Thursday, August 31, 2006

Super Flat Times

Maine National Guard members in Iraq and Afghanistan are never far from the thoughts of their loved ones.

But now, thanks to a popular family-support program, they're even closer.

Welcome to the "Flat Daddy" and "Flat Mommy" phenomenon, in which life-size cutouts of deployed service members are given by the Maine National Guard to spouses, children, and relatives back home.

The Flat Daddies ride in cars, sit at the dinner table, visit the dentist, and even are brought to confession, according to their significant others on the home front.

"I prop him up in a chair, or sometimes put him on the couch and cover him up with a blanket," said Kay Judkins of Caribou, whose husband, Jim, is a minesweeper mechanic in Afghanistan. "The cat will curl up on the blanket, and it looks kind of weird. I've tricked several people by that. They think he's home again."


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Scientology to run X-Men Academy

CLEARWATER - Matt Feshbach believes he has super powers. He senses danger faster than most people. He appreciates beauty more deeply than he used to. He says he outperforms his peers in the money management industry.

He heightened his powers of perception in 1995 when he went to Los Angeles and became the first and so far only "public" Scientologist to take a highly classified Scientology program called Super Power.

Where in L.A. did he do this?

"Just in Los Angeles," is all Feshbach will say. Super Power is that secret.

Under wraps for decades, Super Power now is being prepped for its eventual rollout in Scientology's massive building in downtown Clearwater. That will be the only place worldwide where the program, much anticipated by Scientologists, will be offered.

Best Darkplace moment

If you haven't been watching Garth Marenghi's Darkplace on SciFi, you should be. Here is the music video, complete with awesome 80s cliches like the angular male mannequin!

Universal embracing "free" music

Well, it's free after you watch some targeted advertising. And, it may or may not be "free" as in "free-from-DRM."


Friday, August 25, 2006

Oh dear.

Windows DRM10 and 11 have been broken...


Nettwerk tries out some new ideas

To all appearances, Nettwerk is just a midsize music management company with an indie record label on the side. Many of the artists on its client roster – which includes Avril Lavigne, Dido, Sarah McLachlan, and Stereophonics – are mainstream acts. But McBride, the company's cofounder and creative force, is quietly carrying out a plan to reinvent the music industry, including legalizing file-sharing and giving artists control over their own intellectual property.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

YouTube - Johnny Marr interview, Part 1, (just before Smiths break-up)

Interview with Johnny Marr a few weeks before the Smiths broke up.

Link (YouTube - Part One)

Link (YouTube - Part Two)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The joys of life without God | Salon Books

I mean, people who believe in astrology tend to believe all kinds of goofy things. All the pseudo sciences -- astrology, Tarot cards, psychics, mystic healing -- use the exact same principle. They work because we have a selective memory and a confirmation bias. We look forward to finding evidence for what we already believe and forget the rest. In an hour reading, a psychic will make 200 or 300 statements. If a person walks away with half a dozen things the psychic got right, he's ecstatic. It's like Skinner with the rats. You don't have to reinforce them every time. In fact, they'll press the bar even faster if you give them intermittent reinforcement. It's the same with slot machines. You just have to pay off every once in a while and it will keep us pulling the levers.


Do you call yourself an atheist?

I prefer not to use the term. Although I guess I am an atheist. I just don't believe in God. I've always liked Thomas Huxley's term, "agnostic," by which he meant it's an unknowable, insoluble problem from a scientific point of view. By my personality, I'm comfortable with not having the answer to everything. I'm perfectly happy going through my day, thinking, I really wish I knew the answer to that but I don't. I have a very high tolerance for ambiguity. Most people get cognitively dissonant about having uncertainties and need to close that loop and have an answer.


Friday, August 18, 2006

TiVo wins big against EchoStar

TiVo Inc. said Friday that a court ruled against EchoStar Communications Corp., saying it must halt the manufacture and sale of its DVR products in the U.S., and ordered it to pay more than $89 million in damages to the digital video recorder maker.

The question is: Does this mean EchoStar has to disable PVRs already in customers' homes?

UPDATE: The answer is no.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bush disrepects veterans

Dolores tried to give Bush a sense of what type of person Erik had been. She described her son as a "comedian" whose favorite saying was, "Life is good." The president replied, "How do you know his life would have been good?"

Dolores was shocked by Bush's eagerness to question the value of her son's life. She told the president, "Nobody wants to die."


Friday, August 11, 2006

Jon Stewart apologizes to Geraldo

MIT's Energy 'Manhattan Project'

In the absence of any government motivation to achieve energy independence, MIT has taken it upon themselves to help solve the problem, with a variety of projects, from photosynthesis-based solar power, to Lithium-Ion hybrids.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

So now we've got a secretive bio-weapons research lab?

Greeeeat. Why do I feel like we're living in "V for Vendetta?"


Friday, August 04, 2006

Goggles = Google Maps "flight sim"

Taibbi on Lieberman

Matt Taibbi now has a weekly column on! Yay! This week, he tears into Joe Lieberman.
In a move that was perfectly characteristic of everything he stands for, Lieberman in 2001 offered a piece of legislation, S. 1764, that purported to provide incentives to companies that develop medicines to treat the victims of bioterror attacks but, more important, extended the patent life of a wide range of drugs for several years, delaying the introduction of more cost-friendly generic drugs. Shilling for the socialist subsidy of drug companies while masquerading as a Churchillian, tough-on-security Democrat in the War on Terror age: That's Joe Lieberman, and the modern Democratic Party, in a nutshell.

In the midst of all this whoring for business interests, Lieberman has preposterously marketed himself to the public as a stern guardian of "morality" and "traditional values," along the way taking some admirably mean-spirited positions. He once supported a bill denying funding to public schools that counseled suicidal teens that it is OK to be gay, a remarkable position for a man whose response to the Enron scandal was to say that "government will never be able to legislate or regulate morals."

Lieberman also signed the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, the notorious organization founded by Lynne Cheney that published a baldly McCarthyite list of "anti-American academics." In 1997, Lieberman pushed for warning labels on CDs, getting the Senate to take up the issue under the title "Music Violence: How Does It Affect Our Youth?" in the hopes of snagging the votes of a few grandmas by wagging a finger at Marilyn Manson—yes, Lieberman was one of those asshole politicians who tried to pin Columbine on rock music. And rather than denounce Ken Starr for the most egregious misuse of prosecutorial authority since the House Un-American Activities Committee, Lieberman's response to the Lewinsky scandal was to attack Bill Clinton in one of the lamest "O the children!" acts of all time, saying, "It is hard to ignore the impact of the misconduct the president has admitted to on our children, our culture and our national character."

A few years later, faced with a similar political choice, he chose to stand fast by Bush on the issue of Iraq, saying, "We undermine the president's credibility at our nation's peril." Apparently the president deserves absolute loyalty only when his mistakes result in teenagers getting their heads shot off.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Matt and Trey take out an ad in today's Variety

meebo me is here!

If you look on the right side of this blog, down a bit, you can see if I'm logged into meebo (web-based IM aggregator/way to use AIM at work). You can even IM me.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Freeze nuclear waste? Yep.

Turns out it decays WAY faster when you cool it to super-low temperatures.
Professor Claus Rolfs, leader of the group at Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, said “The method we are proposing means that nuclear waste could probably be dealt with entirely within the lifetimes of the people that produce it. We would not have to put it underground and let our great-great-grandchildren pay the price for our high standard of living.”

The technique involves embedding the nuclear waste in a metal and cooling it to ultra-low temperatures. This speeds up the rate of decay of the radioactive materials potentially cutting their half lives by a factor of 100 or more.

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