jest for pun
Every calendar's days are numbered. Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere. - G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)
You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on. -George W. Bush (spoken at a Washington Dinner, March 2001)
Where all think alike, no one thinks very much. -Walter Lippmann
Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome. - Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992)
In a book review: 'This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown aside with great force.' - Dorothy Parker
I despise the pleasure of pleasing people that I despise. -Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
I do not know with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones. - Albert Einstein
Diamonds are forever! Are they?
When humor goes, there goes civilization.- Erma Bombeck
Drama is life with the dull bits (and bytes) left out.- Alfred Hitchcock (1899 - 1980)
Envy is what makes you, when an aquaintance is lustily telling you that she's dating a Greek god of a guy, ask, "Which one, Hades?" - Regina Barreca
Birds Of A Feather
food for thought
A billion hours ago, human life appeared on earth. A billion minutes ago, Christianity emerged. A billion Coca Colas ago was yesterday morning. - (from a Coca-Cola report)
The trouble with words is that you never know whose mouths they've been in. - Dennis Potter
An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. - H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)
If we long to believe that the stars rise and set for us, that we are the reason there is a Universe, does science do us a disservice in deflating our conceits? -Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996)
I asked the barmaid for a quickie. The man next to me said, 'It's pronounced quiche' - Luigi Amaduzzi (on occassional perils of speaking a foreign language)
music with taste
If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence. - George Eliot
Enduring life's theater in hopes of a good cast party.
In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield. - Warren Buffett (1930 - )
PHOTOGRAPH, n. A picture painted by the sun without instruction in art. It is a little better than the work of an Apache, but not quite so good as that of a Cheyenne. - Ambrose Bierce (1842 - 1914), The Devil's Dictionary
June 29, 2004
Noisy secret of Mona Lisa's smile
For centuries, artists, historians and tourists have been fascinated by Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile. Now it seems that the power of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece comes in part from an unlikely source: random noise in our visual systems.
Christopher Tyler and Leonid Kontsevich at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco manipulated a digital image of the painting by introducing random visual noise - the equivalent of the snow seen on a badly tuned TV set - and asked 12 observers how they rated the resulting expression on a four-point scale from sad to happy.
As would be expected, noise that lifted the edges of her mouth made Mona Lisa seem happier, and those that flattened her lips made her seem sadder. More surprising though, was how readily the visual noise changed people's perception of the Mona Lisa's expression.
Two good books I recommend here for art lover and art novice:
- Math and the Mona Lisa: The Art and Science of Leonardo da Vinci
- The Annotated Mona Lisa: A Crash Course in Art History from Prehistoric to Post-Modern
Andy Borowitz: element of surprise shocker
INSPIRED BY IRAQI HANDOVER, BUSH HOLDS U.S. ELECTION FOUR MONTHS EARLY by Andy Borowitz
Element of Surprise Cited As Bush Romps to Victory
Inspired by the early handover of sovereignty in Iraq, President George W. Bush employed the element of surprise once more last night, holding the U.S. presidential election four months early.
The election, about which only top Bush administration officials were notified, went exceedingly well for the president, who carried all fifty states and garnered approximately one hundred percent of the vote.
Mr. Bush’s victory speech, which he had originally scheduled for eleven P.M. last night, was at the last minute rescheduled to nine P.M., once again capitalizing on the element of surprise.
In his speech, Mr. Bush admitted that he might have had a more difficult time getting reelected if the American people had actually been notified about the time and date of the voting, but added, “A win’s a win, right?”
Mr. Bush’s second inauguration is slated to take place on January 20, 2005, but administration officials acknowledged that it could happen “at any time.”
“For all I know it has already happened,” one aide said.
While the stealth presidential election seems to have cemented the Bush administration’s reputation for secrecy, one aide said that some secrets were harder to keep than others: “For example, everyone knows how Paul Wolfowitz gets his hair to look so great.”
White House officials praised the performance of the controversial new Diebold electronic voting machines, which successfully tabulated final results from Florida before a single vote was cast.
June 28, 2004
Iraq Formally Returns to Self-Rule Two Days Early
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The United States handed sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government two days earlier than expected Monday, aiming to forestall guerrilla attacks with a secretive ceremony formally ending 14 months of occupation.
Iraq's outgoing U.S. governor Paul Bremer handed a letter to Iraq leaders sealing the formal transfer of powers before immediately flying out of the country.
The low-key ceremony was over before it was announced and came as a surprise to ordinary Iraqis. Its hurried and furtive nature appeared to reflect fears that guerrillas could stage a spectacular attack on the scheduled date of June 30. Continued ...
- Early Iraq Handover Surprises Rebels and Reporters
- Bush Marks Handover with Blair Handshake
- US hands over sovereignty in Iraq
- Analysis: Why the early handover?
- Q&A: The handover in Iraq
- At a glance: Iraq challenges
Fahrenheit 9/11 tops box office
Fahrenheit 9/11 tops box office If it's posted on Drudgereport, it must be official; This, despite an all out effort from the Vast Right Wing Conspirators to keep if from being shown...
The White House has thrown a bit of a tantrum over Irish reporter Carole Coleman's confrontational approach to interviewing the president (watch the interview here or here). No-one's allowed to interrupt him any more, apparently.
Paying the Price: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War
Paying the Price: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War In fully footnoted PDF or handy Just The Numbers format.
Related Story: Iraq war 'will cost each US family $3,415'
June 27, 2004
Analyzing Fahrenheit 9/11
Michael Moore's new movie "Fahrenheit 9/11" has been released nationwide – an analysis of how the president misled the country to war in Iraq and how the Bush-Saudi relationship has compromised America's national security. Even before the movie was public, the White House and its right-wing allies sought to smear both the film and Moore personally.
Despite conservatives' best efforts to discredit the film, the NY Times notes, "central assertions of fact in 'Fahrenheit 9/11' are supported by the public record." When the movie was aired at the Cannes Film Festival, it won top prize from a panel made up of mostly American and British judges.
Michael Moore Responds to Citizens United
"I am deeply concerned about whether or not the FEC will think I paid Citizens United to raise these issues regarding Fahrenheit 9/11. How else can you explain the millions of dollars of free publicity this right wing group has given the movie. I plan on sending them a very nice Holiday card this year." -Michael Moore
Check Mike's Blog which is coming soon.
ERIC FRANCIS COPPOLINO: Fahrenheit 9/11
Michael Moore's new film "Fahrenheit 9/11" by ERIC FRANCIS COPPOLINO
In an a truly bizarre development, Ray Bradbury, the science fiction author to whose book the film's title is a tribute, has demanded an apology from the director for "stealing" his title, as well as that Moore change the name of his film. No lie -- type "Ray Bradbury" into Google and see. In honor of this, I offer my apologies to Michael Moore for having stolen the title of this article from his first movie. And on behalf of John Steinbeck, I offer my apologies to the author of "Battle Hymn of the Republic," from whom he stole the title of his book The Grapes of Wrath. I offer my deepest apologies to Moses for Robert Heinlein having shamelessly ripped off the title of Stranger in a Strange Land. I lie prostrate in a puddle of mud and grovel, apologizing for everything T.S. Eliot ever ripped off from everyone. I apologize to no end for Ezra Pound having said, "Good writers borrow; great writers steal." And on behalf of the The New York Times, I apologize to Woodstock Times.
