Wednesday, April 30, 2008

RIP Albert Hofmann



Albert Hofmann was 102.

"I produced the substance as a medicine. ... It's not my fault if people abused it," he once said.

The Swiss chemist discovered lysergic acid diethylamide-25 in 1938 while studying the medicinal uses of a fungus found on wheat and other grains at the Sandoz pharmaceuticals firm in Basel.

He became the first human guinea pig of the drug when a tiny amount of the substance seeped onto his finger during a laboratory experiment on April 16, 1943.

"I had to leave work for home because I was suddenly hit by a sudden feeling of unease and mild dizziness," he subsequently wrote in a memo to company bosses.

"Everything I saw was distorted as in a warped mirror," he said, describing his bicycle ride home. "I had the impression I was rooted to the spot. But my assistant told me we were actually going very fast."

Upon reaching home, Hofmann began experiencing what he called "wonderful visions."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lexmark + Circuit City = CRAP

A few months ago my printer died. As this is modern America there is no choice to repair the unit. No, when the motor burns out you can't get to it without breaking the machine and you couldn't get a replacement to save your life anyway. This is the third Lexmark printer I've bought over the years and I've had pretty good luck finding them on the "open box" shelf at the various big box stores around (Circuit City or Best Buy) for less than the pair of printer cartridges cost so I went out in search of a replacement. At Circuit City I found a Lexmark printer for cheap (seems it was $60 or so) so I bought it.

I brought it home, installed it and started using it. It was so far so good at that point. Still slow as Xmas but it seemed to print fairly nice prints. After a few weeks I ran out of ink and that's when I discovered I'd been screwed. You see, on the front of the box in the lower right hand corner in teeny tiny print was a notice that the ink cartridges for this printer were available only from Circuit City or direct from Lexmark. None of Circuit City's employees bothered to point this out to me. The print is almost impossible to read without a magnifying glass and a very bright light. I don't know about you but no Circuit City stores are near my house. None of their stores are convenient or easy to get to and since I'm not the kind of person that ever shops in a fucking mall except as a last resort, a trip to Circuit City (all of the locations here are near a mall) is out of my way.

So I end up having to go to Circuit City to get a printer cartridge. That's a pain in the ass but I figured I'd get a couple color and a couple black and try to stay ahead of the game. Well, much to my surprise, the closest Circuit City was out of the black cartridges so I had to go across the river (basically backtracking 8 miles and going 8 miles further) to get a cartridge. This happened the next time as well. So the last time my computer told me I was running low on ink I decided to order direct from Lexmark so I clicked the "order now" link in my printer's program. It took me directly to an order page and recommended the #34 "high yield" black ink cartridge. "Excellent," I thought, "more ink!" So I ordered the slightly more expensive #34 which came in the mail a few days later.

When the printer program warns you're running low on ink it doesn't mean you're about to run out the next page you print. I kept using the cartridges I had, waiting for the quality to deteriorate. So it comes around to tax day and I've finally finished my taxes online. For some reason they couldn't submit them electronically so I had to print them and mail them in. No problem, I thought and went to print. After two or three pages (that were instructions on how to file) the black ink cartridge gave up the ghost so I opened the #34 and put it in the machine. Lo and behold, the Lexmark Z1480 doesn't support the #34 cartridge that Lexmark's website recommended to me! I call Lexmark and they promise me a new cartridge... in a few days! When I question them about the different cost I'm assured they'll contact me within a day to refund the difference. To say the least I was furious at this point, having to drive to Circuit City to get another cartridge instead of being able to walk to Walgreens.

When I arrived at the closest Circuit City (drive 2 miles through the city, get on the interstate, change to the expressway, get off near the malls, drive another couple of miles to the point where I have to wait several minutes for traffic to clear enough to turn into the stripmall) I go in only to find they're out of the fucking things. This is an EXCLUSIVE PRODUCT!!! They're out every goddamned time I need one of the things and I really need one. So I wait for some kid to finish with another customer and get him to find me one in another store. There's an old lady waiting for the exact same thing. This is the fifth time she's been to this store to get a replacement cartridge only to find none in stock.

