The Bush administration said on Wednesday that it had credible intelligence suggesting that Al Qaeda is planning to attack the United States in the next several months, a period in which events like an international summit meeting and the two political conventions could offer tempting targets.
But some intelligence officials, terrorism experts - and to some extent even Mr. Ashcroft's own F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III - offered a more tempered assessment. And some opponents of President Bush, including police and firefighter union leaders aligned with Senator John Kerry, the expected Democratic presidential candidate, said the timing of the announcement appeared intended in part to distract attention from Mr. Bush's sagging poll numbers and problems in Iraq.
The questioning of hundreds of Iraqi prisoners last fall in the newly established interrogation center at Abu Ghraib prison yielded very little valuable intelligence, according to civilian and military officials.
we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.
In a little-noticed development amid Iraq's prison abuse scandal, the U.S. military is holding dozens of Iraqis as bargaining chips to put pressure on their wanted relatives to surrender, according to human rights groups. These detainees are not accused of any crimes, and experts say their detention violates the Geneva Conventions and other international laws.
Daring Fireball: An Ounce of Prevention is the definitive resource for the recently discovered OS X security concerns.
Dr. Sommerfeldt's system has four miniature speakers and four even tinier microphones set in a ring around the computer fan. The microphones and other sensors detect the noise of the fan blades and, with the help of digital signal processing and algorithms, radiate opposing tones from the speakers. The whole system can be tucked into the same space that a conventional computer cooling fan would occupy.
Wild prediction: Someone named in this story is getting a phone call from Steve Jobs tomorrow.
One recent guest we had from Guyana was talking about globalization. As I moved onto another discussion, on the US elections, she said she wanted to be a part of that too. I asked "why?" She said, "The whole world should get to vote for the president of the United States."
In the face of the atrocities committed by US Soldiers guarding prisoners in Iraq, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has banned cameraphones. Banned cameraphones! This harkens directly to his testimony before Congress last week when he lamented the new digital world that allows anyone to effortlessly beam information from where ever they are. Restated: We're very truly sorry we got caught. We'll take steps to ensure we get away with this from now on.
In March 2003, a teenage girl named Courtney presented one of her poems before an audience at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Albuquerque, then read the poem live on the school's closed-circuit television channel.
A school military liaison and the high school principal accused the girl of being "un-American" because she criticized the war in Iraq and the Bush administration's failure to give substance to its "No child left behind" education policy.
The girl's mother, also a teacher, was ordered by the principal to destroy the child's poetry. The mother refused and may lose her job.
Bill Nevins was suspended for not censoring the poetry of his students. Remember, there is no obscenity to be found in any of the poetry. He was later fired by the principal.
After firing Nevins and terminating the teaching and reading of poetry in the school, the principal and the military liaison read a poem of their own as they raised the flag outside the school. When the principal had the flag at full staff, he applauded the action he'd taken in concert with the military liaison.
Then to all students and faculty who did not share his political opinions, the principal shouted: "Shut your faces."
Move On's trying to raise money for a new ad, and it's their hardest hitting one yet.
A year after my mother’s suicide I broke a promise to myself not to burden my father with worries of my own. I told him how unhappy I was at school, how lonely I felt. From the wing chair where he crouched in the evenings he asked, "What can I do?" The following afternoon, coming home from work the back way, he missed a stop sign. A van full of sheet glass going forty miles an hour hit the driver’s side of the Taurus. According to the policeman who knocked on the front door in tears, my father died with the first shattering impact. An aunt from Little Rock stayed for a week, cooking stews and Danish pastry. She said I could come and live with her in Arkansas. I told her I didn’t want to. As I had only a year and a half left of high school, we decided I could finish up where I was, and she arranged for me to live with a neighbor.