June 26, 2004
The Software Testing Commandments
Reader Discretion Advised
Readers of this site who are unfamiliar with software testing ethos or uncomfortable around software testers may find the following material objectionable, immoral and/or disturbing. Well tough. Testing isn't for choir girls and altar boys.. It is a demanding craft that requires of its practitioners: deviousness, a desire to cause harm and a general disdain for rules and regulations. Click the Back button to retreat to moral high ground.
So here are the commandments without interpretation. All my testing students should be able to perform the interpretation after taking my class. Each commandment represents good advice for testers. Can you interpret them?
1. Thou shalt pummel thy app with multitudes of input
2. Thou shalt covet thy neighbor's apps
3. Thou shalt seek thee out the wise oracle
4. Thou shalt not worship nonreproducible failures
5. Thou shalt honor thy model and automation
6. Thou shalt hold thy developers sins against them
7. Thou shalt revel in app murder (celebrate the BSOD)
8. Thou shalt keep holy the sabbath (release)
9. Thou shalt covet thy developer's source code
Figure this out for extra credit: Why are there only nine?
"Tester's Golden Rule"
Do unto others until they hate you
Indian tycoon hosts lavish wedding
Thursday, June 24, 2004 Posted: 7:53 PM EDT (2353 GMT)
PARIS, France (AP) -- An Indian steel tycoon reportedly paid $60 million for his daughter's wedding - a six-day bash for 1,500 guests in France's most sumptuous settings, including Versailles.
Lakshmi Mittal rented the Tuileries garden in Paris one night and a gallery at Versailles another night to celebrate the marriage of his 23-year-old daughter, Vanisha, to 25-year-old Amit Bhatia, according to Thursday's edition of Paris Match magazine.
Louis XIV's lavish chateau apparently was not enough - Mittal also had a makeshift castle built at a park in Saint-Cloud, outside the capital, Paris Match said. The actual wedding took place Tuesday at another chateau, Vaux-le-Vicomte.
The $60 million price tag was about the cost of an Airbus A320 passenger jet.
The wedding put on by Mittal, named by Forbes magazine as one of the richest people in the world, cost more than the recent royal wedding in Spain. Paris Match said the wedding of Spain's Crown Prince Felipe to TV anchorwoman Letizia Ortiz cost $35 million.
June 25, 2004
Child poet Mattie Stepanek dies
One of the best-selling poets in recent years
ANNAPOLIS, Maryland (AP) -- Mattie Stepanek, the child poet whose inspirational verse made him a best-selling writer and a prominent voice for muscular dystrophy sufferers, died Tuesday 22nd June of a rare form of the disease. He was 13.
Stepanek died at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, the hospital said. He had been hospitalized since early March for complications related to the disease that impaired most of his body's functions.
In his short life, the tireless Stepanek wrote five volumes of poetry that sold millions of copies. Three of the volumes reached the New York Times' best-seller list.
Mattie J.T. Stepanek, had been writing poetry and short stories since age three. He made several appearances on Oprah, and had also been a guest on Good Morning America, Prime Time Live, and had been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, and People. He was the recipient of several awards, including the 2002 Children's Hope Medal of Honor and the 2002 Verizon Courage Award.
Loving Through Heartsongs
"Mattie was something special, something very special," entertainer Jerry Lewis, who chairs the Muscular Dystrophy Association, said in a statement.
"His example made people want to reach for the best within themselves."
Stepanek, of Rockville, had dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy, a genetic disease that impaired his heart rate, breathing, blood pressure and digestion, and caused muscle weakness.
His mother, Jeni, 44, has the adult-onset form of the disease, and his three older siblings died of it in early childhood.
Key computer coding creator dies
The man who invented the Esperanto of the technology world enabling computers to swap information freely has died.
Bob Bemer developed the Ascii coding system to standardise the way computers represent letters, numbers, punctuation marks and some control codes.
He also introduced the backslash and escape key to the world of computers and was one of the first to warn about the dangers of the millennium bug.
Mr Bemer died on 22 June at his home in Texas following a battle with cancer.
Believe it or not !!!
This is from an email I received. (decide for yourself)
If it is true, though hard to believe, but if its true then its Astonishing!!!!
Only God knows better about this story, but check it out:
Recent exploration activity in the northern region of India uncovered skeletal remains of a human of phenomenal size.
This region of the Indian desert is called the Empty Quarter.
Note: Thanks to reader Krishna, who provided a link to the same story but different country, please check Giant human skeleton found in Saudi Arabia. Thanks Krishna.
The discovery was made by National Geographic Team (India Division) with support from the Indian Army since the area comes under the jurisdiction of the Army. The exploration team also found tablets with inscriptions that stated that our Gods of Indian mythological yore, "Brahma" had created people of phenomenal size the like of which He has not created since. They were very tall, big, and very powerful, such that they could put their arms around a tree trunk and uproot it. They were created to bring order among us since we were always fighting with each other. One of the sons of Bhima of the Pandava brothers is also thought of to have been carrying these genes.
Later these people, who were given all the power, turned against all our Gods, and transgressed beyond all boundaries set. As a result they were destroyed by God Shiva. The Geo Exploration team believes these to be the remains of those people. Govt. of India has secured the whole area and no one is allowed to enter except the Nat Geo personnel. A very small article on this was published in TOI Mumbai edition on 22-Apr-2004. See the image and note the size of the two men standing in the picture in comparison to the size of the skeleton!!
June 24, 2004
Potter mania' is working wonders for scorned epic
(via MV's Gizmos)
Not even dullness can halt the runaway success of Bill Clinton's autobiography IT HAS been panned by the critics and derided by political foes as a work of fiction, but nothing could halt the runaway success of Bill Clinton’s autobiography as it finally hit America’s bookstores yesterday.
With advance sales already topping two million copies, and with thousands queuing overnight to snap up the memoir, the publicity juggernaut of interviews, excerpts and the lure of fresh details about the Monica Lewinsky affair, overwhelmed the dire verdict delivered by reviewers.
My Life by Bill Clinton
Mr Clinton’s 957-page My Life, at times an attempt at self-analysis, but mostly an exhaustive and often exhausting chronicle of his life from the moment he was born in 1946 until the end of his presidency, is set to become the biggest-selling work of nonfiction in history.
“It’s like adult Harry Potter mania. We haven’t seen anything like this since J.K. Rowling came here,” said Michael Link, an employee at Politics & Prose, a Washington bookshop that began selling the memoir at 12.01am yesterday. Last night it was top of Amazon’s bestseller list.
Mr Clinton is unsparing about his enemies on the American Right, but he is kinder to Britain’s political leaders.
