Monday, December 18, 2006

Cool New Weapon with Cool Old Weapon

On CSI: Miami I learned of this cool new weapon, the Corner Shot. It is an Israeli weapon designed for urban warfare. The Isrealis have to deal with not just the organized armies of enemy states but also random gangs of murders. The image above comes from a clip of the product use in training.
On the page for Corner Shot there is details about Corner Shot adaptation for an infantry anti-tank weapon. The anti-tank weapon is the Corner Shot Panzerfaust. Yes, that Panzerfaust. It is German-Israeli weapon. WWII is over.

Insect Tales

From Cartoonbrew there is a report of some amusing new insest animations. In these shorts the characters are animated while been set in a real meadow. Follow this link to Cartoonbrew and the 3 completed shorts.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I, For One, Welcome Our New Robot Overlords

In the spirit of Kent Brockman abject acceptance of "our new insect overlords" comes this cautionary tale.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Venture Communists

In the future we will all become like China, as their living standards rise ours will drop. Not as consequence of mercantilism but as human powered manufacturing drives out machanized manufacturing, see Manufactured Landscapes. In Boingboing there was excepts of a report of venture capitalist who just toured China. He was in China to scope out custom manufacturing, in his case hand assembly that is cheaper the machine assembly.I used to joke about Dot Communists during the dot com boom. It is no longer a joke when venture capitalists ally with communists with the same goal of cheap manufacting, cheap life. When a post called Venture Communist is writen the joke becomes a sick one.

Once I came a magazine piece that consisted of predictions by famous writers. Paul Theroux's vision was the bleakest in seeing the future in the worst of China. Here is, if the exact quote, Paul Theroux's dire futurism, (thanks Ambivalence.)
from Down The Yangtze in Fresh Air Fiend]

In a hundred years or so, under a cold uncolonized moon, what we call the civilized world will all look like China, muddy and senile and oldfangled: no trees, no birds, and shortages of fuel and metal and meat, but plenty of pushcarts, cobblestones, ditch diggers, and wooden inventions. Nine hundred million farmers splashing through puddles and the rest of the population growing weak and blind working the crashing looms in black factories.

Forget rocket ships, supertechnology, moving sidewalks, and all the rubbishy hope in science fiction. No one will ever go to Mars and live. A religion has evolved from the belief that we have a future in outer space, but it is a half-baked religion, a little like Moromonism or the cargo cult. Our future is the mildly poisoned earth and its smoky air. We are in for hunger and hard work, the highest stage of poverty -- no starvation, but crudeness everywhere, political art, simple language, bad books, brutal laws, plain vegetables, and clothes of one color. It will be damp and dull, monochrome and crowded -- how could it be different? There will be no star wars or galactic empires and no more money to waste on the loony nationalism in space programs. Our grandchildren will probably live in a version of China. On the brown banks of the Yangtse the future has already arrived.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Dalek Chorus for the Season

Listen to heart warming sound of a chorus of Daleks yelling EXTREMINATE. Listen to other happy sounds from Dr. Who here.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Rudolph the Paranoid Reindeer

An album of Christmas song mashups, Santastic II has been released online. My favorite cut has mixed Paranoid by Black Sabbath with Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. The resulting Rudolph the Paranoid Reindeer feels more like a stampede of reindeer rather than the gentle canter of the original Xmas song.

The Xmas song, not Christmas carol, occupies a place in our culture that is at once well loved and hated. There are true postive feelings about the "holidays" that a commercial Xmas song evokes. At the same time the Xmas song with it little or no connection to any particular religion or faith is (over)used as aural wallpaper between Halloween and New Years. Thus through annoyance earning out hatred.

Back Seats Are Evil

(thanks AdFreak)

Where Advertisers get their Bad Taste

(thanks Adfreak)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Premier Isaac Asimov

On there is discussion of Isaac Asimov, or Исаак Озимов, who stays in the Soviet Union as a child eventually raising to be Premier of the Soviet Union. HA HA.

Scary Scopes

Photo: David Guttenfelder/AP

A Canadian soldier looks through the scope of his rifle as he guards a road construction project near the Mas'um Ghar base in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan.

I remember seeing a documentry about Canadian troops in the Balkans. The soldiers were not routinely issued with binoculars. They would use their scopes on their rifles as monoculars. This would freak people out who would see guns pointing at them. Afghanistan is a more dangerous mission then the peace keeping / peace enforcement in the Balkans. But I wonder if scopes are ever issued that are not attached to rifles.

Database of Slavery Images

The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas is a database of images that has been collected and put online by a two University of Virginia profs. The database has a lot disturbing and upseting images. The drawing above is of Arab slavers and their prey. We forget, with our underatandable guilt and shame clouding our memory, that the Arab slave trade in West Africa, East Africa, North Africa, Southern Europe, the Balkans, and the Caucasuses was started before the Atlantic slave trade and continued long afterward. Saudi Arabia agreed to abolish slavery, officially, only after much pressure by President Kennedy.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Total Perspective Vortex

There are times in our life when we feeel we matter, we are important to the our universe of personal experience. Then there are times when realize how meaniless we are to the cosmos. Here is a video of the HubbleDeep Field, thanks RG. Douglas Adams realized how unnerving the immsensity of the universe is so he wrote about the Total Perspective Vortex. It is a device that will drive you mad with the meaniless of you own existence.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Quote about Bob Rae

He has a lethargic fluency that can be appealing.
- Quote about Bob Rae

Phrase of the Day: Lathargic Fluency

Political Humor

At On Point there is a discussion of political humor in the US today. Many outtakes and excepts of what could be considered humor in bad taste. Later one caller gives a reason for this increase in political themed humor and why in the States it is mainly from the left.
Humor is anger, drama is fear.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Things you CAN'T do when you're NOT in a pool

Open Source D&D

Open Source D&D. And it is has GNU license.

