Saturday, March 20, 2004

Western US to burn for its sins?

Choose one of the following:

a. "You're all going to burn in hell!"
b. "Repent and ye shall be saved."
c. "The good Lord works in mysterious ways."
d. All of the above.
e. None of the above.


Places you never thought of visiting.....

Iran for the skiing. More...

Africa for the classic art deco architecture. More...

So Richard Clark has a book to sell, eh?

And that means all sorts of "revelations" to the press, eh?

You may wish to enlighten yourself with some further reading about Mr Clark.

SecurityFocus has an article on "Richard Clarke's Legacy of Miscalculation" and if you read up on Operation Bojinka, you really have to wonder if the attacks of 9/11 could have been prevented. The original article that broke this story to the public is to be found here.

Like I said. We're all doomed.

No, seriously.

Between the ridiculous animal markets in southern China and the popular British pastime of "dogging", we're all gonna be wiped-out by the most hideous diseases.

Don't believe me? Try reading Dust by Charles R. Pellegrino. Scary stuff, and he should know - he's a highly-experienced scientist.

Whoops! This guy screwed up and paid the price.

You wouldn't want to be "Billy Smith". The 42-year-old Michigan high-school math teacher thought he was engaging in a little harmless online "fun".

Remember Lucie Blackman?

Murdered in Japan?

No? Read about it here.

Then, you can read this article about her family's return to Japan late last year.

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Uh, oh. I have a severe case of gadgeteria again.....

Check out the smallest fully-spec'ed desktop PC so far, the Nanode. They even have some funny pictures with a cat and some fruit.

Remind yourself to get a FlipStart™ PC.

iRiver has some pretty amazing new products to come.

Some really cool watches from Japan. Or "keep it real" with

This is scary.

No, really.

The US Department of Homeland Security has an opening for "Director, Office of Public Affairs, Entertainment Liaison". Man, if I was American, I would probably be in the corner of a dark room, curled up in the foetal position, gently crying myself to sleep.

But I'm not American so instead I'll just be in the corner of a dark room, curled up in the foetal position, gently crying myself to sleep.

Why? Um, duh! Wake up and smell the tea-leaves Enistein! Do you happen to know anyone who ever had to live under the old Iron Curtain regimes? Go and show them that job opening and maybe this little number: "Citizens Don't Be Afraid, Be Ready"

Remember, folks: Uncle Same wants YOU to "Be Prepared, Stay Informed".

Sound familiar? No? Have a look at this. If your pulse doesn't race, if the hairs on the back of your neck don't stand up, if you don't feel a cold chill....then be thankful that you have to neither fully-comprehend such deplorable history nor experience it.


Oh yeah, while I'm at it.

If you really want to know about American history, read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Paris Hilton Thrown From Horse, Injured in Taping 'Simple Life 2'

Your hard-earned natural justice dollars at work.

See? That's what I love about animals: they don't hold their punches, bite their tongue or go behind your back. Unless those are human animals, of course. the article here.

Infinity. Discuss.

Ooh, wouldn't you love to get that one as the jewel in the crown of a heavily-weighted college exam?

What looks like a great book by David Foster Wallace is out and guess what? It discusses infinity. Actually it does a bit more than merely discuss the subject. Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity should be good.

Told you Islam was good for women!

Women should be thankful. Shouldn't they?

"Hijab May Prevent Nose Cancer" is an article at that shows why women should be thankful to be Muslim and wear a veil. It's saving their lives, of course.

While you're there, why not enjoy the story of how "Three Girls Beat Up Two Boys"?

Friday, March 19, 2004


I thought so.

Well, let's face it. If you had even a remote opportunity to do something useful, you wouldn't be here, would you? So......

why not enjoy some fine fun and games over at The '80s Server?

Come, on. You know you want to.

Israel's Greatest Spy?

I love spy stories.

Always have and probably always will though I think things are much less interesting since the thawing of the Cold War.

While awaiting confirmation on the true identity of 'X', allegedly a Mossad/CIA double-operator, I found this webpage about why Eli Cohen was arguably Israel's greatest spy.

While I'm on these kinds of subjects, why not enjoy some stuff about the infamous Richard Marcinko?

Identity of alleged Mossad/CIA double-operator revealed?

Maybe. Maybe not.

