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Month: November 2006

In Borat’s Footsteps

Posted on November 30, 2006 in Film Hatred

These poor Kazakh telejournalists!

Drowned Rats

Posted on November 29, 2006 in Strange

I’d hate to be a subject in this study:

Neuroscientist Elizabeth Gould of Princeton University and other researchers have found that many types of stress inhibit neurogenesis in rodents and primates. “We were very curious to see whether the reported effect of sleep deprivation on neurogenesis was related to stress or whether this is something specific to sleep,” she says.

To keep rats awake, Gould and her colleagues suspended individual animals above water on a cramped platform for up to 72 hours. The platform would capsize whenever the rodents lost muscle tension, which occurs during deep REM sleep, spilling them into the water and forcing them to scramble back onto their perch.

Clever Ancients

Posted on November 29, 2006 in History

Damn, they were good.


Motoring the President

Posted on November 29, 2006 in Citizenship

Slate had an interesting article about what goes into a presidential motorcade:

The first of the police cars, sometimes called the “bomb sweep,” may drive a few minutes ahead of the motorcade to clear the way. A team responsible for detecting hazardous materials also rides near the front. A counterassault team deals with potential attacks, with a local SWAT team often available as well. In case of emergency, a group of eight or so vehicles, called the “secure package,” will split off from the motorcade and move the president to a safer location. Only the secure package cars are driven by trained Secret Service agents; volunteers and hired drivers handle the rest. When the president travels overseas, a portion of the motorcade comes with him—cars, drivers, and all.

The president rides in an armored 2006 Cadillac DTS stretch sedan with tinted windows and bulletproof glass, with another one or two limos serving as decoys. The limos may even switch places from time to time as the motorcade moves along. (Think that’s paranoid? Some cities have arranged entire dummy motorcades.) Behind the secure package are cars for staff personnel, press vans, and an ambulance. The local police bring up the rear to make sure no one else joins the motorcade.


Weather Wonderings

Posted on November 29, 2006 in Weather

square134I’ve never understood the mechanics of rain. I get that when the barometer reading is beneath a certain point that the rain will fall. What I don’t get is how, with the pressure of the clouds over the land, atmospheric pressure falls. And why it rises when the sky above is clear.

Today, a hard wind blows off the mountain. I think this means that there is a low pressure system in the valley below me. The pines bend over and their needle clumps look like the fluff on poodles. The street is clean from the rain and the wind. If there is trash, it is caught in the cul de sac, out of my view.



Posted on November 29, 2006 in Site News

If anything I write upsets you, don’t read it. This is the ancient and true way of the web.


On Self-Defense

Posted on November 28, 2006 in Frustration

square133The problem with answering those who attack you in a public setting such as a group, a bulletin board, or your own blog is that you find yourself having to explain just what the person is doing to you. And that entails repeating their calumnies when you attempt to explain what is happening. This is a legal form of torture.


Like A Piece of Luggage

Posted on November 28, 2006 in Terrorism

square132I don’t think it jives as a national security interest when a man sues the CIA because he has been mistaken for a terrorist and then taken off to a remote location to be tortured. I hope the appeals court gives Khaled el-Masri a chance to recover some of the life he lost when operatives jumped him in Macedonia in 2003:

Benjamin Wizner, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, told a three-judge appeals panel on Tuesday that the government’s position was absurd because what happened to Mr. Masri had hardly remained secret. He noted that the German government was openly investigating whether its officials had played a role in Mr. Masri’s ordeal, and numerous news accounts have quoted unidentified American officials as confirming what happened.

Mr. Wizner said the government had not plausibly explained how national security interests might be harmed by a trial. He said President Bush acknowledged the C.I.A.’s program, known as extraordinary rendition, this summer, and it is widely known that other governments have been involved. A trial would not disclose state secrets but would merely involve “confirmation of a fact the entire world already knows,” he said….

Mr. Masri, who was born in Kuwait, was arrested in Macedonia on Dec. 31, 2003, and flown to a prison in Afghanistan, where he was held for five months. During his incarceration, he has said, he was shackled, beaten and injected with drugs.

On Tuesday, he said through an interpreter that he was kept in deplorable conditions “not fit for a human being at all.” Upon arrival in Afghanistan, he said, he was told that he was in a place where he had no right to recourse for what happened to him….

Mr. Masri was released in May 2004 on the orders of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, after she learned he had been mistakenly identified as a terrorism suspect. He was freed in Albania, where he was left to make his way home to Germany, which he likened to being treated “like a piece of luggage.”

Mr. Masri, who had earlier been denied permission to come to the United States to attend the hearing, said he has not been able to find a job since his return to Germany. “Both my Arab and German friends keep their distance,” he said.

To add insult to injury, Mr. Masri has not been allowed to enter the US to attend the hearings even though he is not a terrorist.


Not Out of the Mainstream

Posted on November 28, 2006 in Blogging

I have to say that a recent survey indicating that a full 83% of bloggers are over 30 years of age heartens me. I’m not an odd man out after all, but representative of a trend.


Seven Wonders

Posted on November 27, 2006 in Whimsies

Elkit set me on to a site which is attempting to identify the new Seven Wonders of the World. From the final 21, I made the following choices:

  1. Chitzen Itza (would have preferred the pyramids at Tenohuachitlan)
  2. the Easter Island Statues
  3. the Great Wall
  4. the Statue of Liberty
  5. the Taj Mahal
  6. Timbuktu
  7. the Pyramids at Giza

What did you choose?


The Buddha’s Brain

Posted on November 27, 2006 in Genetics Personality Disorders Psychotropics Reading Thinking

What mysteries await us in the Buddha’s brain?



Cactus Watering 2

Posted on November 27, 2006 in Weather

square129Could it be a butterfly effect? Or sympathetic magic? Or just my body’s ability to sense the coming of the storm? Last night it rained and the soil in each of the cactus pots is saturated.

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