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11.30.2004

2005: the year it all started?

Wasting time, I've made a list of things I want to do in 2005. What are your plans?

Plans for 2005:

- Write any two { Poker, Chess, Go, Risk } bot
[Alternative: framework for bot to play online poker]

- Learn oCaml

- Put together a new computer [assign stats as needed: 3.6+GHz, 256+Mb+, 2+Gb, 1+Tb]

- Put together a wireless, web accessible home surveillance system
[Alternative: Put together tele-operated {roomba, robosapien}, with web control & camera feedback.]

- Road trip

We Drink Tank Geeks Have a New Official Favorite Movie

11.29.2004

Ivan Kirigin - is he worth it?

I'm looking for a job.

Take a look at the research section of my website. Please send critiques to ikirigin -at- andrew.cmu.edu or comment here.

11.25.2004

King of Iraq update

Election results are complete in Iraq and the official US opinion is:

"We cannot accept this result as legitimate, because it does not meet international standards, and because there has not been an investigation of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse.

If the Iraqi Government does not act immediately and responsibly there will be consequences for our relationship, for Iraq's hopes for Western integration, and for individuals responsible for perpetrating fraud."

Hahaha. That was of course for a different fledgling democracy for a nation of fewer than 50 million people with a history of being oppressed by an America-hating moustache wearer. But I'm not actually sure if he's talking all big about it because he thinks the Russophile I-certify-myself-victor government is bad for American interests. (Funny quote: A Yanukovich aide who serves as a liaison to businesses, took a confrontational stance, saying calls from Washington were unwelcome and irrelevant in Ukrainian politics. "I would like very much to see John Kerry as the U.S. president," she said. "But this does not mean I will call on the United States to make this so.")

I think he may be leaving a parting gift for his proud friends George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice, in the form of a plain statement that an election is not an election if it does not meet international standards and there isn't an investigation of the numerous and credible reports of fraud and abuse. Whether this is a cynical present (your Iraq democracy is wack, Mr. President), or a nice one (we needn't concern ourselves with Iraqi politics because if we don't like the outcome we can claim it is illegitimate) is unclear.

11.24.2004

The Ukraine is Weak


Some intense shit goin' on in Kiev. Maybe Ukraine should just split between the western Ukrainian-speaking liberal side and eastern Russian-speaking Russophilic statist side. Nation states, after all, are becoming less important in a centralized Europe. Besides, I'd read about how Ukraine maybe more than any other former Soviet republic is having an identity crisis because of this dualism. A split would solve the problem.

Or, just maybe, they should violently oust the ballot-stuffers who get their backing and checks from the Kremlin. Viva la Resistance.

11.23.2004

CNN commercials

They're good, but the station still sucks. I do like Anderson Cooper's hair, though.

King of Iraq

Who's/ what's on the ballot? What's the system? What are best/ worst case scenarios? Are there betting markets? Why are election-protestors being assasinated, and by whom? Who are the founding fathers of Iraq; is there a "republic, if you can keep it" style set of rules that we're putting in place there? Just wondering

...is this kind of stuff sumarized nicely anywhere?

It's not just women...

...I think it sucks too. I got put in the extra bullshit line at the airport yesterday and after I got felt up -- all the way up -- and rubbed on my chest, during my back rubdown, the big guy doing it said "mmmmmmn that's what I like, baby!" It was because there was a cute chick in line (maybe.... maybe he was fucking with me). I think the best explanation for all this nonsense is that it's "good" PR for the government (Big Brother is watching plane customers -- rest easy) -- I certainly don't think someone who wanted to would have a hard time getting a sharp object on the plane.

Aquatic Masters return favor

Presumably for this.

...and Again

"Our analysis shows that if you catch a fish below 2,000m it is 50 times more likely to be new to science," Dr Ron O'Dor, Chief Census Scientist, based in Washington DC, told the BBC News website.
The deep sea terrifies me, mostly because I have this image in my mind of a spherical iron submersible with a little window, sinking uncontrollably. It just gets darker and darker, with the sphere groaning under the increasing pressure, until it's pitch black and you're left waiting those ten seconds before total implosion. FOOM!! Happy Science!

11.22.2004

Time to Explore Again

Bradbury is funny and up to date in this column.

Good news round up: "Beyond Fallujah"

Check it out.

As for my predictions/hopes for falluja, they were not totally satisfied. I wish more of them died, more important leaders were captured, and a few less of ours dieing would have been nice.

Then again, when fighting a guerilla war, wouldn't you expect the kill count to be 55-1200 against us? Some people think this military victory alone deserves mention, let alone the inherent success of taking a base away from the enemy.

Any bets on the election 10 weeks away?