Mr Clinton said of Tony Blair, his partner in “Third Way” politics, that the Prime Minister and his wife Cherie “felt like old friends from the start”. The Blairs “made us laugh”, easing tension in the White House on their first visit to the US during the height of the Lewinsky allegations. He said he viewed Mr Blair as a potential leader for “all of Europe”.
Mr Clinton also paid tribute to John Major, especially for his determination in pursuing a peace in Northern Ireland.
He insisted that the Republican-prompted trawl through Home Office records of his time as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford during the 1992 presidential campaign never posed a threat to Anglo-American relations. But he was clearly irked, saying: “I wanted the Tories to worry about it for a while.”
He said Mr Major was “a better leader than his press coverage often suggested”, and praised him for pursuing peace despite the risks to his thin Commons majority.
The most serious rift between them came in 1994 when Mr Major refused to return Mr Clinton’s calls “for days” after the President gave Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, a US visa.
Mr Clinton said the “two best days of my presidency” were spent in Northern Ireland and the Irish republic in 1995, when tens of thousands poured into the streets of Derry and Dublin, and Mr Clinton was mobbed as he went walkabout in both the Protestant Shankill Road and the Republican Falls Road. Evidently proud of his role in the Northern Ireland peace process, Mr Clinton recounts the critical phone calls he made three years later as the Government tried to seal the Good Friday agreement.
Of his meeting with the Queen in 1994, when they sat next to each other at an official dinner, Mr Clinton said: “Her Majesty impressed me as someone who, but for the circumstance of her birth, might have become a successful politician or diplomat. As it was, she had to be both without quite seeming to be either.”
What irked many reviewers, apart from its often dull prose and relentless chronicling of the mundane, was what Mr Clinton left out. The New York Times described the book as “sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull.” USA Today declared: “My Life is not a great book. It’s not even a good book.” But with shoppers apparently disregarding the reviewers, Mr Clinton might finally have something to thank Ms Lewinsky for.
Quoted from timesonline.
Andy Borowitz: Memoir Faces Safety Recall in Seven States
CLINTON BOOK FALLS OFF SHELF, SLAYS THREE by Andy Borowitz
“My Life,” the new memoir by former President Bill Clinton, fell off a bookstore shelf in Eugene, Oregon today, killing three people and seriously wounding five others.
Hours after the fatal accident, believed to be the first of its kind in the history of presidential memoirs, Eugene police were still attempting to piece together what turned Mr. Clinton’s 957-page book into an instrument of death and destruction.
“From what we can tell, it just kind of tipped off a high shelf,” said police detective Mark Drayton. “How on earth anyone ever got it up there is still a mystery to me.”
While friends of the book’s victims held a prayer vigil outside the Stop, Book and Listen bookstore near the University of Oregon, seven western states ordered an “emergency safety recall” of all copies of the lengthy memoir.
“This book is more than just deadly boring – it is deadly,” said Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski.
In yet another freak accident, President George W. Bush shot himself in the foot today while showing off a pistol that once belonged to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Mr. Bush, who keeps the souvenir of the Iraqi strongman in the Oval Office to show to visiting dignitaries, accidentally fired the gun while twirling it on his index finger like an “Old West” six-shooter.
The president’s foot was immediately treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and was said to be resting comfortably.
Speaking to reporters after the foot-shooting incident, Mr. Bush said, “This should leave little doubt in anyone’s mind that Saddam Hussein possessed very dangerous weapons.”
June 23, 2004
How to make a cup of tea
How to make a cup of tea
One or two Americans have asked me why it is that the English like tea so much, which never seems to them to be a very good drink. To understand, you have to know how to make it properly.
A guide by the sorely missed Douglas Adams which is part of his own creation, the now BBC owned H2G2. h2g2 is an unconventional guide to life, the universe and everything, an encyclopaedic project where entries are written by people from all over the world.
June 22, 2004
(Note: I could not decide what category to post this to, so I selected the two I thought fits the bill. Please let me know what you think)
Essential additions for the workplace vocabulary:
BLAMESTORMING: Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.
SEAGULL MANAGER: A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.
ASSMOSIS: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.
SALMON DAY: The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.
CUBE FARM: An office filled with cubicles.
PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.
MOUSE POTATO: The on-line, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.
SITCOMs: Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.
STRESS PUPPY: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiney.
SWIPEOUT: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.
XEROX SUBSIDY: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.
IRRITAINMENT: Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. The O.J. trials were a prime example.
PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE: The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.
ADMINISPHERE: The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.
404: Someone who's clueless. From the World Wide Web error message "404 NotFound," meaning that the requested document could not be located.
GENERICA: Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, subdivisions...
OHNOSECOND: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake.
WOOFYS: Well Off Older Folks.
CROP DUSTING: Surreptitiously farting while passing thru a cube farm, then enjoying the sounds of dismay and disgust.
June 21, 2004
The current U.S. war with Iraq is just another in a long, grim line of military engagements. For a lesson on conflicts of the past 100 years, this site from the Nobel e-Museum is essential in gaining historical perspective. Launch the map and you'll find a little flame icon for every large-scale war. Mouse over an icon for a description of the conflict. By sliding the bar along the bottom, you can move through the century and witness Europe in flames during the early half of the century, while Africa and Southeast Asia experienced the horrors of war in the latter half. For a detailed look, use the sliding scale to the right of the map to zoom in on a continent or region. The eternal question of why we fight may never be answered, but this site is a fascinating starting point to open the discussion.
For the most part, outer space is overrated. Inky blackness dotted with some far-off twinkling stars and a few distant planets pales in comparison to the Earth-bound excitement of choppin' wood and clearin' brush. However, Cities Collection from NASA just might change your opinion of the crashing boredom inspired by the final frontier with its photos taken from distant space. You can zoom in on any country you'd like (for starters, we suggest Djibouti) and get a look at it from space's perspective. Browse high-aerial photos taken of cities spanning the globe. The coolest feature allows you to zoom in on cities in photos taken by astronauts and compare the area to a map. The photo of Washington D.C. has yet to be redacted and the astonishing density of New York City is apparent from afar. Those who find life beyond Earth mundane will be singing the praises of orbit thanks to some spectacular shots from space.
June 20, 2004
Googlebomb Watch keeps an eye on the latests (and older) Googlebombs.
Googlebomb Watch keeps an eye on the latests (and older) Googlebombs. What's a Googlebomb? A Googlebomb is when a group of people link to a specific chosen page using a specific chosen link-text, in order to push this page up in the Google ranking. This can have political reasons and discredits a person, or is done for fun as part of a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) challenge.
2004 Top 100 Sites
PC Magazine's 2004 Top 100 Sites You Can't Live Without. That should keep you busy for a while! ;)
June 19, 2004
The New Diamond Age
Economists are already scratching their heads over how to rename the Diamond-Water-Paradox. Yup, it seems likely that, in the near future, the old name could fail to convey the central message. Why? The answer lies in what is called man-made, synthetic or cultured diamonds.
