Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Thursday, January 31, 2002 Permanent link to this day
U.S. strategy in Southeast Asia

A Questionable Strategy: on the risks of increasing U.S. anti-terror pressure in Southeast Asia.

Still smarting from the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. and buoyed by their swift demolition of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the Americans are opening a second front in their global war on terrorism. Initially, they'll send more than 650 troops to the southern Philippines to train local forces and join them on patrols against Muslim rebels. The fear is that the U.S. will lack the patience and subtlety needed to end the regional terrorist menace without destabilizing fragile administrations and disturbing religious and ethnic sensitivities.

On-orbit assembly

In 2003, SkyCorp is planning to demonstrate on-orbit satellite construction as a way of lowering cost to orbit with a prototype called SuperSat. Their goal is to launch components on a shuttle flight and build the satellite in orbit.

As a Shuttle, ELV, and sounding rocket payload developer the author has been exposed to almost every conceivable launch environment. This experience showed that the design of satellites is primarily driven by the launch environment and only secondarily by the space environment. Therefore, eliminating dynamic and acoustic loads will have large payoffs in terms of the design, manufacture, test and deployment of spacecraft. Additionally, if the designer is freed from the geometric constraints of the payload fairing, new capabilities and weight efficient architectures can be implemented.

In considering the above in designing spacecraft the author has developed a new methodology that can considerably reduce the cost, increase the capabilities, and decrease the development time for spacecraft. The term developed for it is the SkySat on orbit assembly method. In the SkySat method the designer takes each significant subsystem of a spacecraft and physically breaks it down into components that can be stored in energy absorbing material encased in a container. These sub assemblies are carried to orbit on the Shuttle or expendable launcher. The cargo must be taken to ISS, another manned space facility or the Shuttle itself to be assembled, tested, and deployed.

Dennis Wingo, Transforming Spacecraft Economics Via On Orbit Assembly

Immigration judges aren't happy

The National Association of Immigration Judges has filed a report with Congress asking to be removed from the Justice Department's control, in part because of complaints that America's "core legal values" are being undermined since 9/11. [via Undernews]

Axis of Evil

'To Fight Freedom's Fight': Safire on the Axis of Evil.

When a dramatist places a gun on the table in the first act, the astute playgoer knows that the weapon will be used before the drama ends.

In his State of the Union address, President Bush warned three nations sponsoring terror -- North Korea, Iran and Iraq -- that the U.S. "will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."

Enron fallout in the U.K.

Enron-related questions are not just being asked in the U.S. There are questions being asked about how Andersen got back in the good graces of the British government after the DeLorean collapse in 1997. Andersen is defending itself, saying the size of it's new contract was won fairly and is small in comparison to almost everything else.

Timing is everything

Tuesday night, Bush points his finger at Iran and Iraq. Wednesday night, the EUVE reenters the atmosphere about 11:15pm Eastern over the Persian Gulf. The expected surviving bits are thought to have landed near the coast of Kuwait, Iran, and Iraq, but we won't know for sure for a few more hours. Who says we don't have space-based weapons?

Wednesday, January 30, 2002 Permanent link to this day
The Real Enron Scandal

The New Republic's editors write that the problem is not that the government did anything to help stop Enron's collapse, it's that measures that could have lessened or prevented the damage from the collapse were blocked.

Is the Bioethics Council stacked?

Tallying the New Bioethics Council: on something I wondered about when the Council on Bioethics was announced, but never finished chasing down.

Let's stipulate that the Council is composed of very distinguished thinkers and researchers. However, examining Kass' roster, it becomes apparent that he has chosen many cronies that share his dour fears about the direction of medical progress.

Al Qaeda Alchemy

On the transformation of Bush from "bumbler to statesman".

"Those of us who have lived through these challenging times have been changed by them," said President George W. Bush in his State of the Union message on Tuesday. Surely few people have been changed more than Bush himself. Having entered the presidency only after a bitter and divisive recount farce that undermined the authority he brought to the office; having arrived in Washington perceived as inarticulate and barely informed about world affairs, the president one year later stood before a joint session of Congress and, in a few words, reshuffled the world.

Tolkien weirdness

Read all about the relationship between Tolkien and Calculus, Sauron's missing finger, and Arwen, the Warbabe on the Tolkien Crackpot Theories Page. [via CamWorld]

Satellite photo of red tide bloom

NASA's Terra satellite took this photo of a red tide bloom extending down Florida's Gulf coast in December.

Watch your head

The EUVE satellite is expected to come down in an uncontrolled reentry sometime overnight tonight. It could reenter between 10p and 7a Eastern time. Chunks weighing up to 100 pounds are expected to survive and impact anywhere from Brisbane to Orlando. NASA should have a better idea 12 hours before impact.

Update: The latest prediction is for impact around 11pm Eastern in the Atlantic Ocean. There will be an update posted on the Goddard site at 9:45pm.

Moving to Movable Type

If you're reading this, then I've made the jump to Movable Type. BlogMax has served me quite well, and I will probably continue to use it for composing. Editing in XEmacs is the only way to go. But, I wanted to try a few things that Movable Type does, including categorization and comments, and I really didn't feel like taking the time to write the code. I can't help fiddling though, so I've made a couple of changes from the stock MT. I think the only visible one so far, other than the templates of course, is that I've blocked the code that lists a commenter's email address if a URL is not given (which I think was a suggestion I found in Aaron's MT notes).

