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Saturday, February 19, 2000
Evidence of Mystery Particles Stirring Excitement and Doubt: Researchers at the University of Rome have stirred both doubt and excitement by reporting evidence of a heavy particle predicted by supersymmetry theory. Proof of the existence of this particle could account for the long-sought "dark matter" that may make up at least 70% of the mass of the universe. It would be exciting evidence of the validity of the supersymmetry hypothesis, a possible first step toward the holy grail of a "grand unifying theory".
What I Saw at the Revolution by Donald Trump:
"I leave the Reform Party to
David Duke, Pat Buchanan and Lenora Fulani. That is not
company I wish to keep."
Friday, February 18, 2000
"Fight the Real Enemy": "Now, if I were to go out and take down some Internet sites, I wouldn’t waste my time with Yahoo! That’s for kids ... which is what you are, cyberstupids. It’s pointless. There are sites out there that are begging for a large, steaming serving of whupass. If you had any guts, cyberwussies, you would make a new list. And the ten sites below are where I would start."
Winning entries from the Adbusters Creative Resistance Contest:
"...we challenged people to
create social marketing concepts that best represented their
concerns about the world we live in. Here are some of the
best. The contest generated submissions from over 300 people
around the world: activists, students, graphic designers,
illustrators, photographers, painters, filmmakers, digital
artists, writers and poets. Their entries ranged from spoofs
to caustic commentary and included everything from school
projects to guerrilla protests. All of the submissions were
designs to change the way people think and act."
Archbishop Desmond Tutu: 'Our country did not go the way of Nuremberg, to bring the perpetrators
of such crimes to trial...Our country rejected the other extreme of a blanket amnesty, as
happened in General Augusto Pinochet's Chile....
Our country chose a middle way of individual amnesty for truth. Some
would say, what about justice? And we say retributive justice is not the
only kind of justice. There is also restorative justice, because we believe
Ubuntu-- the essence of being human, that idea that we are all
caught up in a delicate network of interdependence. We say, "A person
is a person through other persons." I need you in order to be me and
you need me in order to be you.' [via iBoy]
Honoring a Heretic Whom Vatican 'Regrets' Burning. Freethinkers and atheists gathered to honor Giordano Bruno in observance of the four hundredth anniversary of his burning at the stake. Bruno, a Dominican priest whose scientific investigations led him to believe that the universe was infinite and the teachings of the Church irrational, refused to recant to save his life. 'The pope has marked this Holy Year as a time for the church to
apologize for past errors and excesses, from the Inquisition to the
persecution of Jews. Today, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican
secretary of state, said the church "regretted" that it had resorted to
violence in Bruno's case, but pointed out that Bruno's writing was
"incompatible" with Christian thinking, and that he therefore remains a
A coronal mass ejection is headed for Earth:
"Yesterday, a medium-sized solar flare erupted from a sunspot group near the
middle of the solar disk. It was accompanied by a
coronal mass ejection (CME) that appears to be
headed directly for our planet.
There's no cause for
alarm -- CMEs aren't dangerous to people -- but this
one could trigger beautiful aurorae and other
geomagnetic activity when it passes by our planet
around February 20." [via Abby, thanks]
Life is hard for TWA Flight 800 skeptics.
Reality Ain't What it Used to Be: Robert Anton Wilson ponders thirty-five years' legacy of Bell's Theorem.
A World Community of Old Trees: an eco-art project in progress by June Julian.
R.U.Sirius interviews Stephen Gaskin on Al Gore, cannabis, and hypocrisy. I've followed Gaskin's pilgrim's progress since the '60's as one of the enduring honest presences in the counterculture whose actions are on the scale of his words.
Biar Witch Project sequel lost in the woods seeking product promotions.
According to a promotional packet entitled "The
Blair Witch Franchise," kids will soon be able to play
four different "Blair Witch" PC and PlayStation
games, read "Blair Witch" comic books, collect
"Blair Witch" trading cards, and play with "Blair
Witch" action figures designed by "Spawn" creator
The packet also promises "Dozens of New Licensed
Products -- Computer Accessories, Jewelry, Apparel,
Leather Goods, Stationery ... and many more."
Thursday, February 17, 2000
International experts worried about U.S.-based Internet racism
'Experts at a U.N. meeting Wednesday said Wednesday that the United States could
do more to curb the use of the Internet for racist material while upholding freedom of speech.
