Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing
The next time you see an ad on TV for freedom of choice in cable TV, look closely and see if one of these astroturfing organizations is footing the bill:

Telecom Front Groups & Astroturf

Consumers for Cable Choice


Progress and Freedom Foundation

American Legislative Exchange Council

New Millennium Research Council

Frontiers of Freedom

Keep It Local NJ

Internet Innovation Alliance

Here's the original post from Common Cause.  Here's the entire article as a PDF file.


Nothing will dispel enthusiasm like a small admission fee.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Good News: NASA's DAWN Mission Reinstated

NASA has reinstated the DAWN mission to explore the Vesta and Ceres asteroids. Here's the press release and the formal reinstatement letter.


Groebe's Law: The more complex the problem, the sooner the deadline.

I Wish I'd Said That: Pro Choice

If abortion were the issue, laws would drastically curtail mercury emissions from coal plants, because mercury is known to cause miscarriages, still births and birth defects. The only thing missing from Bush Administration policy permitting mercury emissions is choice -- the mother gets no choice on environmental mercury-induced abortions.

Original post

Words must be weighed, not counted.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The New New Gore

I sure hope he runs in 2008!!


We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Monday, March 20, 2006

AARP, others throw their weight behind network neutrality

Seems the AARP is believes that Network Neutrality is in their members best interest according to this article from Ars Technica.

AARP, others throw their weight behind network neutrality
3/17/2006 3:30:26 PM, by Eric Bangeman

Sometimes the Internet makes for unlikely bedfellows. The ongoing debate over network neutrality and the possibility of a tiered Internet provides a perfect illustration of this. In the continuation of a push on Capitol Hill for legislation that would make network neutrality a matter of law, the American Association of Retired Persons has joined companies including Adobe, Sony, and the Business Software Alliance in the fight against a tiered Internet.
Over the past couple of months, telecom executives have floated the idea that there should be tiers of traffic on their networks, with preferred content (e.g., their paying partners and their own) getting priority over traffic from the rest of the Internet. AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre even went so far as to make the ludicrous claim that customers aren't paying for Internet access, just access to the Internet "cloud."
A sorely needed rewrite of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 originally included a provision guaranteeing network neutrality, but subsequent versions of the legislation have seen that provision disappear from the bill. That is due in no small part from the lobbying of the biggest proponent of the tiered Internet, the increasingly massive AT&T and Verizon, along with Cisco, which stands to make millions of dollars selling new routers and other equipment to direct the flow of traffic through a tiered network. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, is on record as saying that while he favors network neutrality in principle, he's not convinced of the need to enshrine it in legislation.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced separate network neutrality legislation earlier this month, and the AARP and other companies appear to be throwing their marketing weight behind the bill. The AARP is regularly near the top of the list of most influential and highest-spending special interest groups, so the fact that the organization has taken an interest in the issue may catch the attention of US lawmakers.
An AARP spokesperson said that maintaining network neutrality is essential for its constituency of Americans over age 50.
"We're not traditionally someone who would be involved in technology legislation and things of that nature, but this has a direct impact on our members and their lifestyles," said AARP spokesman Mark Kitchens.
Indeed, the possibility of a tiered Internet poses a threat to surfers of all ages, not to mention companies that find themselves on the outside looking in at the ISP's top tier.
It looks as though the battle lines are being drawn. On one side is a handful of ISPs and Cisco with just about everybody else on the other. Hopefully the lobbying might of groups such as the AARP will help ensure that the principle of network neutrality will win the day.

Death: To stop sinning suddenly.

Friday, March 17, 2006

American Taliban IV: FCC Indecency Fine on CBS Show...

The FCC is the enforcer arm for the American Taliban....

The Wall Street Journal

FCC Levies Record Indecency Fine on CBS Show

'Without a Trace' Episode Draws $3.6 Million Penalty For Network and Affiliates


March 16, 2006; Page B13

WASHINGTON -- Federal regulators proposed a record $3.6 million fine against a single TV show, penalizing CBS and its affiliates for an episode of "Without a Trace" that suggested a teenage sexual orgy, in the first batch of indecency fines proposed in more than a year.

In total, the Federal Communications Commission addressed about 60 outstanding complaints against television broadcasts, finding violations against 11 shows. Of those, seven received fines.

Overall, the FCC's action didn't provide a broad sweeping vision for broadcasters about what is appropriate for television despite suggestions from new Chairman Kevin Martin that such guidance was forthcoming. Nor were the fines as harsh as some broadcasters had feared, given Mr. Martin's previous comments about fining stations every time a dirty word was spoken, instead of once an episode.

Notably, the FCC backed away from an effort to impose higher fines by holding all network affiliates responsible for a broadcast, instead of just the stations that had been flagged by a viewer in a complaint.

