser
Alisa Harrison has worked tirelessly the last two weeks to spread the message that bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, is not a risk to American consumers. As spokeswoman for Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, Ms. Harrison has helped guide news coverage of the mad cow crisis, issuing statements, managing press conferences and reassuring the world that American beef is safe.
For her, it's a familiar message. Before joining the department, Ms. Harrison was director of public relations for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the beef industry's largest trade group, where she battled government food safety efforts, criticized Oprah Winfrey for raising health questions about American hamburgers, and sent out press releases with titles like "Mad Cow Disease Not a Problem in the U.S."

Monday, January 05, 2004

iTunes DRM cracked wide open for Linux

Exclusive Norwegian programmer Jon Lech Johansen, who broke the DVD
encryption scheme, has opened iTunes locked music a tad further, by
allowing people to play songs they've purchased on iTunes Music Store
on their GNU/Linux computers.

"We're about to find out what Apple really thinks about Fair Use,"
Johansen told The Register via email.
Worst album covers ever page: [Part I] [Part II]
Haiti wants to ban Grand Theft Auto: Vice City entirely. They're also seeking $15K in damages of some sort (15K?)
The Free Software Community After 20 Years: With great but incomplete success, what now? by GNU founder Richard Stallman

Non-free software carries with it an antisocial system that prohibits cooperation and community. You are typically unable to see the source code; you cannot tell what nasty tricks, or what foolish bugs, it might contain. If you don't like it, you are helpless to change it. Worst of all, you are forbidden to share it with anyone else. To prohibit sharing software is to cut the bonds of society.
Torture By Proxy: How immigration threw a traveler to the wolves
So, they put Arar on a private plane and flew him to Washington, D.C. There, a new team, presumably from the CIA, took over and delivered him, by way of Jordan, to Syrian interrogators. This covert operation was legal, our Justice Department later claimed, because Arar is also a citizen of Syria by birth. The fact that he was a Canadian traveling on a Canadian passport, with a wife, two children and job in Canada, and had not lived in Syria for 16 years, was ignored. The Justice Department wanted him to be questioned by Syrian military intelligence, whose interrogation methods our government has repeatedly condemned.

The Syrians locked Arar in an underground cell the size of a grave: 3 feet wide, 6 feet long, 7 feet high. Then they questioned him, under torture, repeatedly, for 10 months. Finally, when it was obvious that their prisoner had no terrorist ties, they let him go, 40 pounds lighter, with a pronounced limp and chronic nightmares.

These are the actions of your government. To permit it is to condone it.

Friday, January 02, 2004

President Coolidge's Burden (the Atlantic)
A recent biography places Coolidge's failed presidency in the context of the deep depression he fell into after the death of his son.
Free Speech Zone: The administration quarantines dissent

When Bush came to the Pittsburgh area on Labor Day 2002, 65-year-old retired steel worker Bill Neel was there to greet him with a sign proclaiming, “The Bush family must surely love the poor, they made so many of us.” The local police, at the Secret Service’s behest, set up a “designated free-speech zone” on a baseball field surrounded by a chain-link fence a third of a mile from the location of Bush’s speech. The police cleared the path of the motorcade of all critical signs, though folks with pro-Bush signs were permitted to line the president’s path. Neel refused to go to the designated area and was arrested for disorderly conduct; the police also confiscated his sign. Neel later commented, “As far as I’m concerned, the whole country is a free speech zone. If the Bush administration has its way, anyone who criticizes them will be out of sight and out of mind.”
[War profiteer: one who makes what is considered an unreasonable profit, especially on the sale of essential goods, during times of war.]
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Kuwait was ready to go to re-establish cell phone service in Iraq. They have the infrastructure to do it and they’re right next door… seems like it would be common sense to go with Kuwait. But wait! I’m forgetting that Kuwait uses the European standard for cell phone networks. American companies aren’t going to make any money if the new system isn’t using the American standards & equipment! So instead the contract goes to MCI, a company that really doesn’t have such a great track record. For one thing they’ve never set up a cell phone network before, and for another, their management pulled off one of the biggest accounting frauds in modern business history.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

[The "dark scenario"]
According to British intelligence papers just released under a 30-year rule, the U.S. was ready to sieze Arab oil by force in 1973 under threat of an embargo. (BBC)

It was thought that US airborne troops would seize the oil installations in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and might even ask the British to do the same in Abu Dhabi.

The episode shows how the security of oil supplies is always at the forefront of governments' planning.