[REFERENCE] - Great Tolkien Reference - For those of you who have any question at all related to Tolkien, there is an excellent reference online. The Encyclopedia of Arda has sections on every imaginable subject in pretty much all of the books as far as I can tell. Not only that, but it is heavily cross-referenced. Worth a visit.
[NEWS] - A presidential pattern emerging - Some will blame the press and its imagined liberal stance (ignoring that the major media are large corporations and therefore the people who pay the bills and call the shots are decidedly corporatist, not liberal). In any case, here is the cycle:
The latest such term is "Axis of Evil": Yahoo! News Full Coverage-Bush Aides Say 'Axis of Evil' Comments Meant to Put Foes on Notice
[FACTOIDS] - Harper's Index is always fun to read, and often disturbing. Take the one for Jan of 2002, for example :Harper’s Index: January 2002. Get a load of these numbers:
Percentage of Americans who believe that the theory of human evolution is "probably" or "definitely" not true : 47
Percentage who believe that the tenets of astrology "probably" or "definitely" have some scientific truth : 48
[PERSONAL] - Woo-hoo! I entered my first real poker tournament last night. A 7-stud no-rebuy $35 tourney at Foxwoods. Long story short (and I'll probably write the whole thing up later) but I came in SECOND!!!. The prize money for second was $581 because there were around 95 or so people who entered. I beat all but one of them. And, in the end, I was mainly tired. It was getting close to midnight by the time I was done and enough was enough.
[NEWS] - More on Ashcroft - sign of the devil! - Are calico cats a sign of the devil? Ask John Ashcroft. Maureen Dowd says that Ashcroft's advance team checks for the presence of calico cats, which Ashcroft believes to be some sort of minion of Satan. A Blue Burka for Justice
I am so happy to have such people in charge of our justice system. I guess we should be thankful that he at least still allows people to own calico cats... for now. I almost felt bad about that "boob" comment yesterday, but now I'm thinking I went easy on the guy.
(P.S. - Here's the Andrew Tobias article to which Maureen Dowd refers in her piece. And !bonus! a followup article that is also about Ashcroft. That follow up has yet another link to a Washington Post article about domestic partners being denied 9/11 victims benefits.)
[NEWS] Bizarre ritual murder investigated in London - A boy's torso found in the Thames is being treated as a ritual homicide. Later, some candles wrapped in a sheet washed up on the southern shore of the Thames with the name "Adekoye Jo Fola Adeoye" repeatedly inscribed. This sounds like the beginning of a P.D. James mystery. BBC News | ENGLAND | Ritual killing link to dead boy
[TECH] The Internet Archive Wayback Machine is a huge archive of past web pages, going back to 1996. Is there an old website you long to see again, but which is no longer available? Search The Internet Archive for versions of the page that may have been crawled and stored. look for your first webpage!
[UPDATE] - On the NTY Book Review and Tolkien - More on this story. Patti got a response from an editor at the NYT Book Review. The long-story-short of it is that they don't put certain books on the bestseller lists (books considered classics or which never go out of print, like Tolkien, Catcher in the Rye, books which are routinely assigned fro summer reading, etc) because the list would quickly stagnate, since those books are always bestsellers, or recurring bestsellers. That part I understand.
The other argument was that they get their information from stores which volunteer to report the numbers. The task is described as complicated, taking 8 hours or so a week. I'm told that if they were to make the task more complicated by asking for information beyond just the newest books, they fear they might lose volunteers. That's the semi-official word. Link to NYT Book Review
[WEIRD] - Satan Outlawed - If you're Satan (and I know a few of you are) you are now officially no longer welcome in Inglis, FL. CNN.com - Florida town casts out Satan - January 29, 2002
The mayor of this small fishing village in Florida has declared the Prince of Darkness persona non grata -- in essence, telling him to go to the devil.
"Satan, ruler of darkness, giver of evil, destroyer of what is good and just, is not now, nor ever again will be, a part of this town of Inglis," Mayor Carolyn Risher says in a proclamation, which was issued on official town stationery.
