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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
View The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5; his role in Apocalypse Now was hairier. And don't forget to practice your whip technique. Also, whatever happened to Karen Allen?
I've read this much of Roger's review, and then averted my eyes until tomorrow, when I saw mild spoilers coming later in the review: be warned!
[...] The very title causes the pulse to quicken, if you, like me, are a lover of pulp fiction. What I want is goofy action--lots of it. I want man-eating ants, swordfights between two people balanced on the backs of speeding jeeps, subterranean caverns of gold, vicious femme fatales, plunges down three waterfalls in a row, and the explanation for flying saucers. And throw in lots of monkeys.
It is as it shall be!
ADDENDUM: 12:57 p.m.: Ok, saw IJaTToTCS, and liked it a lot. Very organic use of Fifties themes and motifs.
But, really, wouldn't it have been better if a 35 year old midget Short Round burst in half-way through to save Indy? "Howee smokes, Indy, I thought I was like a son to you!? Why you no ask me to be in new movie?!?!"
Ok, maybe not. I would have liked to have seen some more whip action, actually. But other than that, I loved it, too; that makes 3 out of 4 good Indiana Jones features (and I like Young Indiana Jones, too; I'm easily amused).
In a manifesto published on May 22, 2008 the organization of Communists of Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast has fiercely critized the film for "caricature and miserable representation of Soviet soldiers and an intelligence officer, who are cynically and mercilessly exterminated by the American loner superhero Indiana Jones".
SIGNZ OF THE TIMES: Katherine Q. Seelye, longtime reporter for the Grey Lady, writes, in a story on Senator Clinton's first group blogger call, organized by blogging veteran Peter Daou:
Many in the M.S.M .have concluded that mathematically, she can’t win.
I was wondering if this was the first time the New York Times has published that usage -- although it's usually used as as an alphebetism, rather than as an initialism -- but it turns out it was in the Times as long ago as 2005 ("the mainstream media - or M.S.M., as they are derisively known").
But while Seelye and the Times have used "M.S.M." before, this may be the first time it's been in the Times without the explanation of what it means.
We now conclude Amygdala Usage Moment. Carry on, readers of the non-mainstream, not so mass, media.
Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5. Seelye seems to really like the usage: "The M.S.M. have heard those arguments before and have essentially stopped transmitting them." I predict we'll see it used more and more by her, until or unless an editor Wields A Virtual Pencil.
97 SENATORIAL PROSPECTS ON THE WALL, 97 Senatorial prospects, if one of the Senators should happen to fall, 96 Senators remain on the wall, 96 Senatorial prospects....
I particularly liked this one of the many responses to whether or not the Senator would agree to be the Vice-Presidential candidate of their party this November:
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) “I plan to stick with my current job until I get the hang of it.”
And these are interesting:
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.): “When I was much younger I would have probably said, ‘Sure, I’ll be glad to accept it,’ but I’m 70 years [old] and they need a younger person for the job. I would probably tell them, ‘Look for somebody else.’
Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.): “No. I’m too old.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) “I’m too old to be vice president. But I am young enough to be reelected to the Senate.”
Thad Cochran was born December 7, 1937 (must have had an interesting 4th birthday party). Pete Domenici was born May 7, 1932. Charles "Chuck" Grassley was born September 17, 1933.
The Republican nominee for President will be John Sidney McCain III, born August 29, 1936. He's younger than Grassley and Domenici. But Domenici and Grassley are now on record that that's too old to be President. Thanks for the quotes, Senators!
Some other good responses:
Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) “Of course. Big house, big car, not much to do. Why not?”
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) “No. I don’t like going to funerals.”
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) “No, I’d have Jon Stewart stand in for me. Jon Stewart. That’s my guy.”
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) “No. I don’t cut ribbons well or give eulogies at funerals.”
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) “I have a unique perspective on this. I am the only senator to have announced I am not running for president because there should be someone here to serve as the Senate’s designated driver. I intend to stay in that position. The Senate needs a designated driver to stay behind and work on healthcare.”
And so on. Apparently no one thinks they'll be the next Dick Cheney. Or will admit it, anyway.
They're not so dumb as they look.
Okay, so it's just that a stopped clock is, y'know.
"This was a real wakeup call for us," someone named Robert M. Duncan, who is chairman of the Republican National Committee, told the New York Times. This was after Mississippi. "We can't let the Democrats take our issues." And those issues would be? "We can't let them pretend to be conservatives," he continued. Why not? Republicans pretend to be conservative every day.