I will get the old archives moved into MT before a whole lot longer, but until then you can get to them here or through the Archives link over on the right.

If you see problems with the new stuff, please let me know.

Commonwealth (in)action on Zimbabwe

At their meeting today the Commonwealth chose not to suspend Zimbabwe's membership, as it looked like they might have after their last meeting, though they did speak out again about the political violence and recent oppressive laws.

The Group reviewed the situation in Zimbabwe in the light of developments since its last meeting on 20 December 2001. It expressed its deep concern over the continued violence, political intimidation and actions against the freedom and independence of the media.

The Group also condemned the recently enacted Public Order and Security Act and the General Laws Amendment Act, as well as the proposed Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill, as further direct curbs on the freedom of speech, of the press, and association in Zimbabwe and contrary to the Commonwealth's fundamental political values as enshrined in the Harare Commonwealth Declaration. The Group expressed the strongest concern that the statement by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Chief and the recent and foreshadowed legislation constituted a direct threat to the conduct of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

State of the Union transcripts

Full text of Bush's State of the Union address and Gephardt's Democratic Response.

The part that really caught my attention in Bush's speech was his comments on the "Axis of Evil". He all but threatened Iraq, Iran, and North Korea based on a lot of "They could..."s:


Tuesday, January 29, 2002 Permanent link to this day
World Economic Forum in New York

NY Prepares for World Forum Protests: on preparations for the World Economic Forum, originally to be held in Davos, this week in New York.

Police officials said Monday that they expect demonstrations at this week's World Economic Forum will be mostly peaceful, but they plan to strictly enforce a century-old law barring groups of demonstrators from wearing masks.

Chief of Patrol Joseph Esposito said the law applies to groups of three or more. "Three or more with masks and they're marching, they're under arrest," he said.

[via zem]

Umberto Eco

For the reading list: War is worse than a crime - it's a waste: on Umberto Eco's new book, Five Moral Pieces. [via wood s lot]


A two part article on Pipelineistan from Pepe Escobar in Asia Times: The rules of the game and The games nations play.

War against terrorism? Not really. Reminder: it's all about oil.

A quick look at the map is all it takes. It's no coincidence that the map of terror in the Middle East and Central Asia is practically interchangeable with the map of oil. There's Infinite Justice, Enduring Freedom - and Everlasting Profits to be made: not only by the American industrial-military complex, but especially by American and European oil giants.

No, it's not "all about oil". But oil's involved and it can't hurt to remind ourselves of that occasionally. [via also not found in nature]

Monday, January 28, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Journalist kidnapping

A Wall Street Journal reporter has been kidnapped in Pakistan.

It is "relatively common" for journalists in the Pakistan area to be kidnapped, according to Veronica Forwood of Reporters Without Borders, a group that supports press freedom. She said it was possible Pearl's captors were responsible for another journalist's recent abduction.

Ghulam Hasnain, a Pakistani reporter working for Time magazine, was abducted last week and released several days later, according to Reporters Without Borders. Hasnain has returned home but refused to comment on what happened to him.

Explosions in Lagos

Explosions destroyed arms depots at the Ikeja Cantonment in Lagos yesterday, igniting fires at dozens of factories in Oshodi and sending thousands of people fleeing. CNN and BBC are reporting 600 people dead in the panic.

Sunday, January 27, 2002 Permanent link to this day
The Next 10 Years

Help the Planetary Society and NASA plan the next 10 years of space exploration by taking this survey. The deadline is January 31. [via Metafilter]

Planning for War

The Washington Post has started a series, America's Chaotic Road to War, on the planning in the hours and days following 9/11. [via Metafilter]

Florida Power

The Enron Scandal Grazes Another Bush in Florida: on questions starting to be asked by Jeb's involvement with Enron.

"You've got to credit Jeb Bush," said Richard Scher, professor of political science at the University of Florida at Gainesville. "He's been wonderful in keeping the issue quiet. Nothing has been coming out. He's been very shrewd in how he's handled it politically and lucky the legislature is in session and drawing attention away. The Enron Florida angle has not come home to roost yet."

Jeb is one of the trustee's of Florida's pension fund, a large victim of the Enron collapse with $325 million in losses, though a fund respresentative has said Bush is only involved at a high level and never dealt with specifics of individual investments. He also chose to have a fundraising event at the Houston home of a former Enron president, Richard Kinder, last week. To be fair, Kinder left Enron in 1996 to form another major energy company, Kinder Morgan.

Whose? Florida is tracking the connections between Florida's pension fund and Enron.

Russian Power

The state power company in Russia, United Energy Services, cut power yesterday to several military bases including the control center responsible for monitoring military satellites and the space station. The government says the power company is in violation of decrees designating certain facilities as protected. A couple of years ago, troops were sent to some substations to prevent power from being turned off to nuclear missile bases.