"Prospects for the fifth, the endangered humpback chub, are grim"

ridiculous.

Safire backs the bet

Now we just need an ammount, and an opposition. Any takers?
When an immigrant is naturalized, his or her citizenship becomes as natural as "natural born." The oath taken and the pledge of allegiance given make the immigrant 100 percent American, with all the rights, privileges and obligations appertaining thereto. All except one - the right to the greatest political success.

That makes all naturalized citizens - including taxpayers, voters, servicemembers - slightly less than all-American. Even children born abroad of U.S. citizens have fallen under the shadow of Article II; this has caused pregnant women to race back to our shores to make certain their children's political potential is not somehow beclouded.

The unequalizer in our Constitution cries out for fixing. Some of us have been muttering about this for decades, but it's always been academic - a theoretical exercise in excising a discriminatory phrase whose purpose has long since atrophied.

Comes now Arnold Schwarzenegger, an immigrant from Austria who by a fluke of recall was able to circumvent the centrist-blocking primaries and get himself elected governor of California. Four of the last ten presidential elections have been won by former officeholders of that largest state in the Union.

...

He's a libertarian conservative, a man of the right whose popularity is rising on the Left Coast. Under the tutelage of former Secretary of State George Shultz and former Gov. Pete Wilson, he is using his celebrity, charisma and political moxie to break up the logrolling logjam that put this state into the hands of easily rolled legislators and budget-busting initiative rule.

...

One step up at a time. After ratification of the 28th Amendment in 2007, I envision a G.O.P. ticket the next year with Rudy Giuliani or John McCain on top and Schwarzenegger as running-mate. For Democrats, Evan Bayh or Hillary Clinton for president, Peter Jennings (Canadian-born) for v.p.

Chew that one over.

Giuliani, McCain, and Schwarzenegger are some of the most popular and centrist republicans around. The bet is whether the constitution will be amended to include immigrants as potential high-office holders. A secondary bet is that Schwarzenegger is on a ticket. The third, on which I'll wager at least $10,000, is that if the first two occur, Schwarzenegger's ticket wins 60%+ of the popular vote.

11.21.2004

Take a Snipe at Camelot

This sounds like a great idea. I wonder if Franz Ferdinand is next; other possibilities include Honest Abe, Garfield, McKinley, Julius Caesar, Biggie Smalls/Tupac, etc. Failed assassination attempts would be good too, like Ron Reagan, John Paul II, Hitler, Karzai, Allawi, and so on. Options to use weapons that are historically inaccurate would add to entertainment (RPGing/IEDing the Popemobile, for instance).


In terms of solving historical mysteries, perhaps a recreation of that supposedly bombed vessel that started the Spanish-American War is in order?

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 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.

...Oh, and it seams that some fans and family of JFK are up-in-arms about this game. But the pusuit of history bends for no one.

11.20.2004

A New Flavor of Rice

11.19.2004

Mars's Moon "Doomed," As It Were

I took a class on Classical Mechanics that focused on celestial mechanics. I can tell you in detail why this will happen; here may lie some other possible answers.

Aquatic Master success story

Disabled dolphin jumping again with world's first artificial fin

Bush tax raising continues unabated...

Party of small government insists you have to raise spending to cut spending, Bush begins a "simplification" of the tax code which is
meant to be revenue-neutral. To pay for them, the administration is considering eliminating the deduction of state and local taxes on federal income tax returns...

Great! The federal government probably knows how to spend my money way better than local officials. I'm really glad they'll be getting more of it. I thought the last four years of Texas-style budgets had strengthened my libertarian tendencies...

11.18.2004

Subtle

"U.S. May Have Found Fallujah Militant Base"
soldiers walked through an imposing building with concrete columns and with a large sign in Arabic on the wall reading "Al Qaida Organization" and "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger."
Yah think?

I thought it has been agreed that the effort to let civilians out of Fallujah also let out the insugent leadership?

11.17.2004

Stopping Tetsuo Before He Can Collide With a Government-Created, Drug-Controlled Child-Mystic, Eventually Reeking Havoc On Neo-Tokyo With Mind Powers

Kaneda!!

Big buttocks Are Important, Scientists Say

"Have you ever looked at an ape? They have no buns," said Dennis Bramble, a biology professor at the University of Utah.

Zoinks!

Scooby snack for whoever solves The Mystery of the Missing Kim Portraits:
Portraits of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, have been quietly taken down this fall in important institutions in the country's capital, Pyongyang, several diplomats there say.

Analysts are debating the reasons, with explanations that range from a demotion of North Korea's "Dear Leader" to a simple desire to place the portraits in more ornate frames.

