Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dog Days Of War

Close Call

Bob Strong / Reuters

Amidst the war's deadliest month, his squad assists a soldier with an I.E.D. caused ankle injury in the Arghandab Valley on July 23. None of the four soldiers on board the burning vehicle was seriously injured.

History Is Shouting At Us

Audio Embed: Dave Ross, KIRO-FM/Seattle, 7/30/10.

Italy’s Immigration Law

Documenti, prego!

During 2005 in Italy the number of active police officers from all agencies totaled 324,339, the highest number in Europe both overall and per capita, twice the number of agents in the United Kingdom. Italy is also now home to about 4 million immigrants, necessary to industry but not completely welcomed by native-born ethnic Italians.

Italy has had a strict immigration law for years. It's provisions are similar to Arizona’s SB 1070's document checks, but Italy's idea of Constitutional Rights aren't the same as the U.S... Travelling with police in Milan and talking to an Italian-born woman of Egyptian heritage provides a glimpse of how that law is enforced.
Audio Embed: BBC, PRI & WGBH's The World 7/29/10,
Reporter: Christopher Livesay.

Nooze To Me

Marketplace Minute 7/30 from Marketplace on Vimeo.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Goldman S@#%$
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Recap - Week of 7/26/10
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Churchill's Choppers

How Much Would You Pay For A Piece Of History?

A gold-plated upper plate of false teeth, once worn by Winston Churchill, sold at auction for £15,200 (British Pounds). That's €18,278.46 (Euros) or $23,862.48 (U.S. Dollars), 3X the guide price.

The teeth were said to have been specially made to preserve the distinctive sound of the WWII Tory Prime Minister's voice.

Two other distinctive voices weigh in on the price of celebrity stalking and whether Elvis's instruments -- his autopsy instruments -- belong on any market at all.
Audio Embed: Berger & Prescott, podcast via Facebook and want parts in any forthcoming 3D McGruff the Crime Dog movies... Unless the plot is anti-pot.

No Shirt, Sherlock

Video: CNN

Ass Möde… Check The Teats

Children with allergies to cow's milk and goat's milk are finding a nutritious alternative in donkey's milk.
Anna Matranga reports.

Video: CBS

Jailbreaking B/S

See it full size at

Friday, July 30, 2010

Political Corruptdate

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Video: MSNBC

Late Show with David Letterman/CBS

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Ownership Society
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Watch out if the peons realize how often they're being peed on.

Race, Racers, Racism?

Biomechanical researchers analyzed 100 years of athletes' heights and weights along with competitive running and swimming records, to demonstrate how the placement of one's center of gravity affects one's athletic performance.

No big deal... Until the respected International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics published the paper titled “The Evolution of Speed in Athletics: Why the Fastest Runners are Black and Swimmers are White.”

On your mark... Get set... Untangle!
Audio Embed: PRI & WNYC's program The Takeaway 7/28/10,
Hosts John Hockenberry & Celeste Headlee.

Roadmap To Mileage

Video: MSNBC

Prophetic Paint Job

Who would've guessed a trailer labeled Inferno might become one?

Sleeping Arrangements

Separate But Equal

Full Contact Dreaming Dangers

Audio Embed: CBS Radio's Osgood File 7/29/10.

Straight Outta Nerdville

Remember Tron?

YouTube video from Key of Awesome with full credits, lyrics & links to others in the series plus an audio download of the song.

3D Pic a Nic Baskets Anyone?

Dan Aykroyd stars as Yogi Bear and it's easy to spot Tom Cavanagh & Anna Farris... But you'll never believe who plays Boo Boo!

In Living Color

Nathan Love's version of the NBC logo's origin.

Star Trek - Super 8

Summer film fun from Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1978, with dialogue and effects added 25 years later by original cast members.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Crisis Delayed

Judge Partially Blocks Arizona Law

Federal Judge Susan Bolton blocked the most controversial sections of Arizona's new immigration law just hours before they were going to be put into effect. John Blackstone reports.

Despite the partisan criticism of the moment, remember any administration would have filed the same suit, because they'd all feel compelled to assert Federal supremacy, as constructed in the Constitution... It was the reason behind Judge Bolton's decision.

The man who erected additional "de-tent-tion facilities," literally outdoor tents to house the haul of illegals expected on opening day of his hunting season, claims it'll be "business as usual" in Phoenix.

Videos: CBS, CNN & MSNBC

The Logical Choice

And Sure-Fire Filibuster Target

Video: MSNBC

Frequent contributors Berger & Prescott presented their cynicism about the whole idea of financial regulation in a 7/28/10 podcast.

