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2.28.2005

Tax Time Got You BLU?

Let the Federation of American Scientists cheer you up! Never a dull read. Check out the BLU-82B, for instance. Not only is it the largest conventional bomb in existence, there are a few other interesting tidbids. Frankly, I don't know which one is better. The fact that it only costs the taxpayer a mere $27,318 -- or the that this picture exists.

I Just Lost My Dinar!

You too can be a millionaire thanks to our Iraqi peasant friends! It all seems so cheap! Only $790 gets you 1,000,000 Dinar! Just think of all the fun you'll have cashing in that huge briefcase of Dinar in Fallujah because, of course, the IQD -- as we in the biz call it -- can only be converted in Iraq. One could take a look at the lovable, 3rd grade HTML style of the Central Bank of Iraq to see all the loving Americans taking hold of this great opportunity. I mean, after all, 1 USD = 1,461.65 IQD, so that 1,000,000 Dinar investment is already worth... $684! Gooooooooo Freedom!

Tax Time Again

Since I've started thinking about procrastinating on my taxes again, I'm reminded of the inequitability of graduated personal income taxes, and its cruelty to human ingenuity and progress. As far as I know, nothing makes more sense in the world than a flat tax. Here's a little article about the former Soviet Baltic states, some other former Warsaw pact countries, and even Russia and how their leaders have abandoned 'progressivism' for progressivism: a flat tax. Since it's implementation, Russia's tax revenues have gone up 150%, as black-marketeers look at the ease of the low flat tax and realize it just isn't worth evading. It's economy continues to grow at more than 7% a year.

Looks like we have something to learn from them, even though a flat tax is politically infeasible in this country, since we all know the rich are all actually evil and deserve to have their money coerced away from them to support bogus bureaucrat-run welfare schemes to ineffectually redistribute wealth across the land so we all are equal and run through the hillsides, burning sage and using wind power, fitter, happier, more productive, comfortable, not drinking too much, regular exercise at the gym (3 days a week), getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries, at ease, eating well (no more microwave dinners and saturated fats), a patient better driver, a safer car (baby smiling in back seat), sleeping well (no bad dreams), no paranoia, careful to all animals (never washing spiders down the plughole), keep in contact with old friends (enjoy a drink now and then), will frequently check credit at (moral) bank (hole in the wall), favors for favors, fond but not in love, charity standing orders, on Sundays ring road supermarket (no killing moths or putting boiling water on the ants), car wash (also on Sundays), no longer afraid of the dark or midday shadows nothing so ridiculously teenage and desperate, nothing so childish - at a better pace, slower and more calculated, no chance of escape, now self-employed, concerned (but powerless), an empowered and informed member of society (pragmatism not idealism), will not cry in public, less chance of illness, tires that grip in the wet (shot of baby strapped in back seat), a good memory, still cries at a good film, still kisses with saliva, no longer empty and frantic like a cat tied to a stick, that's driven into frozen winter shit (the ability to laugh at weakness), calm, fitter, healthier and more productive, a pig in a cage on antibiotics...

ps. Here's one of my new favorite Beatles songs. In the mid-sixties, the boys felt the sting of the UK's enlightened 80% tax bracket for the very wealthy. The band broke up a few years later, mostly over money squabbles. So, you can sorta blame graduated income tax for breaking up the Beatles and leading to such tripe as "Oh Yoko" and "I Don't Believe" and John Lennon's assassination. Case closed.

One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Insurgent

The contents of my kitchen remind me that most bars are happy to serve a drink named after violent nationalist terrorists. When can we start ordering the Baghdad Bomber or whatever? Is it when we have the Operation Iraqi Freedom Victory Parade, because I'm looking forward to that, too. Seems to me it should be one of those drinks that you serve on fire, given what I've heard about liquor sales in Free Iraq. Drink name and recipe suggestions welcome in comments.

2.27.2005

Not Bad

Of course a voting machine should print a copy of your vote. From comments it seems this bill is unlikely to pass, and is being introduced not to change voting machines in the next national election, but to be talked about - to embarrass the majority party for ignoring it.

I think the machine should also give you a code so you can see your vote online later, although I think fear of vote selling would prevent powers that be from providing that service.

It looks like the bill in question may make articles like this illegal.

On the Trail of Peg-Leg


Avast ye U.S. Army: the lilly-livered Abu Musab al Zarqawi = Chazz Palminteri. Looking for the wrong guy, we've been, says I! Arrggghh!

2.26.2005

"It was very loving. It was not a panic, or ugly, or freaky,"

"This is a triumph of his, not a desperate, tragic failure."

