Wednesday, 31 December 2003


These seasonal faeries are found in Mexico and Central America. They resemble pudgy children with wings and aid in the turning of the Wheel Of the Year.

Males are Jimaninos, females are Jimaninas.
from today's independent

"the drudgery of life in the British workplace. Nearly a quarter of British men work more hours than the European legal limit. Half of all British workers think that their job damages their health and one-fifth say they are too exhausted to have sex."

"downshifting has become a Europe-wide trend driven by the recognition of "time" as a commodity just as valuable as the latest Mercedes or digital gadgetry. three million people- or 10 per cent of the working population - have swapped the urban rat race for a rural idyll or abandoned high-flying careers by demanding to work fewer hours, a study by the market research organisation Datamonitor has found. Three million people is a significant part of the population. the number is expected to reach nearly four million by 2007."

"It is driven by time and people wanting the energy for things that they can't do working the hours that they do. There is an increased lack of willingness to put up with the long-hours culture across Europe in general and the UK in particular. After spending years striving for material wealth in the shape of a house and car, people are saying they need to change their lifestyle and are happy to 'pay' for it by means of accepting a lower income."

"According to the research, there are now some 12 million downshifters across Europe, an increase of nearly a third in the past six years. By 2007, the figure is likely to reach more than 16 million as the population of the European Union, its affluence increased by economic growth, seeks to escape the sense of burn-out."

Men and women who overworked themselves into ill-health now see their lives as materially little better than those who took life easy. The lesson learned (and don't for a moment imagine that the kids aren't seeing this) is that hard work doesn't improve your life.


Draw something, press "START SCRIBBLER" and it generates a scribbled version of your drawing.
The World Chess Boxing Championship

In a chessboxing fight two opponents play alternating rounds of chess and boxing. The fight goes over a maximum of 11 rounds, 6 rounds of chess and 5 rounds of boxing. The fight is either decided by checkmate or ko.
found magazine

things found in public spaces
blue suburbia

find poems hidden in an abandoned house
(via in4mador)
The Bacon Buddies are the first in a line of meat dolls.
(via geisha asobi blog)

Tuesday, 30 December 2003

on this day 1994

Gunman kills two women at abortion clinic

The murders brought the total number of killings at abortion clinics to five in the United States over the past two years.

There had also been fire bombings, vandalism and protests.

Other attacks and bomb threats were reported around America the previous day in what was believed to be a co-ordinated day of terrorism against abortion clinics.
western priorities and natural disasters over past 30 years

the earthquake and reports of as many as 50,000 dead iranians is given low priority in the most popular uk newspapers (page 4 in some tabloids). yet in september when hurricane isabel struck the usa (deaths around 20) that was given several days worth of frontpages.

here the guardian lists previous disasters with massive death tolls from around the world.

2003: french heatwave leaves 15,000 mainly elderly people dead.

2001: indian earthquake killing more than 20,000 people and leaving 600,000 homeless.

1993: indian earthquake, estimated 11,000 people are killed.

1991: A tsunami wave kills 138,000 people in Bangladesh.

1990: iranian earthquake, at least 50,000 people are killed, more than 60,000 injured and 400,000 left homeless.

1988: earthquake in Armenia, kills nearly 25,000 people, injures 15,000 and leaves at least 400,000 homeless.

1984: Famine kills more than 900,000 people in Ethiopia.

1976: chinese earthquake, official casualty figure issued by the Chinese government is 255,000 but unofficial estimates of the death toll are as high as 655,000.

1971: Heavy rains cause severe flooding in northern Vietnam, killing 100,000 people.
Ann Coulter

for any sisters who continue to inhabit the bizarre illusion that, given the chance, women would 'naturally' do a better job of running things, welcome to the world according to Ann Coulter.......

"Liberalism And Terrorism: Different Stages Of Same Disease." is the all too real title of an Ann Coulter essay dated July 3, 2002.

for theres no time for tolerance or diversity in ann's world, especially when she suggests in an article dated September 13 2001 that the only way to deal with muslims is that...... "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."

and i'm sure bush and his crazy gang agree with her.

in fact i can't help assuming that far too many americans agree with her when she states: God says, "Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours.". etc etc theres plenty more of her foaming at the mouth @ anticoulter and
american Homelessness and Hunger Worsens

lastweekthe US Conference of Mayors painted a dismal picture of growing homelessness and hunger among low-income, working families and reported a dramatic decrease in 2003 in the ability of most of the nation's 25 major cities to meet these basic needs.

The conference's annual survey found that in nearly all the cities, requests for emergency food assistance have increased by an average of 17 percent over last year, and the demand for emergency shelter rose by an average of 13 percent.

More than half of the cities surveyed reported that emergency food assistance facilities had to either turn people away or limit the groceries families could receive on each visit. Of those requesting food help, 59 percent were families and 39 percent were employed, the report said.

In 84 percent of the cities surveyed, shelters reported turning away homeless families because of too few beds and other resources. Officials estimated that 30 percent of requests for shelter by homeless people, and 33 percent of the requests by homeless families were unmet, according to the Conference of Mayors report.

meanwhile most americans continue to believe that "greed is good", as obesity reaches epidemic proportions throughout the usa, with an estimated 40 million obese citizens. welcome to the world of competetive eating. at the International Federation of Competitive Eating site you can view Video highlights of America's fastest-growing sport!
Naomi Klein

"the ideology of the Bush White House isn't neo-conservatism, it's old-fashioned greed. There is only one rule that appears to matter: if it helps our friends get even richer, do it."

Monday, 29 December 2003

on this day 1975

Radical new legislation introducing a woman's right to equal pay came into force.
polaroids within polaroids within polaroids
(via geisha asobi blog)
Deck o' junk cards
"I spotted a playing card on the ground. I had recently read about a man who decided to "find" a whole deck of playing cards, and right then I knew I was going to do something similar."
the internet is not shit

tom coates in a debate about the authenticity or otherwise of online 'communities'.

At a certain point in the debate, his sparring partner posts........