In a country where the cult of the Kim family is a primary binding force, people have been sent to prison for failing to dust their leader's portrait or for allowing ink drops to blot his image in a newspaper. A woman who died trying to rescue Kim family portraits from a burning school was elevated by the state-controlled media to national hero...


11.16.2004

Yasser-1: gentelmen we have asshole

Palestinian sources said Fatah's military wing has named the rocket "Yasser-1." The sources said the rocket was an advanced model of the Al Aqsa-2 and has a range of 15 kilometers


This is precisely why the fence is inside occupied terrortories.

The eXile Solution to Middle America

Myth #3: Middle Americans hate Big Government. The truth is that Middle Americans are Welfare Queens. White, bigoted, ignorant welfare queens. The statistics don't lie. North Dakota, which voted for Bush 63%-36%, takes in $2.03 for every dollar it pays into the federal budget, making it first among states. New Mexico just switched to Bush 50%-49%, seeing as he did such a bang-up job, and not coincidentally they're the second biggest welfare queens, skimming $1.89 for every dollar they fork over. After that, well, you can guess: Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Alaska, all welfare queen states. And don't be fooled into thinking this money goes to local minorities -- that gig ended years ago. These federal funds go to white projects -- subsidizing tobacco, big farming subsidies, bogus construction projects, bridges, roads, and every other big government project that the fat white welfare queen bigots can squeeze out of the liberal elitists. Even the few Middle Americans who "work," that is those who join the military, still have to be paid by the same "big government" they hate, even long after they retire. Middle Americans are the deficit, folks. And which states pay more into the federal budget in order to subsidize the Bush-voting welfare queens? Yup: eight of the top 10 states who pay more than they receive voted for Kerry. Massachusetts, for example, receives just $0.79 for every dollar it gives to Bush's little government, while California and New York get just $0.81 back for each dollar they pay in. Stop paying them, you're thinking, and that'll teach 'em? Don't be a fool. Gas em, and they'll learn. Gas is the only language these baloneyheads understand.

11.15.2004

Ol' Dirty Bastard Update

Today would have been his 36th birthday.

We've lost a national treasure; Here's an mp3 of a fairly recently recorded song... if anyone knows where to get the whole thing, let me know.

Still just miserable about it.

For Better Life

I went to see The Incredibles again on Friday (man is that film good!) and we got there early so as to get good seats, which meant watching about fifteen minutes of silly commercials projected on crummy digital projecters. That was fine, though.

This is just about the funniest short film I've ever seen.

There was another one like it, also weird, and I was wondering if it was some sort of parody, but these people look like they're actually serious about, um, using the powers of advertising for Good.

Update: This website is too fun!

I believe the actual saying is: "I've taken more from alcohol than alcohol has taken from me." Commitment: Pass it on.

Higher Concentration of Ammonia Than Oxygen

Even if you've had your fill of the nation's weekly pet-hoarding story, read the link for possible answers to: Why?

Powell Out, Rice In

The Secretary of State's office just got a little blacker, but the Bush 2: Term Two Team (B2TTT) has their work cut out for them to keep the cabinet from accruing a net loss in minorities (Education Secretary Page) and women (Agriculture Secretary Veneman). As Miguel noted, this helped, and pretty much makes the Reps match the Dems in minorities/women in cabinet positions of power.

How will Rice change the character of the Powell State? She's friendlier with Rumsfeld, but the old battle-axe knows that she was trying to steal his job. She's presumably closer to Bush. She can charm "Vlad" with her fluent Russian.

Meanwhile, rumors have it that Powell wants to go head the World Bank.

William Safire Leaves Op-Ed Page to Pursue Ordering of Two Whoppers-Junior


The smartest and most entertaining contributor to the New York Times Op-Ed page is leaving to help out a non-profit active in neuroscience, the arts, and education. You can still find his laser wit and mastery of English grammar and usage at his Sunday NYT Magazine On Language feature and periodic guest appearances on PBS's News Hour with Jim Lehrer. Two amusing biography morsels from the article:
He was responsible for bringing Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev together in the 1959 Moscow "kitchen debate" to publicize his homebuilding client's kitchen. In 1968, he left to join the Nixon's presidential campaign.

* * *
"I was looked at [by some Times staffers] as a Nixon flack when I came to the paper," he recalled. "When [Nixon] resigned [in 1974], the newsroom exploded in an outpouring of glee. Abe [Rosenthal, former Times executive editor] came over, put his arm around me and said, 'It must be a tough time for you.' That was a rare side of Abe Rosenthal."
Safire recalled that the Times' Washington staff eventually warmed up to him after he saved the daughter of colleague James Naughton (later the head of the Poynter Institute) from drowning in a pool at a staff picnic. "My wife pushed me in to get her," Safire said. "At that point, they kind of accepted me. I guess they thought I couldn't be all bad."
It would appear this blog has become a series of sad Good-Byes. Who will be next? Bill Cosby? Jesus.