CINC North America

The military is asking for a new commander in chief to coordinate troops deployed in the U.S. and Canada. [via Follow Me Here]

Saturday, January 26, 2002 Permanent link to this day
fUSION Anomaly

To explore: fUSION Anomaly - it seems to be a hyperlinked mystical cyberpunk encyclopedia. Or brain dump. Or something. The Java version took out my Mozilla once, there's a non-Java version as well. [via Voidstar]

al-Qaeda in Singapore

'Sleeper Cells' in Singapore Show Al Qaeda's Long Reach

Local officials and Western business executives were taken aback by the ability of Al Qaeda to plant operatives in Singapore, one of the most tightly controlled societies.

I think this goes to show that removing freedoms from our society and increasing controls on it is not going to guarantee our safety from terrorists. It is certainly not going to protect us from other evildoers.

Draped Justice

Ashcroft has ordered and installed a set of $8,000 drapes to cover two semi-nude statues in the Justice Department building so he doesn't have to have his photos published with them in the background.

What does Enron do?

Enron for Dummies

I saw this week that President Bush is `outraged' by the Enron scandal, and I know I should be too, but there's a lot I still don't get. For starters, what kind of company is Enron, exactly?

Enron is a new-economy company, a thinking-outside-the-box, paradigm-shifting, market-making company. In fact, it ranked as the most innovative company in America four years in a row, as judged by envious corporate peers in the annual Fortune magazine poll. It is also, at this point in time, a bankrupt company.

I meant, what does Enron do?

Collateral Damage

The Others: Howard Zinn puts a face on the victims of collateral damage in Afghanistan. [via Follow Me Here]

Afghanistan Opium Ban

Afghanistan's new government has banned opium production, but the farmers and dealers haven't seemed to notice.

Afghan officials haven't dropped by Haji Khudi Noor's dim nook in Kandahar's bustling opium market to order a halt to his business. Foreign aid workers haven't come to tell him how to feed his 35-member family if he did.

Until one -- or both -- happens, Khudi Noor says, opening his brown shawl to reveal a lap piled high with patties of raw opium, Afghanistan's new opium ban will have little force against its new opium boom.


Thousands of fossilized jellyfish have been found in a Wisconsin quarry by a fossil dealer who, along with Whitey Hagadorn and Robert Dott, has published a paper, Stranded on an Upper Cambrian shoreline: Medusae from Central Wisconsin, in the February issue of Geology on the find.

Friday, January 25, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Militarizing Space

A joint team from NASA and the Air Force have produced a white paper on the benefits of a military space plane. [via NASA Watch]

Photographs from Space

NASA has a collection of photographs of Earth taken by astronauts dating back to 1961.

Attack in Islamabad

A small bomb exploded outside the British High Commission offices in Islamabad yesterday. Apparently, no one was hurt.

Verbing Enron

Enron has been verbed. Tom Daschle, speaking on the future of Social Security and Medicare, said, "I don't want to Enron the American people. I don't want to see them holding the bag at the end of the day just like Enron employees have held the bag." [via Unknown News]

Exempting Enron

Exemption Won in 1997 Set Stage for Enron Woes: on an broad exemption to the Investment Company Act which allowed Enron to setup the numerous foreign affiliated companies which have played a part in muddying their finances.

Enron's initial efforts in 1996 to persuade Congress to change the law were thwarted by opposition from a powerful trade group and some federal regulators. The company responded by hiring the former boss of a leading staff official at the Securities and Exchange Commission to represent it in negotiations with the agency. In an unheralded five-paragraph order in March 1997, the S.E.C. official, Barry P. Barbash, gave Enron's foreign operations a broad exemption from the law -- the Investment Company Act of 1940.

Enron Hearing Transcript

The transcript of yesterday's hearing on Enron is available.

Trial by Media

The prime-time smearing of Sami Al-Arian: on how the media, in particular the Tampa Tribune and a local shockjock, Bubba the Love Sponge, contributed to the events leading up to Sami Al-Arian's firing from USF. [via Unknown News]

Thursday, January 24, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Brown Dwarf Followup

A followup: Michael Liu and company's paper on the image of the brown dwarf orbiting a sun-like star, which I mentioned a while back, is now available.

Dubya: The First Six Months

What the president is doing in office: the first six months. [via Follow Me Here]

Pink Flamingo Boycott

Join the Plastic Pink Flamingo Boycott! Is your plastic pink flamingo authentic? Does it have Don Featherstone's signature? Not if it was released recently. Join the fight to put Featherstone's signature back in the mold. [via Metafilter]

WebCollage hits

I've gotten a couple of hits for really bizarre searches from what I think is this site: WebCollage.

The site feeds random words to search engines and makes a collage from the images, which are linked back to the original site. Kind of neat.

Congo volcano #2

A second volcano, Mount Nyamuragira, has erupted in Congo.

John Walker in court

John Walker is back in the States and has his first day in court. He is being held without bail.

Microsoft antitrust comments

The public comment period on the Microsoft antitrust settlement ends Sunday. Here's how to comment. [via Voidstar]


A Democrat-led think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute, has issued a report recommending several invasive high-tech steps in fighting terrorism including thumbprints on ID cards, increased survelliance of the net, and face recognition in crowded places. [via Red Rock Eater]

Mugabe bans critics

Mugabe has signed a law that would allow him to jail critics for up to five years but has not yet been able to push through a similar law aimed at journalists that also requires annual licenses.