"An actual meeting is far more meaningful than tapping on a keyboard. It is substantially different. Physically congregating with other folk is the same as being on the internet as is reading a book about Tibet compared to actually going there. Or reading a menu and eating the food. You can't reduce and flatten the physical, sensory, emotional, kinaesthetic and social world in that way."

tom responds: "the one thing I will not stand for is this sense that online communities are somehow inauthentic because they are unphysical - or that the truncation in social 'signal' somehow reduces them down to a point of uselessness or redundancy."

and an excerpt from tom's reply follow.............

"Your analogies are hideously flawed for a start - if I communicate on the internet or by phone with someone, it's not like a transcript of that person or a decription of that person. You're talking as if whenever you talked to people who weren't present physically (say via the telephone), that what you were actually doing was listening passively to bloody recordings! Of course they're not - it's not bloody radio! People are talking to each other! Now obviously there are things that you can do in person that you can't do physically online. It's harder to guage someone's mood, it's harder to have sex with them, it's harder to get intonation or a tone of voice. But it's still communication!"
asia weblog awards
graffiti archaeology

Websites have been displaying pictures of graffiti art for nearly a decade. Graffiti Archaeology is the first to show the work's evolution, and its context. Graffiti Archaeology cobbles together a history of the walls of San Francisco, showing how the tags can spring up, mutate and vanish on a single concrete canvas in just a few months' time.
(via wired news)

in a process called biomonitoring, scientists are sampling urine, blood and mother's milk to catalog the pollutants accumulating in humans. They call the results "body burden." The results, regardless of organic food habits, sound like the problems of a toxics disposal site: pesticides, flame-retardants, lead and other toxins.

yet despite all the chemicals, the overall U.S. population is living longer.
Tricked Brain Cells Live Hours without Oxygen

Exploiting their discovery about a mechanism that causes brain cells to die from stroke, researchers have found a way to keep brain cells alive for more than three hours without oxygen and nutrients.

A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function caused by the interruption of blood flow to the brain or the rupture of blood vessels in the brain. Strokes are a major cause of disability, as people who survive strokes often suffer irreparable damage to their brain cells.

The researchers found that when brain cells are deprived of oxygen and vital nutrients as a result of stroke, a channel called TRPM7 that resides on the surface of those brain cells is activated, triggering a lethal chain reaction. When activated, the channel causes brain cells to produce large quantities of free radicals that break down the cell's DNA, proteins and other components. In a vicious cycle, free radicals also cause the channel to become even more active, causing massive overproduction of free radicals, leading to cell death.

The researchers report that they have found a way to disrupt this cycle by interfering with the activity of TRPM7, which allows brain cells to survive for more than three hours without oxygen and vital nutrients.
follicular neogenesis

The very modern baldness cure: follicles grown in a petri dish.

doctors have begun to experiment with extracting single hair cells, replicating them in a petri dish, and implanting new, lab-grown cells. These cells mature into hair follicles through a process known as follicular neogenesis. If the technology can be perfected, there would be no limit to the amount of hair that could be grown.

In the early 1990s, Colin Jahoda, a researcher at the University of Durham in England, took a section of follicle cells from his own head and implanted it between the fine, pale hair on his wife's arm. A thick, dark hair emerged, complete with male DNA. This demonstrated that the cells at the base of a follicle can and do regenerate into self-contained, preprogrammed hair factories. In other words, hair follicles have the unusual ability to regenerate. more important, the cells in each follicle carry all the genetic information for a particular type of hair.

Ken Washenik, the head of Beverly Hills-based Bosley International, talks about creating "hair banks," where people can donate follicles for use by others. Women who want highlights could go to a bank and have a new color implanted. No need for monthly trips to the salon. And completely bald men could choose any style - straight, wavy, kinky. The estimated cost? About $10,000 a head.
Garlic Compound Kills Superbugs

A naturally occurring compound in garlic has proven effective against even the most antibiotic-resistant infections, curing patients within weeks.

Researcher Ron Cutler of the University of East London in England has shown that the garlic compound, allicin, kills Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

The compound even seems to destroy the new generation of "super-superbugs" that have evolved resistance to powerful antibiotics widely considered to be the last line of defense against MRSA.

Inappropriate or liberal use of antibiotics can lead to the development of such superbugs, which are difficult, if not impossible, to treat. Resistant organisms can cause fatal infections in immune-suppressed patients, the elderly, the young and those with surgical implants.

Grape Juice Boosts Memory, Motor Skills

Concord grape juice can significantly improve short-term memory and motor skills, suggest studies in animals

"Concord grape juice appeared to reduce or reverse the loss of sensitivity of muscarinic receptors, thus enhancing cognitive and some motor skills in the test animals," says Joseph. "In many of the tests we saw significant improvements or trends toward improvement."

grape juice's benefits may come from its ability to increase production of the neurotransmitter dopamine and its antioxidants effects—research suggests that grape juice has more antioxidants than any other fruit, vegetable or juice tested.
brain alphabet
Each letter is a close-up of gyri (bumps) and sulci (grooves) found on the surface of the human brain.
human verification test

"Major websites such as Yahoomail, Hotmail, Altavista and Ticketmaster are being inundated by malicious automated programs pretending to be humans. To ward off these bots, webmasters are increasingly turning to a technology called Captcha, an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart."
virtual frog dissection
(via geisha asobi blog)
World's First Running Humanoid Robot

"Sony Corporation announced the development of dramatically enhanced motion of Sony's humanoid robot, enabling integrated motion control for walking, jumping and running. By applying this technology to QRIO, which is one of Sony's technology platforms, Sony has successfully created the world's first running humanoid robot."
(via my analog life)
Lizard-like Regeneration Closer

A compound that can turn adult cells into stem cells has been identified, promising new sources of cells for medicine and the possibility of lizard-like body part regeneration.

the compound, reversine, can induce a cell to undergo reverse differentiation—to move backwards from its current state into its own precursor cell.

Regular cellular differentiation is the process by which a cell acquires a type, developing along a pathway of increasing specialization.
Dedifferentiation takes cells back to a stage before they are specialized, at which they can be used to regenerate multiple tissue types. This is where reversine comes into play.

