Bigwheel 9


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Grim Meathook Somalia

You are being lied to about pirates

In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since - and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas.

Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury - you name it." Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose" of cheaply.

At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation - and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."

This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia - and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence".

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San Francisco, South of Market icon for sale.

After serving for 18 years as a SOMA landmark for San Franciscans, the giant tomato is available for sale. It is huge and ready to be hung or displayed by the buyer. It is hollow metal and in great condition. Original cost was $5,000. Asking price: $1,500. The tomato is still hanging at 489 Third Street, San Francisco (cross street Bryant).
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DNA Lounge: Wherein Green Day plays, and RealVideo is on the chopping block.

Photos are up of Thursday's last-minute Green Day show. Yeah, Green Day! How did that happen, you're probably wondering? Long story: They called us the night before and asked. Ok, it's not such a long story.

We had to cancel an event that we had scheduled for that night, and it's always a drag to have to do that, but the event we had was probably going to only get a hundred people, and Green Day sold out in 15 minutes on the day of the show. What are you gonna do?

It was a fantastic show. They played for almost three hours, including the entirety of their not-yet-released new album.

The sound quality was amazing. I don't think I've ever heard it sound so good in here.

My favorite part was when an 8-year-old kid climbed from his parent's shoulders onto the stage and Billie Joe said to him, "Go crowd surf, little man!" and he did. People were able to hold him up with one hand because he was so tiny.

My second favorite part was when Billie Joe forgot the lyrics to a song ("We've got a lot of songs!" he said) and pulled a girl up out of the audience to sing it for him. She wasn't a great singer, but she did know all the words!

We got some press on this one: New York Times, NME, and an Oakland Tribune article that was picked up in many other papers.

Like I mentioned last week, the RealVideo webcast has been (mostly) down for the last week or so, because the machine that runs it lost a drive and I haven't been able to talk myself in to the level of Linux-based self-abuse that would be required to get it working again. I did try moving RealVideo on to another machine (making the kiosk server do double duty as the video encoder) but that machine just isn't fast enough to do both. And audio isn't working on it. And you remember how I love diagnosing Linux audio problems.

So, I see two options here, really:

  1. One of you friendly people donate to me a modern, fast, Linux-capable PC to run this junk on; or
  2. I just call it quits on RealVideo and assume that is good enough.

I don't have access to any logs that would tell me the relative popularity of either the or RealVideo streams, so I can't really tell whether anyone is watching either of them. If there is anyone out there who can think of a reason to keep the RealVideo stream going at all, please speak up now.


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