Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Easter

Thursday, March 24, 2005

UPDATE: withus oragainstus

Banksy speaks:
In the Natural History museum I installed a real dead beetle but with model missiles and satellite dishes stuck to it. A bug in the true American spirit.

Withus Oragainstus by Banksy via Wooster Collective

hypocrisy illustrated

Ted Rall's latest

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


[Killer bee]

Assume any bee you see is Africanized and dangerous, warns Exterminator Doug.

Monday, March 21, 2005

quote of the day

"One can 'stir up' the black hole, and it will wiggle for some time," Son said.

...from: Exotic physics finds black holes could be most 'perfect' low-viscosity fluid, University of Washington, 21 March 2005:
In three spatial dimensions, it is a close relative of the quark-gluon plasma, the super-hot state of matter that hasn't existed since the tiniest fraction of a second after the big bang that started the universe. When viewed in 10 dimensions, the minimum number prescribed by what physicists call "string theory," it is a black hole.

No matter what you call it, though, that substance and others similar to it could be the most-perfect fluids in existence because they have ultra-low viscosity, or resistance to flow, said Dam Thanh Son, an associate physics professor in the Institute for Nuclear Theory at the University of Washington.

Son and two colleagues used a string theory method called the gauge/gravity duality to determine that a black hole in 10 dimensions – or the holographic image of a black hole, a quark-gluon plasma, in three spatial dimensions – behaves as if it has a viscosity near zero, the lowest yet measured.

It is easy to see the difference in viscosity between a jar of honey or molasses at room temperature and a glass of water. The honey is much thicker and more viscous, and it pours very slowly compared with the water.

Using string theory as a measuring tool, Son and colleagues Pavlo Kovtun of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Andrei Starinets of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, have found that water is 400 times more viscous than black hole fluid having the same number of particles per cubic inch.

"One can 'stir up' the black hole, and it will wiggle for some time," Son said. "After awhile it comes back to rest in exactly the same way as when you have stirred a cup of water – the water moves for awhile and then slows and stops. Viscosity is a reason why water stops. Similarly, one can associate viscosity with a black hole, and the viscosity is the reason it eventually stops moving after having been stirred."

A paper describing the use of string theory to compute black hole viscosity is scheduled for publication in the March 25 edition of Physical Review Letters, a journal of the American Physical Society. The work is supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Physicists for years have used string theory to unify forces of nature – gravity and electromagnetism, for example – when observations involving one force cannot be reconciled with those involving another force.

In string theory, elementary particles are described as small one-dimensional objects called strings, rather than simple points that do not occupy a dimension. But string theory requires at least six dimensions beyond the four in which humans traditionally think and function – three spatial dimensions plus time, often referred to as space-time. Most of those extra dimensions are thought to be very tiny, yet they can have measurable effects on the other dimensions.

To be comparable to the quark-gluon plasma, a black hole's temperature should be about 2 trillion degrees Celsius. At such extreme heat, it is not surprising that it might evaporate like other liquids. That is exactly what happens to black holes in three spatial dimensions, according to a well-accepted theory of particle radiation from black holes by physicist Stephen Hawking.

But in the 10 dimensions of string theory, the fluid of a black hole isn't like other fluids. Space-time is considered to be flat in our perception, Son said, and five of the extra dimensions are compacted into a small, finite sphere. In the remaining dimension, however, space is curved. Evaporation doesn't occur in this dimension, he said, because as particles radiate from the fluid they strike the curved edge of the dimension and are sent bouncing back into the black hole.

While a black hole's extreme temperature, among other things, would make it a decidedly inhospitable place for humans, its extremely low viscosity would make swimming in it a breeze. But Son noted that the smaller an organism is, the more viscous a fluid would appear to be.

"For bacteria, swimming in water must be like humans trying to swim in honey," he said.

the war complex

...from a University of Chicago Press new book email alert:
The War Complex by Marianna Torgovnick

Marianna Torgovnick argues that we have lived, since the end of World War II, under the power of a war complex--a set of repressed ideas and impulses that stems from our unresolved attitudes toward the technological acceleration of mass death. This complex has led to gaps and hesitations in public discourse about atrocities committed during
the war itself. And it remains an enduring wartime consciousness, one most recently animated on September 11.

Gravity's Rainbow, p. 645:
The Germans-and-Japs story was only one, rather surrealistic version of the real War. The real War is always there. The dying tapers off now and then, but the War is still killing lots and lots of people. Only right now it is killing them in more subtle ways. Often in ways that are too complicated, even for us, at this level, to trace.

[cross-posted from, "juxtaposing contemporary texts with passages from the works of Thomas Pynchon"]

dangerous dogs

Al's on the right track this morning. Or is he merely barking up the wrong tree?