"this afternoon vincent is awaiting an adjudication, (internal prison 'trials' and punishments). it was postponed from this morning after vincent smeared his body with shit, ready for the guards to come and escort him to the office.

meanwhile a nun visits my segregation cell. she looks through the observation hatch in my cell door, and she says "why don't you put some clothes on and get yourself a job."
infectious awarables

if you have to wear a tie, why not wear one thats patterned with the ebola virus or Chlamydia. lots to choose from. also available dust mite and gonorrhea boxer shorts etc.

Friday, 19 December 2003

merry xmas
Video Evidence of Abuse of Sept 11 Detainees

The us justice department's inspector general announced that investigators had found hundreds of prison videotapes (not turned over by federal prison officials during an earlier investigation) that confirm reports of serious physical and verbal abuse of immigrants rounded up and detained after the events of Sept 11 2001.

a section of the Inspector General's report relating to physical abuse includes:

Slamming, Bouncing, and Ramming Detainees Against Walls
Bending Detainees' Arms, Hands, Wrists, and Fingers
Lifting Detainees, Pulling Arms, and Pulling Handcuffs
Stepping on Detainees' Chains
Improper Application and Use of Restraints
Rough or Inappropriate Handling of Detainees

elsewhere the report highlights:

"that audio taping attorney visits violated the law and interfered with the detainees' effective access to legal counsel."

"staff members inappropriately used strip searches to intimidate and punish detainees. We also questioned the need for the number of strip searches, such as after attorney and social visits in non-contact rooms where the detainees were fully restrained and videotaped."

though "we were unable to substantiate the detainees' allegations that the officers gratuitously banged on the cell doors or woke up detainees unnecessarily." the videotapes did confirm detainees' allegations that a t-shirt (with the words "These colors don't run" in large print below an American flag), was taped to a wall and that their faces were pressed against the t-shirt like they had to kiss it.

the findings follow an earlier investigation, where Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) officials had repeatedly told investigators that such video tapes no longer existed, and many of those interviewed earlier had denied conduct that was confirmed on the tapes.

the earlier report issued last June found "excessively restrictive and unduly harsh" conditions for Sept. 11 detainees, some of whom faced weeks of delays in obtaining lawyers or making telephone calls and were often kept for months in cells illuminated 24 hours a day. None of the group were ever charged with terrorism related crimes.

a department of justice response to the earlier investigation had stated:

"our actions are fully within the law and necessary to protect the American people. Our policy is to use all legal tools available to protect innocent Americans from terrorist attacks. We make no apologies for finding every legal way possible to protect the American public from further terrorist attacks."

“The Inspector General report clearly recognizes the Department was operating under the most difficult of circumstances. Under these unprecedented and extraordinary circumstances, the law was scrupulously followed and respected while aggressively protecting innocent Americans from another terrorist attack."

now following the new video evidence of abuse, department spokesman Mark Corallo emphasised "that even the intense emotional atmosphere surrounding the attacks, particularly in New York City where smoke was still rising from the rubble of Ground Zero, this is no excuse for abhorrent behavior by Bureau of Prisons personnel,"

however the report points out that many tapes still remain missing and there are unexplained gaps in the footage, despite a requirement to keep such material for two years under U.S. Bureau of Prisons policies

the report adds in its conclusion "We were told that the abuse of detainees declined when the officers' actions were being videotaped, which one would expect." and "Because the detainees were not moved from their cells during the night, staff members were not required to video record nighttime activities."

(via news insider)
greedy recording industry suffers a major setback

WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court ruled the recording industry can't force Internet providers to identify subscribers swapping music online, dramatically setting back the industry's anti-piracy campaign.

The appeals court said the 1998 copyright law doesn't cover the popular file-sharing networks currently used by tens of millions of Americans to download songs.
come all ye faithful
(via fleshbot)
the unofficial house of commons calender 2004
parliament laid bare
christmas day

christmas day is the only day in the whole year when its difficult to go shopping. yet its bracketed by a brief consumer frenzy of such intensity and importance, that for many businesses, it is the sole economical justification for the entire rest of their year's trading and advertising costs.

also on christmas day 99.9% of a country's population will be eating the same "traditional" food combination. when you think about it, doesn't that seem creepy and kind of sinister. there's this guaranteed day of mass compliance, annually, in which we are all compelled to choose and digest the same narrow range of prescribed food products.

behold the meta group-mind in in-action.

similarly not forgetting, that on that day, in fact over a number of days, a significantly large percentage of the consumer population can be relied upon to be tuned into the same broadcasts and ad breaks.

broadcasting is an agricultural term. a broad casting of seeds is a method of ensuring that enough of it will definitely take root.
Overharvesting of Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts, the popular Christmas snack in the US and Europe which are exclusively collected from natural forests, are being harvested unsustainably, a new study has found.

The important rainforest crop could crash as the trees are growing old without being replaced. Brazil nut trees are among the largest and oldest trees in the Amazon. With girths of five and a half metres, they can reach ages of 550 years old.

Their typical nut-producing reproductive life lasts about 150 years. "The trees being harvested today are essentially the same ones being harvested 30 or 40 years ago. The problem is these persistently overharvested stands are now becoming old."

In Hungarian folklore, the Marinka is a white, sweet-smelling flower grown from the crumbs spilt on the table during Christmas dinner.

Thursday, 18 December 2003

What is that Oxford Circus megaphone man all about?

"What most people don't know is that the religious nut used to think he was a werewolf and would occasionally get on London news reports because he would beg the police to lock him up come every full moon. Then he found God, or more specifically a cassette tape of some preacher which he is constantly listening to and repeating out loud."
(via linkmachinego)
'We can implant entirely false memories'

"Alan Alda had nothing against hard-boiled eggs until last spring. Then the actor, better known as Hawkeye from M*A*S*H, paid a visit to the University of California, Irvine. In his new guise as host of a science series on American TV, he was exploring the subject of memory. The researchers showed him round, and afterwards took him for a picnic in the park. By the time he came to leave, he had developed a dislike of hard-boiled eggs based on a memory of having made himself sick on them as a child - something that never happened."

