Sunday, June 29, 2008

In Whatever We Trust (gods, goddesses, godlessness, gaia, the great spirit, the one mind, dogs, puppies, the void?)

On May 28, 2008, Nepal officially abolished the monarchy, declaring itself a republic. As the world's newest secular republic, no longer will currency be imprinted with "In Shiva We Trust," nor will schoolchildren be forced to pledge allegiance to "one kingdom, under the divine protection of the deity Shiva, and his representative, our holy king." But, of course, I am joking. They never had those things. I just made that up. Even an officially Hindu kingdom didn't force you to swear an oath of loyalty to Shiva in order for you to attend public schools there. You would have to go to the United States to find "In God We Trust" printed on the currency and children (of all and none faiths, even non-citizens) obliged to swear an oath of allegiance to the "Republik Forwitchitstans, One-Nation Undergod".

Hindu children moving from the newly secular republic of Nepal to the United States would find themselves in public school classrooms where their polytheistic beliefs are, like the beliefs of atheists, pantheists, agnostics, secular humanists, mystics, and others, ritualistically disrespected daily by the imposition of the judeo-christo-islamic unigod Pledge "Oval Lesions".

To be fair, I think you could argue that it is more offensive to have the images of national heroes, the local Attila the Hun, on your national currency, than it is to have dedications to the more universal and abstract deities. On the other hand, monarchs and the like have their function in places like Thailand, where they represent and draw power from the people and are a powerful force to check the power-hungry generals from myanmarizing the kingdom.

Interestingly, Novus Ordo Seclorum and Annuit Cœptis both come from poems to the Roman god Jupiter. Via Wikipedia:

"Annuit Cœptis" and the other motto on the reverse of the Great Seal, "Novus Ordo Seclorum," can both be traced to lines by the Roman poet Virgil. "Annuit Cœptis" comes from the Aeneid, book IX, line 625, which reads, "Iuppiter omnipotens, audacibus adnue cœptis." It is a prayer by Ascanius, the son of the hero of the story, Aeneas, which translates to, "Jupiter Almighty, favour [my] daring undertakings." According to the ancient state religion of Rome, properly called the Cultus Deorum Romanum, Jupiter was head of the pantheon of Gods.

"E Pluribus Unum" is Latin for "Out of Many, One." Never codified by law, it was considered a de facto motto of the United States until 1956 when the United States Congress passed an act (H.J. Resolution 396), adopting In God We Trust as the official motto.

At currently projected rates of spiritual degradation, in one scenario, Jesusland will declare "Jeezus Iz my Master" as its official motto in the year 2025.

In the matter of making a"motto" for the government, if one were needed, I would recommend referring somehow to the positive contributions desired from government: Peace, Justice, Security, Democracy, Liberty, Tolerance, Knowledge, Science, Self-realization and the like. Depending on your government, matter-of-fact affirmations of Genocide, Conquest, and Enslavement may be powerful national anthems, too. Any references to gods or goddesses are probably best read as a giveaway sign that the people are living under an oppressive, parasitic, exploitative, superfluous, redundant ruling class that's pulling the wool over the sheeple's eyes. Governments can and do exploit their subjects while paying lip service to democracy and so on, but it's a little bit harder and keeps the ideals alive.

I Am The Last Omega Man On Earth Legend

Lo-budge ways to mark Int'l Zombie History Week w/o leaving your secure undisclosed zombie-resistant location except perhaps to open the door to pick up the groceries you ordered on the internet
--particularly well-suited for the rainy season--

I recently got the dvd for I Am Legend. No choice really. I like zombie films, science-fiction, apocalyptic scenarios, and Will Smith (though I am not sure he is really an actor, he is at least a person who people readily identify with, an everyman wise-guy).

I killed some time watching the animation on the disk while waiting for my son. Then I couldn't navigate back to where I thought the feature was. Ejected, re-inserted. It's back to a menu for the animation. Wrong disk? I popped in the other disk of the 2-disk set.

I hadn't really noticed the large lettering in Japanese that said this 2-disk set had the alternate ending. I just thought it was another bloated 2-disk set to try to justify the price. The second disk had no English subtitles, just subtitles for Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and a long list of Asian languages. I thought that was odd since Japan shares a dvd region code with the UK, not Asia. Whatever, though. Turn on Japanese subtitles. Play. At the end, my significant other, who wasn't really watching, having seen it on a plane, was shocked and said it was nothing like the ending she had seen on the plane. I eventually realized I had watched the alternate, (=original) ending, so we watched the theatrical (movie-house) ending after that. I appreciate having them both. My head was already confused by the fact that the scripts I read online had nothing in common with the newest movie. It's just a big branching tree of alternate versions in my head now. I think I prefer the alternate ending (on dvd to the theatrical version on dvd).

