Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Super Speakers

Is it just me, or do these speakers look naughty . . . ?


Afterlab Super Speakers 2.0, Designed by Vegard Thue Bjorlykke for Afterlab

via Sensory Impact

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Monday, May 24, 2004

Gasoline: Arm, Leg, Firstborn

Truth in advertising

Photo credit: Colin Owen

from Citizen Online: "The Mobil Station at Main Street and Irwin Bridge Road is presenting gas prices in terms people can relate to, says owner Dhiraj “Danny” Dutta. “We’re the last link in the chain and we’re losing money while gas companies and OPEC are getting rich. There’s something wrong with this picture. It’s a shame,” said Dutta.

Citizenonline via adrants

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Berg beheading: No way, say medical experts


Dr John Simpson, executive director for surgical affairs at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in New Zealand, reviewed the decapitation tape. amd declared it a fraud:

"American businessman Nicholas Berg's body was found on May 8 near a Baghdad overpass; a video of his supposed decapitation death by knife appeared on an alleged al-Qaeda-linked website (www.al-ansar.biz) on May 11. But according to what both a leading surgical authority and a noted forensic death expert separately told Asia Times Online, the video depicting the decapitation appears to have been staged.

"I certainly would need to be convinced it [the decapitation video] was authentic," Dr John Simpson, executive director for surgical affairs at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, said from New Zealand. Echoing Dr Simpson's criticism, when this journalist asked forensic death expert Jon Nordby, PhD and fellow of the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, whether he believed the Berg decapitation video had been "staged", Nordby replied: "Yes, I think that's the best explanation of it."

Questions of when the video's footage was taken, and the time elapsed between the shooting of the video's segments, were raised by both experts, reflecting a portion of the broader and ongoing video controversy. Nordby, speaking to Asia Times Online from Washington state, noted: "We don't know how much time wasn't filmed," adding that "there's no way of knowing whether ... footage is contemporaneous with the footage that follows".

While the circumstances surrounding both the video and Nick Berg's last days have been the source of substantive speculation, both Simpson and Nordby perceived it as highly probable that Berg had died some time prior to his decapitation. A factor in this was an apparent lack of the "massive" arterial bleeding such an act initiates.

"I would have thought that all the people in the vicinity would have been covered in blood, in a matter of seconds ... if it was genuine," said Simpson. Notably, the act's perpetrators appeared far from so. And separately Nordby observed: "I think that by the time they're ... on his head, he's already dead."

Providing another basis for their findings, in the course of such an assault, an individual's autonomic nervous system would react, typically doing so strongly, with the body shaking and jerking accordingly. And while Nordby noted that "they rotated and moved the head", shifting vertebrae that should have initiated such actions, Simpson said he "certainly didn't perceive any movements at all" in response to such efforts.

During the period when Berg's captors filmed the decapitation sequence, circumstances indicate that he had already been dead "a quite uncertain length of time, but more than ... however long the beheading took", Simpson stated. Both Simpson and Nordby also noted the difficulty in providing analysis based on the video, the inherent limitations presented by this. But both also felt that Berg had seemed drugged.

A particularly significant point in the video sequence occurred as Berg's captors attacked him, bringing the supposedly fatal knife to bear. "The way that they pulled him over, they could have used a dummy at that point," reflected Simpson regarding what the video portrayed. Separately, Nordby said Berg does not "appear to register any sort of surprise or any change in his facial expression when he's grabbed and twisted over, and they start to bring this weapon into use".

Subsequently, Nordby said it was likely that the filming sequence was manipulated at the point immediately preceding this, allowing Berg's corpse to be used for the decapitation sequence. Nordby also emphasized that the video "raises more questions than it answers", with the most fundamental questions of "who are you, and how did you die", being impossible to answer from it. But broad speculation exists regarding a number of factors surrounding both Berg's death and the video, and its timing in regard to revelations of US prison atrocities."

Berg beheading: No way, say medical experts
By Ritt Goldstein
Asia Times, May 22, 2004

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Sunday, May 23, 2004

Strip, Pix, Burn: iRaq

Look closely:

Caption: "10,000 Volts volts in your pocket, guilty or innocent."

Photo Credit: by Copper Greene, Broome Street, NYC, 2004.

