Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Friday, November 30, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Black holes

In a paper being developed, scientists from UCLA studying very short gamma ray bursts discuss the possibility that they are being caused by the extremely powerful explosions of microscopic primordial black holes.

In other black hole news, researchers at the University of Warwick have applied their method of studying X-rays generated by matter falling into black holes to analyzing soccer, to find that British games are 30 times more boring than games in the rest of the world.

Fish decline

Reg Watson and Daniel Pauly from the UBC Fisheries Centre have published a study claiming that the oceans' fish stock is declining faster than previously predicted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization because of over-reporting of catches by China.

Principle warning

On the ground: another warning to maintain our principles even in wartime.

Enron heading down

Enron is headed for bankruptcy after credit downgrades and a merger collapse. The 100,000 trades on the energy markets that will need to be undone is just one of the ripple effects the collapse will have. There are a large number of companies with more than $100 million of exposure to Enron.

Mugabe digging in

Mugabe is building underground bunkers, buying armored limos, and military equipment to prepare for a possible a civil war in Zimbabwe if he loses next year's presidential election and has deployed troops in areas with strong support for the opposition party.

ACT uproar

The Cloning Game: On the uproar caused by last Sunday's announcement by ACT.

Emergency cloning ban

England passes emergency legislation barring reproductive cloning after a court threw out the existing law. Therapeutic cloning is still allowed.

Curses, scrubbed again

The shuttle launch has been rescheduled for next Tuesday evening at 5:45 Eastern after Russian flight controllers, along with NASA, opted to use a spacewalk to clear an obstruction that interfered with the Progress docking Wednesday.

Thursday, November 29, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Striking a balance

Transcript of Michael Chertoff of the Justice Department testifying at senate hearing on preserving freedoms while defending against terrorism.

Conspiracies or valid questions?

What Did They Know?: Make Them Accountable asks questions about 9/11 and its aftermath, with related articles. [via Unknown News]

Is there a difference?

AFP has reported that the Northern Alliance bans Women's freedom march in Kabul. [via Unknown News]

EU cloning ban

The European Union's Parliament has rejected a human cloning ban, but individual nations can still act on their own (and some have).

Night launch

A gentle reminder for us viewers at home: The shuttle is set to launch tonight at 7:41 Eastern. Update: It's been scrubbed because the Progress ship that docked Wednesday isn't firmly connected.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Bye bye @Home

Excite@Home could be shutting down on Friday. [via Metafilter]


Dictionaraoke: Online dictionaries sing your favorite song. [via Borklog]

Dogbert airlines

Dogbert Airlines: "Attention travelers! Our hub at the South Pole is experiencing permafrost..."

CDA appeal

COPA (son of CDA) is in front of the Supreme Court after being blocked in a federal appeals court.

Cloning claims

Clonaid, the cloning lab founded by the leader of Raelians and now run by one of it's bishops, claims it has cloned human embryos. presumably in their offshore laboratory.


A team led by David Charbonneau is publishing results in The Astrophysical Journal on their detection of an atmosphere around an extrasolar planet for the first time. They used the Hubble Space Telescope to examine light from its sun filtered through the atmosphere to study its composition. Members of the team discovered the planet around the sun-like star HD 209458 using the STARE telescope in 1999. [via BBC News (story)]

LOTR notes

Notes on seeing the first LOTR movie from Gandalf himself (Ian McKellen). [via linkfilter]

Tuesday, November 27, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Cloning reactions

Reactions to Sunday's announcement of the first human embryo cloning: Bush, the Vatican, and the European Commission (to name a few) condemn the action. Others feel that the medical benefits of therapeutic cloning outweigh the negligible risks of someone actually trying to bring a cloned child to birth. Then there are the "non-extremists", like Paul Vallely, who is "excited, but deeply worried". Libby Purves points out that despite best intentions, a cloned human child is now inevitable and that in fact there are groups and scientists whose aim is just that. The Wall Street Journal's editorial agrees it's inevitable and that the most important result of the announcement is that it will get us thinking about the issue now, while we're still at the base of Mount Clone, which scientists will climb because it's there. Two scientists involved in the Dolly cloning say that ACT's research isn't close to being ground-breaking and that it's more important politically and ethically than scientifically. Gina Kolata and Andrew Pollack agree, and discuss how the announcement was managed for maximum publicity. By provoking lawmakers, the New York Times editorial states, ACT may have done more to harm the field than help it. Clive Cookson raises the same point in the Financial Times. The Washington Post editorial urges Congress to refrain from banning the techniques before adequate scientific and ethical debates, while the Economist describes how the science may be moving too fast for laws. Reason has a collection of responses, collected before ACT's announcement, from scientists to a petition to criminalize cloning.

