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Here's a neat competition: the ScienceBlogs 500,000th Comment Contest (currently at 473,593 as I type this, passing about 10k per week). "Grand prize: A 5-day trip to the greatest science city in the world — as nominated by our bloggers and as voted on by you." The contenders are Cambridge, Cambridge, and San Francisco. =;) (The first Cambridge is way ahead in the voting) It does appear to be open to anyone over 18, not restricted to inhabitants of any given sliver of the planet.

Simply wonderful. I'd suggest just watching Robbie Dingo's video (low resolution YouTube version here), before reading the story behind it, of how one master's painting was beautifully brought to life in SL. It's fascinating to watch, but it's the final result that's simply breathtaking.

What was most likely a Yangtze River dolphin was caught on film in August. ^_^ Of course, that still leaves them on the brink of extinction, but at least, on the right side of it.

shep_shepherd pointed out a track that I'd long lost in the recesses of what passes for my brain - Space's "Magic Fly". I'd never even known it was called that. ^_^;

[Edit: the article's since been pulled. Hopefully just a hoax, though this story it cited from the Daily Telegraph, a conservative UK broadsheet, illustrates the current state of thinking in the White House and Tehran remains pronouncedly tense] The drumbeat for more US war's been getting louder recently, with Iran in the spotlight. Nothing new - supposedly that's been in the works almost as long as invading Iraq (and may well have come close, of course. The US vs USSR standoff had one or two extremely close calls). Still, this report supposedly comes from "an LSO [Landing Signal Officer] on a carrier attack group that is planning and staging a strike group deployment into the Gulf of Hormuz", claiming that "all the Air Operation Planning and Asset Tasking are finished. That means that all the targets have been chosen, prioritized, and tasked to specific aircraft, bases, carriers, missile cruisers and so forth" and "I don’t think it’s limited at all. We are shipping in and assigning every damn Tomahawk we have in inventory. I think this is going to be massive and sudden, like thousands of targets. I believe that no American will know when it happens until after it happens."

loganberrybunny spotted an eminently worthwhile read: Jeremy Paxman's James McTaggart memorial lecture, on the nature and purpose of British television. It's an eloquent and amusing discourse on just what the industry does, and should, stand for, particularly in light of scandals such as a phone-in competition, using a premium rate number, where the outcome was already predetermined. It's not a brief piece, but highly enjoyable, even if worrisome. Comment 53 particularly hits on some pertinent issues. And as 102 quotes, "Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box."

Here's a sequencer/instrument that's best seen, rather than described - Yamaha's Tenori-On. It's essentially a multitouch-aware frame of a 16x16 matrix of LEDs, with some quite cool software behind it.

Bunnies selling air freshener! They could've got patch_bunny for that role. (And there's another with a raccoon too, as well as in this rather disturbing fable)

An inspiring journal entry on resistance to war, with the author invoking less famous figures and situations including Te Whiti o Rongomai, Julia Howe, the Levellers, and the Wilhelmshaven mutiny.

I don't often go for hiphop, with rare exceptions, but "Katia, Tania, Paulina y la Kim" is just a coolly funky track (seemingly Brazilian in origin), from the eclectic North/Central/Southern American "Piñata" from the Mexican Institute of Sound, aka boss of EMI Mexico. ^_^

Seeing it was a lovely (well, there was certainly some blueness in the sky) Thursday, I thought I'd take an extended wander around, given I needed to head into town anyway. So, Hyzenthlay came along as well, for the first time in quite a while, even if it didn't see much use, in the end - no open WiFi to be seen, and the sunlight had the inevitable effect upon its matte display. (If you have a glossy display laptop, can you compare how it fares outdoors? I've read highly favorable reports from MacBook owners that they're much better in such situations) The PSP fared similarly; that said, both were surprisingly usable. What nudged me away was more the number of rugrats nearby, as quiet as can be expected. (Simian babies and children are always so noisy. Even canids can control themselves far better, for the most part)

A relaxing afternoon, all the same. I visited the library to fetch a couple books I hadn't finished last time - Stephen Baxter's "Evolution" (having been quite taken by "Space", less so by "Origin"), and Pablo Tusset's "The best thing that can happen to a croissant". Seems they've reworked the layout a little, within the tragically small confines of the building, making it somewhat less confining in the process. It's a small library, but they manage to maintain quite a good variety. The DVDs tend towards the mainstream, though there is a good number of less well-known titles amongst them. Oddly, they carry PSP games, but not DS.

