tracking local concerts is pretty slick: they screen-scrape various event calendars, you tell them what bands you're interested in, and they mail you when they're coming to town.

But the cool part is that "give them your list of bands" is moderately painless: you can upload an iTunes playlist, and they pull the band names out of it. (There's a size limit, so I had to make a few passes to get everything in there, but it wasn't too hard.)

They also export an iCal feed of only your bands, which is awesome.

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Ministry of Love

Retroactive war crime protection drafted

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration drafted amendments to the War Crimes Act that would retroactively protect policymakers from possible criminal charges for authorizing any humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees, according to lawyers who have seen the proposal.

"I think what this bill can do is in effect immunize past crimes. That's why it's so dangerous," said attorney Eugene Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice. Fidell said the initiative is "not just protection of political appointees, but also CIA personnel who led interrogations."

Interrogation practices "follow from policies that were formed at the highest levels of the administration," said attorney Scott Horton, who has followed detainee issues closely. "The administration is trying to insulate policymakers under the War Crimes Act."

Larry Cox, Amnesty International USA's executive director, said that "President Bush is looking to limit the War Crimes Act through legislation" now that the Supreme Court has embraced Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. In June, the court ruled that Bush's plan to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in military tribunals violates Article 3.

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Terra! Terra! Terra!

Terra! Terra! Terra!

The alleged U.K. terror plot has been investigated for months by British intelligence, and the idea that the airliner attacks were planned for today seems to be nothing more than political fabrication and media hysteria.

Tony Blair and George W. Bush even planned the terror freakout in a series of phone calls that began last Friday and continued through the weekend. Blair and Bush put the finishing touches on their diabolical operation in a phone call early Wednesday, the Associated Press revealed today.

That's right: While millions of travelers are going through absolute hell today because of the sudden terror "news," it was last week when the U.S. president and U.K. prime minister began their cold calculations on how to get the maximum political benefit from the months-old investigation.

Wait, Aren't You Scared?

And now these guys. As the initial "OH SWEET MOTHER OF GOD THEY CAN BLOW US UP WITH SNAPPLE BOTTLES!!" hysteria subsides, we discover that these guys had been under surveillance, completely penetrated, by no less than three major intelligence agencies. That they were planning on cell phones, and some of them openly travelled to Pakistan (way to keep the cover, Reilly, Ace of Spies). Hell, Chertoff knew about this two weeks ago, and the only reason that some people can scream this headline:

"The London Bombers were within DAYS of trying a dry run!!!"

-- was because MI-5, MI-6, and Scotland Yard let them get that close, so they could suck in the largest number of contacts (again, very spiffy police work). The fact that these wingnuts could have been rolled up, at will, at any time, seems to have competely escaped the media buzz.

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Top Ten Weirdest Cosmologies

They left out "turtles all the way down".
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Give my regards to 1983.

Who is this fabulous new hipster band I hear in the trailer for Marie Antoinette? Oh, it's Gang of Four, Natural's Not In It. Who's this next band? They sound very emo and modern. Oh, it's New Order, Ceremony.

It looks very pretty, but I do not think this will be a good film.

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The Exciting Adventures of OCD Archivist

I bought a Nikon CoolScan V ED Film Scanner. Then I fed all of my photo negatives into it. It took 18 days.

That was 2615 photos, taken over a span of 12 years.

That's roughly the number of digital photos I've shot in the last three months. The rules are different when each shot you take costs a dollar...

The scanner seemed to do a pretty good job. I scanned the 35mm negatives at 6000x4000 (24 megapixels), and saved them as JPEGs with file sizes of 3 or 4MB each.

My negatives were all cut into strips of 4, and dated back to July 1994, which is apparently when I bought my vintage-1980 Nikon FM2. That's a fully manual, non-electric camera (except for the light meter). It turns out that "fully manual camera" means "all of my photos are dark and out of focus".

I've got a few hundred older photos, but I don't have the negatives, so I guess I'll have to do those the hard even harder way...

The Nikon software is kind of irritating. It has a really good dust-and-scratch-removal filter (it's like magic, seriously) but there's no way to turn it on globally; you have to click a check-box for each photo. So the scanning process went like this:

  • Extricate the strip from the book;
  • Blast it with air (I went through six cans);
  • Feed the hole;
  • Wait 8 seconds for the Hypnowheel Cursor to go away;
  • Select picture 1. Click the checkbox.
  • Select picture 2. Click the checkbox.
  • Select picture 3. Click the checkbox.
  • Select picture 4. Click the checkbox.
  • Shift-click to select all 4.
  • Click "Scan".
  • Click "OK".
  • Wait fifteen minutes, and hope I notice the sound of the strip ejecting, because it doesn't beep or anything.
  • Select NikonScan from the dock;
  • Re-open the now-closed "scan" window via the menubar;
  • Repeat.

That's... kind of a ridiculous amount of clicking. But when I ripped all of my CDs, it took me months, so I guess this wasn't as bad as that. Oh well, it's done now.

Also, the software crashes about one time in twenty, and it doesn't save its "directory and file number" information unless it quits normally, so when that happens, you have to be careful that it doesn't dump the photos out of order in some completely wrong place.

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the xenomorph is hung like a bear


you got your chocolate in my peanut butter


perhaps this explains Lift

Chinese 'anger bar' is a big hit

A bar in eastern China has come up with a novel way of attracting clients - they are allowed to beat up the staff.

The Rising Sun Anger Release Bar in Nanjing lets customers smash glasses, rant and even hit specially trained workers, state media reported.

The owner, Wu Gong, told China Daily that he was inspired to open the bar by his experiences as a migrant worker.

Most of his customers were women working in the service or entertainment industries, he said.

The bar employs 20 men who have been given protective gear and physical training to prepare them for the job. Clients can ask the men to dress as the character they wish to attack.


Important information from the Illinois Pork Producers Association Re: Porcine Lactation

Dear Guy:

Porcine do lactate and their milk I will assume would taste great, because it is made of 8.5% fat in relation to the fat that makes up 3.5% of the components in cows milk. The other components such as lactose and water are found at nearly the same percentages in pig's milk. However, pigs will on average produce 13 lbs of milk in a day as compared to cows that produce 65 lbs of milk on average per day. Pigs unlike cows cannot become pregnant while lactating and therefore possess a severe economic problem to producers. whfle pigs consume less feed per day, economics does not allow pigs to be a viable source of dairy products.

The biggest challenge facing the porcine dairy industry is collecting the product. Pigs on average have fourteen teats as opposed to cows that have four teats. Pigs also differ from cows in their milk ejection time, a cows milk ejection is stimulated by the hoimone oxytocin and can last ten minutes, where as a pig's milk ejection time only last fifleen seconds as the suckling pigs stimulate the release of oxytocin. The technology of a 14 cupped mechanized milking machine that can milk a pig in 15 seconds is not available to pork producers.

I hope I have answered your questions and I encourage you to think about developing a pig milking machine as you eat your bacon in the fixture.

Good Luck

Bradley Wolter

Pork Quality Assurance Intern

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