My Defense of the Term Barbarian or Barb

Because of the recent post about Small Wars I have got flack for using the term "barb" short for barbarian. Some consider it a pejorative term that is dismissive and insulting of the people of less developed civilizations. It is that but it is also a legitimate term for relationship that develops between civilization and less developed peoples. It is not a racial insult. The Vikings were barbarians, the Japanese were pirates but their descendants are not. It is merely stage of development that many societies and peoples have passed through.

Civilization is not a term of endearment that is meant to honor favorite countries and societies. It is term to describe societies that have grown to be centralized states with specialists and recordkeeping. A civilization has to grow beyond the tribal level, when their entire society can be connected with kinship ties. It has to discover a way that unrelated people can live together. A civilization has standing armies with soldiers and has the monopoly force. In a barbarian society everyone is a warrior.

Barbarism develops at the border between civilization and less developed societies. A barbarian living in hut looks across to the civilization and wants the benefits of civilization he just doesn't want to join it. The civilization has more and better stuff than the barbarian society because it has the higher social organization and specialization. The rational solution for the barbarian societies, from their standpoint, is banditry. This is a problem for any neighboring civilization. Barbarians are not ignorant of civilization its tools and techniques. They can at times be almost assimilated into their neighboring civilization but until they are completely assimilated they remain a threat. Herman was a Roman officer who grew up in Rome before he ambushed 3 Roman legions in the Teutoburg forest. Acculturation doesn't automatically lead to allegiance.

On The Oceans of Eternity there is a passage that illuminates anti-civilization mindset of barbarians. One of the rebels, to Nantucket, goes to Egypt to help Africa. There George McAndrews schemes to aid the Nubians and Kushites, barbarians to the south of ancient Egypt.

McAndrews had picked up alot of experience with barbarians over the past ten years. Most of them weren't moved by the prospect of being civilized; civilization meant someone like Ramses hitting you up with the bill for his palaces and wars and forty-foot gold statues. He had found that barbarians were just as enchanted as anyone else in the prospect of wealth, and their chiefs were as greedy for power as any Pharaoh.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Moslem Politics

In a thread on Little Green Footballs about Pope Benedict traveling to occupied Anatolia and rabid angry of some the local barbs a Mike in MI has this breakdown of Moslems.
This is how I see the Muslim community of the world:

(1) Peaceful Muslims (small minority - denounce terrorism and just want to be left alone to worship peaceful Islam)

(2) Appeasement Muslims (vast majority - do not denounce terrorism, but do not wish to participate in active jihad. However, they will aid and give comfort to the active jihadists and work in other ways to promote victimhood of Muslims)

(3) Jihadist Musllims (small minority, however larger in number than the Peaceful Muslims - actively participate in jihad against non-Muslims and Peaceful Muslims to restore the Islamic Caliphate)

Monday, November 27, 2006


Odd and Beautiful Planes

Flitzerart is a site for an artist who concentrates on machinery. The plane above is the BV194, an asymetrical design that looks a little too lopsided. The way these planes are illustrated is remeniscent of the spaceship art from the 70's.

Kissinger Finally Concedes that Victory Not Possible: In Vietnam

Kissinger Finally Concedes that Victory Not Possible: In Vietnam. There have been much chortling at how the Iraq War/Occupation was doomed from the start. The problem in both wars is that if you you not serious in fighting a war, you lose. You have to raise taxes, recruit, draft and train more troops. You have to focus on the guns not tax cuts. If you are not going to fight a war with all of your resources maybe you shouldn't start one. This is not to play into the mythology of "one hand tied behind the back" reason behind the loss to the Commies. The Americans expended enough resources but were not focusing on Vietnam over the expected tank battles in the North European Plains. It is distraction not impotence that doomed the Americans effort in Vietnam and Iraq.

Yale/Shmale: The Reality

At the History News Network there is link to a study about civics, historical knowledge and politics. The study is omniously titled The Coming Crisis in Citizenship. There is one item in the executive summary that reminds one of the recent ad campaign from Lakehead.
At many colleges, including Brown, Georgetown, and Yale, seniors know less than freshmen about America's history, government, foreign affairs, and economy. We characterize this phenomenon as "negative learning." A majority of the 16 schools where senior scores were actually lower than freshman scores are considered to be among the most prestigious colleges in the United States.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


It was a Nike Ad that brought this Johnny Cash cover to my attention because it was so unNike. Nike normally tries to surport the jock ethos. This ad, and its various versions focuses on the downsides of atlethtics and of life. The video of this cover has lot of Christian iconography especially the Passion, the tragedy of a man tortured to death. It is also Johnny Cash's epigraph.

Winning "Small Wars"

At the History News Network there is a discussion of small wars and ways to win them. There is also discussion of a treatise written by an Indian Army Officer Col CE Callwell, Small Wars. His solution for winning such conflicts is to use the same tactics of the barbs, in the words of the article " to win small wars, mere victory isn’t enough, the enemy must be thoroughly and utterly destroyed to the last man, woman, and child – which means enormous civilian casualties." If the tactics sound familar it is because there are what Julius Caesar did. Recent news reports tell of Americans fighting jihadis being unable to pursue gunman back into their armories/garrisons/mosques. Treating barbs in a civilized manner doesn't civilize them or reduce the numbers of barbs. Only after their culture is beaten out of them can barbs become cilvilized.

On a related note there was ad next to this article advertising a new book on the AK-47.

Binary Translater

The web application of the day the Binary Translater from NickCisk allows you to communicate in your computer's, or your computer nerd's favorite code.

