Archive for June 17th, 2008

Stay Classy, Republicans!

Anti-Obama button being sold at the Republican convention in Texas:

Rush Limbaugh plays compare-and-contrast:

I look at Iowa, I look at Illinois—I want to see the murders. I want to see the looting. I want to see all the stuff that happened in New Orleans. I see devastation in Iowa and Illinois that dwarfs what happened in New Orleans.  I see people working together. I see people trying to save their property…I don’t see a bunch of people running around waving guns at helicopters, I don’t see a bunch of people running shooting cops. I don’t see a bunch of people raping people on the street. I don’t see a bunch of people doing everything they can…whining and moaning—where’s FEMA, where’s BUSH. I see the heartland of America. When I look at Iowa and when I look at Illinois, I see the backbone of America.

And finally, a Republican Congressional candidate shows his appreciation for high school girls’ sports:

The state champion girls volleyball team of Mercy High School in Cincinnati was in the Senate chamber recently to receive a resolution recognizing their accomplishment.

They had gathered around State Sen. Eric Kearney, D-Cincinnati, causing fellow Sen. Steve Stivers, R-Columbus, to comment that Kearney “attracts all the attractive women.”

Reminded that he had just returned from his honeymoon after marrying the former Karen Tabor two weeks earlier, Stivers backpedaled.

“I’m allowed to window shop, just not buy,” he said.

Awesome.  I don’t know we ever win any elections from the Family Values Party.

1 comment June 17th, 2008 at 11:14pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Racism,Republicans,Sexism,Wankers

Take That, Al Gore!

Damn, what does the NYT Science section have against Al Gore?  First the wankeriffic John Tierney uses the upcoming Inconvenient Truth opera as an excuse to mock him, then they try to claim that the internet was invented years before Al was even born:

In 1934, [Paul] Otlet sketched out plans for a global network of computers (or “electric telescopes,” as he called them) that would allow people to search and browse through millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files. He described how people would use the devices to send messages to one another, share files and even congregate in online social networks. He called the whole thing a “réseau,” which might be translated as “network” — or arguably, “web.”

(…)

Although Otlet’s proto-Web relied on a patchwork of analog technologies like index cards and telegraph machines, it nonetheless anticipated the hyperlinked structure of today’s Web. “This was a Steampunk version of hypertext,” said Kevin Kelly, former editor of Wired, who is writing a book about the future of technology.

Otlet’s vision hinged on the idea of a networked machine that joined documents using symbolic links. While that notion may seem obvious today, in 1934 it marked a conceptual breakthrough. “The hyperlink is one of the most underappreciated inventions of the last century,” Mr. Kelly said. “It will go down with radio in the pantheon of great inventions.”

Today, Otlet and his work have been largely forgotten, even in his native Belgium. Although Otlet enjoyed considerable fame during his lifetime, his legacy fell victim to a series of historical misfortunes — not least of which involved the Nazis marching into Belgium and destroying much of his life’s work.

Amazing – he conceptualized hyperlinks before there were even computers.

June 17th, 2008 at 09:44pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Environment,Gore,Science

My New Camera Will Be Teh Awesome

I found some leaked specs for the upcoming Nikon D90, and it sounds amazing:

The new D90 incorporates an optional feature called Universal Vibration Reduction (uVR). This turns all lenses into uVR lenses, and offers a 10-stop advantage.

This means a person using a 500mm lens, who would normally have to shoot at 1/500th of a second, can shoot at 2 seconds when uVR is enabled.

The new uVR system isn’t sensor based, and instead requires… the MB-D90a [battery grip]. This grip provides all the normal controls and extended battery life of a regular grip. It also holds 8 EN-EL4a batteries, along with a step-up transformer.

With uVR enabled, the combined power of the batteries sends a current through the step-up transformer. This then delivers a 110 volt shock through metal pads around the grip. The resulting electrical shock matches the shutter speed (maximum of 10 seconds).