Ethiopian music works really well as jazz because rhythmically it is anchored in the wider African sense of polyrhythms, of 3 against 2 time, often expressed in 3/4 and 6/8 meters. Also, one of the most characteristic elements of Ethiopian traditional music are the particular pentatonic scales they employ, which for the Western ear range from familiar sounding to quite exotic. When these modes are used as the basis for harmony, you wind up with lots of the chords that are common in modern jazz. Because of the particular history of modern music in Ethiopia, there is a strong tradition of pop bands with big horn sections, and even a very unique and definite Ethiopian saxophone style. A man named Getachew Mekurya transposed a kind of war chant onto the tenor sax in the 50s and came up with a style that actually prefigures Albert Ayler's by a few years but shares a lot with his.
Macworld: Shoot Action Like a Pro by Derrick Story. Because a little bit of video technique is a dangerous thing.
The key to recording good action footage lies in learning how to hold the shot. The subject should be moving, not the video camera.
Many annuals and perennials drop their seeds after they bloom, then those seeds grow and flower the following season, creating unexpected, intriguing new partnerships with other plants in the garden. These self-seeding flowers are also useful because they sprout up and fill open areas of the landscape that would otherwise be prone to colonization by weeds. And, because self-seeders emerge where conditions suit them best, they perform as well, or better, than painstakingly nurtured plants.
I'm thinking about gardening as a radical political act.
"Cicadas are the sound of summer, of that year when you were young," said Professor Thompson, happy that he was no longer being asked to fit the end of "Friends" into some cultural gestalt.
[a] video game is defined as an appartus that displays games using RASTER VIDEO equipment: a television set, a monitor, etc. In the 1950s and 1960s, computers were not only exceedingly expensive, but used a technology that could not allow integrating them into a video game system. Only mainframes could allow playing a few games. These games qualified as COMPUTER games, not VIDEO games.
. . .
After several demonstrations to TV manufacturers, Magnavox signed an agreement in 1971 and the first video game system got released in May 1972: Odyssey. The history of PONG games and derivates just started, would spread all over the globe, and die in the early 1980s.
National Semiconductor released the Adversary 370 system in 1976 with three Pong variants: tennis, ice hockey, and handball. This version of ice hockey was the first video game I ever played. I have the system sitting next to me as I type this and I plan to play it for the first time in six years.
On the subject of computer games, PONG-Story tells us this:
In 1952, another person named A.S.Douglas was passing his PhD degree at the University of Cambridge (United Kindgom). At that time, the university had an EDSAC vaccuum-tube computer, which used a cathode ray tube to display the contents of one of the 32 mercury delay lines (which stored the programs and data). The display was organized as a matrix of 35 by 16 dots, hence a 35x16 pixel display. A.S. Douglas wrote his thesis on the Human-Computer interraction, and illustrated it with a graphic Tic-Tac-Toe game displayed on a cathode ray tube. This is the earliest graphical computer game known to exist.
My favorite computer game will always be Dogfight, which was available on the Apple ][ in the late 1970s. I haven't played that in at least twenty years.
None of the images that the critics invoked to describe his playing -- volcano, thunderstorm, perpetual-motion machine -- quite did justice to the strength of his attack, the complexity of his ideas or the originality of his approach.
R.I.P. Elvin Jones, the great drummer known for his kinetic work with John Coltrane. He died yesterday, 76 years old.
When the whole head has matured, all the florets close up again within the green sheathing bracts that lie beneath, and the bloom returns very much to the appearance it had in the bud. Its shape being then somewhat reminiscent of the snout of a pig, it is termed in some districts 'Swine's Snout.'
The withered, yellow petals are, however soon pushed off in a bunch, as the seeds, crowned with their tufts of hair, mature, and one day, under the influence of sun and wind the 'Swine's Snout' becomes a large gossamer ball, from its silky whiteness a very noticeable feature. It is made up of myriads of plumed seeds or pappus, ready to be blown off when quite ripe by the slightest breeze, and forms the 'clock' of the children, who by blowing at it till all the seeds are released, love to tell themselves the time of day by the number of puffs necessary to disperse every seed.
When all the seeds have flown, the receptacle or disc on which they were placed remains bare, white, speckled and surrounded by merely the drooping remnants of the sheathing bracts, and we can see why the plant received another of its popular names, 'Priest's Crown,' common in the Middle Ages, when a priest's shorn head was a familiar object.