10 go to program
20 use program
30 laugh
40 repeat

01010100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110111 01100101 01100010 00100000 01100001 01110000 01110000 01101100 01101001 01100011 01100001 01110100 01101001 01101111 01101110 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100100 01100001 01111001 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01000010 01101001 01101110 01100001 01110010 01111001 00100000 01010100 01110010 01100001 01101110 01110011 01101100 01100001 01110100 01100101 01110010 00100000 01100110 01110010 01101111 01101101 00100000 01001110 01101001 01100011 01101011 01000011 01101001 01110011 01101011 00100000 01100001 01101100 01101100 01101111 01110111 01110011 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101101 01101101 01110101 01101110 01101001 01100011 01100001 01110100 01100101 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101101 01110000 01110101 01110100 01100101 01110010 00100111 01110011 00101100 00100000 01101111 01110010 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101101 01110000 01110101 01110100 01100101 01110010 00100000 01101110 01100101 01110010 01100100 00100111 01110011 00100000 01100110 01100001 01110110 01101111 01110010 01101001 01110100 01100101 00100000 01100011 01101111 01100100 01100101 00101110 00001101 00001010 00001101 00001010 00110001 00110000 00100000 00100000 01100111 01101111 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 00100000 01110000 01110010 01101111 01100111 01110010 01100001 01101101 00001101 00001010 00110010 00110000 00100000 01110101 01110011 01100101 00100000 01110000 01110010 01101111 01100111 01110010 01100001 01101101 00001101 00001010 00110011 00110000 00100000 01101100 01100001 01110101 01100111 01101000 00001101 00001010 00110100 00110000 00100000 01110010 01100101 01110000 01100101 01100001 01110100

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Timeline: Modern German City in the 3rd Reich

At there is an interesting timeline of a modern German city sent to the 1940. here is a good quote: ...then he would merely do the best he could to not end up with his back to the wall, facing grim Grenediers with shouldered rifles... he would do his duty, and hope for the best.

Nigerian Scam Letter

Here is a Nigerian Scam Letter that was recently sent to me from the Ivory Coast. The spelling and grammatical errors are entirely the fault of the sleaze who emailed me this screaming letter. John Etembe is famous enough from previous scams here is an earlier scam letter used as example of why you should never trust anyone from West Africa.


The Easter Bunny Hates You

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

DS9 Quote

A man with a deathwish is a danger not only to himself but to the rest of his team. - Odo

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Isn't it Sad When Cousins Marry

Looking the history and politics of Arab "nations" one is often confronted with a difficulty in building nation states. Steve Sailer wrote Cousin Marriage Conundrum: The ancient practice discourages democratic nation-building to address so of the difficulties that inbreeding presents to nation building. In a similar vein is this article by de Atkins, an American military officer wrote in 1999, Why Arabs Lose Wars. Such happy reading.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Locations of Roman Legions

If you ever wondered if the XII Fulminata was stationed in Egypt, Syria or Judea or in all three provinces consult this chart.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Complete War Poems of Wilfred Owen

BBC3 is reading Wilfred Owen's poetry in five minute chunks.
Asleep - Strange Meeting
A Terre
The Parable of the Old Man and the Young - SIW
1914 - Dulce et Decorum Est - Futility
The Letter - Insensibility
Disabled - Happiness
The Spring Offensive - The Dead Beat
Has Your Soul Sipped? - Exposure
Le Christianisme - The Unreturning - The Next War
The Chances - Mental Cases - Six O'Clock in Princes Street

Borat Saved by House

True story!

Movie Timelines

The Movie Timeline is a combination of many different movie timelines. Andy Dufresne was wrongly sentenced to Shawshank a few short months before someone else was framed - Roger Rabbit... or


First appearance of Akira's true powers (Tokoyo, Japan - Akira)

Bill & Ted meet Rufus for the first time, and begin to travel through time (Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure)

I haven't added the date of Aguirre's trip down the Amazon yet.

Chris Rock's Rules of Safety

How not to get your Ass kicked by the police.

  1. Obey the Law
  2. Use Common sense
  3. Stop Immediately
  4. Turn that shit off
  5. Be Polite
  6. Shut the fuck up
  7. Get a white friend
  8. Don't ride with a mad women

The Eyes Have It

This is an amusing ad for MicroJerk's IPod copy. I don't really see the connection to selling boxes of crippleware and this very cool piece of anaimation. In the ad a creature with many eyes (an Argus?) gives one of his eyes to a creature with no eyes. This is supposely about the Zune's sharing feature. The problem is the that shared items, songs, videos, are erased on the sharee's machine after 3 uses or 3 days. If the ad followed Zune and Microsoft's policies the creature that gets the eye would lose it after 3 days because it lacks a end user license or a valid serial number or because it was a time limited demo.

Exercise in Rhetoric

Here is an election ad from Argentina that is both positive and negative at the same time. First the lines are arranged in a negative way then the text rescrolled and everything is happy. The words and sentences are arranged like an optical illusion to show either a cup or faces. There was a similar ad earlier this year put out by AOL in the UK in "Bad" and "Good" the same facts and images were used to argue opposite points.

(thanks Bestadsontv)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Your Cheating Heart

In American Prospect, Rick Pearlstein, has a depressing view of the recent American election. The Republicans lie, cheat and steal. It is what they do well.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

CSI Fragment

We continue to perform the routine motions of our life until the moment of our death.

How Long do I Have Left

The Proceeding of the Athanasius Kircher Society has a story about a patent for a watch that tells you how many years, months, days and secounds you have left alive. Doesn't this sound alot like the Heinlein story, Life-Line. In the story Life-Line an inventor creates a machine that tells how much time you left and then is murdered on day, hour that he predicts.

Sad Little Kiwi

Topographical Map Server

Canada now has put its entire topographic map database online. The map server, Toprama, does two things better than Google maps. You can get the contour elevation and spot elevation. And the best feature is that you can distances that don't depend on driving directions. Not that driving directions are not useful but if want to find out the width of a bay you want the distance from two points not the drivable distance betweeen them.

The limitation is that the source for the Top maps can be out of date. Google depends on satellite information that is relatively un processed. The map above has the elevation in feet. I was looking at Toronto and the Greenwood Racetrack was still showing.

Genealogy of Influence

We all know the philosopher family tree of Socrates to Plato to Aristotle. That is Socrates taught Plato who taught Aristotle. Aristotle taught Alexander the Great, but that is another story. People can be influenced by people long deadby shards of thought fossilized in books. This chart, the Mike Love Genealogy of Influence, is meant to chart the interconnection and relationship between such disparate individuals as Votaire, Dickens and Asimov. Andart has some outtakes and analysis of the Genealogy of Influence.