Counting the Legs

There's something unintentionally funny in almost every paragraph of this Guardian story. (Civilians killed in a massive bombing camaign? Amnesty International "concerned" about a military undertaking? Whatever.)

What jumped out at me was this paragraph, illustrating how there's some chance we're killing harmless Faloojiis and not foriegn Dr. Evils in our FaLujYpaper.

"Of the 22 bodies, five were found in one house as well as two children who were no older than 15 and a man with an artificial leg," said Mohammed Farhan Awad. "Some of the bodies we found had been eaten by stray dogs and cats."


(Emphais mine.) Wait a minute! Doesn't the new Osama have just one leg? My understanding is that the jury is still out on that one. Some say we shouldn't act on intelligence about people for whom we can't describe a specific number of legs. Me, I believe the solution is to open a betting market, winner takes all, on whether our nemesis has zero, one, two, or three legs -- crowds can be surpisingly good at estimating the number of jellybeans in a jar, remember... why not the number of legs on a leader of a violent rebellion?

Anyway, the prosthetic legged fellow in this article was being eaten by stray cats and dogs, so if it is our guy, great! I guess that means we've made up for past mistakes. (Unfortunately, in the same article, Zarqawi is still putting seemingly current a cappellas out on the internet.)

I don't know how many peglegs there "ARRR" in Iraq, but for perspective, this kind of funny page says there's 4 million amputees in the USA, so it seems like 1% or so of us Americans might have the condition Zarqawi might have. If that was true in Falujah, we'd be killing a fair number of one legged "insurgents" just by chance.

see the black sun rise

Jhonn Balance has crossed the threshold.

I - II - III - IV

11.14.2004

Psy Ops - Fuck Yah!

The soldiers shared laughs during the more surreal moments, such as when a psychological-operations truck rolled through the city blaring the theme song to the movie "Team America: World Police." In the film, Rambo-like puppets hunt terrorists and blow up the Eiffel Tower in the process. There is no need to thank us, the puppets tell outraged Parisians.

Later that night, 500-pound bombs fell on Fallujah.

Schwarzenegger '08 [or '12]

The cable television ads, set to being running Monday, are from a Silicon Valley-based group that wants to amend the U.S. Constitution, which limits the presidency to people born in the United States. Schwarzenegger was born in Austria but became a U.S. citizen in 1983.

"You cannot choose the land of your birth. You can choose the land you love," Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones says in the ads.
How early can you 'early vote'?

11.13.2004

Rest In Peace, Ol' Dirty Bastard

This blog will be wearing black until I'm OK again.

:(

Alberto Gonzales

You're actually a constituent, Ivan, and a part of Bush's mandate, so I'd be curious what you think of the new appointee. I suspect (based on this) you think he's an improvement over Ashcroft.

My perspective: Ashcroft is more of a religious fundamentalist and traditional conservative and Gonzales will probably be more interesting, thoughtful, and sometimes more in line with my own opinions. However, since I think his association with the popular Bush Administration means Ashcroft can probably win a higher office than Attorney General (Senator, I think, but there are other options), this is a good thing only WRT the AG office -- Ashcroft's Moral Values will continue to blight our newspages in the future. The thing I don't like about Gonzales is not ideological, but personal. His work experience includes a lot of legal advice to the President (like: don't call your POWs "POWs" or else you'll have to account for them and make sure they're not tortured). I think he's being promoted to a position where he can do a lot more to ensure the President doesn't get in trouble with the law, and I think that's Bad. This obviously isn't partisan... even though some people think the likelyhood of President Bush being criminal in his affairs is likely and some think it's unlikely, none would say it's impossible. For this reason, I think it's fair to say lawyer cronies are bad appointees.

On a side note, I greatly appreciate the President's consistent approach of appointing nonwhites to important offices and how cynical he makes Democrats look in this regard -- the Dems richly deserve that particular trouble.

2008

It seems like every time I read about Josko-endorsed Presidential candidate Michael Badnarik, he's paired with Green party nominee David Cobb. Here's a story about the Libertarian Party candidate for President in the 2004 election (link goes to gp.org domain :)

Irrespective of how good an idea the Ohio recount is (there was surely fraud in Ohio, but the obvious implication that Bush lost there is likely wrong), I think it's pretty funny how much the socialist Cobb does with Badnarik, who doesn't file taxes since the income tax is unconstitutional and illegal. Will they work together even more in the future to challenge our dumb and dumber two party system?