Like every known human, I agree that the CG hemacytes (or mutants or infecteds or vampires or zombies or whatever) were pretty badly done. Use human actors! Do the CG special effects in post-production later the way, for example, Haley Joel Osment's blinks were entirely removed for A.I. (Hey, HJO is 20!). I don't like the way I Am Legend has been reduced to a twitchy gotcha kind of horror thriller.

Unfortunately, I haven't read the original book by Richard Matheson, (82 and living in NJ), preferring to feed on the brains of the free online media over the costly cellulosic carbon versions (no known free e-text version of it yet), so I can't evaluate it in terms of being true to the original form. Obviously these versions have not been.

Prior to seeing the film, I had googled for the scripts one day and read quickly through them (though I haven't read The Omega Man version yet).

Script for The Omega Man, when it was still titled I Am Legend.
Draft: 6/26/70 - 7/18/70

1997 script by John Logan (set in Los Angeles)

Mark Protosevich script (set in San Francisco)

I was surprised and pleased to find the first movie version of I Am Legend, The Last Man on Earth, is in the public domain.

The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Based on the chilling Richard Matheson science fiction Classic "I am Legend" and later remade as "The Omega Man" starring Charlton Heston. This classic features Vincent Price as scientist Robert Morgan in a post apocalyptic nightmare world. The world has been consumed by a ravenous plague that has transformed humanity into a race of bloodthirsty vampires. Only Morgan proves immune, and becomes the solitary vampire slayer.
Downloads and streams

According to IMDB and most reviewers, The Last Man on Earth was better than The Omega Man. However, I have to agree that (what one reviewer called) the "fruity, overwrought" Vincent Price was horribly miscast for the role (although his voice in particular is uniquely suited for other roles), and Charlton Heston or Will Smith are both better choices for Robert Neville aka Robert Morgan.

Omega Man trailer

See this, too:

I found what seems to be an illegal upload of the movie on a site with lots of small discretely annoying ads at --findable via google-video. Having just watched some of that, I think it may be the best of the three film adaptations. I've mentioned Vincent Price and should also say the S-L-O-W "vampire" aspects seem a throwback to the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. The Omega Man downplays vampirism, blaming the outbreak on germ warfare between Russia and China. Charlton Heston is given an automatic weapon (of course), rather than making wooden stakes on his home workshop lathe. The colors and 1970s look are somehow light years ahead of The Last Man on Earth. Charlton Heston picks through trash and finds lots of dessicated bodies as he searches for the infected. It wouldn't have to be that way. I mean, Night of the Living Dead from 1968 and Dawn of the Dead, from 1978 were both well-done for their times despite the changes in film production values and budgets.

Classic Cinema Online and Flick By Flick have nice collections of copyright-free movies. Laurel and Hardy, Felix the Cat, Popeye, and various other sci-fi, horror, cartoon, drama, and films of assorted genres are there. Some of these are simply streamed off of Google video, but they are more organized and easier to find than the anarchic free-for-all at Google-video/YouTube.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Soylent Green
I think it's time to watch this again.

I watched Carnival of Souls. It's very much from a midwestern Twilight Zone kind of psychological place.
Carnival of Souls (1962)

This is by Herk Harvey, the Centron Productions actor, director, and producer from Lawrence, Kansas. Many of his educational and industrial films are in the Prelinger Archive. BTW I've noticed that Rick Prelinger has a blog: BLACKOYSTERCATCHER. Might be worth checking out.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blogger Template Tic-Tac Blueberry Header-Banner Placement FIx

In response to a question pos(t)ed by Mac at PostHuman Blues, I offered a solution to the misbehaving banner on the Tic-Tac template. My solution didn't work on that template, however. To figure out the answer, I made a test blog called Blueberry Taster, (or tester, or taste-tester? I forgot already) and got into the css just enough to find a fix, or maybe two. I have noticed that there was still a visible glitch in my solution -- look at the right column top! I think I should have displaced the header banner down from the top a bit more. Anyway, I think Mac has the situation well in hand, and I have deleted the blog I made. I am experimenting with another template, "Stretch-Denim", which has variable rather than fixed column widths, and I may investigate migrating to another blogging platform for several reasons.

Even when I tried to google for a solution, my entry never appeared among the search results, so I don't think it will actually be of any use to anybody else. Personally, I'm not so interested in that template, either. Before I deleted it I took 2 screen shots to preserve it just in case, and I guess that can live on here until I run out of Google/Blogger/Picasa space and delete it. I doubt that anybody will ever read it, but …

…for what it's worth.