Enron roundup

The first Congressional hearings into the Enron collapse begin today. The star witness today, an Arthur Andersen employee who has since been fired and who has been accused of directing shredding of Enron documents, is expected to take the fifth in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Enron's rise and fall, the timeline. [via abuddhas memes]

Smoking Gun in Enrongate: on charges Bush allowed Ken Lay, the ex-CEO of Enron, to interview candidates for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. [via Metafilter]

Findlaw has a collection of original source documents on Enron. [via wood s lot]

Wednesday, January 23, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Chomsky book trouble

Turkey prosecutes Chomsky publisher for essay on Kurds: a local publisher produced Chomsky's American Interventionism, which includes an essay criticising Turkey's treatment of the Kurds. The publisher is now facing a year in jail on terrorism related charges: inciting violence. [via zem]

Enron and Florida's pension fund

State's late Enron buys questioned

A New York firm that bought Enron stock for Florida's pension fund is being investigated for possible conflict of interest because it allowed an executive to sit on the failed energy-trading company's board.

State officials said Thursday that they did not learn until late last year that Frank Savage, a top executive of Alliance Capital Management Corp., was a member of the Enron board.

The state lost more than $300 million in the collapse of Enron. [via Red Rock Eater]

U.S. troops in the Philippines

U.S. Special Forces Make Camp in Philippine Jungle

Philippine troops have set up a jungle camp for U.S. Special Forces who will train local soldiers in missions designed to wipe out a Muslim extremist group linked to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network, a military spokesman said Saturday.

The "forward base" is on the southern island of Basilan, where the Abu Sayyaf guerrillas are holding an American couple hostage, said Capt. Noel Detoyato of the Philippine military.

National ID

National ID in development: on efforts by some government agencies to push through a national ID system while public opinion is still in their favor.

Bugs on Chinese presidential aircraft

Who pulled the plug on the Chinese 'bugs'? Speculation that a leak was involved in the Chinese discovery of bugs on their new presidential 767 and comparison to an incident in 1996 where a member of a party leaderships' family was protected from arrest in an arms dealing sting by a leak.

Bigelow's commercial space station

The new space race: on Robert Bigelow's efforts to start a commercial space station through his company, Bigelow Aerospace. [via spacepolicydigest]

Initially, Bigelow wanted to invest in the production of launch vehicles that would carry people and equipment into space. But he quickly realized there were already too many other firms competing for that very limited market. Instead, his millions are being used to create a sturdy, inexpensive space habitat, a module that would serve as the central building block for future space stations, space labs and space hotels. More than 40 world-class scientists, engineers and technicians are already on the payroll. Their goal is the design and production of living quarters that would dramatically alter the the cost of exploiting the true potential of space.

Alternative LoTR

Alternative authors' versions of Lord of the Rings. [via Voidstar]

Canadian anti-terrorism laws

Taking Liberties: an overview of five recent Canadian bills aimed at organized crime and terrorism. [via wood s lot]

So I'm cynical

Write here, write now: on projects such as Annotate Space which combine wireless phones and PDAs with GPSes to deliver content posted by previous visitors to a specific location. Why do I think this will turn into a vehicle for delivering spam? [via blackbeltjones]

Tuesday, January 22, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Dollarizing Afghanistan?

Dollar may replace afghani: on a proposal by the Asian Development Bank to discontinue the Afghan currency and replace it with a convertible currency such as the dollar. May I suggest they think twice and then talk to the Argentine president if they still want to do this? [via Unknown News]

Currency boards

No right answer?

The turmoil in Argentina and the collapse of the ten-year link between the peso and the dollar has revived the debate about currency regimes for emerging-market economies. Was Argentina wrong to adopt the link in the first place, or wrong to try so hard and so fruitlessly to maintain it?

Kmart's bluelight special

Kmart files for chapter 11.

Rebuilding Afghanistan

As donor countries met in Tokyo to pledge money to support rebuilding of Afghanistan, the World Bank presented their plan for rebuilding the country from the village up, starting with locally provided solar power, irrigation and roads.

AT&T's 900 service

AT&T is getting out of the 1-900 billing business. I wonder if the Psychic Friends saw this one coming?

Missing biowar samples

Samples of anthrax, Ebola, and other such stuff turned up missing from the Army's Fort Detrick labs in the early 90s. [via Cursor]

Kunduz airlift

Rumsfeld still denies knowledge of the Kunduz airlift. [via Cursor]

An audio interview with Seymour Hersh on his story about the Kunduz airlift.


The U.S. information center in Calcutta has been attacked by armed motorcyclists. Five local police are dead.

A bomb has gone off and several more found outside the American embassy in Kabul. [via Cursor]

Monday, January 21, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Northern Alliance infighting

Northern Alliance factions are reported to have been fighting amongst themselves for the last two days.

Classic error messages

Error messages from the MPW C compiler. My favorite: "a typedef name was a complete surprise to me at this point in your program". [via Borklog]

Aurora and volcano

Volcano and Aurora in Iceland: beautiful shot of an aurora over the erupting Hekla volcano in 1991.