First of all, some background information:
Synthetic diamonds were first produced on February 16, 1953 in Stockholm by the QUINTUS project of ASEA, Sweden's major electrical manufacturing company using a bulky apparatus designed by Baltzar von Platen. The discovery was kept secret and in 1955 the General Electric Research Laboratory announced the invention of the first reproducible process for making diamonds. Ergo, synthetic diamonds are nothing new. Tiny synthetic diamonds are used in saw blades for cutting asphalt and marble, in drill bits for oil and gas drilling, and even as an exfoliant (substance for removing dead skin cells) in cosmetics.
For quite some time there have been rumors around that GE can already produce diamonds that are visually indistinguishable from their mined counterparts but decided not to engage in the jewelry business. Some people say that agents from De Beers with dark sunglasses were seen arriving at and leaving GE's corporate headquarters. A gentlemen's agreement? If one takes into account that GE would have to produce quite a lot of diamonds to be able to sell them at reasonable prices (economies of scale) and that the value of diamonds would drop tremendously since scarcity is no longer an issue, one can assume that De Beers could come up with incentives for GE to enter such an agreement.
But now, armed with inexpensive, mass-produced gems, two startups (Gemesis and Apollo Diamond) are launching an assault on the De Beers cartel. Here is the superb story.
Picture shows Malaysian model Kavita Kaur with one of the world's most expensive 'diamond' gown in Kuala Lumpur (2002). The gown, worth 19 million ringgit ($5 million) has almost 2,500 diamonds hand-sewn in by its creator American Anne Bowen. In total, the diamonds on the gown weight 625.25 carats.
(via the alpha and omega)
June 18, 2004
NOVA: World in the Balance
NOVA: World in the Balance - PBS investigates the impact of forces that are radically changing populations in both rich and poor nations. Examines pollution in China, overpopulation in India, and how AIDS affects the adult population of Africa.
In the time it takes you to read this Pick, roughly 400 babies will be born, edging the world's population closer to the 6.5 billion mark. Incredibly, it took from the start of human history until 1804 for the world's population to reach a billion people. Two hundred years later, it takes only 12 years to add a billion, and we're careening to a whopping 9 billion people by 2050 if the world's families exceed the magical birth rate of two kids per household. Controlling population growth is hampered by a complex global equation of many factors, including social and gender inequity in India and the ravages of HIV and AIDS in Africa. Conversely, the one-child policy and massive pollution of China, as well as Japan's dramatic dwindling birth rates could also put the world's supply of natural resources in peril. Addressing this crisis in developing nations requires education and giving women control of their reproductive legacy. While change may be costly, the price of unchecked growth is much greater.
You may also want to read 'The Graying of the Middle Kingdom'.
Positive Lives - international project that photographs and documents the social and emotional impact of the global HIV/AIDS crisis.
AIDS is everyone's problem. In America today, people who contract HIV are often able to lead normal lives due to recent medical advances. However, this is not the case in the rest of the world where people not only suffer from the disease, but also suffer from a lack of understanding in their communities. This site introduces you to people who are impacting communities hit hard by the disease. In rural Thailand, HIV-positive monks care for the dying and educate locals who are misinformed about the spread of the virus. Korean Kim S-Woon leads the charge in a land where gays face ostracism and hostility should they "come out," resulting in lives full of secrecy and HIV-risk. In Africa, young women are prey to HIV-positive men who think sex with a virgin will cure them, while HIV-positive babies are often abandoned. Read their stories to see the true face of AIDS.
Spymac, Google, Yahoo and now Rediff
It started with Spymac giving 1GB free, followed by Google giving gmail 1GB account by invites and created frenzy, not to miss the race Yahoo upgraded themselves and offer now 100MB. Indian Rediff decided to follow and capture the Indian masses with an offer of 1GB free.
June 17, 2004
How to Save the World
Dave Pollard [1 2] has some thought-provoking ideas on how to "create a new 'tipping point' to restore our planet's, and our, health, and replace the thirty thousand year old, well-intentioned but fatally flawed and unsustainable culture called civilization."
Read a very good book: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
[via Innovation Weblog] Paul Schumann points to an article in The Innovation Road Map Magazine (Vol. 1, No. 2) by Gregg Edwards, which "describes the four abilities that develop the capability of strategic thinking":
1. Visionary time frame, or the ability to see the true potential of ever-larger new enterprises and then tenaciously actualize that truth.
2. Perspective, or the ability to cull from ordinary impressions the most consequential patterns of events and to evaluate their significance from many perspectives.
3. Comprehension, or the ability to quickly assemble all salient factors into strategies and to understand their implications at many levels.
4. Flexibility, or the ability to strategically organize both action and learning – to take advantage of and be responsive to unknowns as they become known.
Paul writes: "However, as Edwards points out, it is not just these four abilities, but the four taken together as a whole that creates strategic thought. The synergy of the four, taken together, when actualized create results that appear to many as 'magic'. The four abilities are not sequential but simultaneous and strategic thinkers constantly interplay the results of the four types of thinking with each other, almost in real time."
(thanks to Rajesh Jain)
June 16, 2004
Science Fiction hall of fame
On Friday, the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame will open in Seattle, thanks to $20 million from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The futuristic--or, perhaps, weird--looking building is at the base of the Space Needle and has the monorail running through it. Exhibits range from Captain Kirk's command chair and interactive computer-animated displays to literary tributes to important Sci-Fi authors. In honor of the occasion, does any science fan in this blogosphere want to explain why they enjoy this genre? What would you recommend for someone who wants to give this genre a try? And has anyone read any good science fiction lately?
Another very good site is Science Fiction Museum.
June 15, 2004
Change of service to your Yahoo! Mail account
Received this email:
Notice: Change of service to your Yahoo! Mail account
Dear Yahoo! Mail User,
Thanks for using Yahoo! Mail. It's our goal to offer you an email experience that makes it easy and enjoyable to stay in touch. Periodically, we make service changes to enhance that experience for our users. As of June 15, 2004, you'll enjoy the following benefits:
* Increased storage capacity – from your current level to 100MB
* Increase in total message size to 10MB
* A streamlined interface that's even easier to use
You will continue to access your Yahoo! Mail account as usual. No further action is required, and there will be no interruption of your service.
We hope you enjoy the new features and benefits. If you have any questions, please visit our Help page. Thanks again for using Yahoo! Mail.
The Yahoo! Mail Team
Citizen's Band Radio
The Citizen's Band (CB) Radio Service, also known simply as CB, is a public, two-way personal radio service. There are several classifications of CB operation. The best-known form of CB is voice communications that became a fad in the 1970s. Mobile CB operation, especially in cars and trucks, remains popular. To a lesser extent, "CB'ers" engage in fixed operation from homes, and in portable communications using handheld transceivers.
CB Radio is a radio service that does not require a license to operate on.
For more information on CB. Don't forget to check the 10 codes.
- 10-4 has become famous... police also use those short codes on their radios.
- there are also a lot of CB Slang... like good lookin women are called "Seat Covers".