However voters in 2006 and now coming to 2008 cannot tell that difference. Why? Because the GOP tossed it’s strength overboard in favor of becoming more “progressive” and “responsive” to the problems of people.
Yes, pursue non-responsiveness to voters: keep following that strategy! It's worked so well, so far!
Maker Faire is a celebration of the community of people who like to pull stuff apart and put stuff together, but it’s also a draw for those who like to teach. So it was not surprising to find a team from the University of California, Santa Cruz in the Dark Room pavilion, a set-up where you could find a harp whose “strings” were laser beams, bicycle wheels fitted with programmable light-emitting diodes that drew shapes as the wheels spun, and people wrapped in glowing fiber-optic lines. The folks from Santa Cruz (university mascot: the banana slug) had brought their giant Tesla coil.
Maker Faire looks pretty cool. And John Schwartz is my kind of guy.
[...] The crowd applauded like mad. Professor Schalk stuck a microphone in my face and asked, “Do you have anything to say?”
One of the strangest exhibits at the opening of “Design and the Elastic Mind,” the very strange show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York that explores the territory where design meets science, was a teeny coat made out of living mouse stem cells. The “victimless leather” was kept alive in an incubator with nutrients, unsettlingly alive. Until recently, that is.
Paola Antonelli, a senior curator at the museum, had to kill the coat. “It was growing too much,” she said in an interview from a conference in Belgrade. The cells were multiplying so fast that the incubator was beginning to clog. Also, a sleeve was falling off. So after checking with the coat’s creators, a group known as SymbioticA, at the School of Anatomy & Human Biology at the University of Western Australia in Perth, she had the nutrients to the cells stopped.
Though she has said “I felt cruel when I turned it off,” Ms. Antonelli said in the more recent interview that it was, essentially, a simple decision tinged with a bit of regret. “It was the only piece in the show that was alive,” she said. “It really was an amazing piece.”
[...] Or it could be the way Robot Libby, the one that emits a horrifying turbine whine from a metallic ball bobbing on a heavy iron chain, spits gouts of multicolored flame. (As Mr. Gray manipulates the remote control, the machine mixes powders into the flame to change its color: strontium for red, copper for bluish green, steel powder for a fireworks effect.) Each burst sends a heat wave that rocks the onlookers back a step or two.
Bring your own marshmallows.
Quote from Xeni Jardin:
[...] As for the family-friendly setting, she said, “It’s like Burning Man without all the icky hippie elements, without the pants-free guy on a bike.”
Elsewhere, it's unsurprising that the platypus has an unusual genetic structure. But I'll just take any excuse to look at a picture of a platypus:
[...] People who are good at interpreting facial expressions have "mirror neuron" systems that are more active, say researchers. The finding adds weight to the idea that these cells are crucial to helping us figure out how others are feeling.
Mirror neurons are brain cells that fire both when you do something and when you watch someone else do the same thing.
Because they allow us to mimic what others are doing, it is thought that these neurons may be responsible for why we can feel empathy, or understand others' intentions and states of mind.
And we've all known people with crap mirror neurons. Apparently blog comment boxes shoot rays that reduce their use.
Cigarette vending machines in Japan will soon be able to judge their user's age from their appearance. The technology has been developed as an effort to have the machines comply with new laws that, from July, require them to check the age of buyers.
Customers must look into a digital camera attached to the machine. The system will compare facial characteristics, such as wrinkles around the eyes, bone structure and skin sags against a benchmark dataset of more than 100,000 people.
The legal age for smoking in Japan is 20 and the country has about 570,000 tobacco vending machines.
Yamamoto said the system could correctly identify about 90% of the users, with the remaining 10% falling into a "grey zone" of "minors that look older, and baby-faced adults".
Yeah, but how are its mirror neurons?
Where's Martian Waldo? See if you can help find the lost Mars Polar Lander. No, really. Though it won't be any use, since the Martians are still studying it. More. Galaxy Zoo!
Now Jason Valentine, a graduate student in the nano-engineering lab at the University of California at Berkeley, US, claims to have made a 3D metamaterial with a negative refractive index.
Valentine's "prism" is made from 21 alternating layers of silver and magnesium fluoride, arranged in a "fishnet" structure. He claims that the refractive index is negative in a small region of the near-infrared spectrum.
[...] BirthSIM is a life-size model of a mother's pelvis, with a baby's head hidden inside mounted on a pneumatic arm. During the simulation, the pneumatic arm pushes the baby's head forward, mimicking the movements of childbirth (see video, right).
Both the forceps and baby's head have electromagnetic sensors that track their motions in 3D. The data is used to project a 3D model of the setup onto a screen, so the trainee can see exactly what is happening as they move the forceps inside the pelvis.
