Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Diebold Loses Business rather than Open Code

The Guardian reports:

It's official: Diebold election bugware can't be trusted (the company implies as much)

North Carolina officials have passed a law requiring voting machine companies place all of their source code in escrow, but Diebold has decided to withdraw from the state rather than comply.

I wonder what we would find out if every state took such a precaution.

U.S. Military Plants Articles in Iraqi Press

The LA Times reports that "[a]s part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by U.S. military 'information operations' troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

...Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.

Though the articles are basically factual, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said.

...The operation is designed to mask any connection with the U.S. military. The Pentagon has a contract with a small Washington-based firm called Lincoln Group, which helps translate and place the stories. The Lincoln Group's Iraqi staff, or its subcontractors, sometimes pose as freelance reporters or advertising executives when they deliver the stories to Baghdad media outlets."

Meanwhile, Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday that "the country is -- has a free media, and they can -- it's a relief valve" for the people of Iraq to debate the issues.

A senior Pentagon official who opposes planting stories in the Iraqi media had a different take:

"Here we are trying to create the principles of democracy in Iraq. Every speech we give in that country is about democracy. And we're breaking all the first principles of democracy when we're doing it.''

Here is a bill in the Senate to stop taxpayer funded government propaganda.

Fear Inc.

Wired reports on the biggest market opportunity since the boom:

Welcome to the homeland security industrial complex, a world where doomsday scenarios double as marketing pitches, patriotism mingles with capitalism, and the spoils go to whoever can placate a skittish society. "The best thing that will happen is that we will never have a nuclear event in the United States, never have a sarin gas event," Weiss [Fortress America CEO] says. "But do you know how much money is going to be spent" preparing for such events? "It's only a matter of time before someone finds something bad in a container coming through the port of Baltimore, Charleston, or Long Beach."

Meanwhile, a manufacturer of bulletproof vests just spent $10 million on his daughter's bat mitzvah, also known as 'Mitzvahpalooza,' complete with performances by Tom Petty, Aerosmith, 50 Cent, Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Ciara, and Kenny G.

See also Wired's Profits of Doom.

And, War is a Racket by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.

"I Was Paid to Blame Syria"

A man has claimed on Syrian state TV that he was bribed to accuse top Syrian officials of the murder of Rafiq Hariri in his testimony to the United Nations commission into the former Lebanese premier's assassination.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Miami Police: "We Want Shock...Awe"

Miami police plan to prevent terrorism by "in-your-face" security operations at "soft targets" around the city.

Radley Balko says it best when he says "If the terrorists hate us for our freedom, then holy shit are we ever appeasing the terrorists."

Remember: "War is Peace ... Freedom is Slavery ... Ignorance is Strength"

Monday, November 28, 2005

CA. Congressman Admits Taking Bribes

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges and tearfully resigned from office, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to co-conspirators.

Meanwhile, the scandal involving corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff spreads further through Congress.

Supreme Court Crumbles

A chunk of the marble facade has fallen from the Supreme Court building on Monday morning.

The marble was above the inscription near the top of the building saying, "Equal Justice Under Law" and above the allegorical figure representing "Order," one of nine sculptured figures on the pediment.

God surely has a sense of humour, either that or a subtle warning system.

Corruption in Iraq Leads to Military Ethicist's Suicide

The LA Times reports on the suspicious death of Col. Ted Westhusing. He volunteered for duty in Iraq leaving his position as a professor at West Point. He was tasked with the duty of overseeing USIS, a private security company linked to The Carlyle Group. The company had contracts worth $79 million to train Iraqi police to conduct special operations. Col. Westhusing was investigating the company for fraud and human rights abuses at the time of his death.

According to the LA Times, "[I]n May, Westhusing received an anonymous four-page letter that contained detailed allegations of wrongdoing by USIS.

The writer accused USIS of deliberately shorting the government on the number of trainers to increase its profit margin. More seriously, the writer detailed two incidents in which USIS contractors allegedly had witnessed or participated in the killing of Iraqis.

A USIS contractor accompanied Iraqi police trainees during the assault on Fallouja last November and later boasted about the number of insurgents he had killed, the letter says. Private security contractors are not allowed to conduct offensive operations.