The political cartoonist Ranan Lurie has been "revealed" by DEBKAfile to be 'X', an alleged Mossad/CIA double-operator. In an interview, Ranan Lurie admits to having worked for Mossad (which may or may not be a big surprise) but denies working for the CIA.

It's at times like this that one can really appreciate Google. Lots of good reading here and here. rocks.

My favourite source of online streaming music is, and has been for quite a while now,

Last time I checked, they offered 7 different "channels":

Groove Salad
"A tasty plate of ambient beats and grooves. Takes the edge off work."

Secret Agent
"The soundtrack for your stylish, mysterious, dangerous life. For Spies and P.I.'s too!"

Drone Zone
"Served best chilled, safe with most medications. Droning atmospheric textures with minimal beats."

indie pop rocks
"New and classic indie tracks."

cliqhop idm
"Blips'n'beeps backed mostly w/beats."

Beat Blender
"A late night blend of deep-house and downtempo chill."

Boot Liquor
"American Roots music for saddle-weary drunkards."

My favourite is Secret Agent but everybody has different tastes, so get over to where you'll find a range of bitrates as well as playlists and how you can help support them. They deserve it!

You'll need to have a suitable player such as WinAmp (Windows), iTunes (Mac) or XMMS (Unix)

If none of those take your fancy, have a look at SHOUTCast or iM Radio

Spielberg and Cruise plan new "War of Worlds".

Now you just know this is either going to be staggeringly good or, well......not. Spielberg at the helm I can handle. Cruise I'm not so sure about.

The Guardian article is here.

Pub quiz gem: Tom Cruise was born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV.

Meanwhile, in the "trying to follow an impossible act to follow", Steve Martin and Kevin Kline are set to start in MGM's "The Pink Panther."

"Meet Buck Angel the Man with a P***y"

Oh dear.

If ever you needed proof society is doomed, look no further. In fact, you probably should look no further. If you ever needed to see something seriously worrying, well ok then, look further, but it really is disturbing. Adults only, please.

I don't go looking for this stuff. Honest I don't, mum.

More online ways to dig up dirt on people!

Oh goody!

With every day, the good ole' US of A turns in to a nicer and nicer place to live. As that once great beacon of liberty and goodness for all turns into more like something out of Bladerunner, I urge you to take solace in the fact that online tools like the Fundrace 2004 Neighbour Search allow you to find out your neighbours' political allegiances. From the comfort of your home or office, no less!

OMG! I'm now so old that early MTV presenters are dying!

The horror of it all....

I find it quite worrying that I'm old enough that a presenter from the "early" days of MTV has died. Aged 62, no less.

I think I'll crawl back to my depression station.

'Ong Bak' proves a knockout.


One of my all-time favourite martial-arts films, a true classic from Thailand, is gaining some of the international acclaim it deserves, writes The Nation.

Ong Bak is real breath of fresh air for a genre of cinema that, in the main, has recently grown quite stale with the primarily Hong Kong-based producers wheeling out the same old formulae and casts.

A sacred old Buddha's head is stolen from a village temple, dooming the village unless it can be recovered. The protagonist sets out for Bangkok on the trail of the stolen artefact where he must deal with all-manner of underground activities and criminals. Along the way, his physical prowess, dexterity and skill as both an athlete and martial artist are displayed in some amazing ways.

The film features some of the most amazing stunts I've seen in a long time and, if you can track down the "making of" DVD or VCD, you'll see that many of the most amazing stunts (performed by the lead, himself an experienced stuntman) are pretty close to the real deal and some cases are.

Oh yeah, you also get to see some brilliant demonstrations of Muay Thai Chaiyuth, the traditional Thai martial art that forms the basis of today's more commercial Thai boxing.

The plot is actually quite thin but it doesn't matter. You don't need to understand Thai to enjoy this film as the story is very simple, easy to figure out and, let's face it, doesn't matter - the action is fantastic.

I've always loved the work of Luc Besson but he's really impressed my by taking on the distribution of this film.

What else can I say? If you like action, you'll love Ong Bak.

The Bush Administration's Public Statements on Iraq.

Sez 'ere, "The Iraq on the Record report, prepared at the request of Rep. Henry A. Waxman, is a comprehensive examination of the statements made by the five Administration officials most responsible for providing public information and shaping public opinion on Iraq: President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice."

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Calling all 3L33T H4X0R5.......

Ok, I know it's not exactly new news but.

