that's so cyberpunk

Ok, it's a bit more Robocop than Neuromancer, but still.

Ukraine police seize radioactive trees

A specialist measures the level of radioactive contamination near Chernobyl The effects of Chernobyl are still being felt 16 years on Police in Ukraine have impounded a number of radioactive Christmas trees, reports say. The trees were said to have been cut down in an area contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. [...]

The nuclear disaster at Chernobyl was the world's worst After the region was covered by a radioactive cloud, a complete ban on the felling of trees in the contaminated forests surrounding Chernobyl was imposed. Police said the local businessmen knew the trees from the Zhytomyr region were contaminated, and used forged documents to sell them. [...]

Chile's hole in the sky
'New way of living' at bottom of world

PUNTA ARENAS, Chile -- Everything is different here at the bottom of the world, starting with the weather. Before Alejandra Mundaca lets her two children go out, she checks the forecast for the temperature, the chance of rain and the level of ultraviolet rays. For the last decade, the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica has been growing larger and recently expanded over Punta Arenas, the southernmost city on the planet. Its 125,000 residents have reluctantly learned to adapt.

They closely watch the color-coded warnings of a "solar stoplight" publicized on television and radio, and even posted on street corners. Even on warm days, most people wear jackets or long-sleeved shirts or blouses. Many wear sunglasses and make sure to apply 50-proof sunblock even when the sky is blanketed in clouds. <LJ-CUT text=" --More--(40%) ">

"Life has changed a lot for us over the past few years, and I know that my sons are not going to be able to enjoy the same kind of childhood that I had growing up here," said Mundaca, 33, a schoolteacher. "We used to look forward to spring as relief from the long harsh winter, but now it is a time of maximum peril for all of us who live here."

The ozone layer is a thin covering of gas in the stratosphere that absorbs most of the sun's ultraviolet rays. Since scientists first discovered the hole over Antarctica in the mid-1980s, it has nearly doubled in size and now covers an area larger than North America during the Southern Hemisphere spring. The arms of the hole occasionally extend as far as southern Chile and Argentina.

On a typical day here in December, the solar stoplight was set at orange, the second highest of four levels, and people were warned to limit their exposure to the sun between noon and 3 p.m. to 21 minutes at most

"When the light is red, I don't let my kids go out to play at all," Liliana Navarro Torres said, referring to Kimberley, 6, and Jonathan, 4. "They don't like it much, and sometimes it drives me crazy to have them running around the house, but that's the way it has to be when you live here."

The growth of the ozone hole is attributed largely to chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, that were widely used in aerosol sprays and refrigerants until a 1987 agreement was reached to phase them out. But scientists also say that global warming may be contributing to the phenomenon

During much of the 1990s, there was resistance here to accepting signs that the risks to people were growing. The warnings of scientists like Bedrich Magas of Magallanes University, one of the first to emphasize the potential dangers, were dismissed by locals who feared a drop in tourism

But that changed in September 2000, when the ozone hole opened directly over Punta Arenas. The Socialist government responded with a far-reaching prevention and education program that has become visible everywhere

"It's a new way of living," said Lidia Amarales Osorno, the regional director of Chile's Health Ministry in Punta Arenas. "You'll see the solar stoplight posted in supermarkets, offices and schools, and we even have an ozone brigade to raise consciousness about this problem."

In elementary schools, a giant penguin named Paul leads a permanent campaign to teach children the steps they need to take to protect themselves. Many schools also hoist a flag each morning to alert their pupils' families of the expected level of ultraviolet rays. In some poor neighborhoods, free skin creams are distributed to youngsters

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Run DMC action figures! Tron lego!

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"Impenetrable Devices"

An Exhibition of Exotic Anti-Rape Devices, and Mechanisms

Sherman has applied the "wearable prosthesis" concept from his past collection of sculptures into exquisite imaginative mechanisms that protect and defend women and men's most vulnerable and tender anatomy.

Sherman's sculptures are beautiful, medically graphic, anatomically correct, intimately worn, stainless steel prostheses that effectively stop any intruder but in no way are limited by considerations of plausible use or practicality.