There is no excuse for a store like Circuit City to ever be out of anything unless it is no longer being manufactured. Every time an item enters or leaves the store the UPC symbol is scanned so there is a record of every sale made. With a centralized system like they have you should be able to order any piece of stock and have it the next day. You should never run out because you can see you have twenty in stock and you sold five a day for the last three days and you can rush order another thirty or hundred.

So let's sum up here.

Circuit City: sells exclusive product requiring refills. Is always out of stock on refills.


Circuit City = CRAP

Lexmark: produces an exclusive product but sells the wrong refills from their own website. They also never contacted me about refunding the extra I spent on the #34 cartridge and it took more than ten days for the replacement #3 to get to me.


Lexmark = CRAP

When the cartridges I have in this printer run out I'm buying a Canon printer from anyone but Circuit City.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Can't Make it Up...

Lynchings in Congo as penis theft panic hits capital

By Joe Bavier Tue Apr 22, 1:24 PM ET

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

Rumours of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo's sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

"You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We've had a number of attempted lynchings. ... You see them covered in marks after being beaten," Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Police arrested the accused sorcerers and their victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs. The 27 men have since been released.

"I'm tempted to say it's one huge joke," Oleko said.

"But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent. To that I tell them, 'How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it'," he said.

Some Kinshasa residents accuse a separatist sect from nearby Bas-Congo province of being behind the witchcraft in revenge for a recent government crackdown on its members.

"It's real. Just yesterday here, there was a man who was a victim. We saw. What was left was tiny," said 29-year-old Alain Kalala, who sells phone credits near a Kinshasa police station.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

We're Curing Cancer With Kittens...

This is a planned billboard attack that I never carried out. It was a little difficult to get to the billboard and the size of the alteration was pretty daunting. They changed the billboard after only a week or so also. The original said, "Cancer. We Kill it with Kindness." which I think is straight up stupid. If I have cancer I want that shit killed with radiation, drugs, and poisons. Don't fucking hug it. I did this mock up a little over a year ago:

Quote of the Moment

"Not all conservatives are stupid, but most stupid people are conservative." - John Stuart Mill

Thanks to my girl for finding this one.

The "Debate"

Since the earliest days that I've paid attention to politics (back when Carter was President) I've felt that the television debates were a stinking crock of shit. It's only gotten worse over the years and finally it seems the television hosts scraped bottom with this last Democratic debate. The candidates have not been anywhere near as vomitous as Bush (the blubbering retard) or Gore (who sounded like a childless professor trying to speak to a room full of four year olds) but they did show they were cowards like we all know Democrats to be. Obama should have walked the fuck out of their after the second or third question and Hillary should have applauded him and left as well. But neither has the balls to stand up to those worthless bastards that play acted as moderators when they were in fact standing in for Rush Limbaugh and the like.

Only David Brooks would give these guys an "A" which he did. What a tool. (I guess he fits into "the like," don't you think?)

That's all I'm going to say about this. I think the 19000+ comments on ABC's site or the endless ranting here, here, here, and here. Really say all that needs to be said. Here are some samples:

A few from ABC's page:

After watching that sorry display of a debate you might as well plan on having Charlie Gibson and George Sthephanopolus on Dancing with the Stars.

so disappointed in ABC news! where are the issues? give me a break. don't waste our time. ask questions about healthcare, iraq, economy, foreign policy. i hope these questions come up soon!

I think George's EGO and long held grudges against any politicians are showing.

PLEASE !!! We don't care about these petty issues.We want to know how they plan to fix things !!!!!!!!!!!!!We want to know about the ISSUES !!Come on, moderators... get it real, this is our last chance to really hear them.