Gimme a beer and a cartwheel, lady!

Google shows I'm about a week late to this party, but in case you hadn't seen it, I present:

Tammy

I'll be eager to hear in comments if there's anything better than "pour beer on yourself" or "tap" that you find in there.

11.12.2004

Italy's Laughing-stocks Are Now Way Faster Than You


It is not a toy, they swear, but a serious piece of police gear, no matter how many Japanese tourists stood at a highway rest stop here snapping away in awe.

"It's a responsibility to drive it," said Chief Inspector Laura Ciano of the Italian highway police.

Paolo Mazzini, a highway police commander, said: "Italian people are not always friendly toward authorities. They are curious, so they accept the ticket more readily."

"It's not for fun," he added.

11.11.2004

Dictator of the Month

Fed found an informative site that's already taught me enourmously about the Maldives. Now I know that Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is a major butt-hole, and has lost all my support.

Big Money

The New York Times headline I saw said there was not yet a successor chosen for Yasser Arafat, but as far as I know, he hasn't even had a title for years. His fame was related to past activities and his power was on account of the billions he "earned" as the leader of Palestinian nationalism. The always interesting and once-in-a-while correct debka.com says that his drawn out death was because his wife has been trying to secure his money for herself and Arafat's PLO cronies have been saying they want the money to go to some sort of Movement purpose. It's reported there now that Arafat's wife will be paid a salary of about 2 million dollars a month for her and the kid by the actual holders of the wealth. Who are they? What are they going to do with the money? I think Israel would be a lot safer if its neighbor had a regular army, whether it was controlled by elected civilians, military government or whatever (I think there's too many Palestinian Christians for a Muslim theocracy, but on the other hand I suspect Osama bin Laden is very popular among those Christians). I also think the real, actual leadership in Israel disagrees about the Palestine-having-an-army thing and will consider his death to be totally irrelevant, as the total lack of political leadership in the occupied territories has been their operating principle for a few years.

11.10.2004

My Friend's Art Is Really Great

I put a bunch of new remixes by my roommate on my website. He'd like to sell his CD, or produce for pretty much any MC, or both... Even if you don't want to buy anything or aren't an MC, all those songs are good, so I urge you to download them.

Map-o-rama

Awesome redux. This is the best/most like tele-kinetic powers going out of control:

Maybe It Wasn't About Jesusland

This article asserts that it really wasn't "Moral Issues" that kept Bush in the White House:

More to the point, social conservatives are no more important a part of the Republican coalition than they have been in the past. In fact, as Hood points out, the percentage of voters who attend church at least weekly was the same in 2004 as it was in 2000, and while Bush gained about one point with this group, he gained three to four points among those who attend church seldom or never. ("Yep, it was the atheist vote that really put Bush over the top in 2004," Hood notes dryly.)
Do you buy it?

Vote or Die

Heh

11.09.2004

Ashcroft resigns from Cabinet

Good. Hopefully, they'll be able to change the color of the uniforms at gitmo, making the terrorists less obvious to watchdog groups. Might I suggest a green uniform?

Shooters

Speaking of how entertaining violent video games are I wanted to mention a few gaming things.

  • I thought you might like to know that if you get stressed out from the gameplay of Grand Theft Auto III San Andreas, there's a nightclub you can go to in the game (in Inglewood, IIRC) to play videogames. I liked the name of the Space Monkey game, but the gameplay on Bee Bee Gone and Duality were really weird and made me think they were better games. Duality is really abstract -- you shoot or collide with either white or black balls, and shooting a white gives you "black points," colliding with a black takes away "black points," and vice versa for "white points." There are high scores for both black and white.

  • Oded alerts me that there's a new game about Vietnam. Is this it? You said there was a Jimi Hendrix score, but the trailers all have songs from Apocalypse Now. I think the development schedule makes it seem like you'll be waiting a while for your Falooja game, Ivan -- we had 1942 in the 80s, and only now are we getting games about Vietnam (I think you got to Kill Saddam in a Gulf War I game Rockstar put out last year, but I never played it).

  • It was agreed upon last night that having a beer on Broadway and risking a ticket was perfectly fine, but that carrying an open beer into Game Spot and risking being kicked out without Halo 2 was unacceptable.
  • The Falling Dollar

    Look to the right: you'll see a graph detailing the declining US Dollar against the euro. It took another tumble recently amid fears that another Bush term will spell more record deficits. As I understand, the declining value of the $ means it'll actually be easier for the US to pay back its debts by devaluing them. Meanwhile, as I understand, American exports will appear more attractive due to their declining relative price. On the other hand, the US still has a record high trade deficit; the declining $ means the US GNP becomes weaker. I would like to sit down with an economist of some kind and understand all the ins and outs of currency value. Is a declining $ bad? Is the Bush administration's professed commitment to a Strong Dollar disguising "benign neglect?" What are the consequences?