WTC scrap sale

World Trade Center steel is being sold to India and China for recycling at $120/ton. [via dangerousmeta]

Galileo shelved

Wired is reporting that Galileo, a European GPS-like system which I've mentioned here a couple of times, has been shelved after U.S. pressure. [via Hack the Planet]

AOL Red Hat just a rumor?

It looks like Red Hat may not be assimilated after all. [via jrobb]


The Birth of Loop: on the history of music loops. [via Memepool]

Argentina dollar conversion

Argentina is forcing the conversion of dollar denominated bank accounts to pesos at the official conversion rate of 1.4 pesos/dollar, sparking protests that President Duhalde has broken an inauguration pledge to let people keep their dollar accounts.

Limbaugh's hearing

Rush Limbaugh says he's gotten his hearing back. There is, unfortunately, no truth to the rumor that he traded his voice for it.

Chess cheat

A chess player at the 17th Open International Tournament in Nice was caught cheating. He was apparently using a Novag Sapphire chess computer hidden in his raincoat.

Shades of Truth

Tactics of Deception: Shades of Truth in a Time of War

No one has accused Rumsfeld of misleading the press or misrepresenting events on the ground. But post-mortems on previous American wars routinely found that the government exaggerated its successes and minimized its setbacks in its public presentations; indeed the tendency to embroider has been documented back to the Civil War.

Actually, I believe that's the point of my previous entry. [via abuddhas memes]

Kunduz airlift

Remember the reports of Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda members being airlifted out of Kunduz as the city was surrounded by the Northern Alliance? The flights General Franks said he didn't know anything about at the time and that Rumsfeld said we would shoot down if we saw them? According to Seymour Hersh's article in this week's New Yorker, Bush authorized the flights at Musharraf's request and ordered an air corridor set up for them. I guess he hadn't gotten around to telling Rumsfeld and Franks yet. I'm sure that's it. After all, Rumsfeld won't lie to us.

Sunday, January 20, 2002 Permanent link to this day
First Amendment

Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment - A Congressional Research Service report. [via Secrecy News]

Wargaming India vs. Pakistan

It Doesn't Start in Kashmir, and It Never Ends Well: a retired Air Force colonel describes participating in numerous war games featuring an India-Pakistan conflict.

Understanding Russia

How Russia really works

Popular wisdom offers one tentative answer: "Russia is a country of unread laws and unwritten rules". Or, as they say, "the imperfection of our laws is compensated for by their non-observance".

Defining terrorism

An Indecent Proposal: on the true definition of terrorism.

It is time to tell the truth about terror. Terrorism is not just a way to describe a revolutionary movement we dislike or violence aimed at our allies and friends. Not every revolutionary is a terrorist, and not every terrorist is a revolutionary.

Terrorism is a very specific type of violence. It is the deliberate killing of innocent civilians in the name of a political cause. George Washington was a revolutionary, but he was no terrorist. Osama bin Laden is both.

Mount Nyiragongo eruption

NASA has a satellite photo of the Mount Nyiragongo eruption taken from MODIS. [via Doc Searls]

Internet Reconfigurable Logic

This is apparently isn't news, but it's the first I've heard of it. Xilinx is offering FPGAs with what they call Internet Reconfigurable Logic. These are programmable chips whose logic can be replaced over the Internet. This brings a whole new meaning to getting root. [via Risks]

Saturday, January 19, 2002 Permanent link to this day
POV-Ray toy

My first POV-Ray toy is finally close to what I had in mind: Steaming cup of

Military tribunal recommendations

The ACLU has sent recommendations on military tribunals to Rumsfeld.

AOL buying Red Hat rumors

AOL Time Warner Red Hat? I think I'm going to be sick.

China bugs

China claims to have found satellite controlled bugs in the new Boeing 767 intended to be President Jiang's plane.

NAS cloning report

The National Academy of Sciences has issued a report (html, pdf, hardcopy) recommending that therapeutic cloning be allowed to continue but calling for a five year ban on human reproductive cloning because work with animals has not progressed far enough.

Friday, January 18, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Spam laws

Spam laws from around the world. [via Red Rock Eater]

Analysis of the CIA/Kennedy assassination link

The Lie That Linked CIA to the Kennedy Assassination: on the history of a link between the CIA and Clay Shaw, who was arrested and tried by Jim Garrison for plotting to kill Kennedy. That link is apparently prominently featured in Oliver Stone's JFK, which I haven't seen yet. Now, this is a CIA sponsored publication, not that I'm implying anything.

CIA missile assessment

The CIA is estimating in a new report, Foreign Missile Developments and the Ballistic Missile Threat Through 2015, that the chances of a long range missile attack against the U.S. is lower than attacks from other means (ships, trucks, airplanes, etc.). This would seem to make spending billions on Bush's National Missile Defense even less sensible than it already is. [via Red Rock Eater]

Terrorism and complex societies

The Rise of Complex Terrorism

Modern societies face a cruel paradox: Fast-paced technological and economic innovations may deliver unrivalled prosperity, but they also render rich nations vulnerable to crippling, unanticipated attacks.

Bioethics Council

Bush's new Council on Bioethics is meeting for the first time yesterday and today to start debating whether humans should be cloned for reproductive or theraputic reasons. The chair, Leon Kass, has testified against reproductive cloning to a previous such panel.

