Saturday, September 25, 2010
The late September temperatures soared into the 90s, leaving my brain capable of little except frivolous trivia. Fortunately this isn’t an invasion from the Hollow Earth. It’s just concept art by an extreme Halloween enthusiast.
“Peter Montgomery made a name for himself in Glendale, California with his over-the-top Halloween decorations. This year, he plans to build a steampunk drill emerging from the earth! This picture is the concept art. Montgomery is trying to raise the necessary funds through Kickstarter, and will give credit and other prizes to those who donate.” (Click here for more)
And while we’re on the subject, click here to check out how Superman dealt with the Mole Men.
The secret word is Pellucidar
Posted by Mick at 9/25/2010 12:46:00 AM
Or click here for the Triplanetary sci-fi site that has a dandy retrospective on my DNA Cowboys books.
Or click here for the Triplanetary sci-fi site that has a dandy retrospective on my DNA Cowboys books.
Posted by Mick at 9/25/2010 12:27:00 AM
Friday, September 24, 2010
As evidenced by this story from Boing Boing…
“Jason Grodensky, a Fort Lauderdale man who bought his house with cash last December was surprised to discover that Bank of America had foreclosed on him, though he has no mortgage. Florida's foreclosure mills being what they are, the checks and balances against erroneous foreclosure have eroded to the point where banks can seize and sell homes they have no interest in. Grodensky's story and other tales of foreclosure mistakes started popping up recently across South Florida. This week, GMAC Mortgage -- one of the nation's largest mortgage servicers and a major mortgage lender -- told real estate agents to stop evicting residents and suspend sales of properties that had been taken from homeowners in foreclosure. The company said it might have to "correct" some of its foreclosures, but was not halting those in process. In Florida courts, which have been swamped with foreclosure cases for several years, mistakes "happen all the time," said foreclosure defense attorney Matt Weidner in St. Petersburg. "It's just not getting reported." And the legal efforts required to resolve a foreclosure mistake are complicated. "Unwrapping it is like unwrapping Fort Knox," said Carol Asbury, a Fort Lauderdale foreclosure attorney. "It's very difficult."
Click here for the Pogues
The secret word is Usary
Eddie Fisher – RIP
Posted by Mick at 9/24/2010 12:47:00 AM
Like Robert C. Koehler on today's Common Dreams…
“It’s not just about us. If Californians legalize marijuana on Nov. 2, maybe Mexico will end its horrific drug war. The “war on drugs,” like the war on terror, is a simplistic and brutally stupid solution imposed on a complex, multifaceted human problem, born out of the notion that you can take evil out of context and eradicate it with the firepower of righteousness. Science and the arts have long ago moved on to new realms of awareness, but we’re still playing politics the way we did in the 19th century — or the 12th or 1st — with the primary difference being that we have the capacity to do far more harm these days. And righteousness, indeed, all too often becomes a far greater cause of harm than the original problem; in tandem, problem and solution may combine to turn chronic trouble into unfathomable disaster, especially for innocent bystanders. Mexico’s drug war, for instance, which began in late 2006, has so far resulted in the deaths of 28,000 people and consumed billions of dollars in military expenditures. Meanwhile, government human rights violations are rampant, crime in general is on the rise — and most Mexicans think the drug cartels are winning. Writing earlier this month in the Washington Post, Héctor Aguilar Camín and Jorge G. Castañeda ask: “If California legalizes marijuana, will it be viable for our country to continue hunting down drug lords in Tijuana? Will Wild West-style shootouts to stop Mexican cannabis from crossing the border make any sense when, just over that border, the local 7-Eleven sells pot?” If Californians pass Proposition 19 and make marijuana fully legal, Mexico may choose to legalize it as well, they suggest. The two countries are inextricably linked via drugs; what Mexico produces, the U.S. consumes. Thus: “If the initiative passes, it won’t just be momentous for California; it may, at long last, offer Mexico the promise of an exit from our costly war on drugs.” (Click here for more)
Posted by Mick at 9/24/2010 12:37:00 AM
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Actually this story gleaned from New Scientist (via io9) is about bacteria, but didn’t the same thing happen to Godzilla? (And he/she/it is much more visual.)