Friday, March 18, 2005


That's the name of a new blog, written by old friend Jody Radzik, "Showing the world that even the divine poop on a toilet like us." Good stuff!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

got God?

The new campaign includes nine new messages such as "The real Supreme Court meets up here," "As my apprentice, you're never fired," and "It's a small world ... I know ... I made it."

Which God? you might ask.
According to the organizers of the nationwide advertising project, the main goal of the God Speaks campaign is to get people focused on the God of the Bible.

"corporate VNRs, the biggest and richest part of the fake news business"

This afternoon I listened in on a conference call among some of the top PR execs in the business of producing video news releases (VNRs), more honestly called fake news. I can report they are proud and confident that the recent "flap" on the front page of Sunday's New York Times about the Bush administration's use of fake news will amount to nothing at all. These PR executives are elated that the New York Times piece was about government propaganda, and not about their much more widespread and lucrative production of corporate VNRs, the biggest and richest part of the fake news business.

....The conference call was arranged by PR trade press maven Jack O'Dwyer. It featured top PR executives in the fake news business, including Doug Simon of D S Simon Productions, Stan Zeitlin of West Glen Communications, Larry Moskowitz of Medialink Worldwide and KEF Media's Kevin Foley. These are the companies that are producing and distributing the thousands of VNRs sent to TV networks and stations each year. The VNRs are fake news stories, paid for by clients ranging from the Pentagon to Monsanto, that are aired by TV news producers as if they were independent reporting and the work of real journalists, rather than PR operatives who used to be real journalists.

The real journalists at the TV networks and stations are engaging in fraud and plagiarism on a massive scale when they pawn off these VNRs as real news. If you were a journalism student with an assignment to produce a TV news story, and your professor discovered that someone else had done all your work for you and given the story to you to pass off as your own, you should be expelled. But in the real world of TV journalism, you would just collect your paycheck and go home.

There is also payola involved. Money flows from the VNR producing PR firms to the TV networks for "distribution costs," and the networks send the VNRs out to their affiliates for use on the air. it all: PR Execs Undeterred by Fake News "Flap", PR Watch

[cross-posted from Minding Everybody's Business,
"behind the business pages"]

sublime/ridiculous, continued

Google Ads towards the bottom of the left side of this page currently touting pig breeding, "slaughtering systems for the red-meat industry," and guinea pig care. Not exactly buttressing my confidence in these Ads as a revenue source.


From the sublime, 13 things that do not make sense, to the ridiculous, Congress investigating Major League Baseball. Next stop: Louisiana state and local politics....

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


University of Saskatchewan plant science professor Doug Waterer wows 'em at the Farming for the Future show.

[cross-posted from, "where every Doug has his day"]

R.I.P. My Lai massacre victims

Read it and weep.

Monday, March 14, 2005

swans sacred for V

Swans were sacred to the goddess...because the V-formation of their flight was a female symbol, and because, at mid-summer, they flew north to unknown breeding grounds, supposedly taking the dead king's soul with them.
"Tyche and Nemesis"
Robert Graves
The Greek Myths: 1
, p. 126

Leda and the Swan (16th century)
Paolo Veronese [CORBIS/Bettman source]

[cross-posted from, juxtaposing contemporary texts with passages from the works of Thomas Pynchon]

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Diehard ice-out bass angler Doug explains his favorite tricks for crankbait fishing.

[cross-posted from, where "every Doug has his day"]

Friday, March 11, 2005

the pig as technology transmission vector

The wild origins of the domestic pig:
The new findings show that domestication must have taken place in several different geographical regions in both Europe and Asia. Moreover, it is highly probable that domestication took place in many places within each respective region. This means that it was the technology for domesticating the wild boar that spread across the world, not domesticated wild boar as such.

The new study also clearly demonstrates that the DNA profile of European domesticated pigs is very similar to that found among today's European wild boar and is distinct from that found by scientists in Turkey and Iran. This contradicts earlier theories that the wild boar was never domesticated in Europe and that domestication took place in the Middle East.

"Yibble, yibble, Muslim pig." [ V. 16]

[cross-posted from, juxtaposing contemporary texts with passages from the works of Thomas Pynchon]

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Legislator Doug tells dairymen to get their shit together. Literally.

[cross-posted from where "every Doug has his day"]

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Quinipiac Doug discovers videocamera hidden in dormitory shower.

[cross-posted from where "every Doug has his day"]

the sun never sets on the British Empire

Diffield Today, Letters:
Dirty footpaths

A Driffield resident writes . . .

HOW I agree about the dirty footpaths. It is illegal to allow your dog to foul a footpath.

I am sick of having to dodge dog pooh when going for a walk. Please clean it up.

Name and address supplied.
03 March 2005

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

that duck!

Vaucanson's Duck

Necrophilia among ducks ruffles research feathers
by Donald MacLeod, Guardian, 8 March, 2005
The strange case of the homosexual necrophiliac duck pushed out the boundaries of knowledge in a rather improbable way when it was recorded by Dutch researcher Kees Moeliker.