2.25.2005

1937

Last bottle of world's oldest single malt whisky leaves

Scotland
LONDON, Feb 25 (AFP) - The last remaining bottle of the world's
oldest single malt whisky left its distillery in Scotland on Friday
bound for Hong Kong, where it will be the star attraction at an
airport shop.
The bottle of Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937, left to mature
in a cask for 64 years before being bottled, is heading for Hong
Kong's Chep Lap Kok Airport, where it will be available for a
well-heeled buyer, but only at a steep cost.
Previous bottles sold direct by the family-owned Glenfiddich
Distillery fetched 10,000 pounds (14,500 euros, 19,000 dollars)
each, but the price levied by the airport is expected to be higher
still.
"There are a lot of mixed emotions here," said the distillery's
"malt master" David Stewart of the bottle, claimed as the oldest
single malt whisky in the world.
"On the one hand, we're extremely proud of having produced a
whisky of such a fantastic quality that's stood the test of time and
on the other, there's a tinge of sadness at saying goodbye."
Sky Connection, which operates shops at Hong Kong airport, has
bought the final six bottles of the 1937 malt, the last of which
departed the distillery on Friday.
As they are so rare, the bottles are being sent in two batches.
Just 61 bottles, described as having "chocolate and treacle"
flavours, were produced from the single cask and first released in
2001.

...thanks fran.


She puts the Neo back in neo-conservative.

From the Department of Bad Ideas

"We have to invent the socialism of the 21st century."
In other news, work still in progress on perpetual motion machine, a Mideast Peace Plan, and convenient water route to the East Indies.

Hannity fan and conservative voter, ever since 9/11. I am divorced.

Everyone knows it's important for lovers to have the same political outlook. Here it is: Friendster for Fascists.

Weaponization of Space

Canada just publicly announced that it won't participate in America's "Missile Defense Shield" over northern North America (Rio Grande and up, sorry Mexico). PM Paul Martin (who they say slurs his speech worse than Bush, but with more of a drunken drawl than a Texan one) ran behind the Shield as a candidate for the Liberal Party, but has changed his mind at the behest of overwhelming Canadian public opinion. He and other Canadians worry not that it's a waste of money or irrelevant to real threats, but that such a Shield would lead to a new international arms race and the "weaponization of space."

Assuming the Shield would work---and that it's even worth building given it's waaay more likely that warheads get trucked into this country rather than fall ballistically from thousands of miles away---I think such an argument is fascinating, partially because I think the "weaponization of space" is a great idea. (In fact, I think it's pretty much the only valid argument for the Shield: keeping America competitive in space way down the line.)

The thing I like is the competitive part.
I only wish America had military adversaries against which we could have another space race. It would lead to accelerated space technology and space exploitation---space-ploitation if you will. The stars are lining up to have China enter the competition---and maybe India and Brazil eventually---but poor China has to rely on half-century old stolen technology. Russia is dilapidated and rotting.

Besides military rivalry between nation-states, an effective space-race could be fueled by profit. If Brazil could get its act together, launching from its near-equator space-port would shave 25% off fuel costs compared to Cape Canaveral launches (closer to equator, you're moving faster than at higher latitude, so you're that much closer to escape velocity). I imagine rocket-regulation in Brazil is lighter than in America (they have more fatal accidents, after all), so I can see a bunch of American companies and interests launching their satellites from Brazil (note to investors: insure your payloads).

Still, this private-enterprise space-race wouldn't be that private, because governments have almost monopolistic control over their space programs. Then there's the grand-daddy of all oversite: the US military. It has its tentacles around rocket-use all over the world, regulating other nations through threats of sanctions (when it can), because they're afraid of this technology spreading to "non-governmental entities." It will be many years before the private sector increases space technology in the satellite arena, because any rocket powerful enough to put something in orbit won't be controlled privately for, like, many years (VirginGalactic-style tourism is a different story, though, with relatively puny rockets).

So, here's another idea to jump-start space technology: it would be a good thing if China, Iran, Brazil, Cuba, India, North Korea, and/or a mad-scientist announced tomorrow that they'd invest heavily in Space Elevator technology. An elevator would give these countries (or madman) a free-pass to instant space access, which the DOD would find unacceptable. America would have no choice but to built an elevator sooner and better. Hilarity ensues.

Breaking News: government oversight inspires corruption!

The 10 Voters on Panel Backing Pain Pills Had Industry Ties::

The New York Times seems surprised when drug approval board members have dies to the industry. What a snore...the way things usually work in regulation of industry (from the Interstate Commerce Commission's destruction of a cheap railway system) is that activists get the government involved in an industry "too important" to leave without government oversight, then leave thinking their work is done, at which point the people with actual domain knowledge populate and corrupt it.