By the way, the leaf-with-rainfall in that picture is from a biwa (fruit) tree in my adjacent park. The fruits are in season now, and I sometimes taste a tiny bite just to see how it is. This is the rainy season, and the hydrangea and bamboo are obligingly omnipresent as expected.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Anagram Break

Once in a while you need a break. How many years has it been since you tried generating some anagrams? It's good for at least 10, 15, maybe even 20 minutes of amusement.
Internet Anagram Server = I, Rearrangement Servant

Beijing Olympics = Bicep Smiling Joy

George W Bush = Whose Bugger?

Barack Obama = Boa Cab Karma

John McCain = Chin Jam Con

Dick Cheney = Chicken Dye = Check ID Yen

Richard Bruce Cheney = Debauchery Cinch Err

The President of the United States
Hotheaded Serpentine Testis Tuft
A Detested Pretentious Tenth Fish

La Ciudad de los Angeles
= Undisclosed Algae Deal
Casual Geode
= Ogle Caused a Landslide

Michael Crichton
= Chromatic Lichen
= Chimerical Notch

Internet Movie DataBase
= Vomit a Seabed, Entertain
= Debase a Vomit, Entertain

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
= Impersonators Reached Coded Field

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Iowa's Bad Feng Shui Persists

Wind and water continue to assault Iowa, the Hawkeye state, the land between the rivers, the lakeland in the river. Reviewing video of the May 25 tornado in Parkersburg, I think the best records were those made by closed circuit television. There was this one, which shows the wind tearing apart a house in a manner reminiscent of a nuclear test blast:

There was another set of videos from inside the bank (First State Bank), which show what it is like to share a room with an EF5 tornado. And you thought your roommate (or work-mate) was messy, wasteful, and temperamental.

I am also monitoring the newest floods on the Cedar River, Iowa River, Shell Rock River, and other rivers from afar. I have been getting some firsthand accounts and pictures, which are very relevant but limited. For its broadly collected content, YouTube is a little better than the news sites in some ways. I can see videos minutes after they are uploaded and be among the first 5 or 10 people to see them. The Des Moines Register,,, Chicago Tribune, Iowa City Press-Citizen, Daily Iowan, and Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune have done some good reporting on it, but from what little I can tell, it doesn't seem to be getting as much national or international attention as one might expect. Perhaps there is only so much interest and empathy until something breaks through to a Katrina level of apocalypse. Perhaps it is only incredible to me because I know the area I am looking at. Or maybe I am just one of a small minority of people who seek to get a better grasp of reality by seeing its extremes, what happens when it is stretched and twisted. It could be that reporters just naturally cannot get in to the areas they need to to report as well as YouTube users can. However, at the moment, the story has risen to the top of Google News.

I shouldn't make promises, but I will have a little more to say about this at a future time.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Self-Cannibalization, the Singularity, the H-car, and climate change in the Senate

Science Friday last week was a great one, with Ray Kurzweil and Richard Preston (Panic in Level 4) appearing. Kurzweil is low-key but persuasive. Preston had some amazing stories told with humanity. The fuel-cell piece and the piece about the climate change bill were good, too. It looks like today, June 13, they will have a segment about Mars.


Richard Preston 'Journeys to the Edge of Science' Best-selling author Richard Preston, known for his New Yorker profiles of science and scientists, talks about his latest project, Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science. Preston talks with host Ira Flatow about his craft, and about the stories and people he has covered over the years.

Will We Recognize the Future? Futurist Ray Kurzweil explains the idea of the "singularity" — what happens when technology advances so much that it's impossible to predict what happens next. Will artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and biotechnology be able to completely reshape what it means to be human?

Greener Cars Change U.S. Auto Landscape Honda plans to lease at least 200 fuel cell vehicles in the U.S. over the next three years. And automaker General Motors announced it will shift production away from large SUVs toward smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles — and close four factories in the process.

Climate Change Legislation Fails in Senate The U.S. Senate debated proposed climate change legislation on Tuesday — but the bill failed to win the needed number of votes to avoid a filibuster and was pulled from the floor. The bill would have cut greenhouse gas emissions by two-thirds by the year 2050.

Context is Everything

A public service message brought to you by
Citizens for the Neutralization of Stupidity

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Resist, Erisians, resist.

Pluto Now Called a Plutoid

Robert Roy Britt, Senior Science Writer,
Wed Jun 11, 11:49 AM ET, Updated 11:36 a.m. ET

The International Astronomical Union has decided on the term "plutoid" as a name for dwarf planets like Pluto.