"Intimate Electric Fence"

A powerful 500 volt electrical shock is delivered to anyone foolish enough to come into contact with the two carefully insulated electrodes. The electrodes run the full length of this device giving protection from different angles of attack.

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10 day old baby gives birth

Jordanian doctors remove 'fetus' from baby

AMMAN, Jordan, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Jordanian doctors have reportedly extracted a fetus from a girl who was only recently one herself, a 10-day-old infant who now occupies a strange and rare place in medical history.

Newspapers Thursday, displaying color pictures of the tiny baby and the fetus after the operation, quoted a senior surgeon at the government-run al-Bashir Hospital in Amman as saying the infant was in good health and discharged from hospital.

Mazen Naseer, head of the pediatric surgery department at the hospital, was reported as saying the fetus was linked with an umbilical cord to the baby's liver. He said the umbilical cord contained an artery that supplied blood to the fetus.

The papers did not say when the operation was conducted nor revealed the name of the infant or family.

The surgeon said the fetus was found inside a membrane within the infant's belly. He added that the membrane also contained liquid.

Naseer said the baby's mother had suspected something was wrong with her child when she discovered her belly was swollen and took her to the physician for tests.

The doctor described the medical case as "very rare," adding that only about 70 such cases have been reported worldwide.

Naseer said there were several theories explaining this phenomenon, but that the "most acceptable one is that the fetus was a twin of the baby. But as a result of an abnormality during the development process, the fetus was probably contained (absorbed) inside the belly of the other."

The condition, called fetus in fetu, often results in a calcified mass and can be mistaken at first for a tumor. But in some cases, the absorbed twin retains a discernable shape with head and developing limbs, hair or even facial features.


Ook! Ook!

Specially for orang-utans an Ook# .NET Compiler v1.0 has been developed. The syntax only contains one word, namely Ook, but pronounced in different tones and emotions it can have a different effect. Quite some effort went into making sure the word "monkey" isn't mentioned anywhere in the sources. The Ook# .NET Compiler is released under the BSD license, and is available for download.

Sample programs: [...]
hello.ook: the obligatory Hello World! example.

# Lawrence Pit
# (C) 2002 BlueSorcerer

#example that prints Hello World!

Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook? Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook! Ook! Ook? Ook! Ook? Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook? Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook! Ook! Ook? Ook! Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook? Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook! Ook! Ook? Ook! Ook? Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook? Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook! Ook! Ook? Ook! Ook? Ook. Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook. Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook. Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook! Ook. Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook? Ook. Ook. Ook! Ook.
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Download samples from the forthcoming Ministry album Animositisomina!

Oh my god, I think I have to go change my pants now.

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retrocomputing suggestions

Turns out Barry has like six Mac Classics.

He says we can set up a tower of them in the club if we can find any interesting screensaver-like software to run on them. (But clocks are a bad idea, as they just encourage the "what do you mean last call?" argument.) (Live fish would also be a bad idea, due to deadness.)


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2002 music wrap-up

Here are the albums I've bought this year that I actually gave a shit about. Of the 130+ albums I bought last year, these are the ones that rose above the level of "utterly forgettable."

A lot of these were actually released in 2001, but I didn't get them until 2002, so I'm allowing a little slack in my categorization there...

There aren't very many items on this list. It's pretty sad, really, considering the number of discs I consumed. I'm somewhat surprised to find that most of the stuff on this list is more rock oriented than electronic oriented. I certainly listened to a lot of electronic music this year, including dozens of comps, many of which I recall enjoying... but I can't remember a single song from any of them, so they don't make the list.

In only approximate order (I haven't really tried to rank them) here is the year-end wrap-up of not-completely-forgettable music.

Pzycho Bitch - "Eden"
S.I.N.A. - "Snapshot"

    Essentially the same band with two different names, this is probably my favorite music that I've found this year (though these came out in 2001 and 2000, respectively.) This is really hard, noisy techno-industrial with female vocals (perhaps more properly categorized as "power noise", I'm not real good with the categories.) Anyway, it's a kick in the head. I love it.