It's always fun to refresh our memories about what is out there.

Take, for example, this item on The Perils of Googling at The Register.

Introducing the amazing patented TooKoolTool™ from n-sphere!!!!

(aka woops, what happened to Google today?)

Something appears to have gone wrong at today. Perhaps one or more of their datacenters went down or they had a problem with their DNS load balancing, supplied by Akamai. Anyways, the Google homepage wasn't available as of this writing and DNS queries in Asia are getting routed to different Google sites.

You can learn more about Google Dance and Google's load-balancing here.

What's the TooKoolTool™? Well, this was an ideal time to introduce another one of our amazing, life-enhancing products. TooKoolTools® are anything that's cool and useful. Google, par example. Today's example is the Google Dance Tool.

Stop the insanity!

Oh dear. I suppose it had to happen sooner or later but, puleeeeze!

Thanks to Joss for this "valuable" submission.

Your Penis: A User's Guide is available from Amazon books. No, seriously.

Says here, "While there are many books and manuals that deal with women’s health issues, men’s health has long been a neglected topic.". Come on! Are you kidding me? Men scratch the inside of their nose during their half-hourly snot-dig session and they're off work for a week. The only reason men think their health is ignored is because they never talk about it, never want to visit the doctor and, most certainly, never read about it. Unless, heaven forbid, they're metrosexuals.

It's at times like this we can be thankful for Amazon's brilliant "Customers who bought this book also bought:" section.

It seems the following valuable tomes are also available: The Book of the Penis, Out in the Open: The Complete Male Pelvis and Facts & Phalluses : A Collection Of Bizarre & Intriguing Truths, Legends, & Measurements.

Strange, I don't recall anyone asking for my expert advice for any of these. I doubt they're any good.

Brothers, let us unite in our struggle!

Oops, wrong blog.

Anyway, it's still time again for me to drag out the old soapbox, take a running leap, clamber on top and tell you about some more music you should be enjoying.

Fato Consumado - Djavan
MeLao De Cana - Celia Cruz
La Sombra De Una Alheli - Aurora
Vuelvo Al Sur - Astor Piazolla/Roberto Goyeneche
Hanshan Temple - Jin Long Uen/Song Heui Liou (from this album)

Try and shop around for the individual artists or get this mega-bargain sampler CD. The other songs aren't bad, especially Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's vocal gymnastics, but I find the first 3 tracks get boring and the Acadien number too noisy for my tastes but the rest of the CD I can listen to over and over again.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

How drunk was this guy?

Desperate Afghan Makes an Ass Out of Himself.

I think I'll just leave it at that.

Orange County Choppers are cool.

Check out their site. The father and son team who run this place are so over the top, it's ridiculous and how the father ended up looking like that and remaining heterosexual (don't tell him I said that, though!) is beyond me but their bikes are awesome.

Unfortunately, they've changed their galleries since I last looked and my favourite is no longer in there.

Miss Tiffany's Universe 2004

Lads, I'm sure you've heard about the so-called delights of Pattaya, Thailand (no, it's pronounced "pat-tee-yaa", not "pat-tie-uh"). To be honest, I abhor the place. It's full of exactly the kind of person I strive to avoid but it is a scenic location and there are still some nice things down there.

Well, you won't want to miss the Miss Tiffany's Universe 2004 beauty/talent contest.

HOWEVER. Before you rush on in, ready to "have a good time with the ladies", you may wish to have a look at a few, erm, shall we say, "related" sites.

Paradise in Thailand, especially this photo gallery.

HINT: if you don't get my point, if you're visiting Thailand, be careful, pal. All is not what it seems.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.

Poseidon Adventure remake on the cards.

Remember that classic? I still recall my excitement as a child when dad and I watched it on the big screen.

But how good is any remake of this enormous piece of cinematic history going to be without Ernest Borgnine and Shelley Winters?

A very odd film, indeed.

Willard. I'm still not sure if it was disturbing or not but this is quite possibly the strangest film I've seen yet.

I haven't decided if it's more bizarre or disturbing than Ken Russell's The Devils.

Local officials nearly fall for H2O hoax.

From the "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" files (thanks to /.) comes this gem about city officials nearly banning foam cups after being duped by a teen prankster's website. The story is here and the /. thread is here.

By the way, did you know that "Oxygen is a very toxic gas"?