The shock causes a very stable clenching of the photographer’s muscles while the shutter is open, simulating the stability of a tripod.

Nikon advise that people with rubber-soled shoes, heart problems or pacemakers shouldn’t use uVR.

(…)

The new D90 builds on the D80’s popular in-camera editing functions. Rather than cannibalizing yet more features from Capture NX, Nikon decided to include a full working version of Photoshop CS3 in the D90.

We found using Photoshop CS3 on a 3 inch LCD with a 4-way controller much easier than you might imagine. Well done on a great new feature, Nikon.

(…)

The new D90… includes a fully-fledged iPod. This ensures you’re never short of a tune, as long as you have your D90 with you. And it’s switched on. And you’ve uploaded some songs to it.

(…)

They’ve not only included stereo speakers in the camera itself, but also the necessary cabling for a full Dolby 5.1 surround sound setup. What’s more, the D90 is capable of playing movies on the 3 inch LCD via the built-in DVD writer/player found in the second optional battery grip (MB-D90b).

But just before you rush out an get yourself an MB-D90b, you might want to consider the MB-D90c. This version of the grip includes a sub-woofer (fully compatible with the D90’s Dolby surround). That’s right, the optional MB-D90c allows you to play music with unprecedented levels of fidelity for a consumer-level DSLR.

Let’s see Canon top that!

(…)

While the D80 was pretty responsive, your reactions aren’t. By the time you’ve realized you should have pressed the shutter, the moment is lost forever.

The D90 solves this problem thanks to Nikon’s new MindProbe technology. MindProbe scans your brain, looking for those tell-tale low amplitude beta waves that signal an imminent shutter-press. By the time your neurons react, and you actually press the shutter, the D90 has already captured 3 images (or 6 in GTI mode).

That’s right folks, for the first time in the history of photography, the shutter delay is actually measured in negative time. Now that’s progress.

(…)

The D50 and D80 caused some controversy by moving Nikon’s consumer-orientated DSLR models away from CF cards….

In an effort to avoid such distasteful events this time around, and ensure everybody can enjoy a D90, Nikon now supports the following storage formats…

  • SD
  • CF
  • XD
  • Memory Stick
  • 3.5 inch floppy
  • 5.25 inch floppy
  • 8 inch floppy (in MB-D90b only)
  • CD/DVD (in MB-D90b only)
  • High-speed paper tape to maintain compatibility with Colossus
  • Punch cards

(…)

One of the complaints about the ML-L3 wireless remote, was that it was line-of-sight. For some reason, you couldn’t set up your camera in Texas, and trigger the shutter from France. Clearly, this should be well within the capabilities of a $15 remote control.

To answer these complaints, Nikon has put a series of satellites in orbit that are dedicated to receiving wireless remote signals from users anywhere on the planet. These are then forwarded to your camera, allowing you to trigger the shutter no matter where you are.

How long have we been waiting for this simple addition to the feature-set? Canon have had this functionality in their DSLRs for years.

I would totally pre-order this as soon as it was announced, except that Nikon plans to start selling it five days before.

And I’ll probably disable the uVR feature.

2 comments June 17th, 2008 at 06:22pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology

Lizzie Bumiller Can’t Quite Bring Herself To Admit That McCain Is Just Like Bush

She gets a lot closer than I ever would have thought possible, though.  She even notes some of his flip-flops, especially on tax cuts, where McCain is actually now worse than Dubya.

The differences, according to Bumiller, are McCain’s opposition to global warming (which is pretty much a cosmetic sham), his opposition to torture (ditto), and the fact that he’s now moved to the right of Bush on immigration.

She also throws in this little gem:

Yet while it would be hard to categorize him as a doctrinaire Republican or conservative, Mr. McCain appears to have ceded some of his carefully cultivated reputation as a maverick.

Actually, it’s very easy to categorize McCain as a doctrinaire Republican or conservative, Lizzie.  Maybe it wasn’t eight years ago, but it sure as hell is now.