In a second incident, the letter says, a USIS employee saw Iraqi police trainees kill two innocent Iraqi civilians, then covered it up. A USIS manager 'did not want it reported because he thought it would put his contract at risk.'"


"U.S. officials investigated and found 'no contractual violations,' an Army spokesman said. Bill Winter, a USIS spokesman, said the investigation 'found these allegations to be unfounded.'

However, several U.S. officials said inquiries on USIS were ongoing. One U.S. military official, who, like others, requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said the inquiries had turned up problems, but nothing to support the more serious charges of human rights violations.

'As is typical, there may be a wisp of truth in each of the allegations,' the official said.

The letter shook Westhusing, who felt personally implicated by accusations that he was too friendly with USIS management, according to an e-mail in the report.

'This is a mess … dunno what I will do with this,' he wrote home to his family May 18.

The colonel began to complain to colleagues about 'his dislike of the contractors,' who, he said, 'were paid too much money by the government,' according to one captain.

'The meetings [with contractors] were never easy and always contentious. The contracts were in dispute and always under discussion,' an Army Corps of Engineers official told investigators."

His family and close friends reject the Army's conclusion that Col. Westhusing committed suicide.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

"Perception Management" or Propaganda?

The Rolling Stone reports on The Rendon Group and its efforts to influence policy in hot spots around the world.

The Rendon Group responds here.

The Chicago Tribune has an article on "how the firm molds news" as the Pentagon wages a "war of images and words."

Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act seeking records concerning Pentagon funded programs engaged in "strategic influence, perception management, strategic information warfare and/or strategic psychological operations" through media consultants, think tanks, foreign expatriate political organizations, and Internet sites. The Rendon Group is mentioned specifically. Judicial Watch reminds us in the linked press release:

The Smith-Mundt Actof 1948 (22 U.S.C.' 1461), forbids the domestic dissemination of U.S. government authored propoganda or "official news" deliberately designed to influence public opinion or policy. The Pentagon has made aggressive use of various information warfare techniques, developing new programs and hiring outside media consultants in executing their various missions in the Global War on Terror.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Whose News?

1. The Wall Street Journal is read by the people who run the country.

2. The Washington Post is read by people who think they run the country.

3. The New York Times is read by people who think they should run the country and who are very good at crossword puzzles.

4. USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand The New York Times. They do, however, like their statistics shown in pie charts.

5. The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country -- if they could find the time ? and if they didn't have to leave Southern California to do it.

6. The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

7. The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

8. The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running
the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

9. The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country but need the baseball scores.

10. The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country ... or that anyone is running it; but if so, they oppose all that they stand for.

11. The National Enquirer is read by people trapped in line at the grocery store.

12. None of these are read by the guy who is running the country into the ground.

[13. is read by the people who should be running the country.]

Friday, November 18, 2005

"The F'ing Stupidest Guy On The Face Of The Earth"

General Tommy Franks, the leader of the Iraq invasion, once described U.S. Defense undersecretary Douglas Feith [A MUST READ] as "the f***ing stupidest guy on the face of the earth," that is according to Bob Woodward's book, Plan of Attack.

Franks was referring to the faulty intelligence given to the military during the build-up to the Iraq war and the extent of the resistance to an invasion of Iraq. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, a desk officer at the DOD's office for Near East South Asia (NESA), characterized the intel as not "intelligence -- it was propaganda. They'd take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting, usually by taking it out of context, often by juxtaposition of two pieces of information that don't belong together."

Now comes word that the Pentagon's Inspector General will get to judge that assessment as he reviews the prewar intelligence activities of Douglas Feith.

I can only hope that the Inspector General will conduct a fair and non-partisan investigation of the whole Office of Special Plans. Then, an indepedent prosecutor can pick up the slack to move on to the marketing arm of the operation over at the White House Iraq Group.

As I look back at what I knew then (pre-invasion) and what I know now, all I can envision are the words: history repeats itself first as tragedy, second as farce.

Former Intel Chiefs Come Out Swinging

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh asks why the 9/11 Commission ignored the military intelligence operation code-named "Able Danger" in an article published by The Wall St. Journal.