- Convoy... is is when a group of trucks ban together via CB and travel together for long stretches. This was early networking.
Internet and Cell Phones have now taken over CB.
A good book:The World of CB Radio by Mark Long, Bonnie Crystal, Jeffrey Keating
June 14, 2004
Winged Sandals - magical Flash tour of Greek gods, daring heroes, and fabulous monsters lead by Hermes the messenger god.
The fleet-footed Greek god Hermes is your playful host on this sweeping aerial tour of the fabled Mount Olympus and the heroes, monsters, and immortals that hang out there. Follow the messenger god as he alights on the amphitheatre, where tales of Orpheus and the Underworld, as well as Demeter and Persephone, are retold through interactive cartoons. Next, stop by the Olympic arena, where Daedalus makes light of Icarus’ bird complex while Amazons go sandal-to-sandal with Athenians. Have a burning question? Ask the Delphic Oracle and look into your future. Other Grecian goodies include mythical desktop backgrounds and Gorgon-inspired e-cards, perfect for when you care enough to send the very Hellenic. Amid the fun, Hermes returns to walk you through ancient philosophy, art and architecture, food and fashion, and the history of Olympic tradition. Let your imagination soar in this animated dream world.
Check out: Heroes, Gods and Monsters of Greek Myths by Bernard Evslin
Note: Winged Sandals is AIMIA Winner for Best eLearning and Best of the Web Awards 2003
June 13, 2004
Rikers Island planning to kill Canada Geese
Posted on behalf of United Action for Animals:
URGENT PHONE CALL ALERT:
STOP THE CANADA GEESE KILL ON RIKERS ISLAND
Thanks to a whistleblower, United Action For Animals has learned that the NYC Dept. of Corrections (DOC) has made a secret plan to exterminate the Canada Goose population of about 200 living on Rikers Island, where the prison is located, on June 25th. The geese do not nest where there is human foot traffic. DOC claims that they are a hazard to nearby LaGuardia airplane traffic, which is not true as the population has been there for more than a decade without incident (in larger numbers in the past). These geese are not doing any harm and we have notified DOC that we oppose this secret plan that involves paying the USDA to carry out the killing.
As taxpayers and humane New Yorkers, please phone the Commissioner of Corrections and City Hall to state your opposition to this inhumane plan. There are non-lethal methods of addressing this issue. The question is whether DOC will listen to the avian experts. DEMAND THE KILLING BE STOPPED.
Please call AND email:
Martin Horn, DOC Commissioner - 212 266.1212 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Michael Bloomberg - 212-788-3000 - email@example.com
More information on Canada Geese.
Thanks, I and the geese highly appreciate it.
June 12, 2004
Food Timeline, The
Food Timeline, The - in case you've ever wondered what the Vikings ate, how Jefferson made his ice cream, and what pioneers cooked along the Oregon Trail.
Looking for social customs, manners & menus? Try the Culinary History Timeline. Bon appetit.
Americans have a love affair with food. But do the hungry masses ever consider the history of the crispy French fry or humble hamburger when they mosey up to the register and super-size their order? This comprehensive timeline offers links to the history of hundreds of foods, starting with salt and ending with the latest product from Kraft. Do you know when pasta was invented or where sushi was first eaten? Ever wonder what Christopher Columbus packed for his famous voyages or which condiment was invented first, Tabasco sauce or A1 Steak Sauce? The answers might surprise you, but you'll have a delectable time discovering the history of food. Dig in, and don't forget to pass the potato chips.
Information is checked against standard reference tools for accuracy--The Oxford Companion to Food (Davidson) , The Cambridge World History of Food (Kiple & Ornelas) , Larousse Gastronomique (New American Edition, Lang  and Revised/Updated English edition ) , The Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink, (Mariani) , Food in History (Tannahill) , History of Food (Toussaint-Samat) , and other sources as needed.
June 11, 2004
Ray Charles - one of the greatest blues and jazz singers of this century dies at 73.
Blind by age 7 and an orphan at 15, Charles spent his life shattering any notion of musical boundaries and defying easy definition. A gifted pianist and saxophonist, he dabbled in country, jazz, big band and blues, and put his stamp on it all with a deep, warm voice roughened by heartbreak from a hardscrabble childhood in the segregated South.
"His sound was stunning -- it was the blues, it was R&B, it was gospel, it was swing -- it was all the stuff I was listening to before that but rolled into one amazing, soulful thing," singer Van Morrison told Rolling Stone magazine in April.
Charles won nine of his 12 Grammy Awards between 1960 and 1966, including the best R&B recording three consecutive years ('Hit the Road Jack,' 'I Can't Stop Loving You' and 'Busted').
Coca-Cola Television Advertisements
Coca-Cola Television Advertisements - presents a variety of television advertisements, never-broadcast outtakes, and experimental footage reflecting the historical development of television advertising for a major commercial product.
Blatte's Backgrounds, a collection of original fractal images. With an explanation of what software to use and how to do create.
June 10, 2004
The Visual Thesaurus
The Visual Thesaurus takes a unique, and remarkably beautiful, approach to presenting the results of a word lookup. Discover and learn from nearly 140,000 words, meanings and relationships.
"Visual Thesaurus offers an engaging way to explore the English language. You enter a word and then choose a path. Type in booty, for example, and follow the loot path (as opposed to the prize and plunder paths), then you can choose to go with lucre, and so on." - PC Magazine
"The whole interface feels almost live; it reinforces word connections in a direct manner and encourages exploration... overall it's a rare, rewarding example of a paper-bound process that has been radically rethought from the bits up." - Washington Post
"Search for the word "plain'' in a conventional book-bound thesaurus, and you will find an unadorned and featureless list of synonyms on the printed page. Search for the same word with Visual Thesaurus 2.0, and the program generates an animated three-dimensional constellation in which "plain" is at the center, surrounded by synonyms and other related words. Click on the antonym "fancy'' and that word drifts to middle of the screen, where synonyms rush to encircle it in an elaborate, showy and -- the people who came up with it hope -- thought-provoking display." - The New York Times
"Reference books have come a long way from the days when they were unwieldy volumes with thin pages dog-eared from use. The best recent advance in reference technology is the Plumb Design Visual Thesaurus, which uses Web animation to illustrate the latticework of language. Enter a word, and the thesaurus will generate a solar system of similar words orbiting around the sun of the original term; click on one of those words, and the system will reorganize." - The New Yorker
the lost city of Atlantis?
Do these satellite images show the lost city of Atlantis?
A scientist says he may have found remains of the lost city of Atlantis.
Satellite photos of southern Spain reveal features on the ground appearing to match descriptions made by Greek scholar Plato of the fabled utopia.
Dr Rainer Kuehne thinks the "island" of Atlantis simply referred to a region of the southern Spanish coast destroyed by a flood between 800 BC and 500 BC.
June 09, 2004
hilarious medical cartoons
Found some hilarious medical cartoons while surfing. For more funny ones take a peek at this site. AND enjoy!
wanna live longer? Get a Ph.D.!