Sidestepping concerns of many astronomers worldwide, the IAU's decision, at a meeting of its Executive Committee in Oslo, comes almost two years after it stripped Pluto of its planethood and introduced the term "dwarf planets" for Pluto and other small round objects that often travel highly elliptical paths around the sun in the far reaches of the solar system.

The name plutoid was proposed by the members of the IAU Committee on Small Body Nomenclature (CSBN), accepted by the Board of Division III and by the IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN), and approved by the IAU Executive Committee at its recent meeting in Oslo, according to a statement released today.

Here's the official new definition:

"Plutoids are celestial bodies in orbit around the sun at a distance greater than that of Neptune that have sufficient mass for their self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that they assume a hydrostatic equilibrium (near-spherical) shape, and that have not cleared the neighborhood around their orbit."

In short: small round things beyond Neptune that orbit the sun and have lots of rocky neighbors.

The two known and named plutoids are Pluto and Eris, the IAU stated. The organization expects more plutoids will be found.

Controversy continues

Already the IAU recognizes it is adding to an ongoing controversy.

The IAU has been responsible for naming planetary bodies and their satellites since the early 1900s. Its decision in 2006 to demote Pluto was highly controversial, with some astronomers saying simply that they would not heed it and questioning the IAU's validity as a governing body.

"The IAU is a democratic organization, thus open to comments and criticism of any kind," IAU General Secretary Karel A. van der Hucht told by email today. "Given the history of the issue, we will probably never reach a complete consensus."

It remains to be seen whether astronomers will use the new term.

"My guess is that no one is going to much use this term, though perhaps I'm wrong," said Caltech astronomer Mike Brown, who has led the discovery of several objects in the outer solar system, including Eris. "But I don't think that this will be because it is controversial, just not particularly necessary."

Brown was unaware of the new definition until the IAU announced it today.

"Back when the term 'pluton' was nixed they said they would come up with another one," Brown said. "So I guess they finally did."

More debate coming

The dwarf planet Ceres is not a plutoid as it is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, according to the IAU. Current scientific knowledge lends credence to the belief that Ceres is the only object of its kind, the IAU stated. Therefore, a separate category of Ceres-like dwarf planets will not be proposed at this time, the reasoning goes.

A meeting, planned earlier this year for Aug. 14-16 at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, aims to bring astronomers of varying viewpoints together to discuss the controversy. "No votes will be taken at this conference to put specific objects in or out of the family of planets," APL's Dr. Hal Weaver, a conference organizer, said in a statement in May. "But we will have advocates of the IAU definition and proponents of alternative definitions presenting their cases."

The term plutoid joins a host of other odd words -- plutinos, centaurs, cubewanos and EKOs -- that astronomers use to define objects in the outer solar system.

Source: Yahoo news from

What's the solar system coming to? If a geeky-looking fellow in my vicinity were to begin talking in a whiny voice about the Plutinos and Plutoids, I would immediately tag him as an astronomer-impersonator and orally eject sputum into his ocular orbits. Billions and Billions of times. Even if he looked exactly like Stephen Hawking. I might push his wheelchair down the stairs, even if that meant we never found the wormhole to an alternate dimension that would save our species from extinction. Yes, this evokes strong emotions. Better that our world fall into the sun than we should move into the cosmos having permanently adopted the use of "plutoid." Think about it. What if "America" had been called, say "Spainoid" instead? South America, "Portugon"? How would you feel? Words matter.

What is this, really, some kind of attempt to pacify the angry supporters of Pluto-planethood? Pluto is not Hillary Clinton. The people who came up with this idea (or those who support Pluto as a planet?) could be called Plutons or Plutoids, but the long-established term Dwarf Planet is a more dignified and appropriate term. 1. It's not a made-up word that sounds like it was made by a third-grader, and 2. It contains the word "planet" and is therefore more acceptable to the planet-arians, people who do not want to see these bodies downgraded to non-planets. A dwarf planet is still a planet. Sort of. Also, imagine the confusion of translating the new made up (and fugly) word into Chinese and hundreds of other languages. Just use words that already exist, like "dwarf" and "planet." Gnome Planet would work, too, but do not consider Fairy Planet, please. Outer Dwarf Planets and Inner Dwarf Planets are possible, to accommodate the problem of Ceres.

I urge others who aspire to one day visit the (outer) dwarf planet Eris to resist! Resist this outrage. Call your local planetarium or university astronomy department to demand that their staff denounce(!) and reject(!) this mercurial decision by the IAU's CSBN and WGPSN. Better yet, go to John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory August 14-16 to lobby the superdelegates. It'll be like Woodstock without the music, the hippies, and the muddy fields, and with astronomers, I promise. Throw pluton into the dustbin of discarded nomenclature. Throw plutoid into the void. This decision will not stand!