Various - "2001 Hands"

    A comp from Hands Records, home of the above, that has a lot of good stuff on it. I do love it so, but I can't be more coherent than that, because I haven't dug deeper into the bands represented here (primarily due to the difficulty of getting their stuff: this label doesn't seem to be carried by the major online CD retailers, and shows some evidence of not actually existing any more.)

Kidneythieves - "Zerospace"

    Industrial-rock with female vocals, more on the "rock" side. They opened for KMFDM at DNA in June. In the vein of Radio Iodine, or maybe Jane Jensen. Musically, a little reminiscent of the first Stabbing Westward album (please disregard this comment if you don't like Stabbing Westward on general principles; I think SW's "Ungod" was a decent album.)

Voodou - "The Blessing of Curses"

    An industrial-rock-ish goth band that I first heard when they opened for Thrill Kill Kult at DNA in October. I like. It's nice to hear something in that genre that isn't just another fucking VNV Nation clone.

Various - "Notes From Thee Real Underground"

    A 3-disc comp from Invisible Records; around half of it is really good, much of it in the rough vicinity of Pigface (as you'd probably expect.)

Rasputina - "Cabin Fever"

    New album and associated singles/remixes from an old favorite: Rasputina do quirky often-metal-style music with cellos and little-girl voices. This album is good, but it's pretty much just more of the same as was found on their other albums. I like it, but I couldn't tell you which songs came from which album, so they're not really reaching.

Apocalyptica - "Cult"

    Quite a lot like Rasputina (what with the cellos), but instrumental, and more unapologetically metal in structure. It's totally head-banging cello music. Hail Satan. \m/

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - "B.R.M.C."

    These guys remind me a lot of the David J side of Love and Rockets, with a smattering of Jesus and Mary Chain. Good stuff, though a bit retro.

Concrete Blonde - "Group Therapy"

    Oh my god, they were great live! I think this new album holds up really well against their older stuff; more like Mexican Moon than Free. The song "When I Was a Fool" is especially great.

Babes in Toyland - "Viled"

    This doesn't really count as a new release: it's b-sides and demo versions. Notable for their rocking cover of "The Girl Can't Help It."

Felix Da Housecat - "Kittenz and Thee Glitz"
Miss Kittin & The Hacker - "First Album"

    I might as well lump these together, since they're essentially identical (same vocalist.) This is that "electro-clash" thing you've been hearing so much about and are probably sick of by now: modern bands with modern gear doing continuous remakes of The Normal's "Warm Leatherette." What can I say, it's a gimick, but it's a gimick I like. I'm not burned out on it just yet (though getting close.)

Land of the Loops - "Puttering About a Small Land"

    I can't even describe this band. It's bleepy, bleepy music that is so cute it will turn you diabetic, but it really works.

The above albums aside, can music get better now, please?

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linux video

...or, why do I bother.

I understand that one can play videos on one's computer. I understand these videos come in many different formats. Every now and then I try to figure out what the Done Thing is, as far as playing movies on one's Linux machine.

I finally found RPMs of mplayer that would consent to install themselves on a Red Hat 7.2 machine, and actually got it to play some videos. Amazing. But it's a total pain in the ass to use due to rampant "themeing." Why do people do this? They map this stupid shaped window with no titlebar (oh, sorry, your choice of a dozen stupidly-shaped windows without titlebars) all of which use fonts that are way too small to read. But, here's the best part, there's no way to raise the window to the top. So if another window ever gets on top of it, well, sorry, you're out of luck. And half of the themes always map the window at the very bottom of the screen -- conveniently under my panel.

Resizing the window changes the aspect ratio of the video! Yeah, I'm sure someone has ever wanted that.

It moves the mouse to the upper left corner of every dialog box it creates! Which is great, because that means that when it gets into this cute little state of popping up a blank dialog that says "Error" five times a second, you can't even move the mouse over to another window to kill the program, you have to log in from another machine.

Fucking morons.