Mount Nyiragongo

Mount Nyiragongo erupted last night, sending lava through the town of Goma 10 kilometers away.

Thursday, January 17, 2002 Permanent link to this day
HRW warning

Human Rights Watch's 2002 World Report warns that countries around the world are using the WoT as an opportunity to attack civil liberties.

Ahmed Rashid's new book

They're only sleeping: an excerpt of Ahmed Rashid's new book, Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia. [via Cursor]

Wednesday, January 16, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Hypothetical planets

Hypothetical Planets: The history of planets and moons that were once thought to exist but don't. The Fruitlog]

Reid indicted

The Sneaker Bomber, Richard Reid, has been indicted on eight counts.

Human cloning publication protest

Three scientists have left the e-biomed editorial board in protest over the publication of ACT's cloning research, which they said was of such poor quality it should not have been published.

and in the darkness bind them

One Ring To Rule Them All: on the history and meaning of the One Ring. The Fruitlog]

Tuesday, January 15, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Stability in government

Eight days, four governors. Argentina? Nope, New Jersey.

Odyssey finishes aerobreaking

The Mars Odyssey has finished its aerobraking.

Walker charges

The American Taliban John Walker is being charged with four counts, including conspiracy to murder. FindLaw has the criminal complaint available.

Microsoft poll rigging

Microsoft .Net: Vote early, vote often.

Psychotronic films

Looking for reviews of the latest psychotronic films? You want to visit The Psychotronic Film Society.

Psychotronic weapons

A bill, HR 2977 - Space Preservation Act of 2001, was introduced late last year by Dennis Kucinich that would ban weapons in space. He includes

... the use of land-based, sea-based, or space-based systems using radiation, electromagnetic, psychotronic, sonic, laser, or other energies directed at individual persons or targeted populations for the purpose of information war, mood management, or mind control of such persons or populations ...

Does he know something we don't know? Some people think so. [via Metafilter and Secrecy News]

The Mind Has No Firewall

Monday, January 14, 2002 Permanent link to this day

The Crackpot Index: keeping score for revolutionary contributions to physics. [via Follow Me Here]

Time of day

This time of day page leaves me speechless. Of course, that's not hard today. [via jrobb]

Anti-Word attachment campaign

Help stamp out Word attachments today. [via CamWorld]

Commercial satellite photos

DigitalGlobe has a new satellite up and is offering the highest resolution freely available pictures yet: 2 feet resolution in black and white, 8 feet in color.

Bush and the pretzel

Bush was felled by a pretzel Sunday. No word on how it got past the Secret Service.

Station spacewalk

Space station crewmembers are taking a walk today to relocate a crane and an amateur radio antenna. The walk starts a few minutes before 4p Eastern.

Saturday, January 12, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Very sick

Back in a couple of days.

Thursday, January 10, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Terror horoscope

Russia's chief military astrologer predicts two more terror strikes. [via Counterpunch]

Charity sanctions

Two more charities have been added to the U.S. terrorist sanctions list: Afghan Support Committee and Revival of Islamic Heritage Society.

Zimbabwe military will support Mugabe

The Zimbabwe presidential elections have been scheduled for March 9th and 10th. The army has said that it will support Mugabe regardless of whether he wins the election or not. Mugabe is being accused of launching terrorist attacks against opposition supporters.

Anarchy on the Net

The Internet's Invisible Hand: on the anarchy of the net, predictions of impending disasters, and how it can continue to grow.

Stem cell agreement

In a settlement to a lawsuit from University of Wisconsin, Geron, which holds the rights to seven of the 60ish embryonic stem cell lines that Bush authorized for federally funded research, has agreed to lessen its exclusive rights to those lines and to provide free access to academic and government scientists.

Wednesday, January 09, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Bushism quiz

How well do you know your Bushisms? Take the quiz. [via BookNotes]

NASA goals survey

NASA is collecting names to send on to Mars on the 2003 Mars Exploration Rover mission. The Fruitlog]

History of Kashmir conflict

A state of war: on the decades old dispute between Pakistan and India over Kashmir.

Cool music

Icestock: The album is now downloadable. The concert was held December 30th at McMurdo Base in Antarctica.

Tuesday, January 08, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Brown dwarf imaged

A team including Michael Liu, Debra Fischer, James Graham, and Geoffrey Marcy used the Gemini Observatory to obtain an image of a brown dwarf orbiting closely around another star similar to our sun. The paper isn't available in the arXiv archive at the moment, I'll try to get a link to it when it is. Stories at BBC and Update: The paper, which will appear in the Astrophysical Journal, is now available.

Defining terrorism

Defining Terrorism Tricky for Pakistan: are Jaish-i-Muhammad and Lashkar-i-Taiba terrorist or rebel organizations? [via zem]

Peru documents

The U.S. Embassy in Lima has released a series of documents detailing the American involvement with Vladimiro Montesinos, the former head of Peru's intelligence services. Montesinos is currently in prison facing charges of, among other things, organizing death squads. An archive of earlier U.S. documents on Montesinos is also available from GWU.