Freeh writes "[s]pecifically, Able Danger concluded in February 2000 that military experts had identified Mohamed Atta by name (and maybe photograph) as an Al Qaeda agent operating in the U.S. Subsequently, military officers assigned to Able Danger were prevented from sharing critical information with FBI agents [and with the U.S. Congress], even though appointments had been made to do so. Why?"


Former CIA Director Stansfield Turner stated he is "embarrassed the United States has a vice president for torture" in an interview with ITV News.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What is going on with China?

Good news has been coming out of China recently surrounding its turn toward a market-oriented economy, but then I hear rumors of the supression of religion and a general intolerance toward freedom of speech.

It is difficult to know exactly what is going on, especially when Beijing is blocking foreign newspapers.

And, internet users in China cannot access this article on the Buddha's daughter, "princess" Renji, the daughter of the tenth Panchen Lama. She is a twenty-year-old poli-sci major at American University with a penchant for Prada, Gucci, and Mercedes-Benz.

Did I mention she has action-movie star Steven Seagal acting as her protector?

Is she the Chinese version of Paris Hilton? Could they be right in restricting the freedom of the press in this instance? No, but now that I've brought up Paris Hilton's name I'm sure they have some sympathizers.

Woodward Involved in L'Affair Plame All Along

A leak in the White House, how could we think Woodward was not involved?

It seems like Bob Woodward really should have told his editor something about this whole ordeal, at the very least (here is his apology two years later).

In fact, he should have told us all. Especially while running his mouth on Larry King and the Sunday morning talk shows acting as quite the independent observer (he called Fitzgerald a "junk yard dog prosecutor" and stated the damage done was "quite minimal" - despite his newspaper stating two weeks ago that no formal damage assessment has been conducted by the CIA) .

According to Raw Story, current National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley told Woodward that Valerie Plame Wilson was a CIA officer in June 2003.

I'm just wondering when the media and the American people will wake up and dig into what Peter Dale Scott called the Deep Politics.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Is Libby Covering For Cheney?

The Washington Post now asks the same question anyone who read the indictment two weeks ago was asking.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Bilateral Oligopoly of Econ Textbooks

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Join The Army: Free Plastic Surgery!

The U.S. Military Offers Free Plastic Surgery (nips, tucks, lipo, implants et al.)

CBS 4 Boston Reports...

Nips and tucks are available for any active duty soldier and except for the cost of implants, they’re free of charge.

Recruiter: “I think the reason they came out with that is we’re trying to get a lot of different types of incentives. It’s hard to get people to join.”

Sarah, Undercover recruit: “He explained you can get liposuction, breast implants and everything in between.”

So while some are risking their lives on the front lines, others are whittling away their waste lines and ridding themselves of wrinkles.

Cosmetic surgery is a hot topic on this military website. Type in tummy tuck and you’ll find discussions about breast implants, tucks and lipo.

In 2003, there were 384 liposuctions, 288 tummy tucks, 261 breast augmentations, 135 facelifts and 69 nose jobs performed in U.S. military hospitals.

Using current rates, it’s a tab of almost two million taxpayer dollars!

Friday, November 11, 2005

GOP memo touts new terror attack as way to reverse party's decline

Capitol Hill Blue reports on a confidential memo from the GOP

A confidential memo circulating among senior Republican leaders suggests that a new attack by terrorists on U.S. soil could reverse the sagging fortunes of President George W. Bush as well as the GOP and "restore his image as a leader of the American people."

The closely-guarded memo lays out a list of scenarios to bring the Republican party back from the political brink, including a devastating attack by terrorists that could “validate” the President’s war on terror and allow Bush to “unite the country” in a “time of national shock and sorrow.”

The memo says such a reversal in the President's fortunes could keep the party from losing control of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections.

GOP insiders who have seen the memo admit it’s a risky strategy and point out that such scenarios are “blue sky thinking” that often occurs in political planning sessions.

“The President’s popularity was at an all-time high following the 9/11 attacks,” admits one aide. “Americans band together at a time of crisis.”