More on the cultural genealogy from AndArt. Even more network trees from AndArt.

Why is There Combat in Gaming

Tim Carter answers the question of why games are continued to be overstuffed with combat in an effort to please the players.
"I've always been one to believe we put things into games for reasons other than pandering to some animalistic, self-propogating desire on the part of gamers."

Warning Signs for a New Age

A Swede has come out with a new line of warning signs. Anders Sandburg has explains the need for all of these new signs along with logarithmic scaling of risk. Here is explaination for the sign above, Lack of Internet Connectivitity. Anders Sandburg's blog, Andart, is so choke full of cool, cool stuff that goes on regular rotation.
Lack of internet connectivity: today a nuisance, tomorrow a serious problem and possibly even damage risk. As our exoselves become more and more dynamic and linked to our biological minds a loss of connectivity could cause breakups of our extended minds.
(thanks RG)

Dark Redwall

I have enjoyed the various Redwall TV series. It is set in a medival world populated by funny animals. In the Alt history discussion board is a timeline for a Dark Redwall. The story of Redwall is of a good triumphing over evil, in this timeline evil wins. Cue evil laughter.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New Phrase

New phrase of the day is Intentional Community. I wonder if this phrase was coined to get away from the dirty hippie connotations of commune. But why use a 8 syllable phrase when a 2 syllable word is available.

Odd Tolkien Bio

At Wikipedia while trying to get to the JRR Tolkien page I ended up on an alternative bio. Don't look now it was only there for a short time. Here are the highlights:
Famous director, author, actor, politician, biologist and hockey player (as well as frequent mentor to Batman's younger cousin Manbat), J.R.R.S.F.B.A.B.C.D.E.F.X.Y.Z. Tolkien is the historian who discovered that the true history of the earth was being covered up by the world's governments, who did not want the general population to know of the existence of dragons, elves, hobbits, magic, etc, in order to maintain control over their people.

His written work is characterized by disputes over the ownership of jewelry, and the hand injuries that occur as a result.

He was also reputed to be the head of a secret society of monarchists who use film to undermine democracy and return the West to the Dark Ages. This secret order is called The Royal Society for Counter-Strike revolution.

Ate a lot of corn and peas.

Advertising and the Maladjusted

For advertising award program, ShowSouth, a site was created to show how advertising types are not really suited for any other line of work.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Biblical Passage to live for .

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. reference

Indian Ocean Slave Trade

The Middle Passage has been covered in many stories, books and histories but their is another story. The other half of the story of the western slave trade is the arab slave trade that wasn't limitied to Africa. Saudi Arabia only outlawed the slave trade officially in 1962. The blog Trade Routes concentrates on the history trade routes here is a story about the Indian Ocean Slave Trade.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ad for Restraint

I saw this ad earlier this year on Best Ad on TV. The problem is that it doesn't promote one condom brand over another.

Proto Typical Campaign Ad

Here is an ad for some kid that looks like every other American election ad.

The New Beetles

Nosing around in the Rummy's Wiki entry I see that a slime-mode beetle is named after him, agathidium rumsfeldi. One blogger has provided a comparison of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld and their beetle namesakes.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Monkey Death Wish

Monkey Death Wish, a very silly monkey teases equally silly but more dangerous tigers.

YouTube Hits and Intellectual law

Slate recently had a feature on the top hits of YouTube. Now that YouTube has real money behind it, after the purchase by Google, much of the features, clips of copyrighted material, of it are disappearing. Comedy Central clips have been pulled. On the show On The Media there was a discussion of the expected content drought on YouTube. It all turns on a content rights, there is copyright material, copyfree material, and copyright material that is free to use, sort of. If you consider land the same way as copy rights, there is public space, there is private space, and there is some private space that can be used by the public.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

There are No Accidents

There is a great new ad put out by what used to be called Workman Comp. A woman has a bad accident and then points out her "accident" was expect because she and the store wasn't following the correct safety procedures.

Do You Have Feelings of Inadequency?

Listen to this ad which is an promotes booze in the same manner as a pharma ad.

Monday, October 30, 2006

ChiCom Propaganda

I went to the same school as Norman Bethune. Or should I say school building as his high school became my elementry school. Bethune has a good reputation as someone who saved alot of lives. He was like a medical missionary going aboard to do good work. Instead of spreading the gospel along with medical care Bethune was a communist intent on spreading world wide revolution. This led him to associate with the tyrant above, see here for the murderer's memory of this meeting. How could anyone become a communist in Stalin's time.

A book has been put together that covers Chinese Communist posters, Chinese Propaganda Posters: From Revolution to Modernization. A website has been put up by the author, Stefan Landsberg's Chinese Propaganda Posters, with many of the same posters covered in his book as well as updates on recent ChiCom posters and themes, SARS and Bejing 2008.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Old Watering Hole

The Nkorho Game Reserve has a webcam on one their local watering holes. Ah, the relaxing sounds of wildlife.

Death Metal Fans

In today's Toronto Star is an article about the odd people who collect hearses. Actual Death Metal is not normally covered in the Auto section

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Back to the Future Penology

The British started transportation as punishment, deportation of convicts to Australia, because their prisons were overcrowded. A stopgap measure was using derelict warships, hulks, as cheap prisons. Now I hear of news that prison hulks are having a comeback. Creepy.

If you want to read more about the original prison hulks here is a journal written by a Crapaud POW, The Floating Prison. If want to learn about the type of criminal who ended up as guests of His Majesty. The Old Bailey has put their proceeding online for 1674-1834. You can read everyday about the poor bastards who had it so much worse.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Beetle Bailey, Today's Soldier?