Wednesday, 17 December 2003

Receiving a Christmas card

An envelope came through the letter box. I picked it up and opened it. Inside was a Christmas card which a friend had sent to me though the post, signing their name at the bottom. I put the card alongside one or two others I have received and discarded the envelope.

i loathe these periods of inane mass psychosis. especially when you consider the infinite number of things which communities of people could choose to focus and unite around. yet its inevitably the most involuntarily banal and monolithically mediocre of non-optional events around which people actually do become as one.

i loathe the consumer orgy of xmas and i especially resent having to endure the din of christmas carols acoustically infesting every square inch of public space. those dreary sonic tapeworms that bore directly into our brains. their singular pavlovian purpose being to trigger the christmas consumer command structure, we've all absorbed, from when we were too young and vulnerable to defend ourselves against it.

additionally, as if the annual yuletide rape of our mind-space wasn't enough of an affront, through out the year we find ourselves emotionally corralled together by selective grand spectacles. we obediently wail and gnash our teeth when planes crash into the towering cathedrals of capitalism or some member of the ruling class dies.

i say all this because i can't help noticing the absence of collective action or sorrow and anger when millions of economically unimportant people are dying and suffering throughout the world. i mean i hate organised religion just as much, but its beyond irony that in a period marking the birth of christ, we exercise his father-god's gift of free will in a consumer frenzy. colluding with the very money merchants who are the very cause of practically all misery in the world. or that we are only ever collectively grieving when it is the money merchants themselves who are momentarily interrupted by death.

wake me up when its fashionable to think and feel and organise for ourselves.

source 1
"For anti-smoking campaigners, the passive smoking debate is a perfect stick to beat smokers with. It suggests that, even if a smoker doesn't care about their own health, they should be more careful as regards the health of others. The argument seems to have been very successful, as the recent spread in outright public bans suggests. But is it really the place of the authorities to micro-manage our lives through dubious morality dressed up as science."

"While a link between second-hand smoke (SHS) and a slightly increased level of illness seems plausible on the surface, no link has ever been proven. Even where studies have found an increased risk of cancer, the increase has been too small to be practically significant. ASH's website suggests that the risk of lung cancer for non-smokers is about 10 cases per 100,000 people (1 in 10,000)."

Moreover, studies that show no link are often not published.

source 2
"A common myth about smoking assert that the lungs of smokers become brown or even black from years of accumulation of tars and goo. Not true, according to Wray Kephart. he's done approximately 1560 autopsies and insists that it is normally impossible to tell, from autopsy, whether the deceased was or was not a smoker. Upon resection, the lungs are always clear, unless the deceased lived in a large city where there was significant industrial pollution. In that event, carbon deposits may be found, but these are unrelated to smoking. So the "brown lungs" myth is exactly that: a myth."

Ed Uthman, M.D., a pathologist practicing in Dallas has said "I don't think one can tell if the deceased were a tobacco smoker or not by the appearance of the lungs. The absence of any black pigment suggests that the person was either a nonsmoker or a very light smoker. Heavy black pigmentation suggests that the person was either a heavy smoker, or lived in a city with heavy particulate air pollution, or was a coal miner, or some combination of the three. The black pigment in question is elemental carbon, which most investigators believe to be inert in its effects on the lungs."

we've all seen photos of lungs ravaged by disease, but the problem is simply that the photograph is of a lung ravaged by lung cancer. it is not the general image of all smoker's lungs.

in a study conducted at the Yale University School of Medicine, and published in September, 1986, in the Archives of Internal Medicine 26, researchers at Yale obtained records on 3,286 adults who had died between 1971 and 1982. 153 of these patients were found, upon autopsy, to have died of lung cancer. The researchers then went back and obtained the death certificates for these 153 patients and attempted to obtain information about their smoking habits. For 13 patients, adequate smoking information was not available, so they were thrown out of the survey.

Working with the remaining 140 cases, it turned out that there were 37 "surprise" cases of lung cancer, i.e., cases which had not been correctly diagnosed during life. 57% of these cases involved non-smokers; 30% involved moderate smokers; but only 16% involved heavy smokers. The researchers concluded that there was a detection bias; that doctors were very ready to diagnose lung cancer in a smoker; very reluctant to make the diagnosis in a non-smoker.

source 3
Researchers have long been aware that fewer smokers get Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases than non-smokers. Up to April l992, of the 17 studies on Alzheimer's and smoking which had been published in peer-reviewed journals, 13 reported a reduced risk for smokers and only four found no difference between smokers and non-smokers. Similar findings have been published on the effect of smoking and Parkinson's disease.

Other diseases for which smoking and nicotine appear to be protective are ulcerative colitis, Tourette's Syndrome, and possibly rheumatoid arthritis and colorectal cancer.

Shane Booth and his team at Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories could change the way in-store merchandising is done. Booth's team is developing a system that projects product information onto a wall. As a customer approaches the wall, the system senses that someone is getting closer and alters the message it projects, incorporating data about the person gleaned through facial-recognition technology. The closer the customer approaches, the more specific the information gets. Eventually, the message would focus on the actual product the person is handling.

the system is based on more than 20 sensors that evaluate where people are in relationship to a display. And, because the display is projected rather than on a fixed screen, it can be directed anywhere. More importantly, the system can sense how people are reacting to the messages by tracking whether they are approaching the product and continuing to watch the ad or turning away.

demographically tailored messages can be projected instantly onto a wall near specific customers. the system can tailor messages to individuals based on demographic information it gathers about them as they walk around a store. That is done through facial-recognition technology built into the system that can determine race, age and sex.
TransVision 2004: Art and Life in the Posthuman Era

Starts: Friday, August 06, 2004
Ends: Sunday, August 08, 2004
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

As art and life continue to reflect and create each other, both are changing as we move into a posthuman form and into a posthuman era. TransVision 2004 seeks to capture and highlight these trends by bringing together a wide array of transhumanist thinkers, artists, scientists and ethicists.
monday morning i accompanied my disabled mum in a mini-bus that transports elderly and disabled people to their local sainsburies supermarket. the front pages of every paper that day fell in line with the barbaric triumphalism of america with its latest captive, a humiliated saddam hussein, violating the Geneva Convention regarding the treatment of prisoners-of-war. (though of course the war was 'won' earlier this year wasn't it.)

a young woman with a learning disability, who was sat beside me, pointed at the photo of saddam hussein and said repeatedly "i don't like that man."

i couldn't help wondering if perhaps the majority of people are learning disabled these days. millions of minds lacking any ability to defend their selves against the monstrous totality of the american led propaganda machine.

lets rewind. Did Saddam gas his own people in 1988?
.......We don't know, but possibly not.