Afghanistan is only the start

Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation reminds us that we may be winning in Afghanistan, but that's doing nothing to address the root cause of the problem.


Excerpts from the Justice Departments instructions on interviewing Middle Eastern men. Michigan will be sending invitations out to people in that state who are on the list to be interviewed.

What we're really fighting

Thomas Friedman on The Real War: "We're not fighting to eradicate "terrorism." Terrorism is just a tool. We're fighting to defeat an ideology: religious totalitarianism."

Tora Bora complex

A witness describes the underground cave complex near Tora Bora where bin Ladin is suspected to be hiding.

Somalian telecom shutdown

The US move to shut down Somalian telecom companies linked to al-Qaeda has drawn protest from the UN because of the impact to the already fragile economy in Somalia.

Terrorizing reporters

Reporter Basildon Peta: Mugabe will have to kill me to shut me up. Meanwhile, the U.S. has joined Britain in protesting the association of reporters with terrorism while police and students clash after a MDC supporter was killed by a soldier.

Chris McGreal describes Mugabe's version of the war on terror. [via zem]

Monday, November 26, 2001 Permanent link to this day
The art of a tree

On standing under a sycamore tree in autumn. [via Follow Me Here]

Get them young

In the UK, Naughty children to be registered as potential criminals: children as young as three who misbehave will be registered so they can be monitored as they grow up. [via Metafilter]

Microsoft support

Comparing two support hotlines in providing support for Microsoft Products: Microsoft Technical Support vs. The Psychic Friends Network. [via Memepool]

Alcantara spaceport

NPR had a piece yesterday morning on the expansion of Brazil's Alcantara spaceport and its impact on surrounding villages.


You say "Hacker", the Feds say "Terrorist": "By lumping hackers in with cyber-terrorists, the government is demonstrating a fundamental inability to understand either group."

Dated Messiah

The Messiah Violin is supposed to be the most valuable in the world, but its authenticity has been called into question using both paper trails and a 1998 analysis, initiated by Stewart Pollens and carried out by Peter Klein, of closeup photos of the tree rings, which suggested the tree was cut down after Antonio Stradivari died. A microscopic study by John Topham and Derek McCormick in 2000 compared the instrument to other verified Stradivari and found it was from the right time period. Now a second study, led by Henri Grissino-Mayer, who stepped into the rather heated controversy last year, verifies that work.

Sunday, November 25, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Diary of an evildoer

Saruman's Diary [via Plep]

Human cloning

Advanced Cell Technology has cloned the first human embryo. Their stated intent is to be able to grow organs and tissue, not to create full humans. Part of their work is described in this paper in the online journal e-biomed: the journal of regenerative medicine. They also have a more accessible article in Scientific American.

Science censorship

ASHI's journal Human Immunology has retroactively pulled a paper, "The Origin of Palestinians and Their Genetic Relatedness with Other Mediterranean Populations", by Antonio Arnaiz-Villena and others on the similarity of genes between Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinians from its September 2001 issue and removed the lead author from its editorial board. The paper has stirred controversy over its political language and its conclusion that the two groups are closely related genetically. [via also not found in nature]

LOTR feature

The Sunday Times has a feature section on Lord of the Rings in this week's Magazine.

Learn from others

Learning from Israel: restrictions on civil liberties does not make a country more safe.

Who's next?

Next up: "Stiletto jabs" on evildoers in Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Yemen, at least, is pledging to cooperate.

Launch Thursday

Endeavour is scheduled to lift off 7:41pm Eastern this Thursday.

Zimbabwe strife

Terror plagues Matabeleland once again: Some background on the Mugabe vs. MDC conflict in Zimbabwe. It describes how veterans have been hired by ZANU PF, the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front, as part of a campaign to harrass the opposition party. Mugabe's tactics don't seem to be working: his terrorism charges against MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai have been thrown out by the Supreme Court and Mogabe is falling behind in the polls, even among his party members, for the election to be held early next year, though it's not clear it's going to be a fair process.