In a recent Comics Curmudgeon there was an interesting comment about Beetle Bailey:
Fred P.says:
I can only hope that Beetle Bailey is not representative of life in today’s Army. The Camp Swampy crew- what with its gaggle of layabout soldiers, inept officers and only one hot secretary- simply doesn’t exactly inspire one’s confidence as to their battlefield proficiency. Just think- if our Army actually was as portrayed in Beetle Bailey, and America ever did have to go to war, there’s NO WAY we could ever win! Why, we’d just wind up stuck in some endless quagmire, with leadership that entirely lacks the imagination and competence to achieve … uh … achieve … um … oh shit!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Oooh, Economic History

Whenever I read works of fiction or history I always try to translate the monetary units in some thing meaningful. There is a tendency to assume that if something costs a dollar, a small amount to us now that it is always a small amount. I am happy that my favorite cost of living/infaltion calculator, How Much Is That?, has branched out from The new site, Measuring Worth, also has growth and inflation rates.

Weirdly The Simpsons was able to display the relative value of money. The story is a retelling of Huckleberry Finn. Huck and Tom, Bart and Nelson go a general store. When they balk at the prices the store keep has justifcation.
Apu: If you think my prices are high, go across the street! [indicates the 99-cent store, which sells luxury items like grand pianos and crystal chandeliers

Declining Telephone Cost

This is chart showing the revenue for international calls re miniute. The inflation adjusted results are even worse. The per minute revune goes from a high $28 in 1964 to $5 in 1993 to nearly nada now. The Chart came an Economist report on telecoms.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The $50,000 Bathtub

In a recent New York Times Magazine devoted to home decor one full page ad had a picture of a tub with the same relative proporotions of a cafe au lait mug. No pictures are available because the manufacturer, Boffi, only has a flash site. Here is the PDF.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Architecture of Happiness

Alain de Botton is a philosopher who has written a book about architecture, The Architecture of Happiness, and its affect on us. Winston Churchill said that "We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us". Botton's recent book is how architecture can make us feel better. He discusses his book on NPR.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Alternative Climate

Chris Wayan has explored different earths in his collection of tilted Earths, Tilt. The image above is from an earth, Seapoles, where the poles are located in the pacific and indian oceans. He doesn't make dogmatic pronouncements on the likely hood of the resulting climates but provide enough qualifiactions. Most alternate history/geology develops more narrowly. This is more of a speculation. In the alternate world Dubia, land of global warming, he is more pointed and personal, as could be expected.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Another Explanation about Star Trek

In a thread about Karl Marx moving to the US there is a suggests that socialism (and communism) would then spread in 19th century America. The thread begins with a discussion about Techno-Socialism. The discussion breaks down into an explanation of proper industrial development. Since the Gilded Age after the US civil war was a period of rapid industrial development and the concentration of wealth any action that would prevent the Robber Barons from either robbing or reduce their swag would then prevent industrial development. This attitude to Scarface some much for some theoretical goal is as scaring the commies. The agreement is that a lack of suffering will lead to lower pig iron production. Then the argument is that the US with early socialism would merely be a mere northern Brazil. But the US resembles Brazil. Brazil and US were among the last practitioners of slavery. Slavery and the production of slaves were the main exports and were also important industrially. Both countries have wide income and wealth disparities to this day.

Buried in the thread amidst the ravings about the lack of inequality was this amusing Star Trek analogy.
My pet theory on Federation society is that its a techno-communist state. The vast majority of citizens live lives of leisure and hedonistic pleasure, supported by automated production facilities. A tiny minority of self-starters work; in government sponsored research labs, or Starfleet, or administration. This results in terribly inefficient designs, such as TV remote phasers that cannot be aimed, warships with most space taken up with civilians and research labs, usage of torpedoes to carry warheads when matter transmission technology should make it a simple matter to transport warheads directly into contact with enemy shields, etc. With Starfleet made up of essentially hobbyists on a lark, there is massive rank inflation, with most of Starfleet being made up of officers with almost no enlisted personnel, as well as terrible command decisions such as taking the entire command staff of a starship on an away mission with only one anonymous security trooper for escort.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Plague Books

A recent BoingBoing entry was about plague books. I go to the article about Steve Johnson's favorite books about plagues. I am shocked however when I discover that I have 3 of the 5 books on the list. But then I also have books about torture.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The No Enumeration Election System

American election laws were once the freest and most open in the world. They were one of the first countries to get rid property qualifications. In 1850 when nearly all white american men could vote only about 1/7 of British men could vote. The Reform act of 1832 gave the vote to men who paid at least £50 in rent. In today's terms, based average incomes, that is monthly rent between $4K to $7K . That was then. After the high point of democracy that was also witnessed deTocqueville came their civil war, reconstruction and desire by the losers to keep blacks down. Since there was no legal way to disenfranchise many other dubious methods were tried, see Jim Crow.

Today the yanks have among the lowest voter participation rate in the world. They have registration. The discusion on Talk of the Nation was about Carter-Baker Commision on Federal Election Reform. One of the recomendation of the commision was the requirement for photo ID for voting and registration. There were 2 members of the commission in on the discssion. One, a Spencer Overton, and here, talked about the systemic barriers to voting now and the further burden of photo ID as a requirement for those without drivers licences or passports. He suggests that everyone should be given IDs first and then have the requirement for them. He so disagreed with the finding that he wrote his own minority report, available here. Another commisson member, Sharon Priest, considered the whole idea of going door to door to build up a voters list a waste of time. If people don't take an interest in their local affairs and go to effort to vote they shouldn't depend on the government to help them. She then outlined all the steps for enumeration explaining that it is crazy government interference. Unfortunately Canada doesn't do enumeration during elections anymore. But it still the best way to maintain a voter's list. With no door-to-door enumeration the voter's list for home owners remains more complete than for the more mobile/transient renters.

Maurice Sendak talking about his Demons

Maurice Sendak has always been an scary illustrator. He makes children's books that have real menace in them. I remember Where the Wild Things Are from my childhood. His recent work involves child abduction. This is the topic for a kid's book. Check out Sendak talking why he puts children in danger, there is also audio slide show that highlights some of his spookiest images.

New Software

The Comicbook Reader is a sequential image viewer specially designed for viewing scanned comic books. This free ware program, and protocol, replaces the PDF format. PDFs are good for moving around completed documents. This pprogram is better than the Microsoft Image Viewer because it can maximize the images.

