Colbert on Bill O'Reilly

COLBERT: I met him at the Time 100 Dinner. I turned around and he was right behind my chair, and he said, "Oh, it had to happen sometime." He was very nice. He said, "I like you. You know why? You're not mean-spirited like most of 'em." And I said, "That's nice, I'm glad you like it." He said, "Can I give you some advice?" And I said, "I would love it.'' He said, "Watch your guests. You have an Olbermann on, you have a Franken on, that's a pattern. Your audience may not think about it, but they have a sense of it." And I said, "But you saw how I played with Olbermann. I didn't take him seriously." And he said, "Not everybody watches your show as closely as I do." And I thought, "Take me now, Jesus." I was so thrilled.

from Maureen Dowd's mediocre Rolling Stone Interview with Stewart/Colbert


Useless Information

I've been ranting for sometime now about the need to visualize information. Until Wikipedia goes 3D entries like State leaders by year are essentially useless compared to the incredible connections and new ideas that something similar to Jeff Han's multitouch technology could give you with that information.

Han's demo of his technology barely touches the potential for visualization of information, but it is the first step in a good direction. Being able to see the interconnectedness of ideas with your eyes will be a revolution in thought and everything we create and think about will benefit from it.


Old Time Radio Shows with Zirnevis

Jil and I recently canceled our Netflix subscription and opened an account with the local video store. We rented a 1989 documentary on the New York World's Fair of 1939 and 1940. It was called, "The World of Tomorrow," and was very good. I only now discovered that it was written by John Crowley, author of one of my favorite books, The Translator. My wikisearchs brought me to the interesting life of LaGuardia and this site:
A immense resource for old time radio shows. More than I could imagine.

And wikirandom taught me:

Zirnevis (زیرنویس), is the Farsi translation for "sub-title". It is a combination of zir meaning bottom, and nevis meaning writer (thus a literal translation back to English would be "bottom-writer").
Common practice in Iran for the officially dubbed movies by governmental TV stations is to change plots in translation to follow so-called Islamic instruction. For instance, a man and woman in a premarital sexual relationship would be described in the translated subtitles as being married. This has been a disappointment for many Iranians who feel they are missing important story content and that this takes away from the originality of the movie. As a result many underground groups are now releasing their translation with neutral-point-of-view and without any censorship.



From wikipedia:

Parkour is a physical discipline inspired by human movement. It focuses on uninterrupted, efficient forward motion over, under, around and through obstacles (both human-made and natural) in one's environment. Such movement may involve running, jumping, climbing and more complex techniques. The goal of parkour is to adapt one's movement to any given obstacle in one's path.

[video link]

Be assured: The soundtrack is worth suffering through. A quick google-ing will find other entertaining examples of the sport.

The Dream Machine

Few things in the world or on the Internet inspire me with as much hope for the future as the One Laptop Per Child project, or as it is sometimes known the $100 Laptop. The goal is to give the poorest children of the world the tools necessary to really learn. Providing Universal Access to the Internet is the first step in creating a world worthy of the 21st century. Since I think that the OLPC is the greatest product and revolutionary idea to come out of Planet Earth in years, I will be writing about it a lot. Here are some early thoughts and links.

A Close Look at the OLPC
Here's a somewhat nerdy look at the laptop itself, which will do more than any laptop on the market today. It's a the most in depth article I've seen on what is actually in the machine. I'll try and make my own simple account of the machine's features soon.

Demo of the Interface
Screenshots of an operating system better than the one your using right now.

Powered by Hand
The $100 Laptop will use between 1-5 watts depending on use and can be powered for 10-30 minutes with one minute of pulling. The generator can also be used for cellphones, lights, anything.

Answers for Doubters
India: Hole in the Wall
"An Indian physicist puts a PC with a high speed internet connection in a wall in the slums and watches what happens." from a Businessweek Online Daily Briefing, March 2, 2000.

Frequently Asked Questions about the OLPC project

South America
I feel that much of what I read online about the machine imagines it's use primarily in Africa. Since the climate in Africa is some of the harshest in the world, it's great that the laptop has been designed with that continent in mind. However, looking at the OLPC Implementation Map I'm struck by how much this will change South America. It is the countries themselves which will be purchasing the machines by the thousands, and of the seven that have signed up so far, the two largest are Brazil and Argentina.

A quarter of the populations of both Brazil and Argentina are under 14, according to the CIA Factbook. Here are some more facts:
Argentina has 10 million children
Brazil has 48.5 million children
Argentina's literacy rate is 97%
Brazil's literacy rate is 86%
Literacy is defined as the ability to read and write among those over 15.

As of today the Portuguese Wikipedia contains 237,821 artigos. When Brazil's 48.5 million children start posting, well, we'll see.


Say Goodbye to Your Right to Assemble


The U.S. Military has certified the Active Denial System for use in Iraq. ADS is a microwave based ray gun to be attached to a hummer for use in crowd control.

According to Wired Magazine, December 02006, Say Hello to the Goodbye Weapon:

The beam produces what experimenters call the "Goodbye effect," or "prompt and highly motivated escape behavior." In human tests, most subjects reached their pain threshold within 3 seconds, and none of the subjects could endure more than 5 seconds.