"New forms of communications technology such as the Internet are being used to support the dissemination of racial hatred," Mary Robinson, the U.N.
High Commissioner for Human Rights, told participants in a three-day seminar on racism.
Speakers noted the legal challenges of controlling Internet content in, and originating from, the United States, where the First Amendment of the
constitution guarantees freedom of speech.
There are an estimated 250 to 400 self-proclaimed hate groups in the United States with their own Web sites.'
NPR's Instrumental Bits Become an Online Music Show
"Although NPR makes some of its on-air shows available on
demand through its Web site, the leap by a major radio
organization into Internet-only programming helps validate
the concept of using the Web to "narrowcast" to a smaller
listener base. The eclectic material heard on "All Songs
Considered" might have limited appeal among NPR's 600
member stations, which can be as rigidly formatted as their
commercial counterparts. Yet the show can still reach an
audience by going online."
A High-End Top 30 List: Myths About Nietzsche: review of Robert Solomon and Kathleen Higgins' new book this "most popular philosopher of the 21st century." [New York Times]
Wednesday, February 16, 2000
BBC News | EUROPE | Pinochet 'brain damaged': The Spanish press
and ABC reportedly have extracts from the crucial medical report
into the former Chilean dictator's health which prompted British Home Sec'y Jack Straw to say he intends to allow him to return home. Pinochet, who has diabetes and a pacemaker and has reportedly suffered two recent strokes, is said to have extensive frontal and temporal lobe dysfunction from progressive cerebro-vascular injury. A medical analysis in lay terms explains this.
The Peculiar Practice of Dr. John Ronald Brown: The story of a California back-alley surgeon convicted of murder after his patient died in the aftermath of the amputation of his healthy leg on demand, apparently to gratify the patient's bizarre sexual fetish. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of this graphic and disturbing story.
Music lovers 'have fish to thank': Researchers suggest that a vestigial part of the vestibular system passed on evolutionarily from fish to humans, and without significance to normal hearing, is sensitive to loud sounds at the frequencies that predominate in music. We may have fish to thank for the pleasure we experience in listening to loud music.
Who's Alive and Who's Dead: "the site that helps you keep track of which famous people
have died and which are still alive!" Journalists can avoid those embarrassing gaffes; you can settle those arguments with friends or family; search for your own name...
Urban Legend Machine: Generate your own.
Are you part of a Newer, Lonelier Crowd? [New York Times]
Tuesday, February 15, 2000
Seeing Is Deceiving '"Once upon a time, Antonio J. Mendez, 59, a lifelong student of the "accumulation of millimeters" that form the human identity, could alter your appearance so profoundly that not even your mother could tell who you were.
Though his disguises often had to work only for a day, or an hour, or a split second, his audience could be extremely judgmental. A sloppy job could mean death.
Nine years ago, Mendez, the son of a Nevada copper miner, retired from the CIA after a quarter-century. He had worked his way up from the lowly forgery unit--bogus signatures, altered documents, counterfeit currency and the like--to become head of the espionage agency's division of disguise, with a rank equal to that of a two-star general.
He created some of the CIA's most elaborate, if little-known, productions--the ploys, skits, scams, masquerades and sleights of hand designed to dupe foreign agents and enemy surveillance teams. His specialty, he writes in a new memoir, "The Master of Disguise," was "exfiltration," wherein endangered persons are whisked away from bad guys and taken to safety.'
Astrobiology: on interplanetary biotic transfer.
Paul Davies (Imperial College London, UK) presents a
review of current ideas concerning the seeding from elsewhere of
life on Earth.
The latest issue, as always, of the Flummery Digest fires refreshing potshots -- or at times withering blasts -- at the absurdities of political correctness, excess regulation, and our litigation-proneness each month.
Slow Down: If your car sports a transponder for "Fast Lane" (MA), "EZ-Pass" (NY), or a similar automated toll collection system, read this. Apparently they are monitoring the speed with which you pass through the tollgates. It also occurs to me that they could determine from the time interval between your entry to and exit from the tollway whether your average speed exceeded the speed limit. [via CamWorld]
Monday, February 14, 2000
Defend Your Medical Data: The ACLU is mounting a campaign for public comment on the national medical privacy regulations proposed in November 1999 by the Clinton Administration. A previous accumulation of over 2,400 comments solicited by the ACLU was refused by the Dept of HHS on a technicality.