Overall, the complaints affirmed the FCC's stance that common four-letter expletives aren't suitable for broadcast and would draw fines, except in "rare cases" that such language was "demonstrably essential to the nature of an artistic or educational work," such as the war film "Saving Private Ryan," which the FCC had previously found was permissible to broadcast.

FCC officials said yesterday's fines against the seven shows were designed to provide broadcasters guidelines on acceptable use of dirty words and sexual innuendo, but many of the offenses deemed to violate FCC guidelines were somewhat routine. For example, the FCC assessed a $27,500 fine for a "Pool Party" episode of the WB Television Network's "The Surreal Life 2" in 2004, which the FCC said went over the line by featuring 20 nude female friends of porn actor Ron Jeremy. Although the network used pixilation to obscure the women's bodies, the FCC ruled it was "unmistakable" that partygoers were exposing themselves and "participating in sexual activities."

CBS's "Without a Trace" drew the $3.6 million fine against 111 stations for an episode that showed no nudity, but featured scenes suggesting a teen orgy. The FCC also rejected an appeal by CBS Corp. and upheld a $550,000 fine for Janet Jackson's breast-flashing Super Bowl halftime show two years ago, finding that the network didn't do enough to protect viewers from the flash of skin.

In a statement, CBS said it disagrees with the FCC about its fines on the Super Bowl broadcast and "Without a Trace" and suggested it would take the FCC to court over the matter, noting the network would "pursue all remedies necessary to affirm our legal rights."

In total, the FCC proposed fines of about $4 million, including the $3.6 million "Without a Trace" fine but not including the Super Bowl fine, which had been previously levied. A further four shows were found to be indecent, but didn't have fines levied against them. Complaints against dozens of shows were rejected, including one about an episode of Oprah Winfrey's talk show that featured graphic language about teen sex.

Broadly, the FCC also stepped back from its effort to impose indecency fines against any station that broadcast a show found to be lewd. In several cases it fined only network affiliates that actually had a complaint lodged against them. That's in contrast to the FCC's $1.2 million fine two years ago against Fox Television and affiliates that broadcast an episode of "Married by America," even though the complaint didn't list those affiliates.

Democratic FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein said it was "patently arbitrary to hold some stations but not others accountable for the same broadcast."

The true pleasures in life are almost always overshadowed by the blatently obvious ones.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Wrong Greenhouse Gas

A new theory by Vladimir Shaidurov postulates that we may have been atrributing the warming of the Earth to the wrong greenhouse gas. Rather than carbon dioxide, Shaidurov presents evidence that past temperature variations can be linked to water vapor concentrations in the far upper reaches of our atmosphere.

He believes the initiating event of the current global warming behavior is not the accumlation of Carbon Dioxide from Human activities, but was set in motion by the air-burst explosion of the Tungus on June 30th, 1908. This force of this explosion is now estimated to have had a force equal to fifteen million tons of TNT. The force of this explosion forced water vapor into the upper atmosphere where a stable layer of water vapor and ice crystals formed. This layer acts in the classic greenhouse fashion reflecting infrared energy back to the surface of the earth gradually raising the earth’s temperature.

Shaidurov's paper "Atmospheric hypotheses of Earth's global warming" is under consideration for publication in the journal "Science First Hand," Published by Russian Academy of Sciences (Editor-in-Chief, Acad. Dobretsov, Vice-President Russian Academy of Sciences, President of Siberian Branch RAS). A preprint is available online and was published originally as University of Leicester Technical Report No. Ma-05-15.

From the Leicester press release: As such, Shaidurov has concluded that only an enormous natural phenomenon, such as an asteroid or comet impact or airburst, could seriously disturb atmospheric water levels, destroying persistent so-called 'silver', or noctilucent, clouds composed of ice crystals in the high altitude mesosphere (50 to 85km). The Tunguska Event was just such an event, and coincides with the period of time during which global temperatures appear to have been rising the most steadily - the twentieth century. There are many hypothetical mechanisms of how this mesosphere catastrophe might have occurred, and future research is needed to provide a definitive answer. has the text of the press release from University of Leicester.

UPDATE: This post is also available as my weekly SciTech Watch column over at Blogcritics.

Your mother knows how to push your buttons because she installed them all.

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Recipe: Aussie Bites

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

On a recent shopping trip to
Sam’s Club I discovered Aussie Bites. These are small cakes (mini-muffin size actually) made with whole wheat flour, coconut, sunflower kernels, dried cranberries and raisins. The whole family liked them and She Who Must Be Obeyed remembered she had seen a recipe for something similar called Anzac Biscuits. Using the Anzac recipe and the ingredient list from the Aussie Bites I have worked up a recipe that is reported to be better that the original Aussie Bites.