A few from a Moveon.org e-mail:


"A stinker, an absolute car crash—thanks to the host network ABC...[It] ran the gamut from banal to inane. At the end of the debate members of the crowd appeared to be booing moderator Charlie Gibson."The Guardian's Richard Adams2

"Halfway through the debate, not a single question on any policy issue had been asked."—OpenLeft.com's Chris Bowers3

"For the first 52 minutes...Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with."—Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales.4

"We've revisited bitter. We've gone back to Bosnia. We've dragged Rev. Wright back up onto the podium. We've mis-spent this debate by allowing Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos to ask questions that skirt what in my mind is what we need to know now."Philadelphia Inquirer's Daniel Rubin5

1. "Clinton-Obama Debate: ABC Decides Top Issues Facing Americans Are Gaffes, Flag Pins and '60s Radicals," Editor & Publisher, April 16, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3580&id=12458-5608649-z6xDmR&t=6

2. "Worst. Debate. Ever." The Guardian blog, April 16, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3582&id=12458-5608649-z6xDmR&t=7

3. "Philadelphia Debate Thread," Chris Bowers, OpenLeft.com, April 16, 2008
http://www.openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=5195

4. "In Pa. Debate, The Clear Loser Is ABC," Washington Post, April 17, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3581&id=12458-5608649-z6xDmR&t=8

5. "The Debate Debacle," The Philadelphia Inquirer blog, April 16, 2008
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3583&id=12458-5608649-z6xDmR&t=9

From USA Today:


Guardian America's deadlineUSA blog issues its verdict with the headline: "Worst. Debate. Ever."

The Washington Post's TV critic says Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos "turned in shoddy, despicable performances."

"For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with," Tom Shales writes.

ABC is trying to pretend there's a little debate going on amongst media types and barely mentions that they have been roundly criticized across almost the entire media spectrum (we all know the far right mouthpiece machine was throwing victory parties after this travesty), as well as tens of thousands of Americans. It's sad that this is what American broadcasting has fallen to. Even our Presidential debates differ from Jerry Springer only that there are no chairs being thrown.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Solar Tower of Power



This is one of the best solar ideas I've read about as far as large scale energy production is concerned. Termites have been using the natural convection caused by differences in temperature, etc. between the ground and a higher point. This technology could also be used to create "green" skyscrapers and could be incorporated into all kinds of large works. Of course this thing is supposed to be around 1km high so the increased efficiency would be pronounced but using this kind of energy (which could be used directly as mechanical energy, not just to turn generators) to reduce the load on the power grid produced by any large structure seems to make sense.

Oh wait, that's why we won't do it, just like we won't build these generators and we won't invest in wind and tide power. It's not going to make the ultra-wealthy mine owners, oil tycoons, or speculators more ultra wealthy. Since the only resources one of these things takes is in building and maintaining it, it doesn't provide a "revenue stream" that feeds the rich. We'll have none of that in America.

Pope Visits Six Flags!



EUREKA, MO—Pope Benedict XVI returned to Rome today following a historic, three-day trip to Six Flags St. Louis, the first official papal visit to a major American theme park since Pope Paul VI's Thanksgiving Mass at Wet 'n Wild in August 1966.

From: The Onion

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sky Diving From Space



Here is a nice, sharp big version of this video.

Here's a cut from a science show with the story on the jump. He jumped from 30km reaching almost 1000km/hr.

This guy is going to try to break the record.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Comments

Just a little note to those who would like to post comments here:

Don't post an ad for your blog. If you have a comment and you want to link to your blog, that's fine. If you post something inane (like "Great commentary! Please visit..." followed by a long, unrelated description of your pet peeve) then your post will find its way to the garbage. Spam is spam, people.