I want caffeine and I want it now

Note to self: it doesn't matter if the time on the coffee maker and the alarm clock is right, as long as they agree.

Saturday, November 24, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Pesky details

Terror war raises fears about rights: details laws being pushed through by state and federal lawmakers reducing civil liberties in the name of fighting terror. [via The Smirking Chimp]


John Dean on The problems with Bush's executive order burying presidential records. [via Interesting People]


A partial photo mosaic of Mercury, shot by Mariner 10.

Cool radio

This morning's radio: EpiphanyRadio

Switching photons

A University of Toronto team led by Aephraim Steinberg have created a photon level switch (paper, slides), potentially leading toward optical quantum logic gates.

Is it full?

Liquid Space: Paul Davies on the quantum vacuum. [via evacuate & flush]

Cybercrime convention

The Council of Europe's Cybercrime Convention has been signed by 30 countries. [via /.]

Not just terrorism

Pipeline Politics: Oil, gas, and the US interest in Afghanistan. [via BookNotes]

Extradition disagreement

Spain is refusing to extradite terror suspects without guarantees that they won't face the death penalty or a military tribunal.

Where's Omar

Taliban leader Omar has handed over power to his army commander, Mullah Akhtar Osmani.

Where's Dick?

On Cheney's secure and undisclosed location: a duckblind. [via Unknown News]

Pakistani evacuation

Pakistan is reported to be evacuating Pakistani Taliban supporters from Kunduz.

Afghanistan convoy raid

First hand accounts of special forces raid on a tanker truck convoy in Afghanistan, from the drivers.

It's that eye of the beholder thing

Zimbabwe is accusing foreign journalists of assisting terrorists, specifically the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change, by misrepresenting their acts. England has protested the threat to its journalists. President Mugabe has also recently accused Blair of terrorism for funding the organization through the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Friday, November 23, 2001 Permanent link to this day

On Magic Lantern: an FBI project to use trojans to install keylogging software on suspects' computers. [via rc3]


Today's internet radio of choice: Attention Span Radio

The Pope gets wired

Dude, you're getting a Dell!

Somalian shutdown

U.S. shuts down Somalia's internet service and most of their international phone service after claiming that the companies involved, Somalia Internet Company and al-Barakaat, have terrorist links, which they deny.


A five lecture tutorial on Complexity Theory and Cryptography

China moon

China is planning a moon landing as part of it's plan to build a space industry.

Censoring the boards

On censorship of message boards by major providers. [via Undernews]


A Taliban mullah surrenders outside Kunduz - to a New Zealand reporter.

Ethical duty

On breaking the law or ethical codes to give information on terrorists.

That's a lot of Toyota pickups

The U.S. is offering a $25 million reward for bin Laden. Not to be outdone, the Taliban is offering $50 million for Bush. They also claim that our fight to get bin Laden is hypocritical while we harbor the likes of Salman Rushdie. [via Unknown News]

Thursday, November 22, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Amateur space flight

Steve Bennett and his company Starchaser has a successful test launch of Nova in England: a 37 foot tall rocket launched 5,000 feet up and returned safely. After one more test flight, he'll be putting a person, likely himself, on board, all in preparation for a shot at the X Prize: $10 million for the first team to fly three people 100 miles into space twice within two weeks. Some don't have a lot of faith.

Phone ripoff

Hijackers in Hong Kong steal $26 million in Nokia phone parts. I'm guessing that's Hong Kong dollars, which would be about $3.3 million U.S.

Crossing memes

The All Your Tourist Are Belong To Us rock video. [via Memepool]

Gravity waves

NASA will be looking for gravity waves using the Cassini and the Deep Space Network. [via bottomquark]

Afghanistan maps

Interactive maps of Afghanistan. [via little green footballs]

Flight 93 rumors

On the rumors around Skanksville that Flight 93 was shot down and a site gathering reports on the crash. [via Bushwacker]

Portland police stand up

Portland police are refusing to cooperate with the Justice Department in questioning uncharged immigrants, holding that it would violate state law. [via Interesting People]

Consolidating power

Weather Report: Chris Floyd's Global Eye column in The Moscow Times looks at how the U.S. could change post-9/11 with consolidation of power under the presidency. [via the null device]

Station noise

"In space, you can't hear yourself think." Station crewmembers complain about continual noise.