Other Republicans, however, worry that such a scenario carries high risk, pointing out that an attack might suggest the President has not done enough to protect the country.

“We also have to face the fact that many Americans no longer trust the President,” says a longtime GOP strategist. “That makes it harder for him to become a rallying point.”

The memo outlines other scenarios, including:

--Capture of Osama bin Laden (or proof that he is dead);

--A drastic turnaround in the economy;

--A "successful resolution" of the Iraq war.

GOP memos no longer talk of “victory” in Iraq but use the term “successful resolution.”

“A successful resolution would be us getting out intact and civil war not breaking out until after the midterm elections,” says one insider.

Physics Prof. Questions 9-11

Brigham Young University Physics Prof. Thinks Bombs Not Planes Brought Down WTC.

The physics of 9/11 — including how fast and symmetrically one of the World Trade Center buildings fell — prove that official explanations of the collapses are wrong, says a Brigham Young University physics professor.

In fact, it's likely that there were "pre-positioned explosives" in all three buildings at ground zero, says Steven E. Jones.

In a paper posted online Tuesday and accepted for peer-reviewed publication next year, Jones adds his voice to those of previous skeptics, including the authors of the Web site, whose research Jones quotes. Jones' article can be found at

Jones, who conducts research in fusion and solar energy at BYU, is calling for an independent, international scientific investigation "guided not by politicized notions and constraints but rather by observations and calculations.

"It is quite plausible that explosives were pre-planted in all three buildings and set off after the two plane crashes — which were actually a diversion tactic," he writes. "Muslims are (probably) not to blame for bringing down the WTC buildings after all," Jones writes.

As for speculation about who might have planted the explosives, Jones said, "I don't usually go there. There's no point in doing that until we do the scientific investigation."

Previous investigations, including those of FEMA, the 9/11 Commission and NIST (the National Institutes of Standards and Technology), ignore the physics and chemistry of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, to the Twin Towers and the 47-story building known as WTC 7, he says. The official explanation — that fires caused structural damage that caused the buildings to collapse — can't be backed up by either testing or history, he says.

Jones acknowledges that there have been "junk science" conspiracy theories about what happened on 9/11, but "the explosive demolition hypothesis better satisfies tests of repeatability and parsimony and therefore is not 'junk science.' "

In a 9,000-word article that Jones says will be published in the book "The Hidden History of 9/11," by Elsevier, Jones offers these arguments:

• The three buildings collapsed nearly symmetrically, falling down into their footprints, a phenomenon associated with "controlled demolition" — and even then it's very difficult, he says. "Why would terrorists undertake straight-down collapses of WTC-7 and the Towers when 'toppling over' falls would require much less work and would do much more damage in downtown Manhattan?" Jones asks. "And where would they obtain the necessary skills and access to the buildings for a symmetrical implosion anyway? The 'symmetry data' emphasized here, along with other data, provide strong evidence for an 'inside' job."

• No steel-frame building, before or after the WTC buildings, has ever collapsed due to fire. But explosives can effectively sever steel columns, he says.

• WTC 7, which was not hit by hijacked planes, collapsed in 6.6 seconds, just .6 of a second longer than it would take an object dropped from the roof to hit the ground. "Where is the delay that must be expected due to conservation of momentum, one of the foundational laws of physics?" he asks. "That is, as upper-falling floors strike lower floors — and intact steel support columns — the fall must be significantly impeded by the impacted mass. . . . How do the upper floors fall so quickly, then, and still conserve momentum in the collapsing buildings?" The paradox, he says, "is easily resolved by the explosive demolition hypothesis, whereby explosives quickly removed lower-floor material, including steel support columns, and allow near free-fall-speed collapses." These observations were not analyzed by FEMA, NIST nor the 9/11 Commission, he says.

• With non-explosive-caused collapse there would typically be a piling up of shattering concrete. But most of the material in the towers was converted to flour-like powder while the buildings were falling, he says. "How can we understand this strange behavior, without explosives? Remarkable, amazing — and demanding scrutiny since the U.S. government-funded reports failed to analyze this phenomenon."