[PARANORMAL] - Prayer as alternative medicine - Government funded TIME.com: -- Investigating the Power of Prayer discusses Dr. Elizabeth Targ's study on the effect of prayer on illness. If the name "Targ" doesn't ring a bell, her father is Russel Targ. Don't remember Russel Targ? His name pops up when you read about the folks who studied famed Israeli psychic Uri Geller. But are we really spending millions (billions?) on alternative theories as shaky as these? Please tell me it ain't so.
[IRONY] - Ashcroft vs. Mammaries Yes, it's true. John Ashcroft spent $8K to cover up the exposed breast of an art deco statue in the Justice Department building. Apparently he got sick of looking at it and objected to photographers framing him in pictures with it. Here are some articles about it (links may go stale after a week): ABCNEWS.com : Beverley Lumpkin: Halls of Justice | Is Ashcroft Behind Cover-up
Quick visual quiz of the day: How many boobs are exposed in this picture?:
Challenge of the day: Come up with a caption for this picture and post it to the forum.
[REPORTING] - Tolkein dissed by NYT? If you check out Boston.com's bestseller paperback fiction, you'll notice that Tolkein's works are among the top sellers. See: Boston.com / A&E / Books. Since that list will change, I'll repeat it here: LotR is #6. Fellowship is #8. There are a couple of Harry Potter books in there, too.
However, check out NYT Books and you'll find that Tolkein is nowhere to be found. Why the discrepancy? Are Tolkein's works currently bestsellers, or aren't they? Thanks to Patti Maguire for pointing this out, and also mentioning that Publisher's Weekly also lists Tolkein as in the bestseller list.
Almost weirder than the Legos, I found the name Cthulu appearing in a list of baby name analysis. Who in the name of Abdul Alhazred would name their kid "Cthulu?"
[?] - What really happened to Flight 93? - We've been led to believe that a group of heroes stormed the hijackers and forced the plane down rather than have it crash into a target.
It could have happened that way. But there are a number of unanswered questions. For example - the eyewitness reports of another unidentified jet in the area, an air traffic controller claiming there was an F-16 shadowing the jet, large chunks of the jet landing far away from the main debris field implying that the jet had some serious in-flight distress before the crash, and why the cockpit recordings will not be released.
The United Flight 93 Crash Theory Home Page is not your typical conspiracy theory page. It's not set up to railroad you into a foregone conclusion. Instead it raises what appear to be reasonable questions and backs them up with references to stories reported int he news. If you're interested in these questions, this site appears to be the one-stop place to go.
[NEWS]- Enron Exec Suicide - By now you've heard this story. A former Enron exec who made millions off the company but complained about their practices before leaving last year has been found with a shotgun wound in his head. Police Say Former Enron Executive Committed Suicide. To quote the above article:
She said in her letter that Mr. Baxter had earlier in the year confronted Jeffrey K. Skilling, Enron's chief executive, and others about the company's accounting procedures.
"Cliff Baxter complained mightily to Skilling and all who would listen about the inappropriateness of our transactions with LJM," Ms. Watkins wrote.
Earlier this month newspaper reports, citing people close to senior management at Enron, said Mr. Baxter had disagreed with Mr. Skilling over the appropriateness of the company's off-the-books transactions. But at the time of his resignation, Mr. Skilling praised Mr. Baxter as making a "tremendous contribution to Enron's evolution" and said that he had left the company to spend more time with his family.
[ENTERTAINMENT] - Sneak Preview of the next "LotR" coming? Apparently sometime in March there will be footage added to Fellowship of the Ring that previews The Two Towers. It will be longer than a trailer, but they're not saying exactly what it will be. Read it here: Footage from second 'Rings' coming in March?
By the way, does it mean you're a geek if you know what "LotR" means?
[TECH] - Rock'em, sock'em robots - This is cool. Robocode is a Java-based project that allows you to program robots (robot tanks, actually) to fight it out in an arena. You program the tanks in Java, within their application. I believe you need Sun's JDK installed on your machine and that's it. I had the application running on my machine in minutes and edited my first robot.
If I had a lot more time, I would definitely be playing with this.
[UPDATE] - On the Harry Potter boycott story - A NYT article is now saying that it is a volunteer group that is objecting to the triathalon, not the police department itself. The story has obviously changed (notice that the link to the NYT story still has the word "police" in it: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/national/AP-Police-Boycott-Potter.html) In any case, the Four-Flush of Disgrace must pass from the Penryn Police Department to the hands of the volunteer group. Jolly good work whoever you are.