The role that mighty taproot plays is to bring up minerals and other nutrients from various soil layers, making them available first to the dandelion itself, and then to whatever fortunate creature eats it. That's why the Chinese call it the "earth nail."
It supplies hefty amounts of beta-carotene, potassium, sodium, phosphorous and iron and also contains, zinc, magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and B vitamins.
Luckily there are people in Durango who celebrate these misunderstood weeds. The Dand-elion Duet, consisting of Katrina Blair and Brian Carter, led a dandelion flute-playing workshop this weekend. Carter showed the crowd of 20 how to find the stoutest stems possible and, with the small scissors on a Swiss army knife, cut little diamond shaped holes along the stem, after cutting off the flower head.
"If it’s flimsy you can only get a couple of holes; if it’s real strong you can get a whole octave."
randomWalks is a (non-commercial) group weblog. The site is actually assembled using three weblogs in Movable Type: the main weblog, Flux the miniblog, and the tagline ("I can no longer shop happily") blog. At least 27 authors have access to the various randomWalks blogs. Only about six of those post regularly, but another ten post often enough to be considered active authors.
In addition to the three randomWalks blogs, our Movable Type installation supports six other weblogs including four personal weblogs kept by editors and friends of randomWalks: blue period., dru blood, gargoyle drumming, and zagg, and two (non-commercial) member projects which are rather idiosyncratic and difficult to describe. These other six blogs have some overlapping authorship with the randomWalks blogs and also account for about another half dozen active authors in the system.
We have four other defunct weblogs in the system, and a total of 53 author accounts. All told our installation is used by 9 weblogs and about 22 authors.
U: Make that seven "active" weblogs and 22 authors.
"Some JAGs hate this and are horrified that the tolerance of mistreatment will come back and haunt us in the next war," Roth told me. "We're giving the world a ready-made excuse to ignore the Geneva Conventions. Rumsfeld has lowered the bar."
Semiotics is about how we derive meaning from context. In the context of this article, those who like "This American Life" may have been drawn in because "Ira Glass" signifies a certain quirky intelligence. Meanwhile, those of you who never heard of Ira Glass but who recognized the words "public radio" have probably already abandoned this article, because you associate public radio with being all alone on a Sunday afternoon and have concluded semiotics might be similarly isolating.
I saw a few this weekend. Some good displays of shells on the undersides of our great linden leaves and one fellow on a Rudbeckia bush. Most of the adults I saw were dead, though. I don't think they live very long at all. They're huge and ugly, but they don't trigger my general aversion to small mechanistic creatures that most bugs do.
I have not yet been hit in the head by a cicada. The buzz has started, it's a low roar during the day. It's got a pitch to it, a dominant frequency. I wonder if a distant SETI program is busy interpreting the 17-year cycle of Magicicada for signs of intelligent life.
The man showed up at a Bloomington clinic Thursday, covered from head-to-toe in hives, and sheepishly told a doctor he'd caught and ate the cicadas after sauteing them in butter with crushed garlic and basil.
Finally I offer this gorgeous gallery of Magicicada photographs on mac.com.
Although details of their actions are sketchy, it is known that one soldier, Lt. David O. Sutton, put an end to one incident and alerted his commanders. William J. Kimbro, a Navy dog handler, "refused to participate in improper interrogations despite significant pressure" from military intelligence, according to the report. And Specialist Joseph M. Darby gave military police the evidence that sounded the alarm.
If Anil spent less time with that short dwarf who spoke backwards, we could make sense of what's going on a little more.
With so little time left, J-1 wasn't going to let the sweet Aurora slip through his eight octopus arms.
Mary Pemberton is my new writing idol for getting that sentence published in a real news story.
originally posted by zagg
Archaeologists have found what they believe to be the site of the Library of Alexandria, often described as the world's first major seat of learning. BBC NEWS: Library of Alexandria discovered.
The Earth, it seems, will be safe when its magnetic field falters during the next reversal of its magnetic poles.
A new model of the way the Earth interacts with the solar wind indicates that a replacement field will form in the upper atmosphere during the switch.