• Horizontal puffs of smoke, known as squibs, were observed proceeding up the side the building, a phenomenon common when pre-positioned explosives are used to demolish buildings, he says.

• Steel supports were "partly evaporated," but it would require temperatures near 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit to evaporate steel — and neither office materials nor diesel fuel can generate temperatures that hot. Fires caused by jet fuel from the hijacked planes lasted at most a few minutes, and office material fires would burn out within about 20 minutes in any given location, he says.

• Molten metal found in the debris of the World Trade Center may have been the result of a high-temperature reaction of a commonly used explosive such as thermite, he says. Buildings not felled by explosives "have insufficient directed energy to result in melting of large quantities of metal," Jones says.

• Multiple loud explosions in rapid sequence were reported by numerous observers in and near the towers, and these explosions occurred far below the region where the planes struck, he says.

For Comprehensive Analysis Visit

Chalabi Is Not Down For The Count - Yet

Chalabi Pushes Iran Card in Last Ditch Self-Promotion Offensive

Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi has been playing hard ball with Bush administration officials during his eight day trip to Washington D.C.

According to senior associates of the Iraqi official, who have accompanied him to meetings with Bush administration officials, Mr. Chalabi has been threatening his friends in the Bush administration that if they do not support his candidacy to become the next prime minister of Iraq that there will be no way to contain Iran. He has told them in no uncertain terms that he is the only one who can make the Iranians behave.

Such threats, whether accurate or not, ring sweetly in the ears of an administration desperately in search of solutions for a troubled region. Under harsh pressure from Israel’s Prime Minister Sharon to do something about Iran, the White House has approved a series of “highly intrusive and provocative’ intelligence operations against the government of Iran”, according to a highly placed official who formerly worked as an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. These intelligence monitoring operations consist of everything from aerial surveillance missions that straddle Iranian airspace that are launched from Iraq and Kazakhstan, to even more controversial operations that shall remain nameless for the time being.

Last Monday, the Iranian government announced that it had found the wreckage of two U.S. unmanned spy planes. Iranian officials described the crash of a Shadow 200 RQ-7 drone in Ilam Province and of a Hermes drone in the Khoram Abad area of Iran. The Pentagon issued no comment to the Iranian claims.

Mr. Chalabi, a convicted embezzler in Jordan, is a known friend of Iran. He visited that country before arriving in Washington D.C. earlier this week. In his last ditch quest for power, Chalabi reiterated to U.S. officials that Iran’s unpredictable President Ahmadinejad may decide to play the oil card as a weapon against the United States. Specifically, he told them that President Ahmadinejad might team up with President Chavez of Venezuela, thereby withholding substantial amounts of oil from the international marketplace, as a means of driving up the price of a barrel of oil. At present, the United States relies on 7.4% of its petroleum products from Venezuela. Meanwhile, Iran provides 5% of all oil production globally. “If Iran and Venezuela decided to team up and squeeze the United States, Uncle Sam might have to scream uncle,” explained one of Chalabi’s friends.

Chalabi also took advantage of uneasiness within the Bush White House over Iran’s desire to manufacture a nuclear weapon. Though he acknowledged U.S. and European efforts to move Iran’s nuclear activities to Russia, he said he was the only one to convince Iran not to use uranium enrichment conversion for unsafe purposes.

The Bush administration knows Chalabi is a friend of Iran, perhaps too close of a friend, given that he is currently under investigation for passing vital U.S. intelligence secrets to Tehran.

Article from The Institute for International Mediation and Conflict Resolution.

Read the real lowdown on Chalabi from Justin Raimando here.

Haaretz claims Israelis evacuated before Jordan bombings (later retracted)

The Israeli daily Ha'aretz claims Israeli citizens were evacuated from the Radisson Hotel in Amman hours before the bombing that killed 63.

On the 10th of November the Los Angeles Times used this quote in an article: "The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israelis staying at the Radisson on Wednesday had been evacuated before the attacks and escorted back home "apparently due to a specific security threat."

Amos N. Guiora, a former senior Israeli counter-terrorism official, said in a phone interview with The Times that sources in Israel had also told him about the pre-attack evacuations.