Public radio workshop a show case & workshop for new public radio.

Sound art

An audio interview with six audio artists about Sound Art.

Macy's parade

NPR's Morning Edition interviews Robert Sullivan, the editor a new book on the history of the Macys' parade.

Wednesday, November 21, 2001 Permanent link to this day
DNA computer

A team led by Ehud Shapiro is publishing results of a simple nanoscale DNA computer in this week's Nature. [via BBC News (story)]

Solar winner

Nuna wins.

Defining terror

Is there a Good Terrorist? - more on defining terrorism, by Timothy Garton Ash. [via Red Rock Eater]

Just when you thought you'd seen everything

Photos of the Hawaiian Happyface Spider. [via Plep]

Tuesday, November 20, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Playboy hacked has been cracked. The attacker, going under the name "martyn luther ping", has apparently contacted customers with their credit card info. [via Metafilter]

Aurora and Leonids

Galleries of the November 5th and 6th aurora and the Leonids. [via Honeyguide]

Some of those Leonids actually made it through our air defense. [via Metafilter]

Election correction

The Economist issues a correction on their election reporting. [via genehack]

Tuvalu sinking?

The rising sea is claiming Tuvalu. Is it just the first? Or is it even true? The Washington Times ran an editorial, "Spare the tears for Tuvalu", on 11/13 based that recent research showed that the sea level was actually dropping, though some think that's a short term effect. [via Undernews]

Take no prisoners

America will take no prisoners - Rumsfeld: "The United States is not inclined to negotiate surrenders, nor are we in a position, with relatively small numbers of forces on the ground, to accept prisoners." (full transcript).

Solar collector

The Genesis spacecraft entered orbit today around the L1 Lagrange point, where gravity is perfectly balanced between the Sun and the Earth. The goal is to return samples of solar wind particles to Earth in 2004.

Solar Race

The 2001 World Solar Challenge is under way in Australia. At the end of day 3, 10 of the original 38 cars have been withdrawn or "trailered". Nuna, from the Netherlands, and Australia's Aurora are neck and neck for the lead. A marathon repair effort got England's entry, Mad Dog, back in the race today after hitting a road sign and winding up in a ditch yesterday.

Monday, November 19, 2001 Permanent link to this day

The other day I linked to a great movie of Ms. Pacman singing Mame. /. today provided the answer to something I couldn't figure out: why Mame?

When binary won't cut it?

Computing in trinary. [via /.]

Adams final work

The sixth, unfinished, volume of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's series, A Salmon of a Doubt, has been found and will be republished with other unreleased works on the first anniversary of his death. [via also not found in nature]


The controversy over Seahenge goes on. First there were protests over moving the tree stump and 55 surrounding oak posts, which date to 2050BC, that make up the monument from its original location in Norfolk. The monument was relocated to Flag Fen, where it was almost lost to fire early last year, for study. Now there is apparent disagreement over whether it should be put back or preserved on dry land, with English Heritage saying that to bury the momument back in the beach risks destruction by the North Sea. A hearing will be held next week to decide the issue. A similar but larger structure was found early this year less than 200 yards away, but has not yet been excavated.

Sunday, November 18, 2001 Permanent link to this day
Atef killed

The Sunday Times describes how Mohammed Atef was killed in a U.S. attack.

Prisoners' Dilemma

I found a Google search in my referrer log this morning from someone looking for stuff on the Prisoners' Dilemma in relation to the World Trade Center. That got me curious what he might have been looking for. The closest thing I could find was an 1998 essay from a University of Michigan international affairs student that applies the Prisoners' Dilemma to the choice of a response to terrorism to show that tit-for-tat is the only way to be successful. Axelrod and Hamilton showed this strategy had the best payoff in a 1981 paper in Science: The Evolution of Cooperation. Björn Brembs' article in Oikos discusses different strategies for the game, some of which can be simulated online, and gives examples of applications in nature. It's a shame that real life is not as straightforward as game theory.

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Copyright © 2001-2002 by Wes Cowley