The FDA approval of bad drugs and non-approval of urgently needed good drugs is simply a sign that it isn't doing what it was intentioned. The NYT probably thinks "reform" is needed, to get out the few bad apples. The one fat, bad apple is the incentive system which makes government coercion an industry standard.

Look at it another way, from those that claim a public health disaster would follow the elimination of the FDA: how would you choose which drugs to put in you... probably the same way you (might) have chosen to put illegal drugs in you. Your friends do it in X quantities...and they seem fine. Recommendation systems in markets will act far more impartially than a government oversight board.

Another view: someone dieing of a horrible disease doesn’t care about the potential harm: they’re dieing anyway. Why on earth would you try to stop or slow such desperate and valuable experimentation?

A final thought: insider trading on the knowledge of disapproval or approval from the FDA would cease to exist.

2.24.2005

The Next Time

...you want to revive your ODing friend by stabbing him or her through the sternum with a railroad spike-sized needle of human adrenaline, read this.

2.23.2005

MMMmmmm... Tomatoes

Sigh. Don't you wish it was getting warmer instead of threatening to snow again??? I do. Because I want tomatoes. Them thar vege-tables don't grow too well in the winter. Just in case you can't wait for a sweltering 110 degree New York City summer like me, follow the link for the latest "hot sh*t".

p.s. When is software going to do something useful like cook dinner instead of waste valuable human-time? "Computer. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot."

On The Helipad in Dubai

This Seems to Answer Our Questions...

ps. Best line: "Remains may be blasted out of cannon."

Rats, Loud Music, Destroyed early-20th Century Wicker Furniture

...all in a day's work, Miss Moneypenny.

2.22.2005

Ha

Not content with proving that logical systems cannot be free of inconsistency, Kurt Gödel shows that the United States system of checks and balances could give way to a dictatorship. From The New Yorker

Gödel took the matter of citizenship with great solemnity, preparing for the exam by making a close study of the United States Constitution. On the eve of the hearing, he called Morgenstern in an agitated state, saying he had found an “inconsistency” in the Constitution, one that could allow a dictatorship to arise. Morgenstern was amused, but he realized that Gödel was serious and urged him not to mention it to the judge, fearing that it would jeopardize Gödel’s citizenship bid. On the short drive to Trenton the next day, with Morgenstern serving as chauffeur, Einstein tried to distract Gödel with jokes. When they arrived at the courthouse, the judge was impressed by Gödel’s eminent witnesses, and he invited the trio into his chambers. After some small talk, he said to Gödel, “Up to now you have held German citizenship.”

No, Gödel corrected, Austrian.

“In any case, it was under an evil dictatorship,” the judge continued. “Fortunately that’s not possible in America.”

“On the contrary, I can prove it is possible!” Gödel exclaimed, and he began describing the constitutional loophole he had descried. But the judge told the examinee that “he needn’t go into that,” and Einstein and Morgenstern succeeded in quieting him down. A few months later, Gödel took his oath of citizenship.

2.21.2005

Torrent fighter

Google Search: clone wars torrent produces many links about the V-19 Torrent Starfighter. Was it named to make searching for bit torrent links harder?

Probably not, cuz there is a better way to steal using, e.g. "filetype:torrent".

Heh

2.20.2005

Gay Simpsons

It's Marge's sister, Patty Bouvier. A victory for betting markets, according to this. I got a "hot tip" on this bet but disregarded it, thinking there was no way to out bet the market on a long-ago filmed tv show -- if people knew it would just go off the market... I forget if the tip was for Patty.

2.17.2005

In Other News: It's Damn Hard to Find a Girlfriend in China

Iraqi Politics: Bring it On

The next elected prime minister of Iraq will be Ibrahim Jaafari. If you've never heard of him, that's okay; he's one of those consensus boys the various Shi'ia are rallying around.
In the brief:
*Pro "women's rights": no ritual murders?
*Lives in the American "Green Zone" of Baghdad.
*Pro "individual freedom."
*Not the Iranian-style mullah type the Pentagon's afraid of.
*Gives no time-table for "coalition" pull-out of Iraq. Says, "It's a flaw when there are multi-national forces in a country, but there's no reason to compound the flaw by pulling the troops out before the nation is secure." Crafty fence riding if I've ever heard it.