Passive Repeater.

No, not an unfortunate by-product of a meal heavy in garlic. A radio thingy.

Robert X. Cringely has been up to some more of his inveterate messing about. If Bob were a character in an 80s teen B-movie, the description on the back of the video would read, "Laughter and hijinks abound as Bob tries to widen his bandwith!"

These guys are craaaazy, man.

Who? Tuna cowboys. That's who. National Geographic has a series running at the moment all about very dangerous jobs, called Cheating Death.

The most crazy I have seen so far is the tuna cowboys who go to sea for several weeks at a time, using several ships to coral and net as much tuna as possible, coax them in to holding pens and slowly (as in <1knot) tow the pens back to base, a job that takes 3 weeks alone.

Over the course of their time at sea, these guys will be swimming in a deadly, 30m deep net (deadly because the current created by the circling tons of fish creates a deadly whirlpool that will suck the unlucky or careless to the bottom of the net where they will drown) to count the fish. When they're not doing that, they'll be swimming around inside the net repairing holes, tightening nuts and, finally, manhandling sharks out of the pens. Some of those are 3m long Mako sharks.

Then there are the storms.

Didn't I telly you these guys are crazy? You can read more here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Do ya want fries with that lawsuit?

Thanks to Budd for this one. The picture above comes from the New York Daily News, the story is here.

In a nutshell, a famous NY Deli celebrated its 50th anniversary by bringing prices back down to 1954 levels. I love the story for the picture, the characters interviewed and especially for the writer's tasteful, beautiful even, juxtaposition of two facts: that the founder opened his new eatery in the East Village "....even though people warned him it was risky to do business in the East Village" and that the founder "was gunned down and robbed of $10,000 outside an East Village bank on March 4, 1996". But for me, the pièce de résistance is the last line.

Are local rag writers the same all over the world?

It's a while since I've been in America and I often forget the size of the portions. No doubt, someone is just waiting to sue this place into submission for forcing the overweight locals to consume a kilo of beef every lunchtime.

Apostrophitis really get's my goat!

Several years ago, I coined the term apostrophitis after I became more and more concerned, nay despondant ("friends" know I often nay despondantly), at the misuse of the poor little apostrophe.

But why? Why waste energy writing something so unnecessary (I realise I'm on dodgy ground here)? Imagine the entropy created by all those unneeded little wisps of punctuation. The practice seems to have flourished in this age of "email's" and "website's". Will sign writers and copy writers PLEASE pay attention! "CD's, LP's, VIDEO's", indeed. Isn't it about time McDonald's served Billion's?

I think these things are a new virus, probably some kind of retro-virus that crossed over from animals to humans in southern China. Either that or it's the work of Osama Bin Laden and Al Queada.

   "You're either with us or you're with the people who can't write right!"

What I find very odd, however, is that a Google search on the term "apostrophitis", even searching sites in English only, brings up virtually nothing but European sites (none in English) about this problem.

I just want it to go away.

By the way, where on earth does the saying "gets my goat" come from?

What's the point of multi-valve diesel engines?

I've recently noticed more and more diesel and turbo-diesel cars and trucks boasting of 16 valves or more (4 per cylinder). My understanding has always been that the extra number of valves only helps increase power at higher revs but at lower revs, power suffers.

Given the extra cost and complexity (both in manufacturing and maintenance) of 4 valves per cylinder, the fact that diesel engines don't rev as high as petrol engines, and the fact that most of these engines are in utility vehicles, what's the point?

Some people really have big cojones.

Like China's Dr. Jiang Yanyong and the people in this article.

Classic CKLW.

The "BIG 8!!" was a major part of my childhood. I think the availability of classic CKLW audio files I could use as ringing tones on one of those new mobile phones is reason for getting a new phone, don't you?

What I'm listening to.

Bangkok's Get FM 102.5.

What I like at the moment:

The Battle for Everything - album by Five for Fighting

This Love - song by Maroon 5

Dance (With You) - song by Lemar

Oh, and I picked up a video CD of Peter Frampton's 1999 concert at Detroit. If you like Frampton, I highly recommend this, either in CD or DVD form.

I feel better already.

Why would anyone name a company "specializing in Air Traffic Control systems" Overkill?

Oh they build websites, too. I hope their Air Traffic Control software is slightly more professional than their own website.......