[CRIME] An iMac with a LoJack? - Well, sort of. An iMac running TImbuktu is stolen and the original owners prove they still have a few tricks up their sleeves iLoJack:
A fantastic story of how AppleScript helped keep sensitive data from the prying eyes of a thief and helped recover a stolen iMac.
[OUTRAGE] - Harry Potter is Evil - You have got to be kidding me. The AP reports that a police department in Penryn, PA has refused to assist with a YMCA triathalon because in the past that YMCA has read Harry Potter to children as part of an after school reading program.
This kind of pure, unadulterated stupidity really gets me going in the morning. The police department - the police department (a civil department, not a church or religious organization, mind you) is refusing to assist the Young Men's Christian Association triathalon because they question whether the YMCA is serving the will of God.
Dear Penryn PD, Since you apparently don't have the intellectual capital available to buy a clue, here is one for free: Is opposing reading programs and athletic activities serving the will of God? You'd hate to see people reading and exercising. Better that they find other after-school activities to engage in like, oh, I dunno, all those fun peer-pressure type vices.
In honor of this story I am awarding the first ever Aces Full of Links ignominious award, the Four-Flush of Disgrace.
[GOVERNMENT] - What good is a freedom of information act? Just take this for example:
"[...] in 1975, President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave Indonesian strongman Suharto the green light to invade East Timor, an incursion that left 200,000 people dead."
[HEALTH] - Take two ibuprophen and remember to call me in the morning. Apparently, ibuprophen (aka. Motrin and Advil) may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's dramatically. I'm a big fan of NSAIDs, and this Dutch study is potentially very good news. New York Times reports:
In Struggle Against Alzheimer's, Hope May Be Over the Counter
[ENTERTAINMENT] - No time for love, Dr. Jones! There are reports that 'Indiana Jones 4' is finally a go. M. Night Shyamalan (writer/director of the The Sixth Sense) had previously been hired to write a screenplay, but it is unclear what screenplay they will use, or what the name of this feature will be.
[TOY] - Wireframe skeleton fun - Vector lounge brings you a skeleton you can control like a marionette. Falls into the "Neato" category.
[Update: This link seems to have died. If anyone has a new link to VectorLounge's wireframe skeleton, please sent it to me via the comments form]
[HOAX] - Coincidence Design Update! As usual, snopes has the skinny on what people are talking about. Urban Legends Reference Pages: (Design Flaw). A detailed article on the hoax is available on AlterNet: Rent-a-Stalker Online? Yes, the author claims the site is legitimate, but he's the author of a lot of hoax websites.
If you're not familiar with snopes it's a website run by Barbara and David Mikkelson which tracks rumors, hoaxes, urban legends and weird happenenings. It is a must-link in your favorites list.
[EDUCATION] - Want to learn to write a sitcom? UMass Dartmouth Continuing Education is offering PER 320-81 Boushell "Writing the Sitcom" a $200 weekend workshop led by Neal Boushell, a UMass Amherst graduate who has worked on "the Simpsons" among other ABC, FOX, and Disney projects. The workshop will be set up to resemble an actual Hollywood writer's room where all the participants are encouraged to contribute material.
[SCIENCE] - A possible alternative to Black Hole theory is the new idea of the "gravistar." See: CNN.com - Is black hole theory full of hot air? - January 22, 2002. The description on CNN does not make it really clear to me what the difference is, so I'll be on the lookout for a better description of the gravastar.
[FOOD] - Ramen noodles become a banquet in the hands of the right person. I'm not sure that Matt Fischer is that person, but you can judge for yourself. He has an over 200 recipe Ramen Recipe Database. Since the newer ones are on top, I'm willing to bet that you're better off reading this list from the bottom, because you have to figure that they get to be more of a stretch as time goes on.
[HUMOR] - Japanese Communication Breakdown - One of my favorite sources of natural humor is when translations go bad. Engrish.com chronicles some of the more interesting Japanese attempts at English found on products and buildings. If you're new to the site, or have seen it before, the place to start is on the Recent Engrish Discoveries page.