"No doubt, Saddam has mistreated Kurds during his rule. But it's misleading to say, so simply and without context, that he killed his own people by gassing 5,000 Kurds at Halabja."

on Jan. 31 of this year, The New York Times published an opinion piece by Stephen C. Pelletiere, the CIA's senior political analyst on Iraq during the 1980s. In the article, Pelletiere said the only thing known for certain was that "Kurds were bombarded with poison gas that day at Halabja. We cannot say with any certainty that Iraqi chemical weapons killed the Kurds."

Pelletiere said the gassing occurred during a battle between Iraqis and Iranians. "Iraq used chemical weapons to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town ... The Kurdish civilians who died had the misfortune to be caught up in that exchange. But they were not Iraq's main target," he wrote.

The former CIA official revealed that immediately after the battle the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency investigated and produced a classified report that said it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds. Both sides used gas at Halabja, Pelletiere suggested.

"The condition of the dead Kurds' bodies however, indicated they had been killed with a blood agent — that is, a cyanide-based gas — which Iran was known to use. The Iraqis, who are thought to have used mustard gas in the battle, are not known to have possessed blood agents at the time."

Saddam Hussein's brutal reign made in U.S.A.
"If put on public trial, Saddam Hussein would have a field day revealing the embarrassing alliance between his brutal regime and Washington."

dead dictators tell no tales.

While many have thought that Saddam Hussein first became involved with U.S. intelligence agencies at the start of the September 1980 Iran-Iraq war, his first contacts with U.S. officials date back to 1959, when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad tasked with assassinating then Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim.

in his early 20s Saddam Hussein was installed in an apartment in Baghdad on al-Rashid Street directly opposite Qasim's office in Iraq's Ministry of Defense, to observe Qasim's movements.

Saddam Hussein's CIA handler was an Iraqi dentist working for CIA and Egyptian intelligence. U.S. officials separately confirmed this account. Saddam's paymaster was Capt. Abdel Maquid Farid, the assistant military attaché at the Egyptian Embassy who paid for the apartment from his own personal account. Three former senior U.S. officials have confirmed that this is accurate.

after a farcical and botched assasination attempt against Qasim, Saddam Hussein escaped to Tikrit, thanks to CIA and Egyptian intelligence agents. he then crossed into Syria and was transferred by Egyptian intelligence agents to Beirut. While Saddam Hussein was in Beirut, the CIA paid for his apartment and put him through a brief training course, former CIA officials said. The agency then helped him get to Cairo, they said. etc etc

true or false its worth investigating don't you think? if you ever bother to think at all that is.

as for the often touted nonsense that the iraqi people have gained free speech after the down fall of saddam hussien's regime, its worth remembering this report from last month: "American soldiers handcuffed and firmly wrapped masking tape around an Iraqi man's mouth as they arrested him for speaking out against occupation troops.

Asked why the man had been arrested and put into the back of a Humvee vehicle on Tahrir Square, the commanding officer told Reuters at the scene: "This man has been detained for making anti-coalition statements."


Monday, 15 December 2003


Some animals may be capable of thinking about thinking
Brain-linked Prosthetics Prove Durable

Nerve-linked muscle stimulation systems have proven extremely durable, a finding that could encourage wider use of neuroprosthetics for people with spinal cord injuries.

Examining electrodes implanted for at least three years and a maximum of more than 16, the researchers found that electrodes, leads and connector systems are extremely durable.

For the 238 electrodes examined, only three electrode-lead failures and one electrode infection occurred, for a survival rate of almost 99%.

The results suggest that complications of a neuroprosthesis caused by device failure, electrode breakage, lead breakage, infection or rejection are extremely low and shouldn't be a source of major concern.
talking dolls

George H.W. Bush Talking Action Figure
Ann Coulter Talking Action Figure
Donald Rumsfeld Talking Action Figure
Dennis Miller Talking Action Figure
pixel porn
(via geisha asobi blog)
gay macro porn
(via fleshbot)
in today's guardian newspaper.....

leg-lengthening the surgical trend sweeping China. It's painful and slow, but can make you five inches taller.

Twice as many black people in prison as on campus. there are 10,000 black people in prison but almost half of that amount on Britain's campuses.

Arrested euthanasia society chief resigns. Dr Michael Irwin said "I was prepared to help a colleague who was going to die anyway in a matter of days or a couple of weeks, because this is what he wanted.... it was totally impossible for him to take his own life. ...... There's no point in hiding what happened because, in a strictly legal sense, we did conspire to help Patrick to commit suicide, because that's what he said he wanted to do.... But he was unable to commit suicide so the whole idea was dropped and he died the way he didn't want to do." Dr Michael Irwin, chairman of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, resigned yesterday after he was arrested and flown to the Isle of Man for questioning. "It's embarrassing for the society to have a chairman who has broken the law, so I felt it was right to resign."

End of risk TV? Programmes will no longer be judged by their impact on the viewer or by the motivation of the programme maker, but will be reduced to a calculation of their commercial viability. for programmes that are more intellectually driven, the future is increasingly doubtful. in a less fragmented broadcasting market, the money was there for Channels to fund a programme far beyond its likely commercial return. but in a future where commercial broadcasters will feel the cold wind of deregulated competition, how much will they pay for such a series? More than they will make back in revenue? If so, where is the money to come from? Creative enthusiasm is tempered with broadcasting caution only the tried and tested format, or the familiar and instantly recognisable subject, has a chance.
Picking up a table mat

I noticed a mat sitting on the top of the table. I reached out and picked it up in order to look at it more closely. Having done so I put it down again on the table.
Jim Williams, 63, says he is happy about being operated on by a robot
Researchers at the University of Toronto have designed a robot that can make its way through a building by using its own voice to navigate.
Robot Sea Creatures Fight Pollution

Robots built to mimic lobsters are being developed for a range of applications such as detecting pollution, locating unexploded mines in the ocean and teaching researchers how animals solve problems.
Brainy Robot Vacuum Revealed

A robot vacuum cleaner has been revealed that builds an internal map of its environment instead of bumping blindly into obstacles.
The Love Machine

Programmers at MIT are working to leverage emotional relationships with computers by making social software for machines that care.