'Vampire Slayer' Shoots Man In Face

Hey America! Still think your problems are in some other country? Read this.

Asia has some really, erm, "interesting" vehicles.

Some are downright cool.

One of my favourites at the moment is a really cool pickup truck made by Isuzu. The D-Max is notable for several reasons. It's probably the best looking of the bunch here, especially in the 4-door, short-bed version. In Thailand, D-Max is pronounced like "dee mak". "Dee mak" means "very good" in Thai.

Then, you have things like the Toyota Alphard, a vehicle everyone should own not only for the name but because it looks like something out of Bladerunner. In black, with blacked-out windows and some serious alloy wheels, these things really do look extra-terrestrial.

If you're a Nissan devotee, you could plump for the Elgrand.

More to come....

Whew! It's getting hot!

Though next month will be worse. Still, it's an excellent excuse for me to remind you of my favourite site for checking the weather (or the phases of the moon, or nautical twilight time or radar maps, etc).

Weather Underground

Cue the Mork & Mindy jokes.

Nano, nano!

The fine people at New Scientist present us some of the latest breaking news on nanotechnology, the successful creation of 100M long nanotubes. I'm only interested cuz they use one of my favourite terms, "surfactant".

Monday, March 15, 2004

Numnuts. No, probably worse. Highly-paid numnuts.

Lord help us.

I read somewhere today about the latest in the long and distinguished line of achievements that mark Gillette's "Mach3Turbo shaving system" (I kid you not). The latest model is battery-powered. No, not kind of battery-powered, silly! You probably had some stupid idea like they use the battery to move the blades like in all those existing electric shavers?

Oh p'shaw! Nothing so dumb. Those beautiful marvels of engineering and product development have come up with a device that somehow uses a battery to make the thing shake, rattle or roll (I couldn't remember exactly what) but YOU still have to drag the thing across your weary face. Yes, that's right, somehow the thing moves about or vibrates or, heaven forbid, induces some sexy swaying in the shave head that entices your whiskers to stand to attention and be cut. Wouldn't a stun gun do this?

Why are they numnuts? Well of course there's nothing I could find on their website about this. Oh sure I can "Click here to experience the Mach3 web site." but that takes me to one of those stupid sites with an "Enter site" button and then I have to wait for a Flash movie to download and then I find it's only available for a selected few European countries, none of them the UK and so I choose Francais and then it wants to download another Flash movie and....... Life really is too short for this isn't it?

Anyways, I just thought the idea of an electric shaver that, well, isn't an elecric shaver was kind of neat.

But then again, we're living in an age of massive companies that aren't as well as inflation that isn't, apparently. Yes, Gillette do sell batteries as well as shavers.

Wicked! Yet another place for Dubya to send AolTimeWarnerEssoMobilexaco and NorthrupAirBusBoeingGoodyearIntel!

Oh yeah. Something else struck me today. What's it going to be like in just a few years from now when we try to explain to some kid about the "golden days" way back when mobile phones didn't have cameras and didn't record video? Is someone hiding all the old phones under a pile of odd socks?

I know. I bet they're all on Sedna!!!

Bush or Kerry? I'll take the guy who actually had to experience war any day.

Drinks at the FCCT

Had drinks at the Foreign Correspondents Club on Friday.

Several of the journalists there are well-known (in their field) "experts" on Burma (Myanmar). It really struck me how ludicrous it is that we are in the 21st century and still regimes such as the ones in places like Burma, Indonesia, much of Africa etc., are tolerated. Saudi Arabia, anyone?

Woops! Sorry, I forgot, they're our friends....

Sad. How awfully sad. I remember being about 14 and wondering why on earth nobody was doing anything about the kids suffering in places like Central America. That was more than 20 years ago.

In the meantime....

For some rather entertaining and rewarding reading, check out these books (in this order):

1. Burmese Days - George Orwell
2. The Impressionist - Hari Kunzru
3. The Unwanted - Kien Nguyen

Journey to the 10th dimension

Popular Science magazine in the USA has just published a great article on some of the latest developments in physics.

If you can fully grasp what's going on, then you are GOD. Otherwise, just be glad to enjoy the odd sniff or two.

I can't believe I'm THIS sad!

Me blogging? I never thought it would come to this. After all, would anyone really want to read my thoughts, experiences etc? Apparently, yes. I hope this will make it easier than emailing everyone all the time.