    It Pays to be a "Hero"

    11.08.2004

    Too Tikrit, Too Tikrit To Quit


    Insurgents, using small arms and mortars, launch an attack on U.S. forces in Fallujah, Iraq, Monday, Nov. 8, 2004. American troops fought their way into the western outskirts of Fallujah on Monday, seizing a hospital and two bridges over the Euphrates River in the first stage of a major assault on the insurgent stronghold. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

    To the horror of the US war planners, however, MC Hammer and his supporting B-Boy Dance Troup have sided with the insurgents and are currently raising morale by breakdancing all over Fallujah's broken pavements. The leader of US forces in Iraq, General George Casey, had only this to say of the MC's devastating effect on American troops : "Please, Hammer, don't hurt 'em."

    Cool Mil Tech

    This is an awesome post. Makes me want to play the video game that will be made of this battle within 5 years.

    Second hand quote:
    "I got myself a real juicy target," shouted Sgt James Anyett, peering through the thermal sight of a Long Range Acquisition System (LRAS) mounted on one of Phantom's Humvees. "Prepare to copy that 89089226. Direction 202 degrees. Range 950 metres. I got five motherf****** in a building with weapons." A dozen loud booms rattle the sky and smoke rose as mortars rained down on the co-ordinates the sergeant had given. "Yeah," he yelled. "Battle Damage Assessment - nothing. Building's gone. I got my kills, I'm coming down. I just love my job."

    ... The insurgents, not understanding the capabilities of the LRAS, crept along rooftops and poked their heads out of windows. Even when they were more than a mile away, the soldiers of Phantom Troop had their eyes on them. Lt Jack Farley, a US Marines officer, sauntered over to compare notes with the Phantoms. "You guys get to do all the fun stuff," he said. "It's like a video game. We've taken small arms fire here all day. It just sounds like popcorn going off."
    Also Good:
    From UAVs wheeling overhead to Marines going through alleys linked by their intra-squad radios (a kind of headset and boom-mike operated comm device), the US force is generating lethal, real-time information which is almost immediately transformed into strike action. Against this, the jihadis have no chance. This doesn't mean (as I pointed out above) that there will be no American losses. The battlefield is too lethal to hope for that. But it does mean that terrorism has unleashed a terrible engine upon itself. Capabilities which didn't exist on September 11 have now been deployed in combat. It isn't that American forces have become inconceivably lethal that is scary; it is that the process has just started.
    Here's to hope that few of our guys die.

    Scary Costumes

    I still haven't seen the "AARRR! Brains!" pictures yet, Josko.

    But I noticed in this compilation of predictors that Halowe'en cosumes can add helpful information to the discussion of "who will win the Presidential election?" This indicator apparently has a more longstanding record of success that the IEM, and for a simpler reason.

    Neither the article or the blog post I mentioned say so (in fact they imply otherwise), but buying a mask of a candidate isn't exactly an endorsment -- quite the opposite: it's a statement that the prospect of President [Bush or Kerry] is frightening. Of course, it's obvious that in power-seeking activities such as Campaigning To Rule The Most Powerful Nation On Earth, the scarier one will always win. I think that actually summarizes why it's painfully obvious that the Anybody But Bush "movement" was doomed -- by its very nature it acknowledges Bush's power and grants him a level of respect beyond the standard-bearer (Dean, then Kerry).

    The lesson: claiming that your opponent's policies are horrifying and may end the world, even if true, just makes his supporters proud and convinces undecided voters that the scary one is a candidate who means business.

    Caveat: I myself dressed up as Father Guido Sarducci for fun and not for frights this Halowe'en, but I really can't imagine anyone wearing a Bush or Kerry mask without intending to scare their audience.

    Fax Machines

    My dad got a new fax machine a few weeks ago, and I became upset. I hate fax machines! Twice a year or so I need to go to a stationary store or friend's office because some silly bureaucracy has determined that there's some sort of authenticity or other (invisible to me) value associated with faxing. It's not quite required, since OS X can "Print to Fax," and I had shareware to do the same thing when I had a Windows 95 machine which I would guess is still available in the PC universe. But it is a big hassle, especially considering that the "authenticity" is completely bogus -- I've sent countless faxes from a PC with a scan of my signature.

    Something besides sending faxes which is annoying is receiving them. Of the two times I've worked on the receiving side of a faxing operation, it's hard to tell which was dumber. One time, it was important to preserve all the information on several hundred faxes and it took about thirty hours of data entry to get that information in a useable form. The other time, the philosophy was: "looking through all these faxed resumes is too much work," and one half were thrown away.