"It means there was excellent intelligence that this thing was going to happen," said Guiora, a former leader of the Israel Defense Forces who now heads the Institute for Global Security Law and Policy at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "

Haaretz article.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Palestinian Intel Chief Killed in Blast

The head of the Palestinian intelligence services, Bashir Nafeh, was among those killed in a blast that shook a hotel in the Jordanian capital, a top Palestinian diplomat told Agence France-Presse.

'Bashir Nafeh was killed in the attack on the Grand Hyatt hotel,' charge d'affaires Atallah Khairy said.

Read the Forbes article.

Bomb in Ceiling Caused Jordan Blast

MSNBC Reports a Bomb in Ceiling.

AMMAN - A blast at the Radisson hotel in the Jordanian capital Amman on Wednesday was caused by a bomb placed in a false ceiling, police sources at the scene told Reuters.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bush Borrowed More Than All Previous Presidents Combined

( - President Bush and the current administration have borrowed more money from foreign governments and banks than the previous 42 presidents combined, according to the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of conservative to moderate Democrats.

The Treasury Department reports that from 1776-2000, the first 224 years of U.S. history, 42 U.S. presidents borrowed a combined $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions, but in the past four years alone, the Bush administration borrowed $1.05 trillion.

(I doubt the data was indexed for inflation, but still a nice sound bite, and let's not forget the role of Congress in the equation)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Rummy's Bird Flu Bonanza

Rummy Flu

Tamiflu was developed and patented in 1996 by a California biotech firm, Gilead Sciences Inc. Gilead is a NASDAQ-listed stock company which prefers to maintain a low profile in the current rush to Tamiflu. That might be because of who is tied to Gilead. In 1997, before he became Pentagon chief, Donald Rumsfeld was named chairman of the board of Gilead Sciences, where he remained until early 2001 when he became defense secretary. Rumsfeld had been on the board of Gilead since 1988, according to a 1997 company press release.

Rumsfeld holds a Gilead stake valued at between $5 million and $25 million, according to his federal financial disclosures. In the past six months, the global rush to buy Tamiflu has sent Gilead's stock from $35 to $47 - amounting to a windfall of at least $1 million for Rumsfeld. And now, with Gilead collecting royalties averaging 10% from Roche's sales of Tamiflu, he is poised to reap more gains for a flu panic his administration has done everything it can to promote.

Read the article at Asia Times Online.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

I Want To...

A page full of resources online.

(share, edit, send files, discuss, spreadsheet, network, communicate, email, newsletter, podcast, stream, list, manage, bookmark, what's new, survey, shorten url's, automate, disposable email, personalize, take notes, catalogue, store, find, check, bypass, generate, aggregate, update, create, translate, convert, plan, wish, glue, invite, shop, laugh, freak, create your own tombstone)

The "Real" Shakespeare (really)

(possibly, maybe, perhaps, but I don't know)

Another scholar takes a crack at the identity of Shakespeare.

The Australian reports on a new version of the "truth" behind the bard:

"They say that Neville, a rotund man nicknamed "Falstaff" by close friends, had the virtue - unlike Shakespeare, who lacked an appropriate background - of being an educated man of culture, a courtier and a well-travelled linguist.

A wealthy landowner, he was a member of parliament for most of his life and an ambassador to France, belonging to one of England's great families and related to many monarchs depicted in Shakespeare's plays.

His life has been found to mirror the evolution of the Bard's works so precisely that the authors believe that it cannot be dismissed as coincidence."

13 Things That Do Not Make Sense...

13 things that do not make sense according to this scientific mind:

(more explanation after the link)

1. The Placebo Effect

Somehow, sometimes, a whole lot of nothing can be very powerful.

2. The Horizon Problem

Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, so there is no way heat radiation could have travelled between the two horizons to even out the hot and cold spots created in the big bang and leave the thermal equilibrium we see now.

3. Ultra-Energetic Cosmic Rays

The University of Tokyo's Akeno Giant Air Shower Array - 111 particle detectors spread out over 100 square kilometres - has detected several cosmic rays above the GZK limit. In theory, they can only have come from within our galaxy, avoiding an energy-sapping journey across the cosmos. However, astronomers can find no source for these cosmic rays in our galaxy. So what is going on?