Scientists had previously thought that the planet would be left without a protective shield to stop lethal radiation from space reaching the surface.
New Scientist: Solar wind to shield Earth during pole flip. Not uncharacteristically, I've been really worried about this. I hope they're right.
"Yes, I personally ended up in the Amazon," she says. "In my own mid-50s, I wanted to study plant medicine. In the Amazon I spent part of a year trying, three or four times, ayahuasca. When Kate relates the initial nausea, then the experiences, I have done this, too."
Star Telegram | Alice in wonderment. Alice Walker's new book includes an autobiographical account of her recent drug trips.
"The story in this country is that wealth concentrates," he says. "That's unstable. We need smaller operations, local processors, more evenly spread out capitalism."
In isolated pockets across the Washington area, periodical cicadas have begun to emerge in heavy numbers, the silent beginning of an infestation of black-bodied, red-eyed insects that is going to get a lot more intense and a lot more noisy before it ends next month.
It's happening. I'd seen about 8 holes before this weekend, but now they're obvious. You glance downward, holes. Moving cinderblocks for the compost pile, I uncovered one guy who had tunneled all the way up, only to hit the block and say, "shit" while another tougher nymph had tunneled up and was now traveling horizontally, but was in the throes when I lifted the block.
These kinds of comments from leadership, from people who are in high-level positions, are really fueling an environment that is very dangerous and negative. It says it is okay to consider people who are different as something less.
Which echoes what Zagg has said about the racism inculcated in our troops and our culture flowing from the very top. It's not difficult to see, once you know what to look for.
Metafilter remembers 1987 better than I do. I'm starting to remember how loud it was, though. The buzz is holy.
I used to fill buckets with the exoskeletons too, Witty. I'd go out in my backyard and there'd be a hundred of them clinging to the wooden fence. I'd look down the cracks in their backs through their "eyes".
My sister and a friend of hers used to go downtown with a handful of them and hang them on people's backs as they walked behind them.
The Search field is disabled in iTunes 4.5's Party Shuffle list. This could be improved: the Party Shuffle display should have a third horizontal pane for search results.
After paying $500 a year for auto insurance, camper living is incredibly inexpensive, Mr. Hines said. Except for extreme hot or cold weather, he pays about $10 a week for propane, for which he must drive the camper to Nassau County for refills. He pays $25 a week in gasoline for the generator.
He spends $7 a day on cigarettes, $4 on coffee and the rest on food.
Jimmy Hines, 50, lives rent-free in New York City.
The New York Times > National > Prisoners: Mistreatment of Prisoners Is Called Routine in U.S. "Physical and sexual abuse of prisoners, similar to what has been uncovered in Iraq, takes place in American prisons with little public knowledge or concern, according to corrections officials, inmates and human rights advocates."
You hear them, but you don't see them everywhere. They're in the trees. It's not like an Alfred Hitchcock movie. People talk like we have to come to work in a Kevlar and flak jacket. It's not like that. It's media hype.
Fort Meyer Pentagram: Cicadas gnaw on imagination.
Johnson's advice on what to do with cicadas: children can tie sewing string to them and walk with them around the block.
Experts say the emergence could begin in earnest as soon as this weekend. By next weekend, the din will likely commence as uncountable hordes of male cicadas click and shrill in their quest for a mate.
Washington Post: Riding the Buzz Before the Cicadas' Roar. Also from the Post:
Everybody is talking like there are going to be cicadas everywhere, but there are going to be places where there simply are no cicadas. There are places that will have 1,000 or 10,000 cicadas under one tree. It almost takes a neighborhood-by-neighborhood investigation. It can be very localized.
The website forecasts invasions and suggests locust recipes from around the world. Visit the Desert Locust information service website or go straight to the locust recipes
Yeah, I just heard. That's good. But I can't talk. I'm actually on deadline. . . . What can I say? I'm glad blah blah blah, garbage, garbage, blah blah. But I'm working.
How Seymour Hersh felt about his National Magazine Award. Ninety-nine percent of corporate press releases could read this way. (Sixty percent of my articles about them could as well.)