Oh good, the Earth may not be swallowed up by the expanding sun when it turns into a red giant in 7.5 billion years. This is per an article published by a Sussex University team, including Robert Smith, in the latest issue of Astronomy & Geophysics (which doesn't seem to be online yet), which argues that the lessened mass of the Sun will cause the Earth to move to a wider orbit and escape the sun's expansion. Another team has looked at the same possibility in a paper in Icarus last year. [via dangerousmeta]

Monday, January 07, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Near Earth Objects

An asteroid, 2001 YB5, discovered a month ago by the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking telescope is passing within 830,000 kilometers from Earth: less than twice the distance of the moon. This is the closest approach predicted for this asteroid in this century.

POV-Ray and Emacs

I've been playing with POV-Ray and was quite pleased to find an Emacs mode for it.

A coffee blog

A blog devoted to coffee. [thanks Cass]


A primer on the latest Bushisms.

Sunday, January 06, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Computer art festival

The Pixxelpoint Computer Art Festival 2001 galleries are up. [via nettime]

Internet access in Kashmir cut off

India is reported to have shut down net access from public call offices and net cafes in Kashmir.

The move, according to informed sources, was taken after it was found that Mohammed, leader of the suicide squad attack on Parliament, had extensively used the Internet and e-mail facilities while planning the December 13 operations.

A single state in Europe?

Handing over their future? The Euro brings the possibility of a single state in Europe closer, this article argues.

Bank of America plane crash

More details on yesterday's crash of a Cessna into the Bank of America Plaza:

Space tourist

The second space tourist, Mark Shuttleworth, will be going up to the station on April 20th.

Saturday, January 05, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Product placement

Absolut Taliban [via jerrykindall]

Pocket particle accelerator

Haven't you always wanted a particle accelerator your can fit in your pocket? Researchers at Georgia Tech have built just that: the Nevatron, described in a recent Physics Review Letters paper. [via The Daily Grail]

Crisis in Argentina

Politics and Pesos in Argentina: an hour long radio show on the current state of the financial crisis in Argentina.

It's a bad day to be banking in Buenos Aires. The new president is announcing an economic plan designed to save the country from political and financial collapse. But, while the plan will make many economists happy, it is also likely to wipe out 30, perhaps 40 percent of the savings of many Argentines. Over the past month, people across that country have rioted over less. Argentina, once the economic pride of Latin America, is undergoing political upheaval and potential chaos.

Orbital pollution

Help stop the pollution of Low Earth Orbit. Equip your satellite with the Terminator Tether TM.

Complexity and terrorism

Terrorism, Nonlinearity & Complex Adaptive Systems: an archive of papers to aid in understanding and dealing with the threat of decentralized and adaptive enemies. [via Boing Boing]

Cycler ships

Karl Schroeder has two articles describing the technology behind the interstellar cycler ships, like the ones proposed by Buzz Aldrin for Mars trips, behind his upcoming book, Permanence, and the development of the civilization based on them. Looks like it will be good. [via Boing Boing]

Science fiction classics

The Lost Worlds of Science Fiction: Academic publishers are reprinting some of the earliest science fiction works.

[via dangerousmeta]


Listening to Our Inner Ashcroft: on self-censorship and the WoT. [via wood s lot]

Face recognition failure

The ACLU has issued a report on the failure of face recognition technology in Tampa. [via Follow Me Here]

Unocal's Afghan friends

It seems Unocal is gaining from friends in Afghanistan: both the interim Afghan leader and the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan are reported to have worked for Unocal.

President Bush has appointed a former aide to the American oil company Unocal, Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, as special envoy to Afghanistan. The nomination was announced December 31, nine days after the US-backed interim government of Hamid Karzai took office in Kabul.

Since then, Karzai's ties with the Americans have not been interrupted. At the same time, he established ties with the British and other European and international sides, especially after he became deputy foreign minister in 1992 in the wake of the Afghan mojahedin's assumption of power and the overthrow of the pro-Moscow Najibollah regime. Karzai found no contradiction between his ties with the Americans and his support for the Taleban movement as of 1994, when the Americans had - secretly and through the Pakistanis - supported the Taleban's assumption of power to put an end to the civil war and the actual partition of Afghanistan due to the failure of Borhanoddin Rabbani's experience in ruling the country. At the time, Karzai worked as a consultant for the huge US oil group Unocal, which had supported the Taleban movement and sought to construct a pipeline to transport oil and gas from the Islamic republics of Central Asia to Pakistan via Afghanistan. However, Karzai's relationship with the Taleban did not last long, since he moved away from the movement immediately after it assumed power in 1996 and turned down the movement's offer to appoint him as its ambassador to the United Nations.

[via Metafilter]

Star Wars camp out

Two members of the Seattle Star Wars Society have started the first line for Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones. The movie opens May 16th. [via Metafilter]

Coding tips

Roedy Green's classic How to Write Unmaintainable Code keeps expanding. [via Voidstar]

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan

Ignorance is not bliss: on the effect of the lack of reporting of civilian casualties from Afghanistan. [via Unknown News]

Creation of the universe

The Big Bang burger bar: on the creation and evolution of the universe from nothing, via quantum tunnelling and expansion. [via eugene]

Iran behind weapons shipment?

Israel is claiming that the weapons they seized in route to the Palestinian Authority are Iranian, which Iran denies.