Oh, and mine and Miguel's favorite Iraqi politician, the Pentagon darling-turned pariah Ahmed Chalabi is the only possible alternative to Ibrahim. Tensions with the US since his stint as Iranian spy have thawed ever since he successfully positioned himself within the ranks of the winning Shi'ia parties. This dude's poised to be the next Strom Thurmond, with longevity in current-Iraqi politics renormalizing an American political year to a month.

2.16.2005

600 Grand, Eh

I certainly hope they get lost in a card game. (Note that the original series is about bluffing; all the later incarnations I've seen, including Oded's shirt, are about cheating.)

2.13.2005

Pork Tornado: Part II

Just in case you didn't laugh hard enough at Julie's Sixteenth Birthday, Pork Tornado has a new Top 10 Worst Album Covers that went unnoticed by me until now. I would have voted #2 as the winner. How come people only made crappy album covers pre-90's?? I think I'm on to something here...

All The News That's Fit To Print

I've made my New York Times debut. Oded's in it too. And my roommate Mark is in a photograph. There's an article about us because Oded's flame is the author's sister. Nice to be quoted (it's the very last thing).

2.11.2005

A Quantum Leap in Dancing Robot Technology

This latest British robot blows its competition out of the water. I cant wait to take one of these home!

I'm to understand the creators are still struggling with battery-life issues. however.

2.10.2005

Church's Caffeinated Teas Banned by Government Stooge

The Bush administration asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to block a New Mexico church from using hallucinogenic tea that the government contends is illegal and potentially dangerous.

The appeal from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales argues that a lower court was wrong to allow the Brazil-based O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal to import and use the hoasca tea as part of its religious services.

Hack Needed

I'm totally getting this game; anyone know where the nudity hacks are published?

King of Iraq, The Continuing Series

I think it's been widely reported that Sistani's allies won, and that (contrary to Ivan's and my own expectations on election day) Allawi did poorly. Maybe those essentially anti-American results are the reason for the recount? (Never let your opponent know how many votes he needs to manufacture to win!)

If Ayatolla Sistani did win I'll feel the same way I did about the last US election: glad it wasn't a terrorist bloodbath as advertised, but disapointed in the result. I am glad to see my favorite Iranian spy back in the news.

Mr. Chalabi said the impact of the elections would reach the entire Islamic world. "Iraqi people voted out a government which had the support of the United States and 150,000 troops in Iraq, with funding 50 times more than the other lists combined, especially on TV time. They did that in the face of major threats by terrorists. The Iraqi people demonstrated this can happen."


It's great to hear from you, Ahmed -- I was worried that you'd been turned over to justice or something.

Speaking of the Ayatollah, I think this is for real. (Linked page is a seriously bad translation, btw.) You know, in case you were wondering about Sistani's views on female friends (not permissible), televised cricket (permissible), anal intercourse (check for yourself, pervert) or drinking.

Question:If one’s going to a bar is considered a kind of approval for the act of others or it is to encourage others to drink, it is not permissible?

Answer:Of course, in two cases such as forbidding from bad (Nahy annil munkar) and informing of an ignorant person of divine verdict (Taalim Jahil), it would be even necessary to go to the bar.


Any figures in Iraqi public life who aren't scumbags?

Travel Notes

This is pretty funny, I think. A friend of mine had his moustache clippers confiscated recently. Thinking about it, I strongly suspect that for a round trip flight you could just set it behind a soda machine and it would still be there when you got back (I'll try this on my next flight).

By the way, I don't think there were box cutters involved in the September 11 massacre, let alone moustache scissors. (Summary of why here; the rest of that website is really interesting, too.) The author of Oded-hyped book Applied Cryptography writes here a little bit of how airline "security" tends to be implemented to help airline industry revenues, not to keep the sky safe. I suspect that keeping pointy objects off of airplanes has no effect on terrorism, but may protect Delta, etc. from liability lawsuits if someone cuts themselves on a flight.

How often do you guys get these love letters?

2.09.2005

Speaking of Year of the Cock...

Sounds like yet another case of UCO---Unidentified Cock-like Object.

Dean Scream, Cock Celebration

Impersonators of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s infamous scream can finally cash in on their talent, ROLL CALL reports.

To celebrate (or desecrate) the Democratic Party’s official selection of Dean as the next party chairman, anyone who shows up at the Trover Shop book store on Capitol Hill this Thursday through Sunday and does the Dean Scream will get an (almost free) Howard Dean bobblehead doll.

The creator of the Dean bobblehead, John Edgell, asks only that each Dean screamer make a small contribution — he suggests $5 — to the Kristen Ann Carr Fund for sarcoma cancer research.