The Irish mere-folk distinguish themselves from other sea-elves by wearing red feathered hats which they use to find their homes. Should such a hat be stolen, the Merrow would be unable to return to his home. Although the males are ugly, they are very friendly and cheerful. The females are gentle and beautiful creatures who often fall in love with fishermen. Merrows appear as portents of oncoming storms. Sometimes they come ashore in the shape of small, hornless cattle.

Sunday, 14 December 2003

US soldiers wrapping entire Iraqi villages in barbed wire

In Abu Hishma, encased in a razor-wire fence, Iraqi civilians line up to go in and out, filing through an American-guarded checkpoint, each carrying an identification card printed in English only.
Army shells pose cancer risk in Iraq

Depleted uranium shells used by British forces in southern Iraqi battlefields are putting civilians at risk from 'alarmingly high' levels of radioactivity.

analysis of biological and soil samples from battle zones found 'the highest number, highest levels and highest concentrations of radioactive source points' in the Basra suburb of Abu Khasib.

Critics of these controversial munitions - used to penetrate tank armour - believe inhaling the radioactive dust left by the highly combustible weapon causes cancer and birth defects.
Britain's 'Camp Delta'

Disturbing new details have emerged about the treatment of 14 foreign terrorist suspects held without trial in British high-security jails.

At least half of them are showing signs of serious mental illness. Their lawyers say they have been pushed 'beyond the limits of human endurance'. One detainee is a polio victim, another has lost two limbs and a third has attempted suicide.

The men and their families fear some may not survive their indefinite imprisonment at Belmarsh prison in south-east London, which has been described as 'Britain's Guantanamo Bay' or 'Camp Delta UK', and Woodhill prison near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

The detainees have been charged with no crime; are unable to see the intelligence evidence against them; and are confined to their cells for up to 22 hours a day.

A report from Amnesty International last week condemned the emergency legislation saying it created a 'shadow criminal justice system' for foreign nationals which permitted indefinite detention using evidence from foreign intelligence services extracted under torture.
the Italian heterodictatorship: No Babies if You're Gay or Single

Italy has banned fertility treatments for homosexuals and anyone not in a stable relationship.

The medieval legislation, passed by the Italian Senate friday, covers the use of donor sperm, eggs and surrogate mothers.

Artificial fertilization will now be limited to "heterosexual couples in stable relationships," specifically excluding gay couples, single women and women who want to use sperm from a deceased partner.

Japan SAQ (seldom asked questions)

(via b3ta)
Xtreme Martial Arts video gallery

there are no conveniences with poverty. for instance, the price of a weekly travelcard is too much to consider, so travel has to be limited to either a one day bus pass or when i have no money at all, long distance walking.

accumulated long distance walking wears out your only pair of cheap shoes quicker.

if money needs prioritising for a new pair of cheap shoes, then it probably means your not going to pay a bill or some other debt installment that fortnight.

if the phone company cuts you off or restricts your phone to incoming calls only, because you haven't finished paying all the bill yet, they charge you something like £40 for reconnection, (basically you're fined for being poor), which is added to the next bill, which usually arrives just a few weeks after you've finally paid off the last one. etc etc

a few days ago i endured 24 hours with no electricity when my meter ran out and i had no money till early the next morning. thats no heating, no computer, no cooking, no light.

i then put £10 in the electric meter, spent £25 in the supermarket and £39 paying off my phone bill before they cut me off. that left me with a total of £8 for another 2 weeks.

"the last things we brits want over the festive season is ambitious, innovative tv." says an article in a tv listings magazine. but then what do you expect when the tv mag itself is anachronistically titled 'the radio times'.

it continues... "so this year's christmas tv will be every bit as predictable as last year, and the year before that. which is, of course, exactly how we want it."

yeah and a merry fucking christmas to you too.

it would seem that the writer of this article spends the rest of the year in some alternate universe as he then claims that "tv is an industry normally obsessed with the new, the revolutionary and the innovative."

how we fucking wish it were true.
bug eating page

Saturday, 6 December 2003

Priest accused of molesting boy after dressing him up like Jesus
(via cultnews)
Scotty The Blue Bunny
animations from PES

roof sex

N.A.G. (Network Auralization for Gnutella) is interactive software art for Mac OS X and Windows 2000/XP which turns the process of searching for and downloading MP3 files into a sound collage.

Type in one or more search keywords, and N.A.G. looks for matches on the Gnutella peer-to-peer file sharing network. The software then downloads MP3 files which match the search keyword(s) and remixes these audio files in real time based on the structure of the Gnutella network itself.
(via deltadada)

german Armin Meiwes advertised on the internet for a well-built male prepared to be voluntarily slaughtered and then eaten.

according to media reports, "Bernd-Jurgen Brandes answered the advert in March 2001. Armin told investigators he took Bernd-Jurgen back to his home in Rotenburg, where Bernd-Jurgen agreed to have his penis cut off, which Armin then flambéed and served up to eat together."

"Prosecutors say Armin then stabbed Bernd-Jurgen repeatedly in the neck and dissected the corpse. he video recorded the whole incident."

importantly the media informs us that "Cannibalism is not a recognised offence under German law and his defence will argue that, since Bernd-Jurgen Brandes volunteered, this was not murder."

the issue at the core of this is adult consent, adult choices. but it easily gets blurred in our minds. firstly by its associations with non-consensual murder and also with our modern tendency to initially view all human events from a highly pre-loaded and negative psychological perspective. we've learned to deploy dominant concepts such as "low self esteem" or "self loathing" to neatly classify non-prescribed actions. we too often neglect to think about the possibility that some extreme human choices are driven by alternative motivations, by theoretical frameworks other than the psychiatric.