The secrets of long life revealed?
People with PhDs live longer than those with masters degrees. Those with a masters live longer than those with a degree, while those with a degree live longer than those who left school early.
Similarly, actors who have won an Oscar will live on average three years longer than those who were nominated for the award but missed out.
Petals around the Rose
Brain teaser of the day: Petals around the Rose. Once you think you know the answer, you can test yourself with this applet.
June 08, 2004
The Venus Transit 2004
Check out the stunning videos from ESO.
Fourth contact has happened - the transit is over! As Jeremiah Horrocks (1618-1641), the first observer of a Venus Transit, we can say "I then beheld a most agreeable spectacle, the object of my sanguine wishes, a spot of unusual magnitude and of perfectly circular shape".
And we can appreciate the small poem he wrote after witnessing this marvellous event:
Oh! then farewell, thou beauteous queen!
Thy sway may soften natures yet untamed,
Whose breasts, bereft of the native fury,
Then shall learn the milder virtues.
We, with anxious mind, follow thy latest footsteps here,
And far as thought can carry us;
My labours now bedeck the monument for future times
Which thou at parting left us. Thy return
Posterity shall witness; years must roll away,
But then at length the splendid sight
Again shall greet our distant children's eyes.
Jeremiah Horrocks (1618-1641)
Transit of Venus Plates
The US Naval Observatory recorded the 1882 transit. Only these 11 of the original glass negatives have survived. The images show Venus's movement and were important for determining the scale of the solar system.
The site where these plates were taken is unknown.
Images from photographic plates of the Transit of Venus (Venus crossing the face of the Sun), a very rare phenomenon that last occurred in 1874 and 1882. Wet bromo-iodide plates were used in 1874, but by 1882 dry collodion emulsion plates were available. The Naval Observatory and Transit of Venus Commission sent 8 parties around the world to observe each of the transits; the results were important for determining the scale of the solar system. Only 11 plates survive from the American 1882 expeditions; none of the plates from the American 1874 transit expeditions has survived. The next transits of Venus occur in 2004 and 2012.
Venus Transit 2004: Sun-Earth Day
Venus Transit 2004: Sun-Earth Day
Venus' serene brilliance as seen from Earth's night sky belies her truly tempestuous and deadly surface. Yet the namesake of the fairest Roman goddess promises to stage a unique celestial beauty pageant come tomorrow. The transit of Venus is the most rare of all eclipses -- no one living today has witnessed it -- and has occurred only six times since the invention of the telescope. Satellites and observatories alike their powerful gazes toward our twin planet as she gracefully makes her way between the Earth and the Sun. The entire passage will take six hours, and in that time, gazers will see a hint of the raging Venusian atmosphere reflected off its shadow. If you plan to watch, take care to practice safe viewing techniques. Even from afar, beauty of this magnitude can truly be blinding.
June 07, 2004
Welcome to the explosive demolition industry’s worldwide source for news and information on building implosions, blowdowns and all other types of structural blasting projects.
Implosion world publishes news, feature articles and non-proprietary technical information. In addition, there’s the award-winning photography captured by Protec Documentation Services as well as many outside contributors. Throughout this website, you’ll find images designed to capture the essence of each unique project, as we work to present an insightful look into the world of explosive demolition with perspective and integrity.
June 06, 2004
Double-Tongued Word Wrester
Double-Tongued Word Wrester
English is like a nation with an open-door policy for languages, one of the few tongues that gladly accepts foreign words and slang into its ranks, creating a mélange, potpourri, and mishmash, if you will, of cross-cultural zingers. Much like an immigration officer, the wordsmith behind this unique slang dictionary tracks borrowed, niche, hybrid, and jargon words as they land on our linguistic shores. From Canadians, we learn to be wary of bed-blockers. Aussies are accepting of mollydookers, while India's babalogs and obesogenic Yanks are not necessarily Japan's puroburemu. And a paleoconservative tip drill should really chillax and enjoy some tasty mangel. Browse words by country of use, and co-opt a few choice phrases for your own conversation
The Word on the Street
The Word on the Street
Sex! Murder! Disaster! Juicy tabloid headlines or journalistic history? Before yellow journalism's heyday, broadsides were the pop-culture vehicles of early newsmongers. These single sheets of paper, posted on alehouses and public venues, were initially reserved for royal proclamations and official notices. They quickly expanded their distribution and content to cover local crime, sports, romance, humor, and superstitions that eager readers consumed with ravenous delight. Here you'll find 300 years of tales from Scotland's storied past, featuring wives for sale, execution notices, cholera outbreaks, and even ghostly apparitions. Dating from 1650 to 1910, these priceless media nuggets prove that whether fact, fiction, or mere exaggeration, the public's appetite for sensationalism has long been insatiable
June 05, 2004
Viennese veggie orchestra makes sweet music
Afterwards, 90 lbs of instruments are cooked for a soup
HAMBURG, Germany - The sound of 90 pounds of finely tuned cucumbers, leeks, potatoes, radishes, peppers and other vegetables entertained a German audience at a weekend concert by the Viennese Vegetable Orchestra.
The instruments of the first viennese vegetable orchestra consist solely of vegetables, except that where necessary additional (kitchen) utensils such as knives or mixers are used. this creates an outstanding, totally new sound which can not be achieved with traditional instruments. marinated sound ideas and tinned listening habits want to expand experience!
Listen to the sound of veges.
Excellent Excel Art
[Excel file, Safe Download] With each cell at 15% zoom, this must have taken helluva lot of patience! Brilliant stuff.
Pigs and Politics
A group of 60 prominent American scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, recently wrote a report accusing the Bush administration of "misrepresenting and suppressing scientific knowledge for political purposes." Jeffrey Kaye looks at how this debate is taking shape on industrial hog farms.
June 04, 2004
The squirrel and the motorcycle
(very funny- do not drink anything when you read this)
Neighborhood Hazard or Why the Cops Won't Patrol Brice Street Any More:
I never dreamed slowly cruising on my motorcycle through a residential neighborhood could be so incredibly dangerous! I was on Brice Street - a very nice neighborhood with perfect lawns and slow traffic. As I passed an oncoming car, a brown, furry missile shot out from under it and tumbled to a stop immediately in front of me.
It was a squirrel, and must have been trying to run across the road when it encountered the car. I really was not going very fast, but there was no time to brake or avoid it -- it was that close. I hate to run over animals, and I really hate it on a motorcycle, but a squirrel should pose no danger to me. I barely had time to brace for the impact. Animal lovers, never fear. Squirrels, I discovered, can take care of themselves! Inches before impact, the squirrel flipped to his feet. He was standing on his hind legs and facing my oncoming Valkyrie with steadfast resolve in his little beady eyes.