Gizmodo via Boing Boing

Posted at 07:13 AM in Current Affairs, Design, War/Defense | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Taking Wing

If you fly much, you simply must read Bruce Cameron's piece, "Taking Wing," reproduced here(with permission). To subscribe to the Cameron Column, send an e-mail message to:

Taking Wing
Source: W. Bruce Cameron
Copyright 2004

With the economy booming from political fund-raising efforts, more and more Americans are enjoying the experience of flying on our national airlines. I use the word "enjoy" as in, "The man enjoyed having the walrus lie on top of him," or, "the crowd enjoyed its food poisoning."

Flight enjoyment begins with the "pre-boarding process." Literally translated, this means "to board the aircraft prior to boarding the aircraft." First-class passengers are invited to pre-board so they can settle in and practice their smug expressions for when you and the rest of the Flintstones struggle past them to join the crowd of second-class citizens in the back. Families with small children also pre-board, so that by the time the plane is loaded their kids will have used up all their toys and be ready for the first volley of shrieking.

I don't pre-board, but I am one of the last people left on the planet who checks his luggage. I do this to ensure my suitcase will arrive in Des Moines at exactly the same time that I land in Cleveland. Everybody else lugs their stuff onto the aircraft and crams it on top of your suit coat in the overhead bin. Much grunting and isometric exercise accompanies this effort, along with comments like "I think...grunt...I can just...grunt...oh no," and, "I hope my chicken will be okay up there."

Once everyone is seated and you have lost the battle for the armrests with the people squeezed in on either side of you, the plane rolls about thirty yards and then stop on the pavement for an hour. This is called "preheating the passengers."

While coming to a simmer you're subjected to a series of public-service announcements. You are invited to hold your seatbelt over your head and buckle it, which I have always found to be impossible. You are told that in the event of a "sudden depressurization" (meaning, a hole opens in the side of the airplane
and sucks everyone out) little plastic hats will fall from the ceiling and bean you on the forehead. You're supposed to take the orange hats and hold them to your face for oxygen.

Oxygen! If we're having a depressurization, I don't want oxygen, I want anesthesia!

During takeoff I usually find it helpful to scream "OH MY GOD WE'RE GOING TO CRASH!" a couple of times, though I've sort of given this up since they started issuing pepper spray to the flight attendants. To relax, I put on the fake headphones and listen to the pilot's dialogue over the radio.

You have to admit, despite the fact that the takeoff is the most dangerous part of the trip, those guys up front are pretty level-headed about it. Their conversation usually goes like this:

PILOT: "Well, I see that we've got a fire in the port engine, what do you know."
CO-PILOT: "I'm bored."
PILOT: "Me too. I'm so bored I can't keep my eyes open."
CO-PILOT: "Oh yeah? Well I'm so bored I'm going to unbuckle my seatbelt and lie down."
PILOT: "Well I'm so bored I'm going to open the window and crawl out on the wing."
CO-PILOT: "You'd better do it on the starboard wing because the port wing just exploded."
PILOT: "Ha-ha."
After takeoff, the passengers are informed that food and beverage service will begin just as soon as the flight crew stops laughing over the fact that people are really going to eat it.

Everyone makes fun of airline food, possibly because it is inedible. I have always harbored an anonymous affection for it, however, mainly because it allows me to play the game "guess my meat." My favorite airplane meal is the breakfast special: Cheese Extrusion Plus a Piece of Something That May Once Have Been Alive. I also enjoy Cobweb Pita and Fajitas de Yuck.

Landings are usually characterized as "uneventful" (meaning, no flames). To me, though, falling out of the sky at 200 miles an hour and hitting the pavement is extremely "eventful," and I usually can't stop weeping for a couple of days afterward. I feel like everyone should be pointing at me and whispering: "Look, that's the guy who was FLYING."

Write to the author at: bruce@wbrucecameron.com


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Copyright W. Bruce Cameron 2004

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Friday, May 21, 2004



This guy is fucking insane:

"As a five-year-old child, Dokaka hummed along with melodies on television, but one day plugged headphones into the TV, discovering that the sounds in his head matched those piping through the headphones. He quickly realized that songs consist of many parts like bass, drums, etc. Within a year, he began to record himself humming.