It may have ruffled a few feathers, but it earned him the coveted Ig Nobel prize for biology awarded for improbable research, and next week he will be recounting his findings to UK audiences on the Ig Nobel tour.

Ducks behave pretty badly, it seems. It is not so much that up to one in 10 of mallard couples are homosexual - no one would raise an eyebrow in the liberal Netherlands - but they regularly indulge in "attempted rape flights" when they pursue other ducks with a view to forcible mating. "Rape is a normal reproductive strategy in mallards," explains Mr Moeliker.

As he recounts in his seminal paper, The first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard anas platyrhynchos, he was in his office in the Natuurmuseum Rotterdam, when he was alerted by a bang to the fact a bird had crashed into the glass facade of the building. "I went downstairs immediately to see if the window was damaged, and saw a drake mallard (anas platyrhynchos) lying motionless on its belly in the sand, two metres outside the facade. The unfortunate duck apparently had hit the building in full flight at a height of about three metres from the ground. Next to the obviously dead duck, another male mallard (in full adult plumage without any visible traces of moult) was present. He forcibly picked into the back, the base of the bill and mostly into the back of the head of the dead mallard for about two minutes, then mounted the corpse and started to copulate, with great force, almost continuously picking the side of the head.

"Rather startled, I watched this scene from close quarters behind the window until 19.10 hours during which time (75 minutes) I made some photographs and the mallard almost continuously copulated his dead congener. He dismounted only twice, stayed near the dead duck and picked the neck and the side of the head before mounting again. The first break (at 18.29 hours) lasted three minutes and the second break (at 18.45 hours) lasted less than a minute. At 19.12 hours, I disturbed this cruel scene. The necrophilic mallard only reluctantly left his 'mate': when I had approached him to about five metres, he did not fly away but simply walked off a few metres, weakly uttering a series of two-note 'raeb-raeb' calls (the 'conversation-call' of Lorentz 1953). I secured the dead duck and left the museum at 19.25 hours. The mallard was still present at the site, calling 'raeb-raeb' and apparently looking for his victim (who, by then, was in the freezer)."

Mr Moeliker suggests the pair were engaged in a rape flight attempt. "When one died the other one just went for it and didn't get any negative feedback - well, didn't get any feedback," he said.

His findings have provoked a lot of interest - especially in Britain for some reason - but no other recorded cases of duck necrophilia. However, Mr Moeliker was informed of an American case involving a squirrel and a dead partner, although in this case it is not known whether the necrophilia observed was homosexual or not as the victim had been run over by a truck shortly before the incident.

Mason & Dixon, p. 374:374:
"Agreed, you must consider how best to defend yourself,-- wear clothing it cannot bite through, leather, or what's even more secure, chain-mail,-- its Beak being of the finest Swedish Steel, did I mention that, yes quite qable, when the Duck, in its homicidal Frenzy, is flying at high speed, to penetrate all known Fortification, solid walls being as paper to this Juggernaut.… One may cower within, but one cannot avoid,-- le Bec de la Mort, the…'Beak of Death.'"

[cross-posted from, "juxtaposing contemporary texts with passages from the works of Thomas Pynchon"]

Monday, March 07, 2005

headline of the day

Crack-smoking UCLA professor teaches monkeys how to smoke crack Boing Boing.

"They're selling postcards of the hanging"

Ending the war might diminish American militarism as well. At Abu Ghraib a thousand photographs served as trophies of achievement. Photos of Iraqi prisoners hooded and slung over prison railings, tethered to leashes as animals and piled naked in human-trash heaps were digitalized and emailed to friends and family back home. The late Susan Sontag compared them to lynchings of African-Americans when pictures of corpses adorned postcards and souvenir photos. Bob Dylan begins “Desolation Row” with: “They're selling postcards of the hanging.” Soldiers were immune from compassion as defenseless, non-resistant prisoners were mercilessly tortured and killed. This is war—the dehumanization of the enemy. In Vietnam insurgents were called “gooks” and “slants.” In Iraq they are dismissively called “terrorists” and by Professor Gaddis as “gangs” without considering their grievances or vital interests.

...Why Iraq, Like Vietnam, Is Immoral and Unnecessary, by Peter Kirstein, History News Network, 7 March 2005

Friday, March 04, 2005

email of the day (a gray & rainy one)

bonjour a tt le monde bises ensoleillees ISABELLE ici 30C en EGYTE

the SS threat

…the terms of this debate are actually pretty straightforward. The president and his supporters want to get the government out of the Social Security business by ending guaranteed benefits. It's really as simple as that. Not complicated. They'll put in its place some system of private accounts where you can save money on your own. And if it works out, great. If it doesn't, it's your problem.