I just downloaded some Heavy Metal and am now enjoying the reading thorough them.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Roman Architectural Manual found again

When I was younger I read / glanced through/ leafed a book on roman architecture. The book is, The Ten Books on Architecture. Evidently the "books" are probably scrolls. The one fact I can remember from reading this book is the proper proportions of columns. Since then all columns that are too thin or too thick (very rare) seem very wrong. I am happy to find a full version of this book on a university website. It is there along the text of the latin original.


Newsgroup Humor

In a thread about The League of Extraordinary Germans comes this very netcentrentic back and forth

Mister Fifty Five
Wouldnt Schwarznegger get Austria? (Before German annexation of Austria? Hmp!)
Proud to be Nek
Wouldn't "wouldnt" get an apostrophe? And "Hmp" have an extra h? Although I think we could allow the Anschluss in this case, y'know.
Mister Fifty Five
Would it be the Internet if no-one ever nitpicked your lack of an apostrophe in 'would't' and your misspelling of 'hmph'?
(I really don't think so...)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Zombie War

A horror author was on radio talking about his recent book about the Zombie War. The amusing thing is that he was able to get everybody who called in to relate stories about the recent Zombie War. Everybody goes along with the sick joke. The book except was not as amusing as people getting undead fever.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Cooooooooooooool Wax

Cool Wax is a blog devoted amusing and odd recording. Here are some the odd recordings, Colonel Saunders own version of Mexican Music, Don Rickles insulting TV, and Music to read James Bond to.

Pleasantly Odd.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Gruesome Ketchup Ad

The Campaign Against Landmines, a New Zealand group has come with a way to raise awareness by using ketchup packages. To get at the ketchup you have rip off a foot. Here is Adfreak discussing this advertising method. Here is some more news coverage with a clip of the ketchup package in action.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Cats That Look Like Hitler

Not everyone thinks that a Website devoted to Cats That Look Like Hitler is a good use of bandwidth. Still good for a laugh.
This is probably the worst website I have ever seen!! Why on earth is this entertaining!? The pictures are of the same dam cat! Next thing it will be birth marks that resemble countries or celebrities!!! GET A LIFE!!!
- anonymous

Julius Ceasar, What a Guy

A Welsh historian has come out with a new political biography Julius Caesar, A Life of a Collossus. Good discussion on NPR's Talk of The Nation.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Reformed Hacker on Security

Kevin Mitnick is a reformed hacker. He is also a convicted hacker who only won the right to use computers, cell phones, or any other electronic or communications technology 3 years after he was paroled. He was on Talk of the Nation talking about the different ways other people can get information about you from different government and non-government organizations like utility companies. Listen to the scary and needful story on privacy.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Horror Movie Writer has Horrifying Experience

At the 5:00 PM Wedesday screening of The Abandoned at TIFF one of the writers of the film related his own recent experience.

One of the writers of the film before the screening told his own personal horror story. The writer was/is staying at the Delta Chelsea a few doors down from where some people were murdered. At 5 am he was woken up by ETF cops banging on his door. the ETF cops in full gear with assault rifles. He was questioned if he heard anything and told to stay in his room. He stuck his head a while later and asked a cop what was going on and was told to watch TV. After flipping around he found the story about 2 Germans and one Switzer killed in the room next door. When the writer was escorted off the floor to a new room, the hallway is filled with policemen. On the walls of the hallway was smeared blood. This is the appropriate introduction to a horror film.

The Manchester Sound from Vivaldi

The Manchester Sound is a famous variety of pop music. Here is a group on the Early Music Show preforming Vivaldi's Manchester Sonatas.

Pro Corporate Ideologues

There is anger in western Canada against the Canadian Wheat Board. There is anger because the CWB is working for farmers instead of screwing them over. If the wheat board was a private company using their marketing power for its benefit the right wing ideologoes would be very happy. Because the wheat board is working to make money for farmers instead of making money from farmers, see international grain companies, it is seen some sort of commie group going against the natural order of things. And not encouraging business sewctors thatmake money on grain handling.

Here is a discussion and news reports On The Current about the Canadian Wheat Board. Here is also an additional newsreport from CBC.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"The Great Divide: How Westerners and Muslims View Each Other

This is Pew study that looks way that muslims and non-muslims view each other. Look at part of this survey. Westerers and muslims look at the same scene of veiled and unveiled women and take opposite conclusions from the same data. Different world views come from different attitudes to the individual. We in the west believe it is wrong to oppress people. The muslim world comes from the attitude that slavery has always existed, always will exist and that for you and your clan to retain social status no one in your family must look or dresses like a slave. This is the explantion for the various kinds of veiling, since slaves don't wear veils.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Saturday, September 09, 2006

9/11 Conspiracy Theories

The editors of Popular Mechanics a magazine have examined 9/11 conspiracy theories. Popular Mechanics is the right kind of magizine to look at this issue. It only deals with stuff not policy. The article examines the way what can seem like unexplainable details are unexplainable only if you don't understand science and technology. The Dale Gribbles of the world will always suspects the authorities and experts who ever they are. Here are the editors on NPR discussing their risposte of the conspiracy theories.

Ted Rall admiting his Impotence

We all want to be the voice in the wilderness that are eventually believed and followed. Ted Rall has railed at a large number targets from Generalissimo Bush to 911 widows. In his latest cartoon he admits that no evidence of crimes and misdemeanors are enough to move Americans.