[NEWS] - Posterior vs. Negative Air Pressure. It almost sounds like an urban legend, but here MSNBC is reporting it.U.S. woman is trapped in airplane toilet by vacuum seal
[HUMOR] - This humor site is all over the place. The Brunching Shuttlecocks... the name sounds familiar but I don't remember exactly when I had visited it before someone (Patti) sent me back. She directed me initially to the facial hair ratings and the state quarters review. Personally, I thought that the rejected Penthous Letters bit was pretty dang funny. I'll be coming back here again, no doubt. They also do movie reviews.
[WEIRD] - Molasses Disaster! Most good Boston-area folk already know this story. But in case you don't you must read about The Great Boston Molasses Disaster of January 15, 1919.
[NEWS] - Two presidential lies? That's what Frank Rich contends in the New York Times Op Ed piece The United States of Enron. To quote:
As the world knows now, George W. Bush told two lies when first asked about his ties to the top guy in what may prove the largest corporate flimflam in history. The president said (1) that he only "got to know" Mr. Lay in 1994, when in fact their relationship goes back at least to 1992; and (2) that Mr. Lay "was a supporter" of Governor Richards, when in fact Mr. Lay told TV's "Frontline" last year that he "did support" Mr. Bush over Ms. Richards in their Texas race.
As Sen. Kennedy recently put it in the Boston Globe, "It's so interesting that the company with the leading Republicans that ... despise government, the first thing they do is pick up the phone and call the government for a bailout.''
[SCIENCE] - Alien life on Earth? Well, not quite. Scientists have identified a type of microbe that have a metabolism unlike other microbes found on this planet, leading them to believe that there may be similar alien microbes out there in the universe. CNN reports.CNN.com - Alien-like microbes found deep underground - January 17, 2002
[UPDATE] - An update on that "Coincidence Design" website which I mentioned earlier. The Register has this article on it: Get your future wife stalked for just $78,000. Julie mentions that her company's web software blocks access to the site and Bob S. noted that although the site claims to be a company in Chicago, the domain is registered to someone in Texas. Here's the whois info:
Coincidence Design Inc.
2001 Bryan Tower Suite 3915
Dallas, TX 75201
Registrar: Dotster (http://www.dotster.com)
Domain Name: COINCIDENCEDESIGN.COM
Created on: 10-AUG-00
Expires on: 10-AUG-02
Last Updated on: 10-AUG-00
Bourne, Jason firstname.lastname@example.org
Coincidence Design Inc
2001 Bryan Tower Suite 3915
Dallas, TX 75201
It may be of interest that "Jason Bourne" is the main character in a series of Ludlum novels about a man who has lost his identity. An upcoming Matt Damon movie is based on these novels. Is there some weird movie marketing thing going on?
[HUMOR] - Collecting and distributing the most bizarre stories which appear in news publications,This is True by Randy Cassingham reads like a weekly dose of Reuters' "Oddly Enough" along with Randy's own comments. I've been a free subscriber by email for years now. This is the online version of his syndicated newspaper column.
[HEALTH] - The CDC reports 17,730 cases of Lyme Disease in 2000. That's up 8% from the previous year. Salon.com News | Lyme disease reports hit new high
[NEWS] - "...a troubling disregard for accountability in government..." That's how this Chicago Tribune editorial describes the Bush administration. Is this a partisan criticism? Ask Republican Rep. Dan Burton, chairman of the House Government Reform Committee. When Bush recently issued an executive order to prevent documents regarding mob corruption in Boston from seeing the light of day, Rep. Burton responded "This is not a monarchy."
Site updates! I got rid of the garish colors from the default template and made some other visual adjustment.
Also, I've added a Yahoo! Groups Forum to the site. It's a place to make publicly viewable comments regarding the weblog, rather than just emailing me. Use the >>post to forum link (it's up there on the left) to send an email which will be logged to the forum.
[OUTRAGE] - DynCorp Executives and their Sex Slaves - Does DynCorp have a corporate culture which allows its employees to buy and sell local children as sex slaves? This company was sent to Bosnia to support and maintain military hardware. But apparently they are doing much more than that, including trading in weapons and girls. Insight on the News has the story. This quote from the attorney or a man who was fired, ostensibly for blowing the whistle:
"...you've got employees of U.S. contractors in bed with the local mafia and buying kids for sex! That these guys have some kind of immunity from prosecution is morally outrageous. How can men be allowed to get away with rape simply because of location?"