Cognitive Mapping

I am a map fanatic, so Strange Maps is a wonderful discovery.
That may lead you to this, one of several hundred… strange maps.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Bring back the good old-fashioned suicides

Like the Scandinavian countries and China, Japan has a high suicide rate. Suicide has a long and distinguished tradition in Japan. Samurai committed suicide as a way to die with honor. Many writers and others have ended their lives with suicide. Last year at least one member of the government (Minister of Agriculture Toshikatsu Matsuoka) committed suicide over a scandal. I was jealous. One wishes Ronald Dummsfeld, mistercheney, or Karl Rove had as much honor and the foresight to know what was best for the country and their legacies. If this idea were developed a little further for the criminal justice system, forcibly applying lethal injection or the electric chair would not be necessary. The killer would come out into the execution chamber and inject / electrocute / hang / immolate / seppuku (exenterate) themselves without prompting under the silent stares of the bereaved victims. If they didn't feel quite ready to atone in that way, they could go back to their cells until they felt more prepared. No pressure.

I think in modern suicide cultures there is a desire to take control of one's own life, including the conditions of one's own death. Many people mistakenly think death to be the opposite of life, but death is the opposite of birth. Both are stages of life. Death is a part of life. The opposite of life is not death, but unliving, inanimate matter.

Popular suicide technologies have ranged from the burning of charcoal to poison oneself with carbon monoxide (East Asian equivalent of car + hose/garage), to jumping in front of a train, inconveniencing millions of commuters for one's 15 minutes (to one hour) of fame it takes for a station employee to collect the severed limbs, torso, head, get the police on-site, take the photos, collect eyewitness accounts, and move the people along again. A new trend that is sweeping the nation in this year's suicide boom is the home hydrogen-sulfide-generating method which uses a few common household chemicals to generate a small room or bathroom full of toxic gas. Users search the internet to find instructions. A few years ago, it was more common for people to search the internet to find a group of like-minded suiciders to commit suicide together using charcoal.

Yesterday's killing spree in Akihabara is the latest in a continuing series of more homicidal tendencies. People are throwing other people off bridges, pushing them in front of trains, driving into crowds of people with their vehicles, trying to stab as many people as possible, coming forward en mass claiming, "I wanted to (see what it felt like to) kill someone" and statements of that sort. It may be a kind of creeping Americanization, the rise of homicidal tendencies over the traditional suicidal tendencies. Many of these people, while spouting suicidal wishes, don't even manage to successfully kill themselves as they kill others.

The local expression for this running amok that has become more common is Kireta! which means tearing apart one's bag of patience, i.e. blowing one's top, finally cracking.

It's not yet an epidemic. The murder rate is so low that you can basically read about each one. I remember one time in Los Angeles when the L. A. Times tried to print every murder that occured in the city over a two-day weekend. There were the usual 50+ homicides, each of which got a paragraph, spread over a two-page spread of the paper.

I, for one, would like to see the older, more suicidally-inclined culture preserved and protected. However, as the population nosedives increasingly quickly due to the birthrate decline, the government is likely to put even more barriers in the way of suicide, causing frustrated suicidal people to try homicide instead. Attempts to stop the suicide will lead to more homicides and paradoxically lead to further depopulation. Just as HIV predictably led to government efforts to teach self-gratification and abstinence to the youth, efforts to instruct the youth in traditional and modern Kevorkian methods may reduce the risk of collateral damage.

I think we need to build more suicide counseling centers, and provide more suitable work, such as mine clearance in Cambodia, to the tired-of-life, ready-to-die set. I also think that Dr Kevorkian should take the franchise of clinics that he dreams of to the international community, operating offshore or in international airspace, to provide self-termination services in a warm, supportive atmosphere similar to that proposed in Kurt Vonnegut's 2BR02B, among other imaginary accounts. This is the ultimate way to reduce one's carbon Gore-print.

Perhaps in the future the ubiquitous closed-circuit TVs will also do a rudimentary brain-scan to detect the tell-tale sign of an imminent suicide so that public transit employees and trained counselors can intervene to prevent the person from also injuring others. …or deliver a brief dose of electroshock therapy to re-orient the person's mind-set.