Friday, September 08, 2006

For cult fans out there be it for alien possession, moon god or moonies here are the last words of Jim Jones spinning conspiracy theories as his people drink the Koolaid.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

New Film Festival Blog

I, Baron von Feldspar, wish to direct you to my new Blog, Feldspar's Film Festival 2006, about Toronto International Film Festival. This is an entirely new blog to get around TIFF strictures blog limitations. (see below).
PROHIBITED CONTENT - The following types of content may not be posted on your blog or on the Toronto International Film Festival's website:
  1. Any content that is libelous, defamatory, hateful, obscene, profane, harassing, embarrassing, pornographic, abusive, threatening or offensive.
  2. Any content that furthers or promotes illegal activities.
  3. Any content that solicits personal information from other users that may identify one or more such users.
  4. Any content that violates any intellectual property or proprietary rights, including without limitation copyright and trade-marks.
Since I cannot guarantee that on my regular blog, Feldsparia, I have never posted obscene material or libelous material that is insulting to thieves, murderers, Republicans, Communists or Jihadis I have created this new blog just for the film festival. I think that limitation on "obscene" is a little rich from TIFF since every year the festival has a Ye Olde Traditional Porn Documentry. YOTPD is also a sound that shows up in such documentries. This year the YOTPD is the movie S&Man.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The World of Star Wars in Our Reality

Over at the Alternative History Discussion Board there is a long and popular thread about the Death Star ending up in our continuum. The scenario is based on Mimas, a moon of Saturn, see above, that kind of looks like the Death Star. Much fun is had by all, except those killed by Vader.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Odd View of Family Values Murderers

In a New York Times story, also here, here and here, about a Pakistani family wacking their daughter because she was according to her mother “she was simply a daughter who did not obey”. It charactizes the conflict as between as parents with "conservative social and religious traditions and their Westernized children." If people think they have the right and duty to murder thier disobidient children they are more than conservative they are from some primative tribe beyond the pale. It has the mistake of that the Italians along with other western countries have not been civilizing the thuggish barbarians in their midst.

Why do we import more barbarians in our midst?
The killing, and a series of other unrelated slayings involving immigrants that followed, has stirred anti-immigrant statements from some residents and groups. It also has prompted front-page debate about what can happen when conservative beliefs collide with the mores of more permissive societies, and has highlighted the generation gap between parents who have immigrated to Italy from countries with conservative social and religious traditions and their Westernized children.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Too Many Clicks - Gamastutra Article

Civilization is a great game. However after you it requires increasing attention and player involvement in the the later turns than in the earlier epochs. Too Many Clicks is a Gamasutra article on the too many things that players have to in too many games.

Oil Crisises Past

Friday, August 18, 2006

New Nigerian Scam Letter

We have probably all recieved a copy of the Nigerian Scam letter. I have recieved this scam in hand written letters, in email and occasionly from non nigerians. In my spam mail acount I have received another dubious request, this time supposely from the wife of the disgraced ANC official Zuma. Zuma was a dubious character before he was a rapist. He was part of the the ANC. Can you trust a political party with its own flag and armed wing.

from ""
Dear Beloved,
I am wife of Sacked Deputy President of South Africa, Mr. Jacob Zuma.

It is out of desperation that I am sending you this mail.My Husband and I need your assistance in fronting for us as owner of funds that are his which might come under nvestigation soon if the fund's ownership is not changed soonest. As my Husband's finances are increasingly becoming the source of investigation by our detractors. The source of these fund's which my Husband earnings would not validate, will further sink him into the cesspool dug by our enemies.

It is because of the dire strait we find ourselves that we resolved to reach you and ask or your assistance in this matter.We are averse to letting those we know here into this deal because we are no longer sure of who our friends are.You will be handsomely rewarded you choose to help us partnerhip in this project.I will be expecting to hear from you and will disclose further details to you upon your response.Do well not to disclose the contents of this mail to anyone.

Best Regards,
Mrs.Lindiwe Zuma.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Invisible Atom: A Reaction

A saw Invisible Atom by the 2b theatre company on sunday. It was an interesting tragedy. Tragedy happens when people revolt against fate and doom themselves in the attempt. In classical tragedy someone tries to avoid evil being done themselves. In Invisible Atom a man attempts to avoid doing evil and so dooms himself. Of course one no more avoid evil then death. We are all collaborate with some sort of unsavory and unethical behavior. At most we can choose our evils like we choose our poisons. But evil like death is part of all of lives.

Check it out when it shows up in your area.

The History of Bowman Trading & Salvage

Along time ago in a galaxy far far way I, Baron von Feldspar was a merchant prince who started, with some unindicted co-conspirators, my own shipping line in the Spinward Marches. At the Traveller Wiki Major Heddon has documented some of the history of Bowman Trading and Salvage.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Appropriate Surname

I was listening to an program on How Does the Human Body Cope with Heat? on NPR. The discusion went on about the ability of humans to cope or not with heat. One of the panelists was a heat expert named Larry Sonna, pronounced sauna.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Annother Take on Cartoon Violence

Remember the cartoon jihad earlier this year. A cartooon fan has produced a fake BBC News webpage full of cartoon violence
part 1
part 2

Friday, August 11, 2006

What can Muslims doing in the west safely

In a thread about
Heathrow Airport employee with all-area access pass among suspected jihadists arrested

In the Western world, what can Muslims be allowed to do, and what must they be prevented from doing? Clearly, anyone who claims that he takes his worldview from the Qur'an, and the Hadith, and the model of Muhammad, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil, must be taken seriously. We, the Infidels, have to find out what it means to derive your worldview from the Qur'an, the Hadith, the biography of Muhammad. We cannot guess at this. We cannot assume that Islam, more or less, must be just like other religions, or other belief-systems that are called religions. We have to find out. We cannot find out by listening to Muslims who practice taqiyya-and-tu-quoque. And since the actual contents of Qur'an and Hadith and Sira are, for Infidels, so horrifying in what they directly express and in what they imply, anyone aware of the contents of Islam, the tenets of Islam, the attitudes to which Islam not distortedly but naturally gives rise, must -- however charming, however mild-mannereed, however seemingly acceptalbe in all other respects, must be held to a knowledge of, and acceptance, what is contained in that Qur'an, those Hadith, that model of the Perfect Man.