The ADS was developed in complete secrecy for 10 years at a cost of $40 million. Its existence was revealed in 2001 by news reports, but most details of ADS human testing remain classified. There has been no independent checking of the military's claims.
We can also say goodbye to public speech as we know it. Today's military uses the weapons of tomorrow's police force. Make no bones about it, this technology will be used against Americans on American soil within 10 years. The tear gas of WWI was eventually turned on American citizens by their own government. This will be no different. Except with this technology a government can suppress public dissent almost entirely. Imagine what the protests of the 1960s would have looked like if Richard Nixon's government had this technology.

Eventually, the heat rays will trickle down into the untrained hands of your local police. In June 2006, after the Supreme Court decided to allow no-knock searches, John Tierney wrote an editorial for the New York Times on the 'SWAT Syndrome,' the militarization of small town police forces through over armament.
Of all the excuses for weakening the Fourth Amendment, the weirdest was the one offered by Justice Antonin Scalia last week in a Michigan drug case.

He wrote the majority opinion allowing police officers to use evidence found in a home even if they entered without following the venerable rule to knock first and announce themselves. To reassure traditionalists, Scalia declared that unreasonable searches are less of a problem today because of ''the increasing professionalism of police forces.''

Well, it's true that when police show up at your home in the middle of the night, they're better armed and trained than ever. They now routinely arrive with assault rifles, flash grenades and battering rams.

So if your definition of a professional is a soldier in a war zone, then Scalia is right. The number of paramilitary raids has soared in the past two decades as cities, suburbs and small towns have rushed to suit up SWAT teams.
Eventually small cities and towns will want their very own death rays, and Raytheon is always ready to lend a helping hand. They have developed their own smaller, commercial version called The Silent Guardian.

More from the Wired article on the Active Denial System:
Eye damage is identified as the biggest concern, but the military claims this has been thoroughly studied. Lab testing found subjects reflexively blink or turn away within a quarter of a second of exposure, long before the sensitive cornea can be damaged. Tests on monkeys showed that corneal damage heals within 24 hours, the reports claim.

The beam penetrates clothing, but not stone or metal. Blocking it is harder than you might think. Wearing a tinfoil shirt is not enough -- you would have to be wrapped like a turkey to be completely protected. The experimenters found that even a small exposed area was enough to produce the Goodbye effect, so any gaps would negate protection. Holding up a sheet of metal won't work either, unless it covers your whole body and you can keep the tips of your fingers out of sight.

Wet clothing might sound like a good defense, but tests showed that contact with damp cloth actually intensified the effects of the beam.

System 1, the operational prototype, is mounted on a Hummer and produces a beam with a 2-meter diameter. Effective range is at least 500 meters, which is further than rubber bullets, tear gas or water cannons. The ammunition supply is effectively unlimited.


Using the FOIA to Learn about the SEGNPMSS

I've always been interested in the Freedom of Information Act. Though, I've yet to actually use it to learn anything, I can learn about it on the Internet. Here's what I've learned.

How to use the Federal FOI Act
A booklet originally published in 1976, now in it's 9th edition. Seems to have the most basic instructions for how to use the FOIA. Apparently, step one is to simply write a letter to the respective agency asking informally for the information you want. Not all information is available, the exemptions are pretty common sense. The only one that surprised me was:
Exemption (b)(9) - Geological Information

The National Security Archive
This is a great resource that I'm really looking forward to digging into. The Nixon/Presley meeting documents are quite great and include a pdf of Elvis' handwritten letter to Nixon asking to be made a Federal Agent at Large in order to help fight the drug and hippie problems of the country. As I will probably remain too lazy to write any agency, and too uncreative to think of some information that needs liberating, this site will be the next best, and maybe better thing.

Barbara Schwartz

This is a interesting wiki about the person to apparently hold the most FOIA requests. She was the president of the Church of Scientology in Germany for almost a year in the 1980s. She has used most of her FOIA requests to try and unravel the mysteries of her own personal history.

Schwarz has written that she believes the Church of Scientology has been infiltrated by agents of what she refers to as "SEGNPMSS" ( "Still Existing German Nazi Psychiatrists' Mindcontroller Secret Service"). She blames Nazi infiltrators of the Church of Scientology for her involuntary expulsion as the president of the Church of Scientology in Germany. She continues to consider herself a Scientologist and defends the Church, "in its true form."[2]
The wiki is actually rather sad concluding with her being banned from the Salt Lake City Public Library, in part for being the FOIA Terrorist. More on this sort later.

Monsters & Metahumans

Aggregated mostly from Boingboing, here are some links.

List of Cryptids

One of my favorite things on wikipedia are the lists. This one is a good starting point in all cryptozoological research, and also a good case for a revolution in visualization of information. More on that later.

Ray Harryhausen Creature List

More monsters, now from stop montion dynamo Ray Harryhausen. I really like Kali, from the 1974, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

A Sixth Sense for a Wired World
Wired magazine reports on the new tiny fad of putting a tiny magnet into your ring finger to aquire a sixth sense, an electromagnetic sense. The operation is done by body modificationists, and so there is no anesthetic, save ice.

People with magnetic implants can't erase hard drives or credit cards. They don't set off airport metal detectors or get stuck to refrigerators. The magnets are small, and once encased in skin, all they do is react next to nerves, conveying the presence of sufficiently strong electromagnetic fields. "The magnetic implant is not the most sophisticated or rich sensation, it was just the easiest to implement with our available technology," says Huffman.

Your new electromagnetic sense will let you detect a live wire, and if you are like author/guinea pig Quinn Norton, your magnet's protective silicone sheath might break down and your body will infect and dismantle the magnet. But Mr. Norton says that his sense returned, diminished, four months later when the magnet reassembled itself.