I don't advocate suicide. If you are ready to die, you are ready for anything, so why not dedicate yourself to the service of mankind (or other sentient species of your choice), in a way which is likely to result in your own death? Hence the mine clearance work. Become a cop. Infiltrate the mafia. Smuggle people out of North Korea. Circumnavigate the globe on a rubber duck (…for… a cause?). Being ready to die is a prerequisite for a lot of different work, actually. Life IS slow suicide, after all, isn't it? And what would be a worse torture than being unable to die, living forever?

Music for today:=MMeatlCujB4
Better: original audio+anime: Azxo3wOZgT4

Update: A portion of an article at PCWorld.

Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the developed world. The homicide rate was just 1.1 per 100,000 people in 2005, according to figures from Japan's Ministry of Justice. In comparison, the U.K. had a homicide rate of 3.2, Germany 2.9 and the U.S. 5.6, the ministry said.

But more and more these days there are signs that the social fabric that has held Japan together for so long is slowly coming apart at the seams. Where once people had jobs for life and everyone looked out for their neighbors, now many Japanese take temporary jobs to makes ends meet, live in anonymous one-room apartments in vast cities and rarely speak to those around them.

Estimates say up to 1 million out of Japan's population of 128 million simply shut themselves off from the world in their bedrooms. These people, often children, spend their days online, playing computer games and watching television. If they do venture out, it's usually in the middle of the night to a nearby convenience store.

Japan also faces a serious suicide problem. It has the highest suicide rate of any developed nation but the government appears unable or unwilling to do much about it.

In 2006, just over 32,000 people killed themselves -- approximately 87 people per day. While many commit suicide alone, in the last few years group suicides have become more common. The disillusioned often meet up online, make a plan to meet somewhere, and then kill themselves together.

As on Sunday, some choose to take the lives of others rather than their own and these indiscriminate crimes have Japanese thinking their society is less safe than before.

Most people will tell you the 1995 poison gas attack on Tokyo's subway by a religious cult was the start of it all. Twelve people were killed in the attack -- the most deadly Japan has seen since the end of World War II -- and thousands were hospitalized.

Two years later, the nation was shocked by the brutal murder of a school girl in Kobe. She had been killed and her head left on a stake outside the school. But if the murder was to shock, Japan a bigger surprise came when the killer was revealed: a 14-year-old school boy.

The list of gruesome murders has grown longer with time. In 2001, seven years to the day of Sunday's attack, a man entered an elementary school in Osaka in western Japan and killed eight children with a knife. In the same year, a teen hijacked a highway bus in western Japan killing one person.

More recently, a man wanted by police on suspicion of murder stabbed and killed a woman and injured seven others in a shopping mall in Ibaraki, north of Tokyo in March of this year. And in January, a high school student injured two with a knife on a shopping street in Tokyo.

Source: PCWorld

Matsuzakaya winning QR-codeness race

The low-intensity search for the building in Japan which most closely resembles a QR code goes on. The Matsuzakaya store in Ueno is the best candidate so far. I couldn't be bothered to walk far from my stroll down Ameyoko, but I found another picture of it on the internet courtesy of (whatever that is). Applying ample skew to both my and the found image samples, you can see how it would appear to a observer or bar-code reader in a non-Euclidean geometry. I put the original in the corner and distorted the found image to try to get to a grid.

I'm not sure if they were actually going for a QR-code look, but I think they were just looking for a digital, pixelated appearance. Come to think of it, depending on what year the building was designed, the dot-matrix-printer could have been the inspiration.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Premature Electoral Simulation

ABC news has an electoral-calculator interactive-map thang, so I clicked on the states and allotted them according to how they went in the last 4 elections (which it shows you as you hover.) Three or four times red, you're red. Three or four times blue, you're blue. That just left (something like) Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, WV as tied twice red, twice blue. So… go back one more election to get 3 out of 5. The website doesn't show 5 elections ago, so peek at wikipedia or maybe here to see 5 rounds ago, 1988!

Unfortunately, 1988 was Dukakis's year, and he only adds WV. The others would go to McCain *IF* history is our guide (but it ain't!). Doing this completely mechanically, I look to see who won, but it produces the unfortunate TIE of 269-269. 270 needed to win. Noooo! El Courto Supremo decido againo.

Regarding the image, where it says "Hover over state for detail," that's not referring to your mouse. You have to actual ly hover over the state. The same goes for clicking the state. You need to physically click the actual state to change its color. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

Wait a sec. The Supreme Court is constitutionally prohibited from meddling in the states' elections notwithstanding the unfortunate exception of the 2000 Judicial Coup d'etat that installed Resident G.W. Bush. The decision is supposed to go to the House (or isn't it a rare "joint" session of Congress?) and be decided there. In that case, Obama wins.