Apple Corps

Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission, says the first of 108 million bushel sized cartons of ripe apples (each weighing about 42 pounds) should be coming off the trees in the third week of August.

But none of them will look like this "Redlove." They're a new breed of apples created by Swiss botanists who cross-pollinated normal-looking apples with an as yet secret variety which looks impressive but has no taste. The process took over 20 years to perfect a fruit that's red on the inside, too, rich in antioxidants and has a hint of berry taste.

In America, apple news isn't biological, but legal, technical and economic. Digital library consultant Karen Coyle and Anthony Falzone, Executive Director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University’s Center for Internet and Society, take a crack at explaining what the recent copyright ruling means to consumers and iPhone's maker.
Audio Embed: APM's Future Tense 7/28/10, Host: John Moe.

Man Show Reunion

Minus the "Juggies" and trampolines.

Jimmy Kimmel Live/ABC

See Adam Carolla's podcast.

Workin' At The Cow Wash

Today Show/NBC
No, seriously
News Lite TV says:

It looks like a car wash, but this 'cow wash' machine is actually the latest must-have gadget for farmers wanting to boost milk production.

Designed by Swedish firm DeLaval, the swinging cow brush was created to act as a 'self grooming' device for cows to help keep themselves clean, healthier and happier.

This is because a happy cow is said to produce as much as 3.5 percent more milk and therefore be much more valuable for the farmer. The device works by starting to rotate when a cow makes contact with it, and then spinning at a speed which is pleasurable for the cow as it moo-ves under it.

DeLaval promo video

Bump de bump de bump!


Stan Cox is a plant breeder and writer living in Salina, Kansas... A senior researcher at the Land Institute, a firm that researches agricultural issues. He’s also author of “Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World.”

Cox makes a case against artificial cooling at the peak of the season and in a year where near record highs have hit one big city after another... Good luck selling that!
Audio Embed: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 7/28/10, Host: Robin Young.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

iPhone Jailbreak

Apple blocks all but officially authorized software (apps) on its iPhone... Even just trying that has been ruled a violation of federal law. The Electronic Frontier Foundation compared the practice to a carmaker slamming the hood closed, and then welding it shut.


Thin Lizzy - Jailbreak (stereo synched to unidentified 1976 TV performance)

Anti-Oligarch Insurgency

Post bloggerama, Upper Crusties in the crosshairs

Ed Schultz is the most ardent, openly crusading, liberal in MSNBC's evening lineup and a featured speaker at Netroots Nation 2010.

Joan Walsh is a "San Francisco liberal" and editor of

Guest host Chris Hayes edits The Nation which proudly advertises itself as a purveyor of "liberal bias you can't get anywhere else."

Video: MSNBC

So can you "refudiate"* any of what they had to say?

*Refute (prove to be false by argument, evidence, or proof) + Repudiate (disown, cast off/cast out, and reject a person as an authoritative source) -- An enduring misspelled malaprop with a hint of inadvertent Twit brilliance by Sarah Palin, bard of Wasilla.

See also: Groucho Marxist (from 7/21/10)

Map of Humanity

The creators explain:
Maps organize information. They pinpoint geographic locations relative to each other. The Map of Humanity does, too... But instead of geography, the map organizes "locations" (not all are places) by their moral, emotional, and cultural significance.
See a much larger version and explore the continents of Wisdom & Reason, or Hedonism & Abomination... A cautionary note to women:

Don't dwell on the Isle of Jerks!

Smart Windows Fly High

Windows are also a big deal in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, recently in the spotlight at the biennial Farnborough International Air Show, which along with its sister show held in alternating years outside of Paris, is used by the industry to showcase the latest products to customers, competitors and the public... But mainly customers.

The AP reported that plane makers notched up orders worth more than $28 billion at Farnborough by the close of the event's third day, underscoring a revival in commercial aviation even as budget cuts (like killing the F-22 Raptor) keep the defense sector in the doldrums.

But back to the windows... In the 787's cockpit, PPG's "gold film" embeds a heating layer within the windshield to counteract sub-zero temperatures at cruising altitudes and eliminate the need for industrial strength defrosters inside.

In the passenger cabin the technology is similar to the video above. Manually controlled "electrochromic windows" darken when voltage is added and are transparent when voltage is taken away, so they can be adjusted to allow varying levels of visibility. In a 787, that's done with push-button presets below each window, or a virtual slider which appears on the pane, eliminating now obsolete sliding plastic shades.