Social Security is about spreading out the risk and the security by having near-universal participation in one program. That's what it is. You pay in through the course of your working years and after you retire you receive your guaranteed benefit every month for the rest of your life. It is that issue of guarantee -- which, in its nature, only a program like Social Security can provide -- which the president and his supporters are trying to do away with, either all at once or in stages.

So take away all of your policy particulars and computations and flow-charts and analyses. And set them to one side. That is the issue at the core of all of this debate. It defines what kind of society we live in. Its future rests in the hands of Senate Democrats. And all manner of honor or infamy is in store for the ones who make the difference.

...Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo, today, on an issue that grows more interesting the closer OJ approaches retirement age or, sooner, that magical cut-off age of 55.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

pain, continued

Speaking of pain (see previous post):
Immersion in a virtual world of monsters and aliens helps children feel less pain during the treatment of severe injuries such as burns, according to a preliminary study by Karen Grimmer and colleagues from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide, Australia.

...from an AlphaGalileo press release about: The efficacy of playing a virtual reality game in modulating pain for children with acute burn injuries: A randomized controlled trial, BMC Pediatrics, 3 March 2005

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

maximum pain for crowd control, torture

From Maximum pain is aim of new US weapon by David Hambling, New Scientist, 2 March 2005:
The US military is funding development of a weapon that delivers a bout of excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometres away. Intended for use against rioters, it is meant to leave victims unharmed. But pain researchers are furious that work aimed at controlling pain has been used to develop a weapon. And they fear that the technology will be used for torture.


Professor Doug reports that half of Christchurch, New Zealand teenagers have tried cannabis and too many of them wind up in the wrong crowd.

[cross-posted from where "every Doug has his day"]

email of the day

Dear MoveOn member,

The Republicans are running a $100 million public relations blitz to convince Americans to privatize Social Security. Today, we're launching a contest to find an entertaining, memorable, and persuasive Macromedia Flash piece that can pierce the Republicans' spin. (A Flash is a kind of animation, game, slide show, or program that can be easily viewed on the Internet.) We believe that when we put our heads together, our creativity and authenticity can beat high-priced PR any day of the week.

During the election, MoveOn Voter Fund's Bush in 30 Seconds contest asked MoveOn members to make political ads about the real George W. Bush. Over a thousand people across the country submitted ads, and political media expert Kathleen Hall Jamieson said the winning ad, Child's Pay, may rank as "the ad that has achieved the most air time with the least dollars expended of any ad in the history of the republic."1

Now we're announcing Bush in 30 Years, a contest to find the best online Flash animation, game, or application exposing Bush's real plan for the retirees of the next generation. Joining us in this effort is a great panel of celebrity judges -- actor John Cusack, comedian and radio host Al Franken, columnist Arianna Huffington, filmmaker Richard Linklater, and animator Aaron McGruder. MoveOn members will pick 10 finalists, and the judges will decide on a winner. We'll run the winning Flash on major news and youth websites. And to sweeten the deal, we'll give the winner a brand new Apple PowerBook.

Interested in making a Flash piece for Bush in 30 Years? Learn all about the contest at:
(I don't often say "I told you so" but make an exception here. We envisioned this at Morph's Outpost on the Digital Frontier and Blaster magazines a decade ago: a world where large numbers of people - some professionals but far more ordinary humans - are able to express themselves, connect with others, build a world, using interactive multimedia, the way others use writing, film, music. My timing could have been better.)

hopeful sign: environmentalists enlisting evangelicals

Compassionate Christian (another of the blogs the team edits) offers excerpts from a lengthy Science & Theology News article about the trend of evangelical Christians (often perceived as unconcerned about ecological concerns because the coming Rapture makes them irrelevant) joining the movement to protect the environment.

"I'd rather be a pig than a fascist"

Porco Rosso

Totoro and the culture of fear, Orcinus, 1 March 2005:
The past week or so, I've been enjoying the recent American releases of two of anime master Hayao Miyazaki's earlier films, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Porco Rosso. Like all of his work, they're both wonders to watch. Nausicaa, his first film, is a worthy variation on Dune as a kind of biological fable, while Porco Rosso is an amazing piece of work for those (like me) who have a love of well-crafted flying sequences. It also has a line for the ages: "I'd rather be a pig than a fascist."

Gravity's Rainbow p. 555:
William must have been waiting for the one pig that wouldn't die, that would validate all the ones who'd had to, all his Gadarene swine who'd rushed into extinction like lemmings, possessed not by demons but by trust for men, which the men kept betraying … possessed by innocence they couldn't lose … by faith in William as another variety of pig, at home with the Earth, sharing the same gift of life.…

[cross-posted from pynchonoid, "juxtaposing contemporary texts with passages from the works of Thomas Pynchon"]

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

March. . .in like a lion.