And here's another!
A survey using sophisticated aerial photography of Sunday's anti-war march and rally in San Francisco has produced results that indicate a far smaller crowd than the 200,000 protesters estimated by police and event organizers. [...]
In a series of detailed, high-resolution photographs, the aerial survey shows that around 65,000 people were in the area of Market Street and Civic Center Plaza at 1:45 p.m. Sunday, which organizers said was when crowd size was at its peak. That number does not take into account marchers who dropped out before or arrived after the moment the photo sequence was shot. Calculating a precise number of protesters for the entire rally is not possible from this survey, but the result is much more accurate than the visual scan method most commonly used by police and organizers.
The National Center for Science Education has compiled a list of 200+ pro-evolution scientists, as a counterweight to lists of anti-evolution scientists circulated by creationists.
For logistical reasons (and to honor the late Stephen Jay Gould), they have limited the list to scientists named Steve.
(Yes, you can still sign up.)
The US Air Force is examining the feasibility of a nuclear-powered version of an unmanned aircraft. The USAF hopes that such a vehicle will be able to "loiter" in the air for months without refuelling, striking at will when a target comes into its sights.
But the idea is bound to raise serious concerns about the wisdom of flying radioactive material in a combat aircraft. If shot down, for instance, would an anti-aircraft gunner in effect be detonating a dirty bomb? [...]
Instead of a conventional fission reactor, it is focusing on a type of power generator called a quantum nucleonic reactor. This obtains energy by using X-rays to encourage particles in the nuclei of radioactive hafnium-178 to jump down several energy levels, liberating energy in the form of gamma rays. A nuclear UAV would generate thrust by using the energy of these gamma rays to produce a jet of heated air. [...]
The AFRL says the quantum nucleonic reactor is considered safer than a fission one because the reaction is very tightly controlled. "It's radioactive, but as soon as you take away the X-ray power source its gamma ray production is reduced dramatically, so it's not as dangerous [as when it's active]," says Hamilton. [...]
How much is three to four minutes of your time worth -- especially when you're waiting for the latest "Lord of the Rings" movie to start? That question was posed in two lawsuits filed Tuesday against movie theaters that claim in their ads they'll show movies at a certain time, but, instead, show on-screen commercials at the advertised time, delaying the movie's start.
Theaters are committing consumer fraud when they claim in advertising that a movie starts at a certain time but it really starts a few minutes later because of the ads, said Mark Weinberg, a Chicago attorney who filed the two suits. "They deceive you into thinking a movie starts on time in order to create a captive audience," Weinberg said. "People are actually paying good money to watch commercials." [...]
The lawsuits were filed in Cook County Circuit Court. One is against the Downers Grove company Classic Cinemas and the other against New York-based Loews Cineplex Entertainment, which also operates theaters here. The suits argue that the practice of showing the ads constitutes fraud, false advertising and breach of contract. [...]
Both suits ask for damages of no more than $75 per person. More important, the attorneys who filed them say, is that their clients want the commercials dropped -- or they want ads to state the time a movie actually begins, not just when the commercials begin to roll.
"We just want the practice to stop, or we want the company to give notice," Weinberg said.
The suits don't take issue with movie previews. That's because moviegoers have come to expect those trailers "as a time-honored part of the moviegoing experience," Weinberg said. [...]
[...] The searches at all three major Washington area airports and across the nation have met resistance in some cities as airport managers assess their legality. The measures, ordered by the federal agency in charge of airport security, have been criticized by civil liberties groups and prompted legal scholars to question whether random searches imposed by the federal government violated states' rights.
At least one major airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, said it would not comply with the directive because it ran counter to state laws prohibiting police from searching a vehicle without a specific reason. "We can't just stop everybody, or stop every third car or every blue car," said airport spokesman Bob Parker.
The Transportation Security Administration instructed local police on Feb. 8 to begin the searches "in response to threats and intelligence information" it received. [...] In its defense, the agency pointed to several cases in which federal courts ruled that vehicles could be searched for reasons of public safety. [...]
Constitutional experts said the TSA could face a fight over the new rules. "There is a serious constitutional question about whether the federal government can direct local law enforcement agencies to do anything," said Georgetown University law professor Mark Tushnet. [...]
Someone pointed out why the vocals are always louder on the webcast: because they're always louder in the room's PA. That's because there are things on stage like guitar amps and drum kits. Those are loud. So the vocals are louder in the PA to compensate for that. Meaning, sadly, this is not something that can be fixed with a webcast-only EQ setting: the only real way to fix it would be to have a webcast-only mix, which would be prohibitively expensive (we'd need to have another engineer and another board to do it: it would not be the automated affair that our webcasts are now.)
One second-best way to fix it would be to do the webcast not from a mixing board feed, but instead, from a microphone in the room (this would also bring in more crowd noise, which would be nice: right now, the only applause you hear between songs is that which the vocal mics pick up.)
That would work well for Real Bands, but wouldn't work as well for the kind of Karaoke acts we get most of the time: bands whose entire act is coming off DAT are going to sound better if we have the raw feed, without an air gap. And the same is true of "live PA" acts (which is what DJs call themselves when they try to pretend they're in a band instead of just doing mixing of prerecorded material.)
In other news, the Icecast server keeps hanging. I don't know why; it's been up for 45 days, and nothing seems out of the ordinary on the machine, but I've had to restart it three times in the last 48 hours. "Maybe rebooting will fix it."