Lose the Attitude

Sample emoticons from
Without the inflection or added context of body language and other nonverbal cues, it's easier to misinterpret the meaning of text messages sent over the Internet. One Canadian company that says it has a solution (other than peppering your text with emoticons) -- a system that identifies potential problem phrases before your e-mail is sent, called ToneCheck.
Audio Embed: All Things Considered 7/26/10, with Robert Siegel & Michele Norris.

See a demo of ToneCheck in action on a message fraught with brevity and the traps inherent in communication between genders.

Ghetto Fabulous Polygamy

The Unreal Housewives of Colorado City, Arizona

Second City Network

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Uncomfortable Echoes

For those old enough to remember Vietnam, it feels something like Pentagon Papers light. The words endless and unwinnable bubble up again, and even though the current release doesn't reflect 2010 or top level thinking, it seemed nobody making decisions remembered that "Never get involved in a land war in Asia, " is not only among the "classic blunders" mentioned by Vizzini in The Princess Bride, it was also reputedly advice given by General Douglas MacArthur to President John F. Kennedy, in 1961.

Video: MSNBC

WikiLeaks semi-public spokesperson faces the press in London

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, says there may be evidence of war crimes in the 90,000, mostly classified U.S. military documents about the war in Afghanistan that the site posted over the weekend.

Clint Hendler, of the Columbia Journalism Review authored a closer look at Assange previously and offers thoughts on the who and how of WikiLeaks latest document dump.
Audio Embed: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 7/26/10, Host: Robin Young.

40 Years of Future Shock

Futurist Alvin Toffler 40 Years Later: Possibilities, Not Predictions
Audio Embed: All Things Considered 7/26/10, Reporter: Martin Kaste.

Teaching Differently

A Different Way To Pay

Tampa, Florida, teachers agree to an evaluation and results-based compensation formula.
Audio Embed: Dave Ross, KIRO-FM/Seattle, 7/23/10.

A Different Way To Read: Clearwater, Florida
goes wireless, replacing paper with e-books.

Douglas Clifford / St. Petersburg Times
By Rebecca Catalanello, St. Petersburg Times, 6/2/10

Clearwater (FL) High School next year will replace traditional textbooks with e-readers. The gadgets will be fully loaded with all the textbooks students need, minus all the paper.

For rising junior Bennie Niles (above) it could mean accessing English, math and physics texts via a handheld device more on par with the technology he and his peers use every day.

"It gives you the ability to be more fluent," Niles said as he held a Kindle reader. "It helps you have a better understanding and comprehension of the text."

Though the school hasn't settled on a vendor, school officials are negotiating with Amazon Kindle to try to equip all 2,100 students with the 10-ounce devices this fall.

Already, the school issued e-readers to all 100 of its teachers.

Clearwater could be the first high school attempting such a sweeping shift with the Kindle.

John Just, assistant superintendent for the district's management information systems, said Kindle officials told the district that no other high school had embarked on such an effort. Schools elsewhere have used e-readers, but mostly on a per class basis. A Massachusetts boarding school recently made waves by completely digitizing its library.
That school is Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, which began the process of giving away its library books and replacing them with digital versions as available in 2009. Dr. James Tracy is headmaster and explained the decision... Then Jeff Young of the Chronicle of Higher Education talked about the trend toward electronic textbooks.
Audio Embed: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 9/22/09, Host: Robin Young.

Jeff Young mentioned how Kindle teamed up with universities across the country and began selling electronic textbooks to students:

Video:, 8/11/09

The various e-readers employ different file formats that currently limit their ability to read material from a single seller. And it's still an open question whether it'll catch on, or the additional cost of e-readers make the move too expensive... But since these reports Amazon lowered prices on Kindles in response to competition, and no doubt offers bulk rates for mass purchases like Clearwater's.


Jimmy Kimmel Live/ABC

Video: MSNBC

A CollegeHumor compilation


The Beach Boys sang: "Catch a wave and your sitting on top of the world."

Peter Heller listened... Belatedly.

A self-confessed mid-life crisis made him grab a stick and paddle out from Huntington Beach, California, into an environment of great beauty but also hostility, territoriality and embarrassment. His soul-searching journey became material for the book Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave.
Audio Embed: All Things Considered 7/25/10, Host: Audie Cornish.

Read an excerpt at NPR.

Nowhere To Go

In a recent appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Emmy-nominated actress Christina Hendricks of Mad Men fame said that although (as the daughter of a forest ranger) she'd grown up doing some hard-core camping, she liked having indoor plumbing too much to repeat the experience.