Here ya go:

Aussie Bites


2 cups Regular or Toasted Oats
2 cups Whole Wheat Flour

2/3 cup Brown sugar

1 3½oz can of coconut (unsweetened)

½ cup sunflower kernels

1 cup dried fruit (raisins, dates, figs, cranberries, etc)

¼ cup honey

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoon hot water


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix first six ingredients in a bowl.

3. Melt honey and butter together in microwave.

4. Mix baking soda with hot water and add to butter mixture.

5. Pour butter mixture into dry ingredients and mix well.

6. Place tablespoons of mixture into non-stick mini-muffin cupcake pans (greasing pans not required) and flatten mixture slightly. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden. Cool on wire racks. Makes around 30 biscuits.

Rule of Acquisition #101: Never do something you can make someone do for you.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Tyan Typhoon Personal Super Computer: 16 Cores Under Your Desk

Must... Have.... More power..... Scotty.... Warp Factor 16 ;-)

Tyan has created a monster supercomputer that harnesses all that power into a box that fits under your desk. Aimed at researchers and scientists, the Typhoon Personal Super Computer (PSC) is available with either Opteron or Pentium processors inside, and consists of four dual-socket blades in a box equipped with cooling fans that are so quiet you could actually live with it in the same room. Each one of its four blades is hooked up to a SATA drive, and all of those are linked together via gigabit Ethernet. The Opteron handles 64GB of memory, while the Pentium settles for “just” 32GB.

With 16 cores at full speed, imagine how well it could play Quake. Sure, it's for scientists today, but so were PCs not long ago—this just might be the beginning of a new category of personal computers, the PSC.

Tyan brings supercomputing to the desktop [The Inquirer]
Product page

Title: Tyan Typhoon Personal Super Computer: 16 Cores Under Your Desk

The 14 Defining Characteristics Of Fascism

Just found on AlterSlash. Here is the original article from Council for Secular Humanism via their Spring 2003 issue of Free Inquiry Magazine.

by Dr. Lawrence Britt, Spring 2003

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14-defining characteristics common to each:

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections - Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Any of this sound familiar?

Original PDF


...I'd even be willing to entertain the notion of a black hole passing over the area or some cosmic anomaly but it's not really black hole season either...Fox Mulder

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Network Neutrality Resources

The debate over whether Network Neutrality is good-thing has reached the mainstream media. Here’s a collection of links for further reading:

Linux Journal: Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes by Doc Searls

ZDNet: OpenSource: Will Open Spectrum be Allowed

Business 2.0: The Net Neutrality Debate Net Neutrality Testimony

Larry Lessig: Testimony to Senate (PDF file)

Technology Liberation Front: Geeky Conspiracy Theories by Tim Lee

Freedom2Connect SMART Newsletter #98 by David S. Isenberg


Where there is no vision, people perish. - Proverbs 29:18

Thursday, March 09, 2006

SciTech Watch: Sirius Widget

My latest column for SciTech Watch is up at BlogCritics.

Update: My column got mentioned on Digg!!

Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it enkindles the great. - Comte de Bussy-Rabutin

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sc-Fi Ship Assignment

You scored as Deep Space Nine (Star Trek). You have
entered the dark side of the Star Trek universe. The paradise
of Earth is far from you and you must survive despite having
enemies on all fronts. But you wouldn't have it any other way
because you thrive in conflict and will know what needs to be
done to take care of those around you. Now if only the Founders
would quit trying to take over the galaxy.

Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


Serenity (Firefly)


Moya (Farscape)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


Take this quiz yourself.

Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with QuizFarm.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Wyden Introduces 'Net Neutrality' Legislation

Via ZDNet....

Senator Wyden describes his 'net neutrality' bill- and we have the bill here by ZDNet's Russell Shaw -- Just got off a conference call with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon).Earlier today, Senator Wyden introduced the Internet Non-Discrimination Act of 2006 - popularly called the Net Neutrality Act.We have all 15 pages of this act posted in a Gallery. Here's the link to scans of the bill.

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SciTech Watch: Next Mars Oribiter Arriving

My latest column for SciTech Watch is up at BlogCritics.

The article covers the arrival of NASA's
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at Mars on March 10th.

You will be successful in your work.

The Girls Move Uptown

Put the girls (my pet rats Dash and Dot) into their new cage this past weekend. The new cage is much larger with room for a new exercise wheel. You can see the condo tour on Flickr.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Broadband Tax to Fill USF Fund

Ars Technica has an article about the proposal being floated in Washington to put a 10% tax on broadband services to pay into the USF fund.  This wouldn't be such a bad idea except for the gross mis-management and outright thievery going on with monies already flowing into USF from the phone bills of all Americans.  The Center for Public Integrity has an article from January, 2003 about the rampant fraud and waste in the USF operations.

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not Eureka! (I found it!) but rather, 'hmm.... that's funny...'- Isaac Asimov