Today, a much greyer and cooler day, but still pleasant for a walk. Bemusing moment of the afternoon.. well, a couple minutes' walk from home is an old castle (albeit not of the kind that could host a furcon), complete with wide moat, which is now in the center of a moderately well sized park. Too much for one wag, it seems, to resist climbing up inside and playing the part of the French Knight.. who duly engaged in verbal battle with someone who really, painfully, did not get the joke. ^_^;

Pinky and Bunny research why did the US fight in Vietnam (FLV)? It's a detailed piece, at forty minutes.

If you buy many DVDs, or just follow new releases, what have been some particularly memorable packaging styles you've seen? I admit, I'm quite taken by the special edition Simpsons Movie OST, and who couldn't love a Cyberman box set?

GIT's working on what could emerge as Bluetooth's successor. Operating around 60GHz, the current prototypes offer 5Gbps at 5 meters, rising to 15Gbps at one meter - enough bandwidth for high quality wireless video links, or downloading a movie from a vending machine in a matter of seconds.

Thus spake Mr Gaiman: "Let's see. Pandas. I knew about the Chengdu Panda reserve because I had a friend who worked there for a summer. Really, it was all I knew about Chengdu. It's lovely. And it's a wonderful thing being an honoured foreign guest somewhere like that -- you get shown all the cool stuff, get to see Pandas, red ones and giant ones, and then find yourself put in a blue disposable smock and gloves (to protect the pandas from you, asnd not the other way around) and you get a year-old Panda placed on your lap. Utter, utter happiness. Better than any number of awards. Makes being a writer completely worthwhile. I suspect that world peace and harmony would come about in weeks if people just got to put pandas on their laps every few months. Honest."

If you're a musician in the south of England, one Apple vendor's offering a free hour of recording studio time, in Brighton, Bournemouth, or Hove. "The company is inviting musical types to bring along an instrument, their voice, or just turn up with ideas. Solutions Inc. staff will help record, edit and re-mix a track."

"A call by Puerto Rico's governor for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq earned a standing ovation Saturday from a conference of more than 4,000 National Guardsmen."

Well, this should be fun.. Twice Upon A Time, a relatively unknown animated feature from 1983, with something of a split personality - two versions were produced, one of which supposedly ventured into more risque territory and aired about once on HBO, before being supplanted by a milder version strongly favored by the other producer. It's the former version I'll be (hopefully) enjoying.

An early look at the ZunePhone. =:)

It's only a tiny start, but it is a start: two modules of the SL server code have been released. Which Linden says "This is some of the server code, and more will be coming out sometime in the future, and I don’t really know any more detail than that. :)"

"The Reflexive Architecture project, created by RL 3D Experience Architect Jon Brouchoud (Keystone Bouchard in SL), is an attempt to change the way we think about the until-now static nature of architecture in virtual spaces. When people naysay about SL, saying that it's just a glorified chatroom, I point with pride to locations like this one."

Might be worth playing around with: Fauxto, a free online image editor.

When you die, would you leave your Second Life - or other virtual worlds - belongings in a Will to someone?

Rather a cool SL build: the Kölner Dom - Cologne Cathedral, the result of a collaboration between German SL developer teams and the curator of the real thing, Dr Barbara Schock Werner. Perhaps even more impressive, though, is Red Square, which debuted at 8pm on Moscow's 860th anniversary on Sep 1.

More Linden Lab fun.. the Electric Sheep Company's one of the most well-known design boutiques for organisations and companies wanting a professional presence in SL. One employee was running a stress test on a project, and wound up getting banned for the weekend.

Some good discussion on Linden Lab's new "ID Verification" scheme.

Joust: The Movie?