It may have worked for Star Trek, but going where no man has gone before has perils, as does going outdoors in the the same place everyone else does... On Monday 7/19/10, the BBC's Anna Lacey reported on a project to improve sanitation in rural areas of Kenya -- where 46% of the population are among the over one billion people in the world who only have access to pit latrines.

Problematic for anyone stuck in one of those Freudian phases.

If you see one of these, watch your step!

It's new British robot called Ecobot III, that can survive for seven days at a time by consuming biomass and excreting waste...
A lot of waste. The bot is only able to convert about 1% of the material it consumes into energy.

In the bid to create autonomous robots, researchers turned to biomass as an energy source. By being able to feed themselves, robots could be set to work for long periods without intervention.

Such food-munching robots have been demonstrated in the past, often generating power with the help of microbial fuel cells (MFCs) - bio-electrochemical devices that enlist cultures of bacteria to break down food to generate power. Until now, though, no one has remedied the messy but inevitable issue of finding a way to evacuate the waste these bugs produce.

"Whether you see the takeaway here as being a robot that eats or a robot that poops is up to you," said John Moe, host of American Public Media's Future Tense.

“Diarrhea-bot would be more appropriate,” conceded Bristol Robotics Laboratory director Chris Melhuish telling New Scientist, “It’s not exactly knocking out rabbit pellets.”

Monday, July 26, 2010

Clean Up -- Day 98

Tony Hayward to be Deep Sixed

An announcement from BP is expected with a decision to oust current CEO Tony Hayward, who bungled public relations as badly as any of the oil giant's technical failures in the Gulf. Tony Guida reports.

New Priorities in the Gulf

A mile undersea the work to plug BP's well is picking up speed and there's no talk of collecting oil anymore, just stopping it for good. Kelly Cobiella reports.

Video: CBS News

An index of CNN's Gulf Oil Spill coverage.

Late To The Sky

One More Ride On The Space Shuttle (Simulator)

The command crew of the final flight of Endeavor, mission STS-134, is scheduled for lift-off in February 2011. Before then, astronauts will go through hundreds of practice runs in a flight simulator at the Johnson Space Center in Houston... This time with one extra aboard.
Audio Embed: Weekend Edition Saturday 7/24/10, Host: Scott Simon.

Still In Fightertown

Captain Brian Bews ejected as his CF-18 fighter jet plummeted to the ground at the Lethbridge County Airport during a practice flight on Friday, July 23 for the weekend air show in Alberta, Canada.

For two years I worked at the southern edge of "Fightertown." That's what they called the then NAS Miramar, on San Diego's Kearney Mesa... Site of the movie and real-life home of "Top Gun," Navy Fighter Weapons School 1969 - 1996.

F-14 Tomcats flying low and slow became a routine sight, as the enormous two-seaters made approaches. Other planes from San Diego might operate out of Coronado, a stones throw from where their carriers docked, but all the fighters came home to Miramar.

One afternoon I spotted a column of black smoke rising from the base and automatically put in a call to the Public Information Office. It was a training exercise for fire-fighters that used real jet fuel. The PIO apologized for not having notified the news media ahead of time.

The Tomcats have since retired. "Top Gun" is now run out of the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center at NAS Fallon, Nevada. Marines moved south from Irvine with pilots flying out of the now renamed MCAS Miramar in F-18 Hornets, like the one that crashed on Friday.

A friend who lives in San Diego County couldn't believe I hadn't even visited there in 20 years. He said he still thinks of me as a local... And the way that even a crash where the pilot escaped with a sore back and scraped up arms gets to me, maybe I still am at heart.

See a remarkable photo sequence by Ian Martens of the Lethbridge Herald.

Are We Naturally Lazy?

By FREAKONOMICS, NY Times 7/23/10

A team of researchers claims to have uncovered an interesting paradox: humans are happier when they’re busy, but we’re inclined towards idleness (“an evolutionary vestige that ensures we conserve energy.”)

Christopher K. Hsee, Adelle X. Yang, and Liangyan Wang ran a series of experiments with college students and found that students were inclined towards idleness, but would seize even superficial opportunities to be busy. Furthermore, students who took the opportunity to do something with their downtime reported feeling happier after the experiment. In keeping with the times, the authors see an opportunity for government intervention: “Governments may increase the happiness of idle citizens by having them build bridges that are actually useless.”
Concept & Art by David Gross and Strephon Taylor

We Didn't Start It


Sometimes I wonder why so few people leave comments... Other times I'm relieved.

A tip of the hat to Billy Joel from CollegeHumor.


Taking It All Back: Altering An Internet Reputation

As Facebook passes its 500 millionth user, a look at new proposals to reduce threats Internet users pose to themselves.