So I gave up on that, and tried to install gstreamer. Get this. Their propose "solution" for distributing binaries on Red Hat systems? They point you at an RPM that installs apt, the Debian package system! Yeah, that's a good idea, I want to struggle with two competing packaging systems on my machine just to install a single app. Well, I found some RPMs for Red Hat 7.2, but apparently they expect you to have already rectally inserted Gnome2 on that 7.2 system first. Uh, no. I've seen the horror of Red Hat 8.0, and there's no fucking way I'm putting Gnome2 on any more of my machines for at least another six months, maybe a year.

Ok, no gstreamer. Let's try Xine. I found RPMs, and it sucks about the same as mplayer, and in about the same ways, though slightly less bad: it doesn't screw the aspect ratio when you resize the window; and at least it's stupidly-shaped window is always forced to be on top. I don't like that either, but it's better than never being on top. It took me ten minutes to figure out where the "Open File" dialog was. It's on the button labeled "://" whose tooltip says "MRL Browser". Then you get to select file names from an oh-so-cute window that I guess is supposed to look like a tty, or maybe an LCD screen. It conveniently centers the file names in the list, and truncates them at about 30 characters. The scrollbar is also composed of "characters": it's an underscore.

What are these fucktards thinking???

Then I checked out Ogle again, and it hasn't been updated since the last time I tried, six months ago. It's a pretty decent DVD player, if you have the physical DVD. It does on-screen menus, and you can click on them with the mouse. But I don't need a DVD player (I have a hardware DVD player that works just fine.) It can't, as far as I can tell, play anything but actual discs.

Oh, and even though I have libdvdcss installed (as evidenced by the fact that Ogle actually works) Xine won't play the same disc that Ogle will play. It seems to be claiming that the CSS stuff isn't installed, which it clearly is.

A common idiocy that all of these programs have in common is that, in addition to opening a window for the movie, and a window for the control panel, they also spray a constant spatter of curses crud on the terminal they were started from. I imagine at some point, there was some user who said, "this program is pretty nice, but you know what it's missing? It's missing a lot of pointless chatter about what plugins and fonts have been loaded!"

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Description of $964,000 farce;

The flame that is the basis of it: <LJ-CUT text=" --More--( 6%) ">


I would like to offer special Disacknowledgements to the following degenerates for being an ever-present hindrance during my graduate career...

To the Dean and staff of the Graduate Division,

You fascists are the largest argument against higher education there has ever been. Any claims you make as an ally and resource for students is an utter sham. All dealings with you have ended in sheer frustration. I'd rather take a hot stick in the eye then deal with your bureaucratic nonsense. An especial disacknowledgement to David Fishman whose officious, blind devotion to absurd rules provides disservice to both education and the university.

To the entire management of the Davidson Library,

Your strict adherence to self-serving draconian policy has made it a supreme displeasure to work in your vicinity. Incomprehensible fines, unwillingness to help and general poor attitude has made most library visits an ogre. I trust your incompetence will preside over the continued decline in library quality.

To Professor Fred Wudl (formerly of UCSB, tenured at UCLA),

For failing to realize that your professorship and tenure doesn't give you the privilege of disrespectful and cruel treatment of your students and employees. Further, it has surprised me that your arrogance and proclivity at being an ass can affect even those isolated from your presence. It is my supreme pleasure to never have associations with you again.

To Former Governor Pete Wilson,

A supreme government jerk who has personally overseen the demise of the university. You policies have 1) raised tuition and fees fourfold since my first association with the university, 2) dismantled and traded some of the most competent senior faculty, and 3) generally hurt as many people as possible. For these, I wish you to never wield any governmental power again as you have surely proved your ineptitude.

To the UC Regents,

Whose continued suppression of graduate students, your most loyal employees, serves as a paragon of corrupt management. May your continually biased and corrupt practices be fraught with continued controversies brought upon by the students who you offer a fatuous disservice.

To Science,

    For being a hollow specter of what you should be. Your vapid conceits have rendered those in your pursuit lifeless, unfeeling zombies. If I can forever escape you, the better I will be.

        14 JULY 1999
        2nd Edition

        First Edition was drafted and written on 7 APRIL 1999 and subsequently censored by myopic action of officials at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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