NASA's Phoenix spacecraft will experience a harrowing few minutes on 25 May when it hits Mars's atmosphere and attempts to land safely on the surface – without any airbags to cushion its fall.
Phoenix launched in August 2007 on a mission to Mars's icy north polar region. Changes in the Red Planet's tilt may have allowed the abundant ice there to melt as recently as 100,000 years ago, raising the tantalising possibility that microscopic life forms could once have eked out an existence in the region. Life might even be present there now in a dormant state.
The lander will dig down as much as 50 centimetres below the surface, collecting samples of soil and ice to better understand the region's past climate and check for carbon-containing molecules that could be associated with life.
But first, the spacecraft must make it to the surface in one piece. A host of critical manoeuvres have to go off just as planned in order to get the spacecraft safely to the surface, all of them designed to occur automatically. If it is successful, it will be the first probe since the Viking missions more than 30 years ago to land safely without airbags.
If all goes according to plan, about 14 minutes prior to landing, the probe will swivel around in space so its heat shield faces forward. Five minutes later, the spacecraft will hit Mars's atmosphere at more than 20,000 kilometres per hour, causing the shield to heat up to more than 1400 °C.
In another 4 minutes, with Phoenix about 13 kilometres above the Martian surface, a parachute will deploy to decelerate the spacecraft. The timing of this is critical – if it occurs too early, aerodynamic forces will rip the parachute to shreds.
A few seconds later, the heat shield will be jettisoned, the spacecraft will extend its legs, and it will begin using radar to measure its altitude and speed.
With 43 seconds left to landing, the spacecraft will have slowed down to 200 kilometres per hour. With the ground 1 kilometre below it, the probe will cut loose its parachute, relying on thrusters to slow it down further.
It must also manoeuvre away from its parachute to prevent the chute from falling on top of Phoenix after landing.
Rocks are the biggest hazard for the actual touchdown, which will occur at a speed of 9 kilometres per hour. Anything more than about 40 centimetres tall could punch through Phoenix's underside and cause damage, says the mission's chief scientist, Peter Smith of the University of Arizona in Tucson, US.
Fortunately, team members estimate that there are not many "dangerous" rocks at the landing site, nicknamed Green Valley. That estimate is based on counts of the smallest rocks – spanning 1 metre – that NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter can see.
If all goes well, the Phoenix team expects a signal confirming Phoenix's safe landing to arrive at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on 25 May at 1653 PDT (26 May at 0053 GMT).
I just hope we don't trigger a Martian attack.
Sloths aren't slothful. The long-awaited class action slander suit begins next month, I believe.
German mob with torches succeeds at killing the innocent "monster." I don't think those folks concerned about "Frankenfoods" actually understand that the "monster" was innocent and good, and that the mob with torches were the bad guys, fearing that which should not be feared. All domesticated plants and animals, including grains, have been genetically engineered by humans, ever since the Neolithic era. The point is to be cautious, not to superstitiously assume manipulation Must Turn Out Badly.
[...] Last month, the university announced that it would stop its planned cultivation of insect-resistant GM maize in nearby Gross-Gerau after activists occupied the 1,500-square-metre field. Another local field trial of GM maize, in Rauischholzhausen, was also stopped because of massive protests from the public and local politicians. Both trials had been approved by the national consumer protection and food safety body (BVL) and were to be conducted on behalf of Germany's authority for agriculture variety and seed affairs.
So: more people go hungry. How virtuous.
How the pod people will rewire your brain. Oh, wait, look, they already made you not interested; their fiendish plan to conquer earth by destroying curiosity in humans is succeeding.
I will fight on.
Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for most, but do read the Maker Faire stuff; you won't be sorry.
THE NEW, NEW, COLOSSUS. Give me your tourists, your business travellers, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The superior students of your teeming shore. Send these, the well off and middle class, your tempest-tost, to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door, lock their asses in jail, and let them die.
[...] Ms. Cooper, 23, who had promised to show her boyfriend another side of her country on this visit — meaning Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon — eventually learned that he had been sent in shackles to a rural Virginia jail. And there he remained for more than 10 days, locked up without charges or legal recourse while Ms. Cooper, her parents and their well-connected neighbors tried everything to get him out.
Mr. Salerno’s case may be extreme, but it underscores the real but little-known dangers that many travelers from Europe and other first-world nations face when they arrive in the United States — problems that can startle Americans as much as their foreign visitors.