George Washington University Law Professor Jeff Rosen has chronicled some of the newest proposals for protecting, and erasing, your online reputation. He wrote, "The Web Means the End of Forgetting," in the New York Times Magazine. And Jonathan Zittrain, of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, shares one possible solution to cleaning up the trails we leave behind us online: Reputation Bankruptcy.
Audio Embed: PRI & WNYC's program The Takeaway 7/23/10, Host: Todd Zwillich.

Amazing Ali

Jimmy Kimmel has been playfully watching and protectively watching out for "The Bachelorette" Ali Fedotowsky. Here's last week's episode.

The Drinking Game

Frank's Uncomfortable Surprise

Before Ali Fedotowsky presents the final rose on Monday, Aug. 2's finale, this season's bachelors get together for what in the past has proved to be a memorable reunion show in which they dish the dirt about everything that went down this season with Ali & each other.

A devastated Kirk DeWindt (the contestant cut when Frank got to stay) takes the hot seat opposite host Chris Harrison and explains how tough it was to be rejected by Ali. ET ran a spoiler clip Friday.

"The Bachelorette: Men Tell All" airs tonight, Monday 7/26/10 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Spy Curious


Video: Today/NBC News


Opened in theaters 7/23/10


Coming this fall to the CW

And A Cast of Way Too Many Others

The Washington Post issued three installments of a series called Top Secret America, about the boom in government agencies and private companies dealing with intelligence and security in the years since the 9/11 attacks.

William M. Arkin, one of the authors of the series, explains that in order to wrap their heads around the issue, he and the staff of the Post had to build an enormous database with hundreds of thousands of documents culled from non-secret sources. New media observers are intrigued by the methodology as much as the subject... Intrigued by old media's integration of digital tools in the series' research and use of interactive elements to help tell the story.
Audio Embed: WNYC's On The Media 7/24/10, Host: Brooke Gladstone.

For those who don't want to read the full report, or can't wait for the TV version on PBS "Frontline" in October, Yahoo news provides this Executive Summary:
1. The U.S. intelligence system has exploded in size since the Sept. 11 attacks. Its budget was $75 billion last year, 2.5 times what it was before the attacks, and more than 850,000 people hold top-secret security clearances. More than 30 top-secret intelligence complexes have been built or are being built in the D.C. area since 2001, and at least 263 government intelligence organizations have been created or reorganized since 9/11.

2. Only a few officials in the Department of Defense have access to all of the top-secret activities and information. Two "super users" in the department told the Post that it's impossible for them to keep track of the mountains of top-secret info they're exposed to. "I'm not going to live long enough to be briefed on everything," one said.

3. Agencies are collecting so much data that they don't have enough translators or researchers to analyze it. Every day, the National Security Agency's systems "intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications."

4. Turf wars among agencies can prevent the sharing of information. Congress created the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in 2004 so that someone would be in charge of the sprawling national intelligence apparatus. But Congress didn't give the director clear legal or budgetary control over all the agencies. As a result, the office, the Defense Department and the CIA have engaged in counterproductive power struggles.

5. This confusion has had real consequences. The reporters say secrecy and lack of coordination prevented intelligence workers from stopping an Army major's attack on Ft. Hood and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's alleged attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airplane last fall.

6. Contractors are not supposed to perform what federal rules define as "inherently government functions," but they do. In every single intelligence agency, contractors are performing the same functions as federal employees, and often for higher pay. Contractors for the CIA "have recruited spies in Iraq, paid bribes for information in Afghanistan and protected CIA directors visiting world capitals."

7. Out of the 854,000 people who have top-secret clearances, 265,000 are contractors. That's about a third of the total workforce in the nation's intelligence agencies. About 2,000 small to mid size private companies do top-secret work.

8. The booming corporate intelligence industry is siphoning off the most skilled workers from the government with better pay and shiny bonuses. Contractors can offer twice as much money to experienced federal employees as the government can, and at least one corporate executive was spotted recruiting in the CIA's cafeteria during working hours.

9. Hiring contractors is also really expensive for the government, despite the Bush administration's hopes it would be cheaper than hiring more federal employees. "Contractors made up 29 percent of the workforce in the intelligence agencies but cost the equivalent of 49 percent of their personnel budgets," the Post says. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that federal workers are 25 percent cheaper than out-sourcing to private contractors.

10. Employees with top-secret clearance who work in a cluster of ordinary-looking office building outside of Washington must submit to strict rules. They take multiple lie-detector tests, are coached to avoid questions from neighbors and friends, and can lose their jobs for borrowing too much money or having friends from certain countries. Some assume false identities.