4. Belfast Homeopathy Results

The study, replicated in four different labs, found that homeopathic solutions - so dilute that they probably didn't contain a single histamine molecule - worked just like histamine.

5. Dark Matter

Take our best understanding of gravity, apply it to the way galaxies spin, and you'll quickly see the problem: the galaxies should be falling apart. Galactic matter orbits around a central point because its mutual gravitational attraction creates centripetal forces. But there is not enough mass in the galaxies to produce the observed spin.

6. Viking's Methane

Almost all the mission scientists erred on the side of caution and declared Viking's discovery a false positive. But was it?

7. Tetraneutrons

Four years ago, a particle accelerator in France detected six particles that should not exist. They are called tetraneutrons: four neutrons that are bound together in a way that defies the laws of physics.

8. The Pioneer Anamoly

Pioneer 10 was launched in 1972; Pioneer 11 a year later. By now both craft should be drifting off into deep space with no one watching. However, their trajectories have proved far too fascinating to ignore.

That's because something has been pulling - or pushing - on them, causing them to speed up. The resulting acceleration is tiny, less than a nanometre per second per second. That's equivalent to just one ten-billionth of the gravity at Earth's surface, but it is enough to have shifted Pioneer 10 some 400,000 kilometres off track. NASA lost touch with Pioneer 11 in 1995, but up to that point it was experiencing exactly the same deviation as its sister probe. So what is causing it?

9. Dark Energy

One of the most famous, and most embarrassing, problems in physics. In 1998, astronomers discovered that the universe is expanding at ever faster speeds. It's an effect still searching for a cause - until then, everyone thought the universe's expansion was slowing down after the big bang.

10. The Kuiper Cliff

Travel out to the far edge of the solar system, into the frigid wastes beyond Pluto, you'll see something strange. Suddenly, after passing through the Kuiper belt, a region of space teeming with icy rocks, there's nothing. Why?

11. The Wow Signal

It was 37 seconds long and came from outer space. On 15 August 1977 it caused astronomer Jerry Ehman, then of Ohio State University in Columbus, to scrawl "Wow!" on the printout from Big Ear, Ohio State's radio telescope in Delaware. And 28 years later no one knows what created the signal... Coming from the direction of Sagittarius, the pulse of radiation was confined to a narrow range of radio frequencies around 1420 megahertz... The nearest star in that direction is 220 light years away.

12. Not-So-Constant Constants

In 1997 astronomer John Webb and his team at the University of New South Wales in Sydney analysed the light reaching Earth from distant quasars. On its 12-billion-year journey, the light had passed through interstellar clouds of metals such as iron, nickel and chromium, and the researchers found these atoms had absorbed some of the photons of quasar light - but not the ones they were expecting... If the observations are correct, the only vaguely reasonable explanation is that a constant of physics called the fine structure constant, or alpha, had a different value at the time the light passed through the clouds.

13. Cold Fusion

Over a 10-year period from 1989, US navy labs ran more than 200 experiments to investigate whether nuclear reactions generating more energy than they consume - supposedly only possible inside stars - can occur at room temperature. Numerous researchers have since pronounced themselves believers...With controllable cold fusion, many of the world's energy problems would melt away: no wonder the US Department of Energy is interested. In December, after a lengthy review of the evidence, it said it was open to receiving proposals for new cold fusion experiments.

ReLy Answers MoDo

Regina Lynn of Wired Magazine responds to Maureen Dowd's conundrum as expressed in her latest article and newest book:

"[I]t looks to me like women are expanding our roles in American family life, not squeezing ourselves back into the corsets of our foremothers.

We can choose high-powered careers once reserved for men. We can telecommute to a part-time job in a woman-owned corporation while the kids are at school. We can start our own businesses online or avoid jobs altogether to raise children and volunteer in our communities.

Men, meanwhile, are still supposed to go to work."

Read the whole article at Wired News.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A View from a Satellite

More views of the earth than you know what to do with.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Solar System To Scale

The solar system layed out on a web page.

1 pixel = ~1,000 km

Images are to scale with each other

(It is bigger than you think)