"In response to a lawsuit brought last year by conservation organizations, Federal District Court Judge Saundra Armstrong issued an order finding the Bush administration in violation of the Global Change Research Act of 1990 for failing to produce an updated Research Plan and a National Assessment as required by the statute.

The Research Plan and National Assessment required by the Global Change Research Act are intended to be the preeminent documents guiding federal research and policy-making on issues related to global warming. The Research Plan guides all federal climate research, while the National Assessment serves to provide an understandable summary of global warming impacts on the environment, economy, human health and human safety of the United States and is to by used by Congress and federal agencies in setting policy and responding to global warming. The last National Assessment was issued in late 2000 under the Clinton administration. Its use and dissemination was suppressed by the Bush administration, and the required update in 2004 was never produced. The Research Plan was required by law to be updated in 2006 but also has never been produced.

The Court ordered the Bush administration to issue the draft overdue Research Plan by March 1, 2008, with a final 90 days thereafter, and the National Assessment by May 31, 2008."

Los Disneys: "Your job is to infiltrate the Magic Kingdom (now the state capital) in an attempt to seek and destroy the cryogenically frozen head of Walt Disney. However, doing so inadvertantly triggers Eisner's doomsday device, sending a series of thermonuclear warheads deep beneath the surrounding waters of the peninsula to devastate every major city in the world - unless you can stop it."

worthyadvisor spotted this wonderful selection of geek wedding cakes. =:D

 
 
 
 
 
 
It does tie in with the general authoritarian mindset - no course of action but one leading to complete domination of a situation is correct. Trouble is, what to do about it? Bush knows he's got complete carte blanche at this point - he doesn't need to be concerned about re-election, and there's no danger of the Democrats removing him from office, given their active assistance with crafting a worse version of FISA, and continuing to fund Iraq without any aim or plan.

Is this tied in with the recent spate of departures? (Rove, Gonzales, even poor Snow, unable to survive on a piddling $168k/year)

One wonders how many other countries in the world are eagerly eyeing the acquisition of nuclear weaponry, to fend off such threats..

This is, I fear, going to be a situation to monitor closely; though as they said, it's likely to be done before anyone realises it's happening, unless the orders are actually refused, which seems implausible.
A dying dinosaur thrashing it's tail, wreaking havoc on all. That's a good point about this sort of shit being a spur for other countries to acquire some nukes of their own. Cornered rats and all. Now I know that you would probably very likely get a balk if there were orders to go nuclear, but I'm not so confident about a conventional strike no matter what the size.
It's a tragic situation. $500b+ with another $200b in the forthcoming supplemental (let alone all the equipment replacing, and the long-term care for the wounded veterans - those outlandish estimates earlier on from more sceptical quarters of exceeding a trillion seem almost optimistic now), for what? Militant groups are more popular than ever, as they're not needing to offer propoganda - the news is quite sufficient. Of a population of 25m, some 2m are displaced internally, another 2m dispersed amidst neighboring states (and they're not thrilled with being forced to absorb so many people, leading to many being turned away from Syria and Jordan, for example), and in the region of 1m plain dead as a result of the invasion and subsequent civil war.

Bush will have his legacy. Not quite the one he'd hoped for, though.

Assuming there's not any larger scale carnage in the works, I still wonder how much taller the financial house of cards can be stacked - for decades, the mood in DC's been to just borrow endlessly, unconcerned with paying their way. Low taxes, they cry, until such time as the effects of such make themselves felt, as with the poor condition of bridge maintenance; once the problem's too obvious to ignore, then it's given the attention some politicians had been trying to lend it.

And check todays Doonesbury. This "legacy" will drip decades and generations of blood. Yah the idea of an Iran invasion as an October Surprise looks chillingly realistic. They'll pull the fucking "Don't change horses in mid-stream." thing.

I saw a documentary at least fifteen years ago showing how New York and other major cities were decaying from within. Pipeline valves the size of houses, over a hundred years old, can't be replaced, can't be fixed. If it goes out, no more water for five million people. Oh joy! Is it true that they're spending something like ONE POINT TWO BILLION for a new stadium in New York? Truly Uncle Sam is a gambling whore-mongering alcoholic who beats his wife and lets his kids starve.