Death Taxes

Monday, April 14, 2008

What's Wrong With America: Prison Industrial Complex



We throw people in jail for social problems: Drugs, prostitution, and sex crimes. Those people in prison are forced to do labor that benefits a small group of Republican benefactors. Prison labor undercuts the labor of Americans outside the prison system. Ultimately, we should never profit from our penal system. If society deems it necessary to take someone's freedom, society should pay for that, not profit from it. Anything else begs abuse and I believe our current system of "justice" feeds the giant business that builds, staffs, and fills more and more prisons.

By the way, I believe the same people that are "privatizing" our prison system are the main forces behind attempting to "privatize" our schools.

What's Wrong With America: Military Industrial Complex




There is a vast (yet loose) conspiracy that sucks our tax money into a void of unaccountability. How is it that we spend more than half of our nation's tax revenues for the mechanics of war... or worse?

Halliburton Works For Al Qaeda?


Click on the cartoon to see full scale.

A 24-year-old staff sergeant was electrocuted when he took a shower at a US Army base in Iraq.

He wasn't the first. At least 12 soldiers and marines have been electrocuted by shoddy wiring and construction at US bases built by Halliburton.

No one is that inept. Halliburton is obviously working for Al Qaeda.

The streets of Baghdad are safe. Combat has ceased. Yet our troops continue to die.

But now is no time to go wobbly. If we pull out now, all the sacrifice will have been in vain!


...and Dick Cheney's trust fund has another massive check deposited into it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

4000? Crap!


WASHINGTON—In the wake of the 4,000th U.S. military death in Iraq, the American Battle Monuments Commission announced Monday that, for the fifth time in the last 12 months, it will resume construction on the poignant final tribute to the brave men and women who continue to give their lives in the Iraq War.

Polls

For years now I've been hearing the Nazis... oh sorry, I mean Republicans claim their enemies are "reacting to polls" and that their enemies' opinions change "at the whim of the polls." At what point does consistency stop being whimsy? At what point do the desires of the governed supercede those of the rulers? I thought this country was a representative government, not a Republican Party government. We're five years into a stupid, illegal, and immoral war that many of us have been against since the beginning. Am I reacting to a poll? Is my opinion a whimsy? In this NPR report* a Nazi... sorry, Republican accuses those that want to bring some sense of sanity and humanity to troop rotations of changing troop rotations based on polls. Those against the war and it's abuse of our military personnel have been trying to reduce the amount of time our troops spend in theater for, what, four years or more? How is this "reacting to polls" as opposed to being consistent?

As soon as I can listen back to this report and find out who the Nazi... gosh! I keep calling those people what they are instead of what they call themselves... was I'm going to add him to my list of people whose face I will spit into at the first opportunity.

*audio not yet available as of this posting but should be there in about an hour.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Even Raging Madmen Occasionally Make Sense

Art, Nuisance, or DANGER?

You would think that driving an artcar would make you a police magnet, but in my experience and in the experience of almost everyone I've talked to, police won't hassle you just because they feel like, unlike being a black male in a car with big wheels. In Louisville a missing taillight on one of those will get you pulled over by two or more cop cars and a dog will run back and forth over your custom seats while you sit on your hands on the sidewalk. I've seen it happen several times. I've had a few cops ask me questions about my old truck that sported a voodoo theme, but only out of curiosity, and none have done more than give a questioning look at my car. I guess maybe since we're so aware of our extra lights, etc. we go to great lengths to make sure we're also legal.

But in the city of Austin, Texas, a pair of restaurants is up against the LAW for using artcars for planters in front of their shops. They demolished an old car and then had it painted by local artists. They filled it with dirt and planted cactus in it.



I had always thought of Austin as particularly progressive but apparently they have some politicians with sticks up their asses there as well. The restaurants have been repeatedly ticketed for violating a junked car statute. It has worked its way up the courts and is being fought on a First Amendment basis. Good luck to them!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Rammed Earth Construction

I seem to be on a bit of an alternative construction binge tonight so if you don't care, I apologize. No, wait. If you don't care, fuck you. Yeah, that's much better.

