Saturday, May 22, 2004

I've always found my Sikh friends to be splendid people.

This is an interesting article with some nuggets about Sikhs and some useful links.

Sooner or later you have to stop blaming others.

So when Bill Cosby tries to address the issues, he gets treated as a pariah. Oh well....

Friday, May 21, 2004

You think that's air that you're breathing?

The real MATRIX. Another good article at The Register is about the US Department of Justice's Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange.

An interesting review of the near-joke that is the Patriot missile defence system

can be found here. The only problem is that jokes are supposed to be funny and an over-priced, unreliable, delicate, problem-ridden missile defence system that is more adept at killing your own people than preventing the enemy from doing so is no laughing matter. Like I have always been fond of saying, with friends like the US military, who needs an enema?

Meanwhile, there are still some decent humans out there.

Like the fine people at the Detroit Zoo, who are finally going to do the right thing and release their elephants from their inhumane existence as entertainment for humans.

One Day of War

An invaluable BBC documentary. Watch it and weep.

Nice guys finish last.

But at least now, they get to fly there for free. I wonder if we're naughty, could we get a free offer to join the mile high club? That would rawk, especially on HootersAir.

Japanese Parliament must be a real hoot.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi scolded rookie lawmakers Thursday for reading comic books and talking on their cell phones during legislative sessions, according to a newspaper report.

DIY Universe creation.

This is tres cool. How long before My-First-Universe™ replaces the Visible Man plastic kit and the traditional ant farm? Man, this has the boring old chemistry kit beat hands-down!

Just imagine what a lifetime of McDonald's does to you.

To make his film about the fast food industry, Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald's for 30 days. The results? 25 pound weight gain and sickness. Do you want fries with that?

"Iron" Mike Tyson's next sparring partner?

Wow! Give this kid a biscuit. Heck, give him anything he wants - just don't piss him off: Boy survives alligator attack with a punch

Got the tech support blues?

Sick of the inane garbage you get from your technical support line? This thread on /. will make you laugh or cry, or both....

CANADIAN OIL SHORTAGE, AN EXPLANATION...FINALLY!!

There are a lot of folks who can't understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in Canada. There's a very simple answer. Nobody bothered to check the oil. We simply didn't know we were getting low. The reason for this is purely geographical.

All our oil is in Alberta. All our dipsticks are in Ottawa.

Kansas breaks off, falls into the Ocean

"How in the world THAT happened ... it's beyond me" geologist Rick Swanson told CNN reporters. "One minute Kansas is over there below Nebraska, next minute it's out there floating around in the middle of the sea.

President Bush has yet to declare the state a disaster area since technically it is no longer a state. Just a great big hole in the ground where a state used to be. Residents of Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California were apparently sleeping when the state of Kansas somehow rolled, tumbled, danced across 4 consecutive other states to make its way 1800 miles to the Pacific Ocean.

"It's just floating around out there", Swanson explained. "Somehow the terrigenous strata comprising Kansas's hydraulic gradient, or foundation as laymen put it, is for the moment enabling the state to float like an ocean liner. How long it will stay afloat is unknown. Hopefully they have more lifeboats than the Titanic had. "

Now 27 nautical miles southwest of Los Angeles, Kansas, if it maintains its present course, is expected to make landfall at Honolulu Hawaii sometime in December. 2006.

Passengers on board the ill-fated state are making the most of their bittersweet situation ... some saddened that they had to say goodbye the country that they loved while others are just thrilled to be on a cruise.

"I'm going to do a little salmon fishing", one Kansas resident told reporters via phone. "The waters are a little choppy today this side of the state. We might head on over ‘round Topeka way and see how they're biting there."

Kansas Governor, Kay Barnes, assured her people that if worse came to worse and the state started to take on water that women and children would be pushed aside like old ladies at a Target sale, just like in that Titanic movie, every life form for its self Governor signed into law today. "Every life form for its self."

One upbeat Kansas City disk jockey of KRLD FM attempting to liven up the morning drive to work jokingly told listeners on Good Morning Topeka,

"Kansas is not in Kansas anymore Toto".