At 18, Dokaka started drumming in bands, and four years later stumbled upon his childhood recordings, reigniting his interest in humming. He was first heard humming by others when his band's bassist missed practice, so he hummed the bassline. The band's singer found the humming catchy and recommended professional recording. Dokaka financed and produced his own recordings and uploaded them to the internet, dubbing himself with the onomatopoeic name "Dokaka" from his drum derived humming sounds!"

Oh, so, you think my original description might be too harsh?

Click here: Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana)

Original, amusing -- and out of his friggin gourd . . .

Posted at 06:14 AM in Humor, Music | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Thursday, May 20, 2004

What, the curtains?

Pat Oliphant channels Monty Python:


King of Swamp Castle: "When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp.

So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp.

So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp.

But the fourth one stayed up. And that's what you're going to get, Lad, the strongest castle in all of England."

via Yahoo

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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Monty Python's FCC song


Eric Idle presents... The FCC Song.

"Here’s a little song I wrote the other day while I was out duck hunting with a judge… It’s a new song, it’s dedicated to the FCC and if they broadcast it, it will cost a quarter of a million dollars."


via linkfilter

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Vintage 78 LPs as CDs


72s2CD.com is an online retailer that sells public-domain 78RPM albums (lots of Gilbert and Sullivan and Alma Gluck!) that have been converted to audio CDs:

"A few years ago I began acquiring old phonograph records, not with the idea of collecting in the usual sense, but to see what I could do to restore and preserve the sound. I started out working on legendary artists like Caruso and McCormack, on whose recordings I could readily compare my work with commercially available CDs. Satisfied with the results, I began concentrating on recordings that were not being re-released commercially, and discovered a wealth of great listening.

After I'd produced several CD collections for my own enjoyment and that of my family, it occurred to me that others might enjoy access to the results of my hobby. After all, I'd put in a lot of effort. Of course, I would only distribute material that I had a right to copy.

So that's what this web site is about: "To Make the Results of My Work Available at Reasonable Cost to All Who Enjoy Vintage Recordings."

via boing boing

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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Strange Bedfellows: Howard & Rudy


Joe Hagan has an interesting article in the New York Observer.

In Howard’s Private War, Hagen's perspective is refreshing. His is the first Stern/FCC article I've seen that actually takes a different tack from the plethora of "Stern as kingmaker" brand of twisted irony and wishful thinking that had become de rigeur in any reporting on the subject:

"In recent weeks, as Howard Stern mounted his one-man battle against the Federal Communications Commission and its White House–appointed chief, Michael Powell over his alleged culture crimes—indecency offenses, they said—which then translated into financial threats and radio-station excommunications, he looked to be a man alone.

But on Tuesday, May 4, he found a defender.

Not only a defender but a Republican, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. "I think Howard Stern is what he is," Mr. Giuliani told The Observer. "Everyone knows what Howard is like. They listen to his show and then they’ve made a decision that they enjoy his kind of humor. I think the F.C.C. or regulatory agencies have better things to look at than that. And I think it does get very close to inhibiting free speech."

Mr. Giuliani had sat with Howard Stern in his studio on West 57th Street three times in the last decade, and fielded call-ins, including on the two anniversaries of Sept. 11, 2001. He said he could not understand the reticence of political figures to speak on Mr. Stern’s behalf.

"I’m not running for office and I never did quite understand that," the former Mayor said. "But maybe if I was running for office, I would feel somewhat different about it. I don’t think so." Mr. Giuliani said he’d met Mr. Stern’s parents during one on-air appearance. "I met his parents, who are the nicest people you ever want to meet," he said. "They are very, very sweet, nice, understated people."

Other than Mr. Giuliani, however, Mr. Stern has been in the wilderness, not quite a pariah, but not bathing in the warm power light on which the immensely successful can count in America. Few public officials—especially those in Washington, D.C.—have been willing to support the 90’s "King of All Media" since he was dropped from six Clear Channel Communications radio stations in February and subsequently threatened with $1.5 million in fines for discussing sex acts with former Paris Hilton boy toy Rick Salomon.

The rest of it is a worthwhile read . . .

Howard’s Private War
Joe Hagan
The NY Observer, May 17, 2004 11:22 PM

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