And a little bit more:

In a CBS News poll two weeks ago, 43 percent of registered voters said they believed he would continue Mr. Bush’s policies, and 21 percent said he would be more conservative in his policies than Mr. Bush. Twenty-eight percent said he would be less conservative than Mr. Bush.

For those of you keeping score, that’s 64% of registered voters who believe McCain would be either the same as Bush, or farther to the right. Excellent.

Presidencies are about more than policies, of course, and Mr. McCain would bring a different style, background and world view to the White House should he be elected in November.

Style and background, I’ll grant.  But world view?  It’s exactly the same.  Taxes bad, corporations good, we need a strong daddy government that will stop at nothing to protect us from the evildoers.  Fortunately, it looks like the voters are starting to figure that out.

June 17th, 2008 at 11:39am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Elections,McCain,Media

A Whole Bushel Of Bad Apples

This is a lot like that report out of the Senate Intelligence Committee – you know, the one saying that BushCo. knowingly lied about the intelligence they had against Iraq before the invasion:

A Senate investigation has concluded that top Pentagon officials began assembling lists of harsh interrogation techniques in the summer of 2002 for use on detainees at Guantanamo Bay and that those officials later cited memos from field commanders to suggest that the proposals originated far down the chain of command, according to congressional sources briefed on the findings.

The sources said that memos and other evidence obtained during the inquiry show that officials in the office of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld started to research the use of waterboarding, stress positions, sensory deprivation and other practices in July 2002, months before memos from commanders at the detention facility in Cuba requested permission to use those measures on suspected terrorists.

The reported evidence — some of which is expected to be made public at a Senate hearing today — also shows that military lawyers raised strong concerns about the legality of the practices as early as November 2002, a month before Rumsfeld approved them. The findings contradict previous accounts by top Bush administration appointees, setting the stage for new clashes between the White House and Congress over the origins of interrogation methods that many lawmakers regard as torture and possibly illegal.

“Some have suggested that detainee abuses committed by U.S. personnel at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and at Guantanamo were the result of a ‘few bad apples’ acting on their own. It would be a lot easier to accept if that were true,” Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote in a statement for delivery at a committee hearing this morning. “Senior officials in the United States government sought out information on aggressive techniques, twisted the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.”

(…)

[M]emos and e-mails obtained by investigators reveal that in July 2002, Haynes and other Pentagon officials were soliciting ideas for harsh interrogations from military experts in survival training, according to two congressional officials familiar with the committee’s investigation. By late July, a list was compiled that included many of the techniques that would later be formally approved for use at Guantanamo Bay, including stress positions, sleep deprivation and the hooding of detainees during questioning. The techniques were later used at the Abu Ghraib detention facility in Iraq.

(…)

The Guantanamo Bay visit and the effort to compile interrogation tactics appear to show that Pentagon officials were moving toward a formal policy on interrogation before military commanders at the detention camp requested special measures, the officials said. However, top military officers objected to the proposals in a series of memos in November 2002, much earlier than previously reported, congressional investigators said. In early 2003, Rumsfeld formally authorized the techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay.

(…)

“It is increasingly clear that the decision to abandon the rule of law and order torture and abuse was made at the very top,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office. “We look forward to the full investigative report from the Armed Services Committee and call on Congress to hold accountable any and all public officials involved in ordering illegal torture.”

A group of 56 Congressional Democrats last week asked the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to investigate whether any Bush administration officials may have broken laws in approving the use of harsh interrogation techniques for suspected terrorists.

As with the Senate Intelligence report, this pretty much just confirms and documents what we already knew, and what the Bush administration has been consistently lying about.  In this case, it’s the fact that torture is official BushCo. policy, and they’ve been lying about it all along.

Can’t wait to hear John “I Hate Torture But Voted For It Anyway” McCain’s reaction to this.

June 17th, 2008 at 06:59am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Corruption/Cronyism,Prisoners,Republicans,Torture


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