CSI: Siberia (35K BC)

This is awesome -- I always assumed that any kind of space bombardment would be in the "nuclear holocaust" range, you know, instant flaming death from above. I didn't expect to hear about mammoths with uncomfortably-warm space acne.

Great beasts peppered from space

Eight tusks dating to some 35,000 years ago all show signs of having being peppered with meteorite fragments. The ancient remains come from Alaska, but researchers also have a Siberian bison skull with the same pockmarks.

The scientists released details of the discovery at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, US. They painted a picture of a calamitous event over North America that may have severely knocked back the populations of some species.

"We think that there was probably an impact which exploded in the air that sent these particles flying into the animals," said Richard Firestone from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "In the case of the bison, we know that it survived the impact because there's new bone growth around these marks."

And geoscience consultant Allen West added: "If the particles had gone through the skin, they may not have made it through to vital organs; but this material could certainly have blinded the animals and severely injured them."

Raised, burnt surface rings trace the point of entry of high-velocity projectiles; and the punctures are on only one side, consistent with a blast coming from a single direction.

The ratios of different types of atoms in the fragments meant it was most unlikely they had originated on Earth, the team told the AGU meeting.

The researchers reported the discovery of sediment at more than 20 sites across North America that contained exotic materials: tiny spheres of glass and carbon, ultra-small specks of diamond and amounts of the rare element iridium that were too high to be terrestrial. The scientists also found a black layer which, they argued, was the charcoal deposited by wildfires that swept the continent after the space object smashed into the Earth's atmosphere.

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How Super-Precise Atomic Clocks Will Change the World in a Decade

At that level, clocks will be precise enough that they'll have to correct for the relativistic effects of the shape of the earth, which changes every day in reaction to environmental factors. (Some of the research clocks already need to account for changes in the NIST building's size on a hot day.) That's where the work at the Time and Frequency Division begins to overlap with cosmology, astrophysics and space-time.

By looking at the things that upset clocks, it's possible to map factors like magnetic fields and gravity variation. "Environmental conditions can make the ticking rate vary slightly," says O'Brian.

That means passing a precise clock over different landscapes yields different gravity offsets, which could be used to map the presence of oil, liquid magma or water underground. NIST, in short, is building the first dowsing rod that works.

Previously, previously, previously.

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2007 movies: FAIL.

I haven't been posting movie reviews in 2007 as I have in previous years, and this is why. I think my new year's resolution may have to be, "I am never going to a movie theatre again, and this time I really mean it." Next year, I should just wait for cable for everything. That way I can fast-forward. And the popcorn will be better, too.

As best I can recall, here are the movies I saw in theatres in 2007, and the shortest possible reviews I can muster, which in two thirds of the cases, is the longest review that they deserve:

Children of Men Great. Interesting story, believable characters, amazing cinematography and future-building. Saw it twice.
The Man From Earth Great. Saw it twice.
Zodiac Great. Historical SF reconstructions were neat.
Black Snake Moan Great.
Ratatouille Great.
Knocked Up Great.
Waitress Great.

No Country for Old Men Pretty good. Somewhat unsatisfying.
Bourne Ultimatum Fun. Would have enjoyed it more if I remembered what happened in the first two.
Live Free or Die Hard Fun fluff.
Balls of Fury Fun fluff.
Bridge to Terabithia Pretty good, but I've forgotten it already.
Resident Evil: Extinction Milla Jovavitch shoots things. Better than the last one.

28 Weeks Later Weak.
Pan's Labyrinth Sucked. The dream sequences were good, but I just didn't care in the slightest about the horrible lives the real-world characters lived.
The Number 23 Looked good, stupid lame-assed "twist" ending.
Pirates 3 Pretty much sucked.
Stardust Mediocre, too long.
Sunshine 60% great, 40% utter crap.
1408 Terrible.
The Mist Fuck Stephen King, seriously. What a hack. Didn't I already swear I'd never see another movie that had his stink on it? Dammit.
Shoot 'Em Up Fun for 30 minutes. The joke is over after that.
300 Very pretty. But crap.
The Golden Compass Intensely boring. Crap CG animals. At least an hour of superfluous exposition.
Southland Tales Sucked. How does self-indulgent bullshit like this get made without anyone involved having the sense to say STOP THAT?
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DNA Lounge: Wherein our webcasts (and, in fact, society) are put to shame.

This is pretty amazing -- Fabchannel webcasts live shows from The Paradiso in Amsterdam.

Rather than the fully-automated webcasts that we do, They have a multi-operator video crew shooting the show, and then do offline editing of the footage before posting it (which is a huge amount of work). They appear to be getting label permission for each shoot, which means they can often leave it up forever. And they're giving it all away for free, on their web site and the iTunes store.

The question that their FAQ doesn't answer is, "how the hell are you paying for this?" There aren't even ads on the site, just a logo for their ISP.