I had never experienced such a thing. I thought I was living out a scene from The Birds or something. I got that clear plastic umbrella and carried it with me day and night. People laughed at me, but then they'd say, 'That's a really good idea.'
Until the arrival of European settlers, most of the area the cicadas inhabit was forest — on the face of it, a good habitat for the insects. But Dr Clay's early research suggests that "suburban savannahs" (leafy avenues, lawns with the odd sapling growing in them, and golf courses) are actually better for the insects than the forests which preceded suburbanisation. Suburban trees tend to be younger and healthier. They also have to compete less fiercely for resources than trees in dense forests. And younger trees probably have tastier roots as well. The ancient forests of pre-Columbian America would not have provided such sumptuous dining.
Jon Stahl wants people to take advantage of the movie The Day After Tomorrow to raise concerns about climate change.
But he's afraid that "unnamed environmental activists" will squander the opportunity.
An article from Grist looks at the pros and cons of this approach
So should environmentalists be cheering the news that Hollywood has finally managed a green epic? Many are. Al Gore will speak at a special MoveOn.org premier of the film. Jurgen Trittin, the German environment minister, lambasted the Bush administration last week for its failure to ratify the Kyoto treaty, saying, "[Our] challenge is that the reality of The Day After Tomorrow should not become reality." Plenty of political commentators predict the film will drive home an election-year message that the Bush administration has been ignoring a crisis.
For some time now I've been trying to figure out what it would take to reduce the behavior in the US that contributes to climate change. Currently, I have the pessimistic opinion that it will take nothing less than the occurrence of a cataclysmic, deadly heavy weather event inside the US itself.
[links via WorldChanging]
baltimoresun.com - Today's cicada update: Beilenson says it's not the end of the world. In addition to that reassurance, The Baltimore Sun offers an infographic, an audio clip, photos from 1987, 1970, and 1936, and an interactive Swat the Cicada game (which may be a bit more gratifying in a week or so). The special section on the periodic cicada features Sun articles from 1987 as well.
When her friend sounded the insect alert last fall, "I sort of blew it off. But all the news about them has made me think it's a bigger deal than I thought," says Beloud, 34, who is having her ceremony in Washington and reception in Warrenton, with cocktails outdoors. "Now I'm envisioning cicadas feasting on my rack of lamb, and I'm not sure."
Their slow, lumbering flight carries them into buildings, cars, people and ultimately into the six arms or legs of a receptive mate.
Hampshire College Student Uses J.K. Rowling's Quidditch as Basis for Artificial Intelligence Experiment: "Crawford-Marks now calls his earliest work 'kiddy Quidditch,' as it evolved teams that played like he thinks six-year-olds might. But, now well past the 50th generation it starts to look a little more like Rowling's game, with a practically uncatchable Snitch."
Appearing Friday in the Rose Garden with Canada's prime minister, President Bush was answering a reporter's question about Canada's role in Iraq when suddenly he swerved into this extraneous thought:
"There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern."
What does such careless talk say about the mind of this administration? Note that the clearly implied antecedent of the pronoun "ours" is "Americans." So the president seemed to be saying that white is, and brown is not, the color of Americans' skin. He does not mean that. But that is the sort of swamp one wanders into when trying to deflect doubts about policy by caricaturing and discrediting the doubters.
George Will: Time for Bush to See The Realities of Iraq (washingtonpost.com). Will goes on to conclude, somehow, that a) Bush is not racist and b) people who practice the Muslim faith cannot self-govern, but I thought it was a quote worth sharing.
An excercise to find the worst songs on the iTunes Music Store and compile them all together in one handy playlist. Those with a strong stomach can now preview all the songs together through the Dumpster Diving iMix.
Macworld's Jonathan Seff reports that, according to Apple, the big difference between ALC and FLAC is speed -- Apple says ALC is faster. Apple says ALC is not based on FLAC, but was created by Apple itself.
I've not seen anything else about the Apple Lossless Encoder yet.
PressThink: Of Course Ted Koppel Was Making a Political Statement. So What? This link is a political statement. It turns out Jay Rosen's blog is pretty good!
There are some things going on here that I can't live with.