And if Dean himself appears at Trover and recreates his scream, Edgell promises to make a $500 donation in the good doctor’s name.

Doing his own version of the Dean Scream, Edgell told HOH, “We’re going to Washington, D.C., to Trover’s for a Howard Dean bobblehead, and one day we’ll take back the White House! YEEAAAAHHHHHHHH!”

To inspire would-be screamers, here is the text of Dean’s screeching moment following his loss in the Iowa caucuses:

“Not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin, we’re going to South Carolina, and Oklahoma, and Arizona, and North Dakota, and New Mexico. We’re going to California, and Texas, and New York. And we’re going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan. And then we’re going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! YEEAAAAHHHHHHHH!”

Developing...


Wonder which Drink Tank member can do the best impression. Could get a judging audience and make bets.

P.S. Oh, and congradulations to the Chinese ushering in of the Year of the Cock.

2.08.2005

Vacationing in Norway

Robots are the future. You probably can't wait for the day when your car will drive itself wherever you wish to go. Maybe we as software programmers need to bump it up a notch first.

2.03.2005

Americans Rejoice After Election

Nothing warms your heart more than to see Americans celebrating the recent Iraqi election. For instance, take this guy.

Post Iraqi Election Nod

After a little rant about the imminent fall of Iranian mullahs, NYTime's Thomas Friedman reveals the crux of the Iraqi election:

...Then there is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. This Charles-Manson-with-a-turban who heads the insurgency in Iraq had a bad hair day on Sunday. I wonder whether anyone told him about the suicide bomber who managed to blow up only himself outside a Baghdad polling station and how Iraqi voters walked around his body, spitting on it as they went by. Zarqawi claims to be the leader of the Iraqi Vietcong - the authentic carrier of Iraqis' national aspirations and desire to liberate their country from "U.S. occupation." In truth, he is the leader of the Iraqi Khmer Rouge - a murderous death cult.

The election has exposed this. Because the Iraqi people have now made it clear that they are the authentic carriers of their national aspirations, and while, yes, they want an end to the U.S. presence, they want that end to happen in an orderly manner and in tandem with an Iraqi constitutional process.

In other words, this election has made it crystal clear that the Iraq war is not between fascist insurgents and America, but between the fascist insurgents and the Iraqi people.

...By voting the way they did, in the face of real danger, Iraqis have earned the right to ask everyone now to put aside their squabbles and focus on what is no longer just a pipe dream but a real opportunity to implant decent, consensual government in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world.

On the ride back from boondock Wildwood, New Jersey on Iraqi Election Day, Trevor, Miguel, and I mentioned that this election (of which we'd heard nothing about, distracted as we were on the third day of poker, beach-combing, booze-cruise, and cheesy poofs) was probably the world's most important since, well, I think Miguel mentioned the American election of 1984--so, yeah, at least 20 years.

I'm curious as to the final tally. Is the constitution-writing brigade gonna be Iranian-mullah-, Americo-friendly-secular-, or Americo-unfriendly-secular-style? The Sunnis still disproportionately pussied out of the election, so will the Zarqawiism flourish under the possible disenfranchisement? (don't think so)

Obviously this is just the first step to a real democrazy in Iraq, but folk are already accurately noting that it's the most democratic country in the Arab World. Cheers to that.

2.02.2005

The Gift of Gab

A University of Utah study claims that drivers who use a cell phone will be 'more impaired than drunken drivers with blood alcohol levels exceeding 0.08.' The study also says that use will turn a driver who is age 20 into age 70. Hands-free systems apparently don't help much either as they still require a driver to 'actively be part of a conversation.' What about in vehicle systems like OnStar?
Cell-phones are illegal in New York, but I saw many in use when I was driving there the other day. I think folk ought be allowed to throw, say, snowballs at such cars, mandated by law. People can probably more easily dodge the PO-lees than a nicely packed snowball with a rock in it. In the summer, urine-filled water-balloons.

Juice, Movie and a Lap-Dance

So, you didn't think that the Citizens Against Nude Juicebars and Pornography organization really existed? I know, the thought is unfathomable but true.

2.01.2005

FDA Approves RobotCock For Home Use



Straight on the heels of the turbulent Vioxx withdrawal, Merck is hoping to win investors' minds, wallets, and mouths with the announcement that the much anticipated RobotCock has passed FDA Phase III trials and will be on the shelf approved for human/animal use within the month. Merck spokesman Tony Plohoros had much to say about the new product, stating:

"When we come onto this market, the new age of the Robotic Phallic Appliance -- or Phalpliance as we call it in the industry -- will be born."