His mouth opened, and at the last possible second, he screamed and leapt! I am pretty sure the scream was squirrel for, "Bonzai!" or maybe, "Die you gravy-sucking, heathen scum!" The leap was nothing short of spectacular ... as he shot straight up, flew over my windshield, and impacted me squarely in the chest. Instantly, he set upon me. If I did not know better, I would have sworn he brought 20 of his little buddies along for the attack. Snarling, hissing, and tearing at my clothes, he was a frenzy of activity. As I was dressed only in a light T-shirt, summer riding gloves, and jeans this was a bit of a cause for concern. This furry little tornado was doing some damage!
Picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a T-shirt, and leather gloves, puttering at maybe 25 mph down a quiet residential street, and in the fight of his life with a squirrel. And losing ... I grabbed for him with my left hand. After a few misses, I finally managed to snag his tail. With all my strength, I flung the evil rodent off to the left of the bike, almost running into the right curb as I recoiled from the throw. That should have done it. The matter should have ended right there. It really should have. The squirrel could have sailed into one of the pristinely kept yards and gone on about his business, and I could have headed home. No one would have been the wiser. But this was no ordinary squirrel. This was not even an ordinary angry squirrel. This was an EVIL MUTANT ATTACK SQUIRREL OF DEATH!
Somehow he caught my gloved finger with one of his little hands and, with the force of the throw, swung around and with a resounding thump and an amazing impact, he landed squarely on my back and resumed his rather antisocial and extremely distracting activities. He also managed to take my left glove with him! The situation was not improved. Not improved at all. His attacks were continuing, and now I could not reach him. I was startled, to say the least. The combination of the force of the throw, only having onehand (the throttle hand) on the handlebars, and my jerking back unfortunately put a healthy twist through my right hand and into the throttle. A healthy twist on the throttle of a Valkyrie can only have one result.
Torque. This is what the Valkyrie is made for, and she is very, very good at it. The engine roared and the front wheel left the pavement. The squirrel screamed in anger. The Valkyrie screamed in ecstasy. I screamed in .. well .. I just plain screamed
Now picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a slightly squirrel-torn-t-shirt, wearing only one leather glove, and roaring at maybe 50 mph and rapidly accelerating down a quiet residential street on one wheel, with a demonic squirrel on his back. The man and the squirrel are both screaming bloody murder. With the sudden acceleration I was forced to put my other hand back on the handlebars and try to get control of the bike This was leaving the mutant squirrel to his own devices, but I really did not want to crash into somebody's tree, house, or parked car. Also, I had not yet figured out how to release the throttle... my brain was just simply overloaded. I did manage to mash the back brake, but it had little effect against the massive power of the big cruiser. About this time the squirrel decided that I was not paying sufficient attention to this very serious battle (maybe he was an evil mutant NAZI attack squirrel of death), and he came around my neck and got INSIDE my full-face helmet with me As the faceplate closed part way, he began hissing in my face. I am quite sure my screaming changed intensity. It had little effect on the squirrel, however. The RPMs on the Dragon maxed out (since I was not bothering with shifting at the moment), so her front end started to drop.
Now picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a very raggedly torn T-shirt, wearing only one leather glove, roaring at probably 80 mph, still on one wheel, with a large puffy squirrel's tail sticking out of the mostly closed full-face helmet. By now the screams are probably getting a little hoarse. Finally I got the upper hand ... I managed to grab his tail again, pulled him out of my helmet, and slung him to the left as hard as I could. This time it worked ... sort of. Spectacularly sort-of ...so to speak.
Picture a new scene. You are a cop. You and your partner have pulled off on a quiet residential street and parked with your windows down to do some paperwork. Suddenly a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a torn T-shirt flapping in the breeze, and wearing only one leather glove, moving at probably 80 mph on one wheel, and screaming bloody murder roars by, and with all his strength throws a live squirrel grenade directly into your police car.
I heard screams.
They weren't mine...
I managed to get the big motorcycle under control and dropped the front wheel to the ground. I then used maximum braking and skidded to a stop in a cloud of tire smoke at the stop sign of a busy cross street. I would have returned to 'fess up (and to get my glove back). I really would have. Really... Except for two things. First, the cops did not seem interested or the slightest bit concerned about me at the moment. When I looked back, the doors on both sides of the patrol car were flung wide open. The cop from the passenger side was on his back, doing a crab walk into somebody's front yard, quickly moving away from the car. The cop who had been in the driver's seat was standing in the street, aiming a riot shotgun at his own police car. So, the cops were not interested in me. They often insist to "let the professionals handle it" anyway. That was one thing. The other?
Well, I could clearly see shredded and flying pieces of foam and upholstery from the back seat. But I could also swear I saw the squirrel in the back window, shaking his little fist at me. That is one dangerous squirrel. And now he has a patrol car. A somewhat shredded patrol car ... but it was all his.
I took a deep breath, turned on my turn-signal, made a gentle right turn off of Brice Street, and sedately left the neighborhood. I decided it was best to just buy myself a new pair of gloves. And a whole lot of Band-Aids.
Does Microsoft really do anything new?
How much more stupid is everyone going to get, before this behemoth will be stopped?
Microsoft has successfully patented using short, long or double clicks to launch different applications on "limited resource computing devices" - presumably PDAs and mobile phones.
June 03, 2004
Enron Traders Caught On Tape
(CBS) When a forest fire shut down a major transmission line into California, cutting power supplies and raising prices, Enron energy traders celebrated, CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports.
"Burn, baby, burn. That's a beautiful thing," a trader sang about the massive fire.
Four years after California's disastrous experiment with energy deregulation, Enron energy traders can be heard – on audiotapes obtained by CBS News – gloating and praising each other as they helped bring on, and cash-in on, the Western power crisis.
Aventure Media is the Gmail killer. No more waiting for Gmail to be released, Aventure Media is already offering 2GB of storage. Looks like they are now down due to the large number of hits. [via theregister]
Maybe if you wait a few more weeks, you may get 1TB space email account...:-)
June 02, 2004
AHMED CHALABI from the COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
BACKGROUND ON THE NEWS: AHMED CHALABI
from the COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
"The End of the Chalabi Affair?" May 26, 2004
FOREIGN AFFAIRS authors' update: Daniel Byman, Kenneth Pollack, Gideon Rose
Of all the curious features of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, none has been curiouser than the administration's love affair with the erstwhile Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi. His generous monthly stipend was cut off recently, and even some of his strongest supporters at the Pentagon seem to be backing away from him now amid charges that key members of his organization, the Iraqi National Congress, passed secret intelligence to Iran. Yet historians will ask not only why he ultimately fell from grace, but rather how he could possibly have maintained his position as the administration's favorite Iraqi for so long in the face of a nearly unblemished record of error and deceit over the years.
Prior to his recent problems, Chalabi was most notorious for his role in feeding faulty intelligence to the United States and others about the urgent and dire threat posed by Saddam's unconventional weapons programs. The source of many of the Bush administration's starkest and now discredited prewar charges, Chalabi himself had few regrets, telling London's Daily Telegraph a few months ago that he and his colleagues were "heroes in error. As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important."