Bank of America plane crash

A 15 year old student pilot apparently stole a single-engine Cessna and crashed it into the 20th floor of the Bank of America Plaza building in downtown Tampa this evening. There's a webcam on top of that building, but you can't see much at the moment.

Don't take airport security sitting down

A National Guardsman patrolling San Francisco International Airport shot himself in the rump on Wednesday while drawing his pistol. [via Unknown News]

Friday, January 04, 2002 Permanent link to this day

David Deutsch's theory of the multiverse is discussed in recent articles in New Scientist and Discover. There's also a mailing list, Fabric-of-Reality, for discussing the concept. [via abuddhas memes]

Service Merchandise going toes up

Service Merchandise is planning on shutting down by spring.

Argentine decoupling

The Argentine peso is expected to be devalued by 30-40% as it is decoupled from the dollar and they default on their $155 billion in debt.

Palestinian weapons ship

Israel has captured an ship with 50 tons of weapons they say was destined for the Palestinian Authority, which they deny.

Pakistani nukes

Controlling Pakistan's Nukes: on circumstantial evidence that the U.S. has taken control of security for Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

Taking the WoT too far

U.N Fears Abuses of Terror Mandate

Demands by the Security Council that U.N. members act against global terrorism are being used by some regimes to justify repression of domestic dissent, U.N. officials and independent human rights advocates say.

Anarchy in Argentina

Argentina Seeks Escape from Anarchy: review of the events leading up to Duhalde's role as the fifth President of Argentina in two weeks

Thieving warlords

Warlords Steal Food Shipments: on the trouble getting food fairly distributed in Jalalabad, where warlords from the Eastern Shura have stolen two-thirds of the incoming food. According to the article, Eastern Shura is the group that was helping the U.S. in its cave-by-cave search of the Tora Bora area.

Afghan accord scorecard

Winners & losers in the Afghan accord.

Rave rage

Farmer arrested in 'rave rage' standoff: Apparently a loophole in a British law prevents farmers from keeping ravers off their land. "We had one police sergeant, 70 ravers and one unhappy landowner."

Thursday, January 03, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Mozilla keywords

Did you know you can put keywords in Mozilla bookmarks, then use them in the URL bar? I didn't. [via dangerousmeta]

Heads up

Want to know if you need something bigger than an umbrella when you go out? Check to see if there's anything scheduled to reenter the atmosphere.

Evolving agents

Russian computer scientists Mikhail Burtsev, Vladimir Red'ko and Roman Gusarev from the Keldysh Institute say that they have a model for evolving software agents that develop motivation through evolution. [via Nanodot]

But the best way is still Linux

The second best way to upgrade Windows.

Wednesday, January 02, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Historical monument

Snowhenge [via Bifurcated Rivets]

Presidential parade

Can you name Argentina's President?

  • Fernando de la Rua (1999-December 20, 2001)
  • Ramos Puerta (December 20, 2001-December 23, 2001)
  • Adolfo Rodriguez Saa (December 23, 2001-December 30, 2001)
  • Eduardo Camano (December 30, 2001-January 1, 2002)
  • Eduardo Duhalde (January 1, 2002-???) was sworn in today.

I'll bet you thought they didn't have computers then

The U.K Public Records Office has made its 1901 census available online as part of a project that is also working on 1881 and 1891 data.

Tuesday, January 01, 2002 Permanent link to this day

An American soldier took part in a recent match of the traditional Afghan sport of buzkashi. [via rc3]

Potter burning

The Christ Community Church in Alamogordo, New Mexico has burned the Harry Potter books. Darn, I hadn't read them yet.


A Wendy's drive through employee handed a customer the wrong bag. Now police are looking for a man in a black SUV with $12,000 in a Wendy's bag. I hate it when they get the order wrong at the drive through. [via The Obscure Store]

Nice review

Nice words from Tom at Fortboise after his visit here. Thanks, and y'all come back now, ya hear?

Argentina, why should we care?

Paul Krugman on why we should be crying with Argentina:

Although images of the riots in Argentina have flickered across our television screens, hardly anyone in the U.S. cares. It's just another disaster in a small, faraway country of which we know nothing -- a country as remote and unlikely to affect our lives as, say, Afghanistan.

Captured al-Qaeda computers

Work is just the same at terror international: on the office politics revealed in captured al-Qaeda computers. There's more detail in this WSJ article (subscription required).

Time limit for anti-terror laws?

The Lord Chief Justice in England has said that the anti-terrorism laws should be short-term and repealed as soon as possible.

More terror groups named

The United States has frozen the assets of one Spanish group and five Northern Ireland groups that are said to be related to terrorism. This is to bring the U.S. list in line with one released by the Council of the European Union last week.

Arabic translations

CNN mentions one way to get translations of Arabic news, like Al-Jazeera: the Ajeeb web-based translator. It seems to have a problem with some of the longer pages unfortunately. There's also WBUR's translations of Al-Jazeera, which I've linked to before. They've been on vacation since the 20th but should be back tomorrow.

NASA meeting notes

SpaceRef has meeting notes from the March 2001 NASA Advisory Council Space Science Advisory Committee meeting. They're also available here in Microsoft Word format.

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Copyright © 2001-2002 by Wes Cowley