Rammed Earth Construction uses dirt that has been compressed in a form. Dirt. That stuff's pretty cheap, last I heard. I think the resulting walls are beautiful. Decide for yourself here by looking at the pictures here. And just to make sure, here's a picture from somewhere on the internets.

Bail Construction with Garbage

Straw bail construction is an environmentally friendly way to build, it gives an incredibly well insulated, quiet house, and the results are really very pretty. Below is a "how to" video on straw bail construction.

Years ago I stumbled onto a really nice site that was part of a university's architecture program (I have looked for it many times since and it was obviously taken down). They were using these huge bails of cardboard waste from a factory. They even wrapped them in plastic and used them for the foundation! The resulting dorm cottages were quite nice to look at, the bails turned out to be pretty much fireproof (the outside would light, smolder, and extinguish), and with extremely wide eaves on the roof, water intrusion was no problem. So why don't you see more of these? Wax and plastic coated cardboard goes into the landfill because it cannot easily be recycled and if this were bailed and used in construction it would save us a great deal of room in our dumps, it would save us trees, and it would save us in heating and cooling costs. Oh, that's why. It might mean slighter profits for the timber industry. I forget who pays for our laws to be written.


Garbage and America

I've heard of many ridiculous barriers to using alternative building methods in this country and here's a guy that's fighting it.

Jay Leno

I used to watch The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and I was a fairly religious watcher of Late Night with David Letterman. When Jay Leno took the reins instead of Letterman, I was appalled. Apparently my... uh... appallment? wasn't unfounded. I would appear he has pissed a bunch of people off by hounding a guest (who threatened to leave) to show him his "best gay look." Well, a website has decided to let people do just that:





They're at nine pages and counting. These are a couple from the first, very long page.

McCain/Lieberman



Boy if this doesn't say it all. Did I mention I'm betting McCain takes Lieberman for a running mate?

Typical Bush Administration Behavior

"Deregulate! Deregulate!" come the cries from the right. In their opinion regulation stifles business and the ability of business to make giant profits. Under this administration deregulation has been undertaken from the executive rather than by the legislature. By violating laws, defunding regulatory agencies, or installing toadies that will suck the cock of any business leader they should be regulating, these criminals have worked against the interests of the majority to enrich their crooked, wealthy buddies.

The Huffington Post has posted this article about this administration's corruption. Harper's Magazine printed a very disturbing piece on the Attorney firings that really churned my stomach. But what made me want to point this out was a piece on NPR this morning about the corruption at the FAA concerning Southwest Airlines aircraft inspections. Apparently it's so bad that many of the 737's that were contemporaries of Aloha Airlines Flight 243 are still flying and have not been properly inspected.
In March 2007, the airline reported to the FAA that it had not done the required fuselage inspections on 47 jets. The checks are crucial because some versions of the Boeing 737 are vulnerable to cracks just above and below the windows. In 1988, an Aloha Airlines 737 decompressed and blew out 18 feet of its roof, killing a flight attendant. Instead of grounding the 47 aircraft and inspecting them, Southwest quietly continued to fly the jets. Gawadzinski, who was aware of Southwest's alleged deception, is accused of helping the airline cover it up.

How much you wanna bet that those responsible will simply resign and move on to other shockingly overpaid positions elsewhere? At this point I wonder if there is a single regulatory agency that hasn't either been corrupted or eliminated via budget.

UPDATE: Goshes I forgot to mention the most recent This American Life which was dedicated entirely to the Bush administration's bullheaded refusal to do anything without a legal battle. Really amazing stuff. What's more amazing is our "representative government" doesn't have the balls to put these sorry bastards in prison.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

"W" Loudly Booed by Baseball Fans



Funny how a crowd of true Americans that hasn't been carefully screened to eliminate those that disagree with Shrub (aka George W. Bush) sounds just exactly like most of us feel. Over 40,000 baseball fans loudly booed the "President." He deserves worse than boos.