What then can we allow Muslims in our societies, whether they come from Muslim countries, or happen to have been allowed to settle here, or are among those targetted for the campaigns of Da'wa among disaffected, alienated, psychically or economically marginal people all over the West (from the ditzy lord to the melancholy bicycle-delivery boy, the first looking for an explanation and justification of his upper-class-twit existence, and the second trying to find a structure for his existence, something that will order him about from dawn to dusk, and what's more, provide a grid for viewing the universe and a convenient scapegoat -- the Infidel -- for everything).

We cannot allow them to study, obviously, nuclear physics. We cannot allow them, obviously, to study those aspects of biology, or chemistry, or materials science, that might aid in the manufacture of weapons. Dr. A. Q. Khan in Holland, and Drs. Germs and Anthrax (examples of the liberated Iraqi women who under the previous regime were allowed to study in Great Britain, and bring their deadly knowledge home). We cannot allow them to study encryption, or very much to do with computers beyond the most elementary. We cannot allow them to work for any companies or in any academic departments where they might acquire such knowledge. We cannot allow them to be airline pilots, or part of an airplane crew. We cannot allow them to run our busses or trains. For now we think we can allow them to drive taxis -- but think of a taxi plowing in to a "Salute to Israel" parade, or into this or that gathering of Infidels for any reason, should someone have a lapsus. We cannot allow them, can we, to sort the mail (anthrax), or even to deliver it, if they will find mail not to their liking, or decide to target those who receive that mail not to their liking. We cannot allow them to engage in the indoctrination of our children, whether small or in universities, if they will continue to fill the minds of the unwary ("Gosh, Prof. Khalidi or Prof. Farooq or Prof. Dabashi" is "really brilliant" and "I learned so much about Islam." I'll bet you did.).

We cannot allow them to rise in government where they might sit on key Congressional commmittees, or sit in on meetings of high officers, and learn all kinds of things about potential war plans, or even about where weapons are stored, and how. We cannot allow them to treat, in some cases, Infidels if we have reason to believe that at any minute, for reasons we do not understand, a formerly mild-mannered doctor, supposedly as gentle and sweet as the next, has under his knife someone who suddenly, to him, represents the Infidel at his most evil, his most Shaytanic.

We cannot allow them to take over newspapers, or rise high in television, if we think, if we know, that they will subtly or not-so-subtly engage in propaganda to prevent our right understanding of Islam. Look at the effect, in the BBC, or some of the French papers, of large contingents of Muslims in the Arabic-language services, and the effect such people must have on non-Muslim colleagues.

We cannot allow them to...

Well, you think about it. You fill in the rest. You decide if, upon studying the contents of this belief-system, what functions and jobs you think it reasonable to entrust to those who still claim, who still identify themselves, as Muslims.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Mahar Arar's Problems

There was an article in The Saturday Star about Mahar Arar. The article contrasted the treatment and surport that Arar from Canadians as a whole and the cold shoulder that he has recieved from his own Muslim community. The 17 jihadists who were arrested in Toronto and area have been surported by the general Muslim community. But the Mahar Arar's problem is that he wrongfully arrested for being violent jihadist. If he truly was part of the jihadi movement he would be widely supported by the Muslim community which is generally in favor of violent religious revolution.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Invisible Atom

Some friends of mine will be performing in Toronto. The one-man play Invisible Atom will be running at the Harbourfront Summnerworks Festival next weekend August 11-13. Here are the dates and times. There is more information at the website of 2b Theatre Company. Unfortunately it is flash site. Here is some copy screen scrapped from the flash:
Suspended in a very precise moment in space and time, Atom tells his story of fortune and misfortune, taking the audience on a wild journey of the imagination and covering topics from economics to classical physics.

This “tour-de-force” by 2b artistic co-director Anthony Black keeps you laughing as it questions the nature and acceleration of our progress.

Walking Tanks

There are some people who are very into the idea of walking tanks. The whole game system Battletech, wiki entry, is based on tanks on legs. The problem is that a low profile is winning feature for tank. A tank standing on 10 or 15 legs is bazooka bait. Walking tanks show up in sci-fi setting where there is sufficent technology for grav tanks. Grav Tanks are alot better walking tanks. They can get as high, or higher, walking tanks and then go to ground. Check out Hammer's Slammers, David Drake's fictional exploration of the use grav tanks. Some Japanese fan has built his own walking, shuffling tank that looks a little like the AT-ST Walker from Star Wars. Look here for an archive of spaceship images.

Mel Gibson on the side of Terrorists

Mel Gibson's views have never been very well hidden. The causes he surports are known if not well advertised. He built a Church for a Roman Catholic schismatic group that split after Vatican II. Mel's father Hutton Gibson is a rabid bigot and holocaust deniner. What I think is interesting is that this editorial cartoon, by Lalo, is only one many that linked his antisemitism with the crazy violence of Islamic terrorists. This is going to damage Mel's career forever. What really made anti-semitism unfashionable in a way it wasn't before WWII, in fact many western democracies had levels of official antisemitism up to and during WWII, was the identifiaction of antisemitism with our enemies. These cartoons identify anti-semitism as part of our enemies belief system. However if we begin to sympathize with the people who want to kill or convert us and who also have a hate-on for jooooos, then we should worry.

Weird and Cute Japanese Beer Ad

I never thought Miss Kitty levels of ultra-cuteness could be used to sell beer. Here is the Beerchan flash ad.

Depressing Cartoon and Commentary

Comic Curmudgeon riffs on the depressing nature of panel.
I know Pluggers doesn’t usually do continuing storylines, but I’d like to see the new, bleaker Pluggers follow Rhino-Man for the next few days:
  • “Plugger venture capital.” (Rhino-Man is rooting through a dumpster, looking for bottles or cans he can return.)
  • “Plugger Zoloft.” (Rhino-Man is passed out in his battered easy chair, surrounded by empty cans of Milwaukee’s Best.)
  • “Plugger liquid assets.” (Rhino-Man is selling his blood.)
  • “This is how a Plugger’s wages are garnished.” (Two Bear-Men are cutting off one of Rhino Man’s thumbs.)
  • “Plugger therapy.” (Rhino-Man has a shotgun in his mouth.)