Anna Glanz, suffers from Ulcerative colitis, an incurable disease of the intestine caused by the immune system over-reacting. she gets terrible cramps and sudden, intense attacks of diarrhoea.

every three weeks, in an experimental trial run by Dr Joel Weinstock, a specialist in bowel disorders, Anna goes to Joel's clinic and takes a drink full of worm eggs.

The worms grow inside her gut and then pass out after a few weeks, but as a result of having these worms in her gut, her ulcerative colitis is in remission - she doesn't suffer from any of the symptoms any more.

Dr Joel Weinstock says "Worms require humans to survive. In essence the worms are part of us and it's possible that we've become interdependent and removing worms has resulted in an imbalance to our immune systems." Before gut worms were eradicated in the West 50 or so years ago allergies - caused by the overreaction of the immune system - were virtually unheard of.

Another person feeling the benefit of a worm infestation is Alan Brown, who picked up hookworms. The worm hangs around damp earth or water droplets, and on contact with skin burrows through and heads for the gut. since acquiring his worm colony his hayfever has virtually disappeared.
The Boxtop is a seasonal cereal net newsletter written for cereal enthusiasts. articles, reader surveys, cereal reviews, what's new, and lots more!

and Topher's Breakfast Cereal Character Guide
hopping robots

developed by researchers at the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories, the robots use combustion-driven pistons to make leaps as high as 20 feet. The work is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
kariwanz fetish
(via diminishedresponsibility)
from Argon's Centaur Site
animations by amy winfrey

making fiends
muffin films
(via deltadada)

Friday, 5 December 2003

(via b3ta)
animations from
right wing news presents the 2003 warblogger awards
(via warblogger watch)

Eye Implant Communicates Chemically

Existing implants work by converting light into electrical impulses that travel to the brain through the optic nerve.

Stacey Bent's device will work with a damaged retina by converting light into chemicals that stimulate nerve cells. it uses an implant that releases neurotransmitters like a natural retina.

Retinal nerve cells will be prompted to grow behind the chip so that they can better react to stimulus from light sensitive cells above.

Male Erotic Photo Art by Harald Seiwert
(via fleshbot)
Gangs Of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling Of Democracy' by Ted Nace

Corporations are the dominant force in modern life, surpassing even church and state. The largest are richer than entire nations, and courts have given these entities more rights than people.

A key revelation of the book is the wariness of the Founding Fathers toward corporations. After the Civil War, the tide quickly turned, as lobbyists secured key changes in corporate law and as corporate attorneys won a series of decisions from an increasingly pro-corporate Supreme Court. The book explores in depth the bizarre intrigues that resulted in the infamous “corporations are persons” ruling of 1886, and how that ruling affected the subsequent development of Supreme Court doctrine.

Gangs of America describes the expansion of corporate legal empowerment onto the global stage through international agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, which boosted the legal powers of corporations to the level of sovereign nations.

“A brilliant page-turner revealing how powerful, greedy corporations wage institutional terrorism."

Download the entire book "Gangs Of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling Of Democracy".
(via the hive)
canadian lawyer believes U.S. or domestic intelligence agency behind death threat

Rocco Galati the Toronto lawyer representing former terror suspect Abdurahman Khadr, a Canadian citizen freed from guantanamo bay after two years in captivity, was close to tears today as he announced he would no longer handle such cases because he had received a death treat he's taking seriously.

"I'm not on the verge of tears for my safety," a shaken Rocco Galati told a hastily called news conference.

"I'm on the verge of tears because it means we now live in Colombia, because the rule of law is meaningless. It means that lawyers cannot represent anyone even in what you profess to be a democracy here in Canada."

Galati, with his lawyer, Paul Slansky, sitting beside him, said he believed the threatening message was from someone involved with a U.S. or Canadian intelligence agency. He added it was the third time he had heard the male voice and that one of his clients disappeared after one of the calls.

Galati refused to be more specific and said he didn't know what agency the person may have belonged to. He said part of the reason he's dropping all his security-risk cases is because police have refused to offer him protection.
(via news insider)
US exports $20m-worth of torture instruments

A new Amnesty International report charges that in 2002, the Bush Administration violated the spirit of its own export policy and approved the sale of equipment implicated in torture to Yemen, Jordan, Morocco and Thailand, despite the countries' documented use of such weapons to punish, mistreat and inflict torture on prisoners. The US is also alleged to have handed suspects in the 'war on terror' to the same countries.

Worldwide, there are now at least 856 companies in 47 countries involved in the manufacture or marketing of electro-shock technology, restraints and chemical irritants that are prone to be used to torture. A 2001 survey by Amnesty International found more than 80 such firms – 1 in 10 – were in the United States.

The number of manufacturers of electro-shock technology has more than doubled since 1997, when Amnesty International documented 20 such firms. For the period 1999-2003, Amnesty International found at least 59 manufacturers of electro-shock weapons in 12 countries, including 8 firms in the US. For the same period, Amnesty International found 21 manufacturers of leg cuffs, leg-irons and shackles in 11 countries, of which six were US companies.

omct world organisation against torture

Thursday, 4 December 2003

Why is the sky blue?

The blue in the sky we see is scattered blue light.

Blue light's short wavelength causes it to get scattered around 10 times more by oxygen and nitrogen molecules than the longer wavelengths (like red) of the other colors visible to us.

although violet has the shortest wavelength of all colors and is scattered even more than blue light, our eyes are much more sensitive to see blue than violet, therefore we see the sky as blue.

President Bush signed into law the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act on Wed Dec 3, which has been approved by both Houses of Congress after months of haggling.
Making surveillance cameras intelligent

a.i. software that replaces a guard watching a bank of monitors, or motion-sensing cameras that often provide false alarms. It's artificial intelligence to free up security forces to check out alerts.

This software can look at a lot of cameras at once, recognize the differences in vehicles, colors, people, can set tripwires not to be crossed at certain times of day, or areas or regions of interest. It can work with thermal imaging as well.
"Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability In An Uncertain Age"
(by Frank Furedi in spiked)

Therapy culture represents a shift from the view of the robust, independent person, capable of great individual and collective achievements, to the notion of the fragile, powerless victim in need of continual professional support.

with the collapse of the left and of any project for social change, when capitalism has become the king of "that's-just-the-way-it-is", therapy culture unites conservatism and radicalism under an umbrella of survivalism. When it is accepted that there is nothing we can do about the circumstances that we live in, having given up on the notion that human beings could change the world, the left focused instead on helping people to survive their circumstances, helping individuals merely adapt.