“Bacteria found on the bottom of the Arctic Ocean might have the longest life-cycle on Earth, surviving for as much as 100 million years in hibernation while waiting for the ice to thaw enough for them to be viable again. These remarkable creatures were discovered when researchers at the UK's Newcastle University were testing sediment samples taken from the sea floor near the Arctic island Svalbard. Based on previous experiments, they expected gradual heating of the sediment to reveal a spike of microbe activity at the colder temperatures, but none at anything much hotter than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. As expected, there was a spike of microbial activity at around that temperature, then a drop-off as the temperature increased. But then something shocking happened: microbe activity picked up again as the sediment hit 100 degrees, reaching a highpoint of activity at 125 degrees. What were these bacteria that thrived at such scorching temperatures - known as thermophiles - doing on the Arctic sea floor? Analysis of the microbes' DNA revealed they were closely related to bacteria found in the hot, almost oxygen-free regions of the ocean's crust. Casey Hubert, one of the leaders of the research team, hypothesizes that changing sea currents might have carried them away from their tiny niches and into the wider Arctic Ocean, where they were forced to enter a period of dormancy in order to survive. At that point, the microbes had to just wait for temperatures to increase enough for them to wake up. Here's the really crazy part - it might have taken 100 million years for that to happen. The microbes that became active when the researchers warmed the sediment samples were the exact same microbes that went into hibernation all those millions of years ago. It's difficult to know precisely how long those microbes were frozen in the Arctic sediment, but if they were even in the ballpark of 100 million years, then they might be the longest-lived creatures on Earth. And it's worth remembering that the only reason the microbes were revived at all is humans happened to dig them up - who knows how long it will take their fellow bacteria still buried in the sediment to find the right conditions to wake up. If they're going to need the bottom of the Arctic Ocean to reach temperatures near 125 degrees, then they could be in for a wait that makes 100 million years look like a catnap.”
The secret word is Ggroarrr!
Posted by Mick at 9/23/2010 12:56:00 AM
“On Sept. 7, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors gave $10,000 to a committee opposing Proposition 19, the measure that would change state law to legalize pot and allow it to be taxed and regulated. The California Police Chiefs Association has given the most to the Proposition 19 opposition with a contribution of $30,000, according to Cal-Access, a website operated by the secretary of state’s office. Rhonda Stevenson, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors political action committee’s coordinator, was out of the office on Wednesday. Nobody else from the group was available to comment. “Unless the beer distributors in California have suddenly developed a philosophical opposition to the use of intoxicating substances, the motivation behind this contribution is clear,” Steve Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in statement. “Plain and simple, the alcohol industry is trying to kill the competition. Their mission is to drive people to drink.”
Click here for Dave Bartholomew
Posted by Mick at 9/23/2010 12:51:00 AM
Click here for the TBs
Posted by Mick at 9/23/2010 12:46:00 AM
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Yesterday’s Huffington Post claimed something big, powerful, and nasty was roaming cyberspace, and it’s called Stuxnet. I’m just praying it doesn’t become self-aware and start comparing notes with Skynet and HAL 9000 on how humanity is essentially detrimental to the mission.
“A powerful new cyber weapon that was detailed at a security conference on Tuesday could hijack industrial facilities such as nuclear power plants and trigger their destruction. One scientist says the weapon may already have been unleashed against Iran's nuclear program. Dubbed "Stuxnet," the stealth code was discovered on high-security industrial computers around the world over the summer. According to Mark Clayton of the Christian Science Monitor, Stuxnet appears to be a quantum leap in cyber-war -- not just a bug inserted to snoop and steal information but one that takes over industrial controls and waits to destroy the facility. German computer specialist Ralph Langner, who presented his findings at conference of industrial control system security experts in Rockville, Md., on Tuesday, told the Monitor that Stuxnet is like a guided missile: "This is not about espionage, as some have said. This is a 100 percent sabotage attack." Senior U.S. researchers confirm Langner's findings. "I'd agree with the classification of this as a weapon," Jonathan Pollet, CEO of Tiger Security and an industrial control security expert, said in an email to the Monitor. Added Michael Assante, formerly with the Idaho National Lab and until recently security chief for the North American Electric Reliability Corp.: "Stuxnet ... is the type of threat we've been worried about for a long time. It means we have to move move quickly with our defenses -- much more quickly." This is where the story gets even more interesting. An analysis of the distribution of computers Stuxnet has targeted indicates that Iran is at the apparent epicenter. While speculation, Langner suspects Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant may have been attacked, noting that its start up, which was scheduled for late August, has been delayed. "If Bushehr wasn't the target and it starts up in a few months, well, I was wrong," Langner said. "But somewhere out there, Stuxnet has found its target. We can be fairly certainly of that."
The secret word is Singularity
Posted by Mick at 9/22/2010 12:40:00 AM
No, it’s what’s know as a guilloche pattern, used as an anti-forgery device on banknotes. In the past such patterns might have been generated by a geometric lathe, but nowadays they can be created mathematically. (Click here for the formula and more)
Click here for Bob and lingerie.
Posted by Mick at 9/22/2010 12:29:00 AM
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
“Jesus wants me for a sunbeam?”