[FRIENDS] - Chuck's aging but fun website (Chux Pages) has been added toNew England Wow - The Portal to New England. As "Today's site just added" for 1/17/02. Chuck put a lot of work into his site, and it's got a lot of depth, so I'm never surprised when someone notices it. This is where they put the link.
[MONEY] - What's the best credit card? Our old card is cancelling its rewards progam so it is time to go card shopping. My criteria are:
[ENTERTAINMENT] - New Wallace and Gromit films to appear on the Internet reports boston.com. (thanks Mike) I still remember seeing the first W&G at the Avon with Brian. Anyone want to cross Thayer street with me for a Spike's Junkyard hot dog? [UPDATE: Further info available on the Aardman website.]
[BORED?] -Galilea online Hosts a number of interactive flash cartoons. You have to click or drag things to further the storyline. It looks like some of them are supposed to be edu-tainment, but some of them are just plain strange. Particularly, The Grons. Check out that first short Grons animation; but watch out for phlegm.
[ANTI-SPAM] - Why do spammers forge someone's domain name and use that domain to send their spam? It's a good way to cover their tracks. But what happens if the person who owns the domain name finds out? What happens when he is a security expert and hacks into the spammer's computer?
Chuck sent me a link to such a story a couple of weeks ago. The original link is dead, but this site contains links to some mirror sites where the hacker documents all of the spammer's activities. It's some interesting reading: Behind Enemy Lines. (Warning: the domain name hosting this page uses profanity in its name).
[ENTERTAINMENT] - For the heck of it, here are 3 of my favorite reasons to visit Providence, RI:
Publisher's Weekly reports that Moore's book - which was all ready for it's September 11 release, is rotting away in the warehouse and will probably never see the light of day. Is it that the criticisms within are not valid (or no longer valid)? I doubt that's it.
With the collapse of Enron and the ensuing mess, it appears to me that Moore's brand of corporate and government scrutiny has its case ready-made. Why, when we perhaps need it most, is it no longer appropriate to point out the flaws of these powerful organizations?
Perhaps Moore has had enough of riteous criticism after the tounge-lashing he received following the blame that was wrongly laid at his feet (and Ralph Nader's feet) in the aftermath of the election fiasco. All the more shame on those short-sighted people who blamed anyone but Gore for his presidential loss.
I'm told that the book will be published after all. Good news, but really! Are we better off pulling a flag over our heads and hiding than trying to shed some light on the subject of corporate greed and imcompetence?
Is this a joke? : Welcome to Coincidence Design
Purports to be a service that will stalk a woman for you and engineer a "coincidence" so that you happen to encounter each other. You have been provided information about her life so that you can start a meaningful discussion with the woman and take it from there until she is smitten with you. The rates are sky-high.
It has the feeling of a student web project to me. What do you think... real, or fake? Lemme know.
The Fox Network TV show The Tick has been cancelled. I'm sorry to see it go, but I have to admit that it helped to introduce me to The Family Guy which was in an adjacent time slot and was much funnier. I like Patrick Warburton, but The Family Guy is a tough act to share the stage with. Check out some Family Guy Episodes online.
Maybe I'm a little slow when it comes to stuff on TV, but I just recently noticed Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. Sunday and Thursday nights from 10PM to 1AM they're showing the non-kid cartoons like Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Cowboy Beebop and SeaLab 2021.
It's meant to be an effort to get together enough people who pledge to save enough energy to conserve the equivalent of a million gallons of oil. I think some of their reasoning is flawed.
For instance, they ask you to pledge to keep your car tuned and running smoothly and I have to assume that they calculate an "oil saved" value based on that promise. But of course they have no idea whether you would have done that anyway. But its heart is in the right place (I guess) and if it merely reminds people of the importance of conserving energy - and some of the ways we generally waste energy - it's worth something.
Here is my first post to the blog, Aces Full of links. I chose the name because it seemed a little distinctive. Let the fun begin.