Long before the intelligence scandals, however, Chalabi had been a controversial figure. He was convicted of embezzling millions of dollars from a Jordanian bank in the 1980s, and the CIA soured on him when he failed to deliver on promises to galvanize a viable opposition to Saddam Hussein during the early and mid 1990s. By the late 1990s, however, Chalabi had reemerged as a tireless advocate for the idea that Saddam could be overthrown at little cost and with little effort, were U.S. officials only willing to give the INC some support and help it take some Iraqi territory.
Appearing when Americans were increasingly uncomfortable with the existing policy of containment, Chalabi's views about "rollback" found favor with a number of influential critics of the Clinton administration. The notion that Saddam could be toppled without a full-scale U.S. invasion was appealing, because in the pre-9/11 world such an invasion was politically unthinkable. Chalabi and his supporters held out the hope of an easy way out, a path beyond the various unpalatable alternatives considered feasible by mainstream analysts.
The only problem, as we noted in our Foreign Affairs article The Rollback Fantasy, was that the Iraqi opposition's military plans were ludicrous, and trying to put them into practice would likely lead to a replay of the fiasco with Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs. This was not welcome news in Washington in 1999, and for pointing out that the INC emperor had no clothes we were roundly attacked as scoundrels or defeatists. As one neoconservative critic put it, "This reflects how unimaginative, cynical, embarrassed and apologetic our foreign policy establishment is now."
According to Bob Woodward's book Plan of Attack, variants of an opposition-based war plan were being pushed by high-level civilians at the Bush Pentagon well into 2001. In the event, of course, the administration wisely chose to reject such ideas, and Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled not by Ahmed Chalabi and his minions but by one of the most powerful military machines ever assembled.
With the course of the war having proved that Chalabi's approach would have been a disaster, one might think that Chalabi's star would have dimmed. Yet oddly enough, it was precisely Chalabi's strongest backers who were entrusted with near-total control over postwar planning, and they managed to see to it that he and his organization were given prominent roles -- and lavish perks -- in the new Iraq.
As the occupation has followed its checkered path over the last 15 months, Chalabi and his organization have played a central role at many steps along the way. They have been responsible for providing a good amount of solid intelligence on the whereabouts of insurgents and former regime officials, but have also gained new critics for a variety of abuses. The heavy reliance on Chalabi and other exiles, moreover, helped dim the luster of the Coalition Provisional Authority in the eyes of many Iraqis.
Anticipating being denied a role in the new government scheduled to take over from the CPA in July, Chalabi has recently become an increasingly vocal critic of American policy. The scandal over the alleged transfer of intelligence to Iran might end his affair with the Bush administration once and for all. Why it began in the first place and continued for so long remains a mystery.
The above is a postscript by the authors to their January/February 1999 FOREIGN AFFAIRS essay "The Rollback Fantasy."
MORE FROM THE COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS:
Interview with Bernard Gwertzman on April 8, 2004:
Transcript of June 10, 2003 Council Meeting: http://www.uptilt.com/ct.html?rtr=on&s=c7q,6rex,qks,fo7w,j1ng,ix86,k8mi
Transcript of February 1, 2002 Council Meeting: http://www.uptilt.com/ct.html?rtr=on&s=c7q,6rex,qks,b7eb,ddtp,ix86,k8mi
Please direct inquiries to Lisa Shields, Vice President, Communications, (212)434-9888 or firstname.lastname@example.org;
Marie X. Strauss, Deputy Director of Communications,
(212)434-9536 or email@example.com;
or Marieke Beeuwkes, Communications Associate
(212)434-9537 or firstname.lastname@example.org
World Wide Panorama
The presence of a "day in pictures" is quickly becoming a web cliché. Standing out from the crowded field of sites dedicated to photography requires an interesting hook. And this head-turning site provides one while putting a whole new spin on "spanning the globe." Panoramic photographers all over the world snapped their surroundings on March 20th, the Equinox, and now you can harvest the fruits of their labor. The 360-degree nature of the photos allows you to fully immerse yourself in places you've never visited. Start your tour at the Giza pyramids, jump over to a single shot encompassing three countries, surround yourself with cherry blossoms in L.A., and for a fitting finish to your tour, savor a sunset off the coast of Perth. While the rotating photos might leave you woozy, you're sure to enjoy the sensation of a whirlwind world tour. Zoom in and take it all in.
Don't forget to check the details on cameras and equipment
June 01, 2004
The Visual Record
Photography sites proliferate on the Internet, leading some jaded individuals to claim, "if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all." Obviously they haven't laid eyes on this site, a "visual record" that challenges the aforementioned assumption with an incredible collection of more than 1,000 images accompanied by thoughtful descriptions. great place to start perusing is the photographer's favorites for a visual lesson in composition, framing, and use of light. Once you've finished savoring the beauty of the favorites, head over to Out of Focus, a regularly updated blog where you can read the stories behind the photos.
The site is one big "must see," but be sure not to miss LomoWall, a photo essay composed entirely of images taken with a manual Lomo film camera, and the Southwest China collection, an amazing set of photos capturing the exceptional beauty of the people, places, and things of this seldom-seen land.
Cameras used: Canon 10D and Lomo LC-A.
Digital Photography Review
Know which digital camera is good AGFA, Canon, CASIO, CONTAX, EPSON, FUJIFILM, hp, JVC, Kodak, KONICA MINOLTA, Kyocera, Leica, Nikon, OLYMPUS, Panasonic, Pentax, RICOH, SAMSUNG, SANYO, SIGMA, SONY, TOSHIBA?
At Digital Photography Review, you'll find all the latest in digital photography and imaging news, reviews of the latest digital cameras and accessories, the most active discussion forums, a large selection of sample images, a digital camera buyers guide, side-by-side comparisons and the most comprehensive database of digital camera features and specifications.
Forget Splitting Atoms, Split a Banana for Energy
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian scientists have discovered what sportsmen and women around the world have known for years: bananas are a great source of instant energy.
A new government-funded study is investigating the possibility of harnessing bruised or spoilt bananas -- deemed not worth selling to consumers -- to provide energy for 500 homes.
"It's not a hoax," Australian Banana Growers' Council Chief Executive Tony Heidrich said on Tuesday.
Reminiscent of the pig-powered town in the futuristic movie Mad Max Thunderdome, bananas would be combined with bacteria to produce methane. Pipes would take the gas to a turbine which could be plugged into the main electricity grid.
"It's like a big stomach. You open the lid, you put the stuff in and seal the lid and...away you go," said Heidrich by telephone from the nation's banana-growing state of Queensland.
"Essentially it's just like a big composting bin. It's a waste product and currently we're not doing anything else with it. This would harness the electrical capacity that it can bring," he said.
However, Heidrich said other fruit-powered homes, such as apricot, pineapple or kiwi-fruit, were unlikely anytime soon.
"Initially I think they'll stick to bananas but potentially you could use other fruit," he said.
Ethanol from sugar cane has already been tested for commercial energy use and the husks of Australia's native Macadamia nuts have been used as fuel to make electricity.
© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.