    Anyway, faxes stink, though it is nice to see someone putting them to a good use.

    11.07.2004

    Scent of a Burqa


    Sarà pure un Bin Laden, ma con il terrorismo dice di non aver nulla a che vedere, anzi. Yaslem, uno dei fratelli di Osama, da tempo trapiantato in Svizzera, ha appena lanciato sul mercato un profumo. Si chiama come lui, 'Yaslem', e diffonde un "messaggio di dolcezza a tutti coloro che desiderano la pace e la serenità"

    He might be a bin Laden, but with terrorism, he claims, he has nothing to do, on the contrary! Yaslem, one of the brothers of Osama, who has been living in Switzerland---and for a long time, just launched on the market a new perfume. It carries his name: Yaslem, diffusing a "message of sweetness to all of those that desire peace and serenity."

    11.06.2004

    Overconfidence in the "make the other bastard die for his country" thing

    I know I didn't end up writing on a blog because I'm some sort of tactical genius, but c'mon!

    As the US stepped up air raids, blocked roads into the city, and issued loudspeaker warnings to the population to leave, the interim Iraqi prime minister, Ayad Allawi, indicated that time had almost run out.


    Don't insurgents hear these warnings too? Isn't this attack then predicated on them deciding that their best move is to sit and wait to be bombed? Or am I missing something?

    UPDATE: Oops, same point made, better, on the best weblog I know about.

    11.05.2004

    Immigration Surging in United States of Canada?

    The number of U.S. citizens visiting Canada's main immigration Web site has shot up six-fold as Americans flirt with the idea of abandoning their homeland after President George W. Bush's election win this week.

    "When we looked at the first day after the election, November 3, our Web site hit a new high, almost double the previous record high," immigration ministry spokeswoman Maria Iadinardi said on Friday.

    The Foreign Minister of Canada had only this statement for the American citizens:

    "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

    Meanwhile, America's doing a godawful job with it's own immigration policies. More on that later.

    Falluja Wish List

    Insectoid nano-assassin robots, avian-flu bioweaponry, computer-aimed bird-honing laser-pointers, irresistable bird-feeders. Why? Here's why:

    Commanders said they expect to encounter booby-trapped buildings, roadside bombs, suicide car bombs and rooftop snipers.

    Military officials said there are scores of mosques used as insurgent sniping positions, command and control posts, and combat clinics.

    Marines will work to surprise the insurgents by moving in quickly with infantry, tanks and attack helicopters.

    Marines estimate most residents of the city -- which once had a population of 250,000 -- have fled, and about 50,000 civilians are left.

    It is believed that the city holds 2,000 to 5,000 insurgents, who communicate with cell phones, flags, and carrier pigeons.

    Aren't those extinct? Meanwhile, some EMP weapons could help create annoying cell-phone static.


    It's still great to be an American

    I was commiserating with some other Kerry supporters yesterday, talking about how shocked we were and saying we'll have four more beers and everything, and we managed to cheer up a little bit. As the night drew on we decided to go for a little walk and we wandered into the country, in an area we'd never really explored before. (It was around this time that we switched to whiskey). Soon, we came across a small out of the way house with a beautiful four wheel drive Ranger, and since it seemed like noone was around, we got in and started it up. We realized that the sun was about to rise so we went to an open hillside to watch it, and when we turned on the radio, the beginning of Free Bird began to play. It was a beautiful sunrise, and really took our minds off of life's other petty distractions. Then, after a little while we drove into San Andreas proper to pick up prostitutes and kill them for their money.

    Blendie 2000

    Blendie is an interactive, sensitive, intelligent, voice controlled blender with a mind of its own. Materials are a 1950’s Osterizer blender altered with custom made hardware and software for sound analysis and motor control.
    With a hot video of Blendie in action.

    11.04.2004

    Funny Blog Thing

    Before the election, liberal blogs were all accusing the President and his supporters of "cocooning" and ignoring reality.

    Seriously, though

    "Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effect of marriage."

    I understand that the President won because of lots of reasons, like that he's likeable and honest and strong and what have you, but I think this particular reason is rather important. On a tactical level, I can't think of any way an Edwards or Clinton or whoever can put a similar cynical thing on the ballots to increase turnout among their constituents next time around. (Did you know that taking segregation out of the constitution is controversial in some parts of the country?)

    I don't really think Bush is a creationist, but his mandate plainly is. I hope he'll disregard it as background noise; if not the libertarian Bush vote will be the height of folly.


    Where Would Jesus Live?

    From the 'no shit' dept.