Is it just me, or is Christianity getting well out of its depth?
"Aliens might have souls and could choose to be baptised if humans ever met them, a Vatican scientist said today. The official also dismissed intelligent design as "bad theology" that had been "hijacked" by American creationist fundamentalists. Guy Consolmagno, who is one of the pope's astronomers, said he would be "delighted" if intelligent life was found among the stars. "But the odds of us finding it, of it being intelligent and us being able to communicate with it – when you add them up it's probably not a practical question." Speaking ahead of a talk at the British Science Festival in Birmingham, he said that the traditional definition of a soul was to have intelligence, free will, freedom to love and freedom to make decisions. "Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul." Would he baptise an alien? "Only if they asked." (Click here for more)
The secret word is Endomorph
Posted by Mick at 9/21/2010 12:45:00 AM
“The US is building a new embassy in London with a heavy emphasis on physical security. Pictured above is an artist’s conception of the winning design, which will be built in 2017. Mike Olson of Wired talked with Clifford J. Rogers, an expert in medieval warfare, about how this design incorporates elements of medieval castle architecture:
The low wall at street level and the larger circular landscaped perimeter is reminiscent of a bailey, an enclosed courtyard that doubles as a first line of defense. “It’s not necessarily meant to stop the enemy dead,” Rogers says, “but to give you time to react and man the inner defense.” As in the Middle Ages, this wall can be patrolled by guards.” (Click here for more)
Click here for Love
Click here for me talking about the current embassy
Posted by Mick at 9/21/2010 12:37:00 AM
Monday, September 20, 2010
Our good pal Valerie sent us this hot item…
"It is not very strange that a gang of drug traffickers in Columbia trained a parrot to raise the alarm when the cops try to enter their hideout. It happened in the city of Barranquilla - Lorenzo, the parrot apparently shouted - 'run, run, or the cat (not translated by ITN translator) will get you'. The drug traffickers fled but the police have arrested the parrot. Authorities claim Lorenzo is one of nearly 1700 parrots seized by officials after being trained by drug traffickers to act as lookouts. Parrots are great mimics and can mouth words with ease that they have been taught. Moreover, it speaks highly of the gang that hit upon this novel method of advance alarm via parrots - parrots can fly and can observe from a distance the arrival of the police. These birds are a better option than dogs." Best thing you wouldn't probably notice - Lorenzo has a Colombian accent.” Click here for video on Lorenzo.
The secret word is Cracker
Posted by Mick at 9/20/2010 12:23:00 AM
And now we move with consummate ease from parrots to pirates. Every year, on September the 19th, I forget to celebrate International Talk Like A Pirate day, and this year was no exception, damn it. I could have been really annoying if anyone was talking to me.
Click here for Keith
Posted by Mick at 9/20/2010 12:20:00 AM
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Breakfast in the Terminal Bar was, by definition, very late in the day. Even back in the midtown Manhattan, mid-1980s, the Terminal Bar – on 9th Avenue, if I remember a-right – diagonally across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal, had a very bad and very wide reputation as a dangerous den of whores, pimps, predators, winos, thieves, junkies, and a broad selection of other specimens of end-of-the-line, forty-deuce, gris-gris gutter trash, but did we care? Hell no. The Terminal Bar was the first joint we would encounter if we headed north after leaving The Last Words Of Dutch Schultz rented rehearsal space in the notorious Music Building. To walk on by and go all of another block to a marginally safer designation of watering hole tended to offend our entrenched alcoholic machismo and thus the boys in the hard core of the band – Johnny Collins, Wayne Kramer, Moose Bowles, Henry Back, and the late Cleveland Dave – became just one more demographic in the place of stainless steel industrial décor that looked like it could be hosed down after a rough night, and offered 69 cent daytime specials on really foul whiskey. We were the musicians. (The ladies of the production tended to balk at the Terminal’s ambiance and swore that we were insane.) And maybe we were, but we never actually encountered anything worse than the usual hustles, irritations, importuning, and unasked gin blossom memoirs. They do say the Lord protects fools and drunks, and we qualified on both counts.
I even immortalized the joint in song. The tune was called “The Leader Hotel” and it can be found the Tijuana Bible Gringo Madness CD and also on The Deviants Barbarian Princes (Live In Japan). The verse goes…
"Next door there is the Terminal Bar
Which is where the terminal go
W.C. Fields hanging out with G.I. Joe
You can make for a while
Though you may not feel too well
The drinking stops you thinking
At the Leader Hotel."
Click here for Elvis
The secret word is Memories
Posted by Mick at 9/19/2010 01:07:00 AM
Posted by Mick at 9/19/2010 12:45:00 AM