Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Saturday, March 16, 2002 Permanent link to this day
Good thing we have a spare

How to Change a Spare Government

It's late at night, you're cruising along, perhaps humming a mindless tune, when suddenly you hear a loud bang. A silent curse crosses your lips as you realize your government has gone flat. Fortunately, the United States now comes with a spare. Here's what to do in case of a breakdown.

First, assuming you've parked the country in a safe location, get out and find the spare government. This can be frustrating, as with the United States, the emergency backup is not readily accessible, but is hidden away in a secure, undisclosed location.

Digging deeper

direct search: a huge collection of specialized search engines for the invisible web. These are the places that Google just doesn't get deep enough to find. [via Red Rock Eater]


The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has released a report on secrecy after 9/11: Homefront Confidential: How the War on Terrorism Affects Access to Information and the Public's Right to Know. [via Secrecy News]

NPR excerpts

Excerpts from the Nuclear Posture Review are now available. [via Cryptome]

Nothing new

Just in case anyone thought Bush was being original with the short-lived Office of Strategic Influence, we have this memory from the Foreign Relations of the United States series:

National Security Action Memorandum No. 63

Washington, July 24, 1961.

TO The Secretary of State The Secretary of Defense Director, U.S. Information Agency Director of Central Intelligence

SUBJECT Policy Guidance and Preemption of U.S. Government-Controlled Broadcasting

After consultation with the heads of Departments and agencies concerned, the President has approved the following:

1. The Department of State shall provide foreign policy guidance to all international radio broadcasting and television stations controlled by U.S. Government agencies. This includes stations of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service and the Voice of the United Nations Command in Korea, operated by the Department of Defense, and those stations [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] influenced or financed by the Central Intelligence Agency.

2. This guidance shall be relayed through the U.S. Information Agency, which will provide supplemental information policy guidance as required. The Director, U.S. Information Agency shall establish appropriate procedures for conveying guidance.

3. The Director, U.S. Information Agency is authorized to preempt time on any of these radio and television stations for special programs when he deems it to be in the national interest. The Director, U.S. Information Agency shall establish appropriate procedures for arranging for such special programs.

4. Every effort shall be made to avoid public awareness of the relationship between the various ostensibly non-governmental broadcasting stations and the U.S. Government.

McGeorge Bundy

[via Secrecy News]

Quantum gravity

John Baez scans recent quantum gravity research and gives an admittedly biased preview of Greg Egan's upcoming book, Schild's Ladder.

Between the lines

Causes of Color: an exhibition of the way color is created. [via jerrykindall]

Steps towards colonies

NASA and Purdue are teaming to look at advanced life support technologies which could be used in future colonies in space. [via bottomquark]

Shuttle safety

The NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel has released its annual report which points out the impact to shuttle safety from the budget situation and calls on NASA to plan upgrades to the shuttle now and to implement upgrades which are ready to go in.

The Panel has focused on the clear dichotomy between future Space Shuttle risk and the required level of planning and investment to control that risk. The Panel believes that current plans and budgets are not adequate. Last year's Annual Report highlighted these issues. It noted that efforts of NASA and its contractors were being primarily addressed to immediate safety needs. Little effort was being expended on long-term safety. The Panel recommended that NASA, the Administration, and Congress use a longer, more realistic planning horizon when making decisions with respect to the Space Shuttle.

Since last year's report was prepared, the long-term situation has deteriorated. The aformentioned budget constraints have forced the Space Shuttle program to adopt an even shorter planning horizon in order to continue flying safely. As a result, more items that should be addressed now are being deferred. This adds to the backlog of restorations and improvements required for continued safe and efficient operations. The Panel has significant concern with this growing backlog because identified safety improvements are being delayed or eliminated.

[via 2020 Hindsight]

Lack of faith

A Faith-Based Science Policy?

Americans have a right to expect that the President will have the best possible advice both about facts defining his choices and the values that should be brought to the decision. And they have a right to expect that he can tell the difference. It's a bad sign that the new President is pushing forward on many complex issues _ including preparing his first budget _ without any apparent source of advice from the science community. No Science Advisor to the President has been named (let alone confirmed) and few, if any, of the Cabinet members managing major federal research portfolios come with any experience or instincts in managing science and technology.


Low-Yield Earth-Penetrating Nuclear Weapons

Despite the global sense of relief and hope that the nuclear arms race ended with the Cold War, an increasingly vocal group of politicians, military officials and leaders of America's nuclear weapon laboratories are urging the US to develop a new generation of precision low-yield nuclear weapons. Rather than deterring warfare with another nuclear power, however, they suggest these weapons could be used in conventional conflicts with third-world nations.

[via Blowback]


The Vice Guide to American Foreign Policy

Before September 11th the deal was this: The American people agreed to work their asses off and not ask questions about what the government was up to as long as the government promised to continue to provide the American way of life. As Ollie North put it, "the American people don't want to know." Then on September 11th, everything changed. A group of lunatics had been using foreign policy blunders abroad to vilify America and start a war. All Americans became victims of wrongdoings that none of them had anything to do with and the American way of life had become threatened.

For the first time in decades the American people want to know what's been going on behind their backs and the answers are not pretty.

[via wood s lot]

I must have failed

After failing to obtain publication for his theory, George Hammond, has released his proof of God to the world in the paper Scientific Evidence that God is a Curvature in Psychometry Space. He has also helpfully provided this God Test for readers to determine ahead of time if they are capable of comprehending the proof. [via genehack]

Turning coffee into azaleas

From the Grounds Up, an Idea Grows: a coffee shop owner starts a side business recycling coffee grounds into fertilizer.

The vision emerged gradually. Theuer's no gardener. He's not sure how he grew a patch of ornamental gourds one year. Maybe it was from the gourd he threw out in his backyard the year before. But what he didn't know about coffee and plants, the former child counselor with a master's degree in psychology would soon find out. He learned that coffee grounds have long gone into compost, where the acid grains are neutralized to a benign and nutritious state by busy microbes. But he had only heard of applying straight coffee grounds to acid-loving plants, such as azaleas, and then only in modest amounts.

[via The Obscure Store]

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Copyright © 2001-2002 by Wes Cowley