The ACLU says that the current proposed regulations are a reasonable first step and that their position is to encourage the government to take them further. However, from my vantage points both as a health care provider and a concerned citizen, they sound like ominous and objectionable privacy erosion!
The regulations dismantle real legal barriers to law enforcement and government access to medical records. Law enforcement agents would obtain patient records with simple written demands to doctors, hospitals and insurance companies without the necessity for judicial review or the issuance of a warrant. A patient would receive no notice or opportunity to contest the demand. The failure to require patient consent to release of information erodes the bedrock principle that patients own their medical records and must authorize the disclosure of their medical information or if they so choose, decline to give access.
Police would be free to browse all computerized medical records to seek matches for blood, DNA or other health traits. The proposed regulations in essence facilitate the creation of a government health databank. Although the system may initially be established to support "functions authorized by law," the regulations themselves state that "government data are notoriously susceptible to expansion and abuse." A major concern is that patients, when faced with the realization that government agencies might have access to their medical history, would avoid needed treatment or lie about their history.
Other recent ACLU concerns include support for Senator Patrick Leahy's proposed federal legislation to protect innocent people sentenced to death; and an initiative against racial profiling in traffic enforcement, the nationwide problem euphemistically referred to as being stopped for "driving while black."
Sunday, February 13, 2000
February 13 is the 55th anniversary of the Valentine's Day 1945 firebombing of Dresden Germany, one of the most ignominious and little-recognized moments of the Allied war effort. This was the single most destructive air raid in history, far surpassing the toll inflicted on Japan in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to come that August. At least 130,000 -- some estimates place the figure as high as 300,000 -- were killed when, in a three-day period, 3,400 tons of explosives & incendiaries were dropped, reducing six square miles of the city, famed for its artistic heritage and devoid of significance to the German war effort, to rubble. Many Allied officials were outraged--Germany was clearly on the verge of collapse, and the raids apppeared designed to inflict maximal civilian casualties on this city filled with refugees fleeing the advancing Soviet armies on the eastern front. It is far harder to argue in the German instance, as some do in countering antiwar revulsion about the use of the atomic bombs in Japan, that the attack was important to hastening the end of the war and may have saved lives. Kurt Vonnegut's horror about Dresden apparently motivated the writing of Slaughterhouse-Five. On the other hand, the firebombing of Dresden has apparently become a rallying point for Holocaust deniers and other far right historical revisionists who focus on putative Allied war atrocities as "the real Holocaust of WWII".
Today's edition of The Daily Bleed, which I logged somewhere below, provides the above two links in its item about the Dresden anniversary. I have written to the listmaster asking him whether these links were included inadvertently or intentionally; if you're interested, I'll let you know how he responds.
Is Net Dyslexia a disease?
You've got to marvel at this elaborate and inventive joke.
This idiotic poll claims to assess Americans' attitudes on The Best/Worst Ways to Die. However, take a look at the way they constrain the question: "If you had to choose one of the following ways to die, which would you choose: drowning, fire, car accident, disease, gunshot,
plane crash, or other?" Most polltakers chose "other".
N.Ireland Politicians Throw Down Gauntlets. Britain's suspension of the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland leaves a power vacuum likely to be fertile ground for hardline extremists who might end cease-fires that would
completely spell the end of the hopes of the 1998 Good Friday pact.
The New York Times today reports that a State Dept. review found it unlikely that Gen. Pinochet's Chilean junta would have gone ahead with the 1973 murders of two Americans, Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi, without a nod from the CIA. The two were supporters of the overthrown socialist government of Salvador Allende. The Horman family's search for information on the deaths was dramatized in the 1982 film "Missing" with Sissy Spacek and Jack Lemmon playing the parents of the missing American.
``At best, (the CIA) was limited to providing or confirming information that helped motivate his murder by the government of Chile. At
worst, U.S. intelligence was aware the government of Chile saw Horman in a rather serious light and U.S. officials did nothing to
discourage the logical outcome of government of Chile paranoia,'' the Times report said. Facing pressure from Congress, the State Dept. ordered the review in 1976; it concluded that it was "difficult to believe" that Pinochet would have proceeded with the executions without U.S. encouragement that they would not have serious repercussions to U.S.-Chile relations. President Clinton ordered the declassification of the material after the 1998 arrest of Pinochet in London.The CIA continues to protest its innocence.