30 January 2007

And now, dogs and lasers

Music video for Vitalic's "Poney Part I"

26 January 2007

Just a few qualifying questions

As he's about to enter heaven, a Christian is asked whether he has lived in accordance with the Bible. (jpeg)

One of the verses the cartoon refers to is Mark 5:13:

(King James Version)

And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea ... and were choked in the sea.

Lawsuit in UCLA taser case

LAist reports that the UCLA student tasered by police for being in a library without student ID has filed a suit naming UCLA, the UCLA police department, and the individual officers involved as using excessive force, illegal use of a Taser, and violating the students rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

After seeing the video a student made of the incident, I think the school and the police are going to have a very difficult time coming out on top here. I certainly hope they change their policy of allowing use of Tasers as a cattle prods - a policy that is at odds with those of every other UC school, where Tasers are only allowed in situations of self-defense and real imminent harm, rather than possible non-compliance with an order.

In another interesting angle, Jessamyn on Librarian.net asks why we haven't heard from UCLA's librarians about what they think (possibly because the school is still investigating the incident). However, the American Librarian's Association did write a letter condeming the way the UCLA police acted.

More coverage here:

FOX News - Iranian-American Student Zapped by Taser in Campus Library Files Suit
LA Times - UCLA Student files suit in Taser incident

Star Wars Death Star dogfight

An incredible performance of the final dog fight over the Death Star, done with hands.

Leave your tinfoil hat at home

Spray-on Defense from WiFi and Cellphones

via Treehugger

22 January 2007

Get paid by Microsoft to contribute to Wikipedia - O'Reilly XML Blog

File under: "this won't be received well."

An interesting offer: get paid to contribute to Wikipedia - O'Reilly XML Blog: "I was a little surprised to receive email a couple of days ago from Microsoft saying they wanted to contract someone independent but friendly (me) for a couple of days to provide more balance on Wikipedia concerning ODF/OOXML."

via Slashdot

20 January 2007

Spam Musubi

Spam Musubi
Originally uploaded by ptufts.
This is the apex of Japanese-Hawaiian cuisine.

If McDonalds had started in Edo around 1000AD, all sushi would look like this.

19 January 2007

Classic Silent Star Wars

I know, you found yourself wondering, "what if Star Wars had been made during the silent film era?"

Now you know.

French ad for March of the Penguins

The French title for the movie was "March of the Emperor".

17 January 2007

Diamond Age to be made into mini-series

Scifi.com reports that SCI FI Channel is working on making Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age into a six-hour miniseries, with George Clooney as one of the executive producers.

16 January 2007

HP investigator pleads guilty - Financial Times - MSNBC.com

The Financial Times reported on Jan 15 that the US government has its first conviction in the HP pretexting case.


Bryan Wagner, 29, who was charged with two federal felony counts on Wednesday, admitted that he illegally obtained the social security numbers and private telephone records of two journalists and two former HP board members and their family members as part of a plea deal. He faces up to five years in prison on the identity theft charge.

12 January 2007

Harrison Ford: Wife Force One

Filed with love under "way to much time on their hands," Youtube user RoninGraffiti has created the ultimate Harrison Ford movie, "Wife Force One."

09 January 2007

Planetocopia: Alternate worlds

Chris Wayan has a mission - to create alternate, realistic worlds and then describe them in amazing detail. Some of the worlds start with Earth, and then change one element like the tilt of the Earth's axis.

Others are possible futures for Venus, Earth, and Mars.

And then there's Lyr, a thought experiment in designing a world very much unlike Earth and yet capable of sustaining life.



Lyr's a world-model challenging exobiologists like Peter Ward Douglas ("Rare Earth"), who say complex life will only evolve on worlds almost exactly like Earth. Lyr is emphatically not Earth! Seven times as massive, in an eccentric orbit too far out from its dim little sun, with the wrong density, wrong tilt, wrong satellites, wrong geology, wrong water content... can you get wronger? Douglas says big wet worlds like Lyr will be (at best) world-seas, poor in minerals, with sparse unicellular life at most, and if it's multicellular than not intelligent, and if intelligent than not technological.

Tell that to the Lyrans.


Our solar system's mass-gap between gasbags and rocks has given us an imagination-gap. Even science fiction, usually quick to explore possibilities, has very few middleweight worlds: Silverberg's "Majipoor" series plus short stories like Tiptree's "With Delicate Mad Hands" or pulp tales like "We Guard the Black Planet" or "Heavy Planet". Scientifically, they range from sloppy and unconvincing to downright silly. Only Poul Anderson's "The Man Who Counts" (discussed in Lyr's Evolution) details a fairly plausible middleweight world--and even it has problems.

In short: such worlds are a blind spot in the human imagination--ignored as potential biospheres. So... let's put this common planetary type center stage.