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:: EYE (anatomy), light-sensitive organ of vision in animals.
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:: 12.15.2004 ::  

Surprise, surprise - U.S. missile defense test flops
The aborted $85 million (44 million pounds) test appeared likely to set back plans for activation of a rudimentary bulwark against long-range ballistic missiles that could be fired by countries like North Korea.

In 2002, President George W. Bush pledged to have initial elements of the program up and running by the end of this year while testing and development continued.

An "anomaly" of unknown origin caused the interceptor to shut down automatically in its silo at the Kwajalein Test Range in the Marshall Islands, said Richard Lehner, a spokesman for the Pentagon's missile agency.

The test followed a week of delays caused by weather and technical glitches, including malfunction of an internal battery aboard the target missile on Tuesday, he said.
Because, you know, we have so much extra money lying around that we can spare for stuff like this...

:: Deb 1:44 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Oy vey

Once again, the Ten Commandments have become an issue in an American courtroom: an Alabama judge has recently started wearing a robe that is embroidered with said Commandments, in gold, on the front. I don't know how specific the ABA's rules are when it comes to courtroom attire, but they probably don't cover this kind of thing. Is he exercising his right to free speech? We've had an interesting discussion about this at work today. It seems to me that the judge is admitting bias, which is kind of a a bad idea since it opens the door to mistrials and appeals. But I don't think I can argue that he's not (or shouldn't be) allowed to do it. What do you think?

This topic did remind me of a George Carlin bit on the Ten Commandments (thanks to Kevin B. for the link), in which he whittles them down the 2 essential commandments, then adds one on at the end for good measure ("Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself." Please do!). I thought it was pretty funny.

A more serious version of this discussion can be found here; the author compares the outdated and seldom-followed Commandments of Moses with those of an Athenian philosopher named Solon:

1. Trust good character more than promises.
2. Do not speak falsely.
3. Do good things.
4. Do not be hasty in making friends, but do not abandon them once made.
5. Learn to obey before you command.
6. When giving advice, do not recommend what is most pleasing, but what is most useful.
7. Make reason your supreme commander.
8. Do not associate with people who do bad things.
9. Honor the gods.
10. Have regard for your parents.

The author does point out that while #9 "...might better be rendered now, 'Respect the religions of others,' there is something fitting in admitting that there are many gods, the many that people invent and hope for." Overall, though