“We have a lot of government people here and lobbyists and lawyers and very educated, very savvy Washingtonians,” said Jim Cooper, Ms. Cooper’s father, a businessman, describing the reaction in his neighborhood, the Wessynton subdivision of Alexandria. “They were pretty shocked that the government could do this sort of thing, because it doesn’t happen that often, except to people you never hear about, like Haitians and Guatemalans.”
One recent case involved an Icelandic woman who was refused entry at Kennedy Airport because, a dozen years earlier, she had overstayed her visa by three weeks. The woman, Erla Osk Arnardottir Lillendahl, was deported Dec. 10 after what she described as 24 hours of interrogation and humiliating treatment — locked in a cell and barred from making phone calls.
Ms. Cooper said that at the airport, when she begged to know what was happening to Mr. Salerno, an agent told her, “You know, he should try spending a little more time in his own country.”
Another agent eventually told her to go home because Mr. Salerno was being detained as an asylum-seeker.
“The border patrol officer said to my face that Domenico said he would be killed if he went back to Italy,” she recalled, voicing incredulity that, in his halting English, he could express such a thought. “Also, who on earth would ever seek asylum from Italy?”
Ten days after he landed in Washington, Mr. Salerno was still incarcerated, despite efforts by Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, and two former immigration prosecutors hired by the Coopers.
The 1996 Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRAIRA) have had the combined effect of dramatically increasing the number of immigrants in Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) detention from 8,500 in 1996 to nearly 16,000 in 1998.
Indefinite detention is a feature we expect of repressive regimes, not of our own. The INS's authority to detain a non-citizen ordered removed derives from one purpose: effectuating removal. Once it becomes clear that removal is not possible, the rationale for continued detention evaporates and the non-citizen's liberty rights demand that he or she be released under supervision. It is grossly unfair to detain a person forever, after they have served their time in prison, just because the INS has been unable to remove them.
The courts are beginning to agree. Several federal district courts have recently ruled that indefinite detention with no realistic prospect of removal is unconstitutional. In July of 1999 a panel of five district court judges in Seattle reached the same conclusion in five cases that should have nation-wide implications. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision on April 10, 2000.
One start would be to mandate medical attention for detainees so they don't die in custody. One might think that's obvious, but it kinda got overlooked in the shuffle, and besides, they're not U.S. citizens and don't vote, so who cares?
[...] Currently, no government body is charged with accounting for deaths in ICE detention, a patchwork of county jails, privately run prisons and federal facilities. Getting details about those who die in custody is a difficult undertaking left to family members, advocacy groups and the media. Since 2003, at least 83 people have died in immigration custody.
More than 300,000 men, women and children are detained by ICE each year. They include asylum seekers, long-time green card holders with minor immigration violations and families with small children.
FLORENCE, Ariz. -- Underneath her baggy jail-issue pants, Yong Sun Harvill feels the soft lump just below her left knee. Sometimes it tingles. Sometimes it is numb. Like her cancer felt when it arrived behind the knee a few years ago.
She noticed the lump under the thin, blue cotton in August, five months after federal immigration officers, to her amazement, took her into custody to try to deport her for buying stolen jewelry more than a decade ago. The lump grows slowly. It is now three inches across. And though she keeps asking, no one has done a test to see whether her sarcoma has come back.
Her leg is painful and swollen from hip to foot, damaged by past surgeries and radiation treatments. Some nights, liquid seeps through cracks in her distended skin. Her left ankle is three times as big as her right. For years, she relied on a leg pump to boost her circulation and keep the swelling in check. But as an immigration detainee in this desert prison town, Harvill, 52, has been unable to persuade anyone to get her a pump, or to let her family back in Florida send hers from home.
Nor has she gotten the biopsy that a doctor has told her she needs to determine whether the spots on her liver might be tumors. And it remains uncertain whether her frequent crying spells are part of bipolar disorder, as some records suggest, or a flare-up of old anxieties -- heightened now by chronic pain, bewildering medical problems, and the fact that, three decades after she arrived from South Korea as a teenage Army bride, she is in a jail far from home with the government trying to eject her from the United States.
Harvill is one of 33,000 immigration detainees in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE, on any given day. They are locked up in a patchwork of out-of-the-way federal detention compounds, private prisons and local jails. This unnoticed prison system was built for a quick revolving door of detainees -- into custody, out of the country. But often, people linger in detention for months or years.
These detainees, like other prisoners, are by law and regulation entitled to medical services if they are sick. But Harvill's journey through immigration detention provides a glimpse into a medical system that often fails those who need it most. It is an upside-down world where patients have no say, doctors and nurses on site have little power to administer timely treatment, and a managed-care system in Washington operates from a rulebook that emphasizes what is not covered rather than what is.