    CNN.com - Poll finds optimism after divisive election:
    Just over half -- 51 percent -- of respondents said they were pleased with the outcome of the presidential election;
    In other news, the sky is blue.

    11.03.2004

    Flipper Cam

    Farking hilarious, even after the election.

    Videos of Speeches

    Go and watch the speeches given. They are all very good.

    What do you think? Are you angry, upset, elated?

    Also, go to InstaPundit, and read a few of the reactions (starting from the last one by Andrew Sullivan to keep the vitriol of the others in context).

    Kerry concedes

    This is remarkable. I thought Kerry would be influenced by redoubts, telling him to pursue hopeless litigation. This is to be very much respected, and he just might be in a position to actualize his desires to 'do something about the division in America'.

    Maybe, if he doesn't pull a bitter-Gore, this will be doable.

    In the same way I think there are other motivations in France and Germany to partially explain the failure of diplomacy in Iraq, I don't think the divisions have everything to do with Bush, or even his lacking communication skills. The left side needs to go towards the center, and the administration needs to take more reasonable actions (more balanced budgets, no marriage amendment) and also needs to be more willing to admit errors, and correct them publicly.

    I think Kerry could continue to be a strong voice in politics if he cordially rides the wave of half the country that wanted him (or not-Bush) for president.

    IEM Price Graph

    Bush on top of prediction. It is pretty close at the end, but Bush has been leading the IEM for months. Meanwhile exit polls completely failed to predict the outcome in many states.

    11.02.2004

    A vote you can be proud of...

    Yo non-swing state voters: tune in to this guy.

    11.01.2004

    Josko's Endorsement

    The restaurant world buzzed when Masaharu Morimoto, one of the world's great sushi chefs and fame of Iron Chef, was lured to open his own place right here in Phiraderphia. Stephen Starr built him a glowing, cool-but-friendly bamboo-clad $1 million restaurant, and you ought expect to pay those design fees back at $100+ per person for dinner. A sinusoidal ceiling of wood mimics the underside of ocean waves. The decor is a softly undulating series of translucent booths, with pastel LEDs that subtly change colors over the hour; downstairs and throughout the meal, the utensils and pots are coordinated with the smooth Japanese stones that appear in the interior decoration, corridors, and restrooms.

    The menu is a series of tastings meant for sharing. Federica and I, celebrating her birthday two weeks ago, went with the omakase menu, the chef's choice of eight courses chosen by sheer whim or seasonality of superb ingredients. Fed requested all be vegetarian, but I knew Kobe might be involved, so I did not:

    一) Tuna tartar, spiced with wasabe and swimming in a soy-sauce variation, finished with a mysterious red Japanese berry.
    二) A warm whitefish carpaccio which melted in the mouth, covered with sprouts.
    三) Yellow-tail sashimi baby-green salad covered with dried tuna flakes.
    四) Halibut steak ensconced in a mysterious leaf.
    五) Mango sorbet intermezzo.
    六) Kobe steak for me (ridiculously tender, could almost taste the years of masseuse-sweat soaked into the flesh), half lobster for Fed. (I ate both, though, cos she don't like shellfish. Lucky me!)
    七) Seven pieces of sushi: tuna, yellow tail, mackerel, giant clam, red snapper, white fish, sardine. Unarguably the highest quality I've had. The tender tuna was "off the hook," as it were.
    八) An almond cake glazed Pollock-style with stripes of blackberry and dark chocolate sauces, accompanied by passion fruit sorbet.
    I experienced the whole meal with Morimoto's own very fine ale: "Morimoto Ale," which--fortunately--only comes in a 22 oz size, so I could conveniently save face. The second one I had was the "Morimoto Hazelnut Ale," which was fantastic. Dark brown in color with a hazelnut aroma, a rich nutty flavor, and a smooth malty finish. The hazelnut flavor, however, manifests mostly as a pleasant aftertaste. Meanwhile, Federica had a couple of Morimoto's signature cocktails.

    Thus, I hereby strongly endorse Morimoto's as the best restaurant in all of Phiraderphia. Sure, I coulda flown to California with the bill, but some meals in life are simply priceless.

    Oh, and for president, I think I'm voting
    Badnarik out of principle, but I don't even know what will happen tomorrow at 7am when I start waiting in line. I apologize to our Drink Tank readers for my apparent and actual indecision, and the subsequent self-imposed gag-order that will follow tomorrow's vote, at least for a little while.

    6:15PM Iowa Time, Election Eve

    And the market-based information aggregator forecasts exactly 50% chance of the incumbent winning the election. Beautiful, really.

    Pro-Growth or Pro-Pork?

    The recent tax bill explained. Not bad, as you might have read.