KRLD FM is now sleeping with the fishes. Apparently some Kansas residents are not pleased with their situation as the state drifts further and further from the mainland, from civilization itself into the void. Tempers flare easily, bullets fly freely especially on the edges of the state where tides routinely reach up to 15 feet, flooding the streets of a once dry state that never even knew the meaning of the word tide. Former weather man of former KOLD FM before its splashy demise quipped late Monday,

"At least the tornados can't reach us out here".


(CNN) A category 4 tornado tore through the sea-borne city of Topeka Kansas late Tuesday killing 12 causing millions of dollars in damages. Kansas, as first reported on CNN early Monday, by some freak force of nature is now adrift in the middle of the Pacific ocean, lost, headed for God knows where and now faced with not only Tornadoes but Tropical Hurricanes as well as ..

Ferrari F1 team fires entire pit crew!!

The Ferrari Formula 1 Team fired their entire pit crew yesterday. The announcement followed Ferrari's decision to take advantage of the British governments 'Work for the Dole' scheme and employ unemployable people from Belfast.

The decision to hire them was brought on by a recent documentary on how unemployed Belfast youths were able to remove a set of wheels in less than 6 seconds without proper equipment, whereas Ferrari's existing crew can only do it in 8 seconds with millions of pounds worth of high tech gear.

This was thought to be an excellent, yet bold move, by Ferrari Management. As most races are won and lost in the pits, Ferrari would have an advantage over every team.

However, Ferrari got more than they bargained for at the crew's first practice session, not only did the Belfast Pit Crew be able to change the tyres in under 6 seconds but within 12 seconds they had re-sprayed, rebadged and sold the vehicle over to the McLaren Team for four bottles of Harp, a gram of something (wink) and a quick shufti at Coulthard's bird in the shower.

The (Future) Diary of a Mad Digital Homeowner:

Nov 28: Moved in to my new digitally-maxed out Hermosa Beach house at
last. Finally, we live in the smartest house in the neighborhood. Everything's net worked. The cable TV is connected to our phone, which is connected to my personal computer, which is connected to the power lines, all the appliances and the security system.

Everything runs off a universal handheld remote with the friendliest interface I've ever used. Programming is a snap. I'm totally wired.

Nov 30: Hot Stuff! Programmed my VCR from the office, turned up the
thermostat and switched on the lights with the car phone, remotely tweaked the oven a few degrees for my pizza. Everything nice and cozy when I arrived. Maybe I should get the universal remote surgically attached.

Dec 1: Had to call the SmartHouse people today about bandwidth problems. The TV drops to about 2 frames/second when I'm talking on the phone. They insist it's a problem with the cable company's compression algorithms. How do they expect me to order things from the Home Shopping Channel?

Dec 2: Got my first SmartHouse invoice today and was unpleasantly surprised. I suspect the cleaning woman of reading Usenet from the washing machine interface when I'm not here. She must downloading one hell of a lot of GIFs from the binary groups, because packet charges were through the roof on the invoice.

Dec 3: Yesterday, the kitchen CRASHED. Freak event. As I opened the
refrigerator door, the light bulb blew. Immediately, everything else electrical shut down: lights, microwave, coffee maker... everything. Carefully unplugged and and replugged all the appliances. Nothing. Call the cable company (but not from the kitchen phone). They refer me to the utility.

The utility insists that the problem is in the software. So the software company runs some remote telediagnostics via my house processor. Their expert system claims it has to be the utility's fault. I don't care, I just want my kitchen back. More phone calls; more remote diag's. Turns out the problem was "unanticipated failure mode": The network had never seen a refrigerator bulb failure while the door was open. So the fuzzy logic interpreted the burnout as a power surge and shut down the entire kitchen. But because sensor memory confirmed that there hadn't actually been a power surge, the kitchen logic sequence was confused and it couldn't do a standard restart. The utility guy swears this was the first time this has ever happened. Rebooting the kitchen took over an hour.