But this interview with Justin Kniest, the CEO has the answer: the Dutch department of Education, Culture and Science and the city of Amsterdam are footing the bill. Wikipedia says that Paradiso is a "publicly-subsidized youth entertainment center", and that the city of Amsterdam owns 25% of Fabchannel (at a cost of 1.25 million Euros).

Free government money! This is in somewhat stark contrast to my governmental experiences of late. Meanwhile, I'm scrounging eBay looking for some cheap replacement camcorders, just to keep our webcasts at the shitty 1998 level of technology you've come to expect.

Good times.


mixtape 008

Please enjoy jwz mixtape 008.

Wherein it becomes clear that they're not numbered in octal.

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Current Music: as noted

Come back, Max, all is forgiven

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don't get wet

Paper dresses:

More. Making of.

I think the plastic Lego/Devo hair is my favorite part, though.


DNA Lounge: Wherein are enumerated our failings of morality and public welfare.

You may be curious about the status on our ongoing project of trying to make it possible for us to do under-21 shows here.

I haven't been writing about this much because I'm surrounded by people whose approach to the world is, "Gosh, the more you talk about stuff, the more people might be aware of it, and one of them might make trouble." But, you know, fuck it.

The last time I wrote about this, back in April, our latest hurdle was strong opposition from SFPD. Well, we went round and round, and round and round, and finally got past that. After getting more support from the Entertainment Commission and from our neighbors, we got SFPD to rescind their recommendation of denial, and, in fact, got a letter from the Captain of Southern Station to ABC recommending the approval of our permits "without restrictions".

So, if these were San Francisco permits we were trying to get, we'd have them already. But they're not, they're California permits.

First, we got a draft "approval" from ABC that listed the conditions they intended to place on our permits, which included such gems as: no alcohol sales after midnight; no "bar or lounge area"; sales of alcohol only by waiters at tables; no live entertainment of any kind; no cover charges; and a list of other similar comedy. You couldn't legally operate a Chevy's under those conditions. So, around and around some more, and Barry and I ended up driving up to Sacramento for a meeting with ABC. In this meeting were the Director of ABC, an assistant director, ABC's lawyer; and backing up our side, members of the SFLNC, and one of State Assemblyman Leno's people.

We talked for at least two and a half hours, and got nowhere.

We didn't even have to listen anything from them about how our kitchen is "too small" this time. They made it clear that even if our kitchen was enormous, it wouldn't matter to them. What matters is that we're clearly a concert venue, not a restaurant. "Yes," we said, "we've never claimed we intend to be anything else." We want to be in the same business as numerous other businesses in San Francisco, and so we want to operate as they do, with the same permits that they have.

ABC's position -- and I'm fairly certain that I'm not misrepresenting this in the slightest -- is that there is no permit that allows an under-21 concert hall to exist in the state of California.

What about the fact that I can name twenty such venues in San Francisco alone? Most of which have been in operation for more than twenty years? What was their response to that?

"Well, that's very interesting," the Director of ABC said. "If someone is in violation, we'll have to get around to looking into that eventually."

How about that.

A month later, they finally got around to officially rejecting our application.

You are hereby notified that the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control denied your application for the above-described license(s) because the granting of such license(s) would be contrary to public welfare and morals within the meaning and intent of Article XX, Section 22, of the Constitution of the State of California.

The twelve page document goes on to enumerate our failings of morality and public welfare:

  1. We are in a high crime neighborhood.
  2. Our neighborhood gets police calls.
  3. Slim's and Loft 11 are on our block, and they get police calls. (Interestingly, they didn't accuse DNA Lounge of being a police problem. I guess our recommendation from the Police Captain would have tended to fly in the face of that).
  4. Our neighborhood gets police calls (they mention that again).
  5. We have neighbors within 100 feet (and they attached the list of said neighbors that we provided to them).
  6. We have neighbors within 500 feet (with, again, the list that we provided).
  7. Neighbors sleep. Did you know?
  8. There is insufficient off street parking (conveniently ignoring the Costco lot across the street, which I'm sure has never filled up ever).
  9. Oh, and our kitchen is too small.

What's interesting here is how little this rejection letter has to do with what we discussed in the face-to-face meeting. None of these "crime" issues came up at all in that meeting. So this is obviously another shopping list of every single thing they could possibly think of to object to, just for good measure.

Next, we schedule an appeal hearing. Unlike the hearings we've had in the past, where we'd go downtown and actually speak to the people making the decisions, this hearing will be in front of a judge in Sacramento, and we have to hire a lawyer to plead our case for us. My understanding is that this hearing is with a judge who hears only ABC cases and is unlikely to go against whatever ABC says, and so we'll probably lose that as a matter of course.

After that, many more months go by, and we get another hearing in front of a different judge. I guess that can happen a few more times until we make it to the California Supreme Court, which could take more than two years.

Good times.


I think the word you're looking for is "Groovy".

Panton Visiona

Apparently this was the interior of a cruise ship! (Emphasis on "cruise", I imagine.) There are some more photos on the flash abomination that is the Verner Panton web site.

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