OK, that tie was scary but it's just a history-based simulation. Things look better at the poll-based and contemporary-reality-based which (today) has Obama winning and ahead by 60 Electoral votes getting Ohio, Missouri, and Colorado while letting the McCainites eat up Michigan and WV. Fair trade. VA and Indiana are in statistical limbo.

It looks like the election will be fought in the midwest and Ohio River valley area and if they are sick of war, McCain's out unless they believe his new line that the war will be over soon and Iraq will peacefully accept American bases like Korea, Germany, or Japan --for the next hundred years.

Watch for VPs to be named from this area???

I hope Obama goes for the borderline states and builds a Diebold-hack-proof majority rather than gunning for Montana and so on.

If attacked by the Supremos, I also hope he won't lie down and die like Al Gore did during the Coup but will fight as they do in Mexico and other proud countries when tyrants steal their elections. I wonder if Clinton would accept that kind of treatment, or would mobilize a street-level army?

Following the election, it's time for a trial or tribunal of the lying pRes and Vice-P. To reduce the growth and cost of government, federal employees hired since 2001 should be suspended pending a review. Laws passed by the illegal government should also be suspended pending legislative review. The Supreme Court inJustices responsible for the coup should be impeached and replaced. It would be a good idea to have a mandatory retirement age or term limit on them, too. I'm not saying this should take up more than 10 or 20% of the time and attention of the new government, but it needs to be done and should not be overlooked.

Cut 'n' Paste McCain: Tired, old, recycled, and unimaginative plagiarism is so clever

Now that BitchSlap'08 is winding down after the Final Slapdowns in South Dakota and Montana, performed gently by Barack Obama to spare Hill-Rod the more painful slapdown at the hands of general election voters and Panamanian-born former (and continuing psychological) Prisoner of War John McCain, Grampa McCain has toyed with a new campaign slogan: A Leader You Can Believe In. If that sounds familiar, it may be because he stole it from Barack Obama's Change You Can Believe In. His theory is it's not plagiarism if you change one word. Other times he hasn't even bothered to change one word. Earlier, he stole Ready to Lead on Day One and splayed that across his website. He's also stolen I'm fired up and ready to go, an unregistered trademark of Barack Obama. Hill-Rod has had her people steal from Obama as well, appropriating Si, se puede (to fire up her Espanophone campaign). She's nicked a few other Obamanian lines. All's fair in love and war. Still, it tells you where the ideas are and where the dull and imaginative people are, too. Some lead, others follow. If Obama wears a track suit at his next appearance, maybe Grampa will do so, too. This could be a sign of senility. If he starts repeating lines from television commercials and thinking he's being funny, his people better keep him indoors and just feed him jelly beans and viagra like the Reagan/Dole handlers did, and hope the voters won't notice.

McCain alters Obama slogan to his own liking

WASHINGTON (AP) — The general election is now in full speed — just check out the competing slogans.
Republican John McCain has transformed rival Barack Obama's slogan of "Change We Can Believe In" into his own line, "A Leader We Can Believe In."
McCain's campaign this week posted the personalized motto on its Web site, The white, bold words are posted on a blue background above red and white stripes — a pattern similar to Obama's campaign logo.
"The choice is between the right change and the wrong change; between going forward and going backward," follows Sen. McCain's new slogan.
After Sen. Obama gathered enough delegates to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination on Tuesday, McCain repeatedly evoked Obama's slogan at a rally while standing in front of a campaign banner that read "A Leader We Can Believe In."
"He doesn't trust us to make decisions for ourselves and wants the government to make them for us. And that's not change we can believe in," McCain said Tuesday.
Obama's campaign also revised its Web site,
It now says "WE DID IT" in bold, blue letters highlighted by images of fireworks.

Harvest Vehicle

Next time an ambulance drives by or comes to pick you up, it may not be to save your life; it may only be there to harvest your organs. Do you honestly think that if some big shot like Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, or some unknown über-riche were in the local hospital in desperate need of a heart, that your records wouldn't be faked to make it appear that you had died moments before the vehicle arrived and your heart was removed? This isn't too far-fetched (or even fetched) either; how often have you read of people who were believed to be dead being found barely alive and revived at the morgue? Mistakes would be much more likely in the rush to harvest organs. You'd be much less likely to be found with a barely discernible heartbeat if your heart had already been removed and given to someone who was able to afford health care.

My gut feeling is that this idea will never get off the ground due to the creep-out factor registered not just by me but by legions of many other undead.