Dec 7: The police are not happy. Our house keeps calling them for help. We discover that whenever we play the TV or stereo above 25 decibels, it creates patterns of micro-vibrations that get amplified when they hit the window. When these vibrations mix with a gust of wind, the security sensors are actuated, and the police computer concludes that someone is trying to break in. Go figure. Another glitch: Whenever the basement is in self-diagnostic mode, the universal remote won't let me change the channels on my TV. That means I actually have to get up off the couch and change the channels by hand. The software and the utility people say this flaw will be fixed in the next upgrade: SmartHouse 2.1. But it's not ready yet. Finally, I'm starting to suspect that the microwave is secretly tuning into the cable system to watch Bay Watch. The unit is completely inoperable during that same hour. I guess I can live with that. At least the blender is not tuning in to old I Love Lucy episodes.

Dec 9: I just bought the new Microsoft Home. Took 93 gigabytes of storage, but it will be worth it, I think. The house should be much easier to use and should really do everything. I had to sign a second mortgage over to Microsoft, but I don't mind: I don't really own my house now--it's really the bank. Let them deal with Microsoft.

Dec 10: I'm beginning to have doubts about Microsoft House. I keep getting an hour glass symbol showing up when I want to run the dishwasher.

Dec 12: This is a nightmare. There's a virus in the house. My personal computer caught it while browsing on the public access network. I come home and the living room is a sauna, the bedroom windows are covered with ice, the refrigerator has defrosted, the washing machine has flooded the basement, the garage door is cycling up and down and the TV is stuck on the home shopping channel. Throughout the house, lights flicker like stroboscopes until they explode from the strain.

Broken glass is everywhere. Of course, the security sensors detect nothing. I look at a message slowly throbbing on my personal computer screen:
WELCOME TO HomeWrecker!!! NOW THE FUN BEGINS...
(Be it ever so humble, there's no virus like the HomeWrecker...).


Dec 18: They think they've digitally disinfected the house, but the place is a shambles. Pipes have burst and we're not completely sure we've got the part of the virus that attacks toilets. Nevertheless, the Exorcists (as the anti-virus SWAT team members like to call themselves) are confident the worst is over. "HomeWrecker is pretty bad" one he tells me, "but consider yourself lucky you didn't get PolterGeist. That one is really evil."

Dec 19: Apparently, our house isn't insured for viruses. "Fires and mudslides, yes," says the claims adjuster. "Viruses, no." My agreement with the SmartHouse people explicitly states that all claims and warranties are null and void if any appliance or computer in my house networks in any way, shape or form with a non-certified on-line service.

Everybody's very, very, sorry, but they can't be expected to anticipate every virus that might be created. We call our lawyer. He laughs. He's excited!

Dec 21: I get a call from a SmartHouse sales rep. As a special holiday offer, we get the free opportunity to become a beta site for the company's new SmartHouse 2.1 upgrade. He says I'll be able to meet the programmers personally. "Sure," I tell him.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

A bright day for dark energy.

'The Chandra Space Telescope has gathered further evidence the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, scientists at NASA and Britain's Institute of Astronomy announced Tuesday. The finding sheds new light on a force known as "dark energy."' - CNN

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Only in Thailand,

could you get a news story about government health warnings on excessive consumption of a fruit that smells so bad it makes foreigners throw up and is banned from many hotels.

OMG! EU does something useful!

I was amazed, awed and not just a little bit pleased to read that the EU is investigating using quantum cryptography to counter Echelon. Of course, this raises the interesting question of how the UK, which is part of the EU can be an active sponsor of and participant in Echelon whilst developing methods to defeat that very same eavesdropping technology.

Next they'll be telling us "Death by Chocolate" cake's no good for us, too?

Who woulda thunk it? Sodas Raise Cancer Risk. Only in America would they need a study to find other health risks from drinking carbonated sugar water.

My favourite quote: "Several studies presented at a meeting of cancer and gastrointestinal experts in New Orleans showed that what people eat and drink could affect a range of cancers.". Ground-breaking stuff.

My next favourite quote: "But another study showed a potential benefit from drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages."

My nextest favourite quote: '"These results warrant further study," said Dr. James Everhart, who helped lead the study. '

Well, he would say that, wouldn't he? That's a bit like a lottery-winner saying, "This warrants further spending."

What is this world coming to?

It's getting so you can't even spot a member of the Yakuza anymore!