Frank Furedi explains that the traditional conservative imagination has always presented a modest narrative about the human subject, in particular around the emphasis on deference, and people's inferiority to God. 'The left historically had a more ambitious sense of the human potential. What changed over recent decades was that the conservative imagination stayed the same - and the left's imagination adapted to the mood of demoralisation, coming up with a version of the human potential that was even more powerless than that of the right.'

the real problem with therapy is the way it 'most systematically expresses cultural norms'. today's society has made therapy into a way of life, and that's what needs to be challenged.

it has created a regime that 'praises some emotions and stigmatises others', therapy culture promotes conformity: laying down a framework of acceptable emotions and behaviour that people transgress at their peril.

being in touch with one's emotions means that it's fine to cry in public or obsess on the 'trauma' of a bad experience - but those who get angry are sent on anger management courses to suppress their rage, and those who fall passionately in love are suspected of suffering the pathology of 'loving too much'.

The political culture of the 1970s was suspicious of psychological explanations and solutions, and saw them as a way of imposing conformity. 'Yet now, it is people from the cultural left who are the most insistent about the importance of medicalised explanations and therapeutic interventions'.

see also Adam Curtis' acclaimed series "THE CENTURY OF THE SELF"
How was the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests? freud, bernays the father of public relations, the me generation, self-help movements, and mottos such as "change yourself and you'll change the world". corporations and politicians soon realised that this new self was their greatest opportunity. It was in their interest to encourage people to feel they were unique individuals and then sell them ways to express that individuality.

Wednesday, 3 December 2003

cash for organs

A radical change in medical law to allow the NHS to buy organs from live donors in Britain and Europe will be debated in closed session today by the British Medical Association.

Live donors running the risks of surgery to provide the organ or tissue should receive payment tax free and without consequent loss of state benefits, Prof Harris, professor of bioethics at Manchester university, will say. They and their families should also have high priority for a subsequent transplant, should the need arise.

Tuesday, 2 December 2003

Welcome to Sodarace

Sodarace is the online olympics pitting human creativity against machine learning in a competition to design robots that race over 2D terrains using the Sodaconstructor virtual construction kit. artificially evolved amoeba pitted against similar models made by humans.
plans for Unmanned Plane that Could Bomb Anywhere in Two Hours

The US military has announced plans to build a remote aircraft that can bomb targets around the world within two hours of launch. US B-2 bombers can currently strike around the Earth but their missions can take a day and a half to complete. The goal is to create a remote bomber that can hit targets at a speed of Mach 25. selected companies are working to produce a reusable hypersonic aircraft by 2025 and to have simpler versions flying by 2010.

though the speed of delivery will be revolutionary, the concept of remote controlled flying technology is already popular in theories concerning the possible events of sept 11th, and the potential that the american government choreographed events nescessary for the grand suppression of freedoms.
michael jackson

whenever michael jackson speaks its usually to utter something so numbingly banal, that he manages to make the compulsory sentiments contained in just about every american movie and tv series seem profound by comparison. but putting that fact aside for a moment, simon smith summarises that in many ways michael is a pioneering transhuman icon.

"It's easy to dismiss Jackson as a freak, but this misses the point: He is our freak."

"People mock his expressed desire to live forever while embracing the latest news on stem cell therapy. They scoff at his pursuit of agelessness while slathering on wrinkle-reducing creams. They criticize his plastic surgery while injecting themselves with Botox. And they're moved to punitive justice over purported pedophilia while idolizing youth and drooling over Britney Spears."

Are Flagan writes in 'poster child for the future' "He is a gendered being that denies the sex of his organs and, seemingly, prefers an androgynous innocence to sexual difference,.... "He is racially ambiguous after switching from black to white,.... he strongly aspires to be a father, but denies romanticized reproduction its innate role in the formation of the nuclear family and disciplining of the body, preferring instead the copulation of the test tube and the marriage of the legally binding contract."

"In his book The Information Bomb, Paul Virilio describes modernity as the enamoring of immaturity."

simon smith concludes "micheal jackson now embodies our age itself—our hopes that we can move from human to something more and our fears that we'll end up something less."

also worth a read is Dale Carrico's progressive futures column where he highlights the irritating profusion of romantic transcendance that lazily permeates so many transhuman texts.

"Progress is not a wave for you to ride on or a Truth for you to die for, but a project that needs many collaborators to succeed. I want to change the world, not to leave it. I want transformation, not transcendence."

he quotes author Bruce Sterling "The future, isn't an alien world, it is this very world.......The future is a process."
the case for and against 'molecular assemblers'

Rice University's Richard E. Smalley takes issue with mechanosynthesis and molecular manufacturing as set forth by Foresight Institute's K. Eric Drexler.
Tabletop 3D Viewer

Called VolumeViewer, the 3D system was created by Genex Technologies of Kensington, Maryland with the assistance of a NASA Small Business Innovation Research program contract.

The system utilizes laser projection and a rotating helix screen to create multicolor, high-resolution, lifelike 3D displays. Allowing 360-degree group viewing with no special eyewear. the system uses "voxels," the equivalent of 2D pixels, to emit light in x, y and z spatial positions to form 3D images.
(via betterhumans)

plus 3D scanner which doesn't require special glasses or other equipment to view.
(via Transhuman Institute)

Monday, 1 December 2003

Sitting on the settee
"I was sitting on the settee in my living room. The settee felt quite comfortable to sit on. I continued to sit there for a while."

glory be, the dullest blog in the world is back.
lots and lots of kittens
Toll on U.S. troops in Iraq grows
Nearly 10,000 U.S. troops have been killed, wounded, injured or become ill enough to require evacuation from Iraq since the war began, the equivalent of almost one Army division, according to the Pentagon. The number of sick and injured is almost certainly substantially higher, because the figures provided by the military last week include totals only through Oct. 30. Military officials deny they are fudging the numbers.
(via news insider)

and how many civilian deaths in iraq? iraq body count