The U.S. government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will to keep them sedated during the trip back to their home country, according to medical records, internal documents and interviews with people who have been drugged.
The government's forced use of antipsychotic drugs, in people who have no history of mental illness, includes dozens of cases in which the "pre-flight cocktail," as a document calls it, had such a potent effect that federal guards needed a wheelchair to move the slumped deportee onto an airplane.
"Unsteady gait. Fell onto tarmac," says a medical note on the deportation of a 38-year-old woman to Costa Rica in late spring 2005. Another detainee was "dragged down the aisle in handcuffs, semi-comatose," according to an airline crew member's written account. Repeatedly, documents describe immigration guards "taking down" a reluctant deportee to be tranquilized before heading to an airport.
In a Chicago holding cell early one evening in February 2006, five guards piled on top of a 49-year-old man who was angry he was going back to Ecuador, according to a nurse's account in his deportation file. As they pinned him down so the nurse could punch a needle through his coveralls into his right buttock, one officer stood over him menacingly and taunted, "Nighty-night."
Such episodes are among more than 250 cases The Washington Post has identified in which the government has, without medical reason, given drugs meant to treat serious psychiatric disorders to people it has shipped out of the United States since 2003 -- the year the Bush administration handed the job of deportation to the Department of Homeland Security's new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE.
Involuntary chemical restraint of detainees, unless there is a medical justification, is a violation of some international human rights codes. The practice is banned by several countries where, confidential documents make clear, U.S. escorts have been unable to inject deportees with extra doses of drugs during layovers en route to faraway places.
Federal officials have seldom acknowledged publicly that they sedate people for deportation. The few times officials have spoken of the practice, they have understated it, portraying sedation as rare and "an act of last resort." Neither is true, records and interviews indicate.
Records show that the government has routinely ignored its own rules, which allow deportees to be sedated only if they have a mental illness requiring the drugs, or if they are so aggressive that they imperil themselves or people around them.
These are not terrorists. Some of them have violated U.S. law, and some are not criminals of any kind other than than possibly, or possibly not, having an immigration law screw-up.
They might just be your cousin, your husband's sister, your mother-in-law, your friend's dad, if you have foreign relatives. They just come to visit, they get caught up by ICE for some reason, good or bad, and this is what we do to them.
[...] An analysis by The Post of the known sedations during fiscal 2007, ending last October, found that 67 people who got medical escorts had no documented psychiatric reason. Of the 67, psychiatric drugs were given to 53, 48 of whom had no documented history of violence, though some had managed to thwart an earlier attempt to deport them. These figures do not include two detainees who immigration officials said were given sedatives for behavioral rather than psychiatric reasons before being deported on group charter flights, which are often used to return people to Mexico and Central America.
But many of those injected with psychotropic drugs, records show, are neither violent nor mentally ill. They simply do not want to go home.
Fanzines were mimeographed magazines that were circulated by mail among science fiction fans in the days before the internet. They still are, for all I know, although now they're generated by computer printers. I first learned about them in a 1950s issue of Amazing Stories and eagerly sent away 10 or 20 cents to Buck and Juanita Coulson in Indiana, whose Yandro was one of the best and longest-running of them all.
[...] First appearing in the late 1980s and early ’90s, steampunk has picked up momentum in recent months, making a transition from what used to be mainly a literary taste to a Web-propagated way of life.
Or is it just a goddamn hobby?
[...] and Paul Di Filippo, the author of “The Steampunk Trilogy,” the historical science fiction novellas that lent the culture its name.
Yeah, that's complete crap. K. W. Jeter and Tim Powers and James Blaylock should be calling. Paul's Steampunk Trilogy didn't come out until 1995. The earliest story in it, "Victoria," appeared in 1991.
Paul's trilogy was named for the genre, not vice versa.
Apparently on top of being completely incompetent at basic research, the writer, Ruth La Ferla, couldn't even spare two seconds to glance at Wikipedia.
Your New York Times in action: getting the simplest facts completely wrong.
In other news from the same article, who knew that Tony Stark was a robot?
[...] Contemporary fictional parallels in film include the wildly ingenious scientist played by Robert Downey Jr. in “Iron Man,” who hopes to save the world by retooling himself as a flame-throwing robot made of unwieldy scrap metal parts.
It'll be a while until I'm oriented. And after spending something over $1500 to move, I have no idea just now how I'll be able to afford more than my first month's rent, and deposit, on top of other problematic aspectsof securing a new apartment, while temporarily staying with a friend, and still long term pursuing a Social Security disability claim.