NY considers creating 'organ-removal' ambulance
By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jun 5, 3:14 PM ET
NEW YORK - Saving the living has always been the No. 1 priority for a New York City ambulance crew. But a select group of paramedics may soon have a different task altogether: saving the dead. The city is considering creating a special ambulance whose crew would rush to collect the newly deceased and preserve the body so that the organs might be taken for transplant.

Organ-Wagon? OK, who at AP decides the web-page URL?

Monday, June 02, 2008

What's *your* excuse?

"Awesome. I saw it, too! It came out of the sun and vanished behind the Starbucks Drive-thru. The craft resembled nothing so much as the delicate first impression of steamed milk from a Starbucks latte, or possibly a cappucino. It was hard to tell from the distance and speed at which it moved, which I would estimate as 4000 miles per hour."

This illustrated fictional episode grew out of a friend's forward of my own e-mail back to me. He later said he had mistaken me for his mom because he got the message (which did include the words "love, Mom" written by a tornado-stricken person) on his iphone as he went thru the starbucks drive-thru. I responded that the iphone/starbucks tale was the new "Dog-ate-my-homework." Today I was sent a picture of the confusing establishment, which, when visually enhanced over my lunch hour, revealed new evidence of illegal aliens working in the Los Angeles basin.
Uptweak 20080609: iPhone=I.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Common disasters

It started off as a bad year for me personally, and it is shaping up globally to be a bad year of Biblical proportions.

The aftereffects of Cyclone Nargis in the Irrawaddy delta continue to be dealt with incompetently by the Burmese bakufu. Somewhere, one Myanmarese general is commending another general, nicknamed the local equivalent of "Brownie," for doing a heckuva job. Satellite photos in today's NYT show villages in which every building has disappeared, hundreds of buildings.

In China, the Sichuan earthquake's death toll has been revised upward to 80,000 from the 60,000 it was a few days ago. The current obsession is with the possibility of secondary disasters from the new quake lakes. The quake lakes are a fortuitous result of geological forces, and air strikes are unlikely to change things one way or the other. Taiwan has some lakes that were created by recent earthquakes, and Fuji Five Lakes were the result of volcanic eruptions of Mount Fuji. Since all lakes will naturally silt up and disappear over time, the creation of new lakes is a rare and special geological gift. How else can new lakes be created? We should probably just be grateful for them. Granted, there is a chance they may not be permanently stable, but give them a chance. Doing some temporary evacuations should be enough to see if the new natural dam will erode completely, moderately, or not at all when overflowed.

Although it is smaller scale by a factor of 10,000 in terms of the death toll and human impact, the tornado in Parkersburg, Iowa was of more personal interest to me. I have been to the Burmese border, but not in Burma, and went through Chengdu and Chongqing in China, but Parkersburg is near my mother's hometown and also where my dentist used to be located. It's possible that my dental records have ended up in Wisconsin or Illinois as reportedly happened to some photographs from Parkersburg, although I doubt anyone keeps dental records that long. Coincidentally, the previous record holder for Iowa's biggest tornado was an F-5 that hit Charles City in 1968, about one county away to the northeast. I can remember seeing the ruins of that one as a small child. I found some current tornado pictures here, here, here, and here --although they are small and some of these seem to go offline after 5 days.

A large series of aerial photos here shows the total destruction as winds exceeded 200 mph (320kph?)! As you can see in other pictures, concrete block foundations and even rectangular tombstones were blown away and rolled around.

It may be best for Iowans to consider building semi-underground reinforced concrete geodesic domes or, at the very least, A-frame homes.

If this goes on, will the Beijing Games be canceled by bird flu or another contagious outbreak? Perhaps another coastal American city is due to be destroyed by sea level rise and hurricanes. Miami, taken out just before the November elections, could enrage the population even if (or because) the Floridians are given generous handouts 9-11 style to try to pay them off. Perhaps it is Europe's turn? The Dutch should be offered generous resettlement opportunities in countries above sea level.

Mind-reading computer,146510-c,artificialintelligence/article.html

It was bad enough back in the future "2001" when HAL could read lips. Now he's reading minds. MRI is not a practical input method, however. Retrofitting the acronym : Magnetic Resonance Imaging >> Mind Reading Interface. Remember the good old days of the noughties when computers couldn't read your mind and hackers and spooks couldn't hack into your thoughts and didn't know when you were thinking negative thoughts about the Dear Leader? --or negative thoughts about the computer?

Of course, there is a bright side, it's just that that's all you ever read about. Look on the dark side, and all five sides of the issue. Linguistically and cognitively, it is very interestingThe positive applications for Universal Access are pretty obvious, but beyond that it is easy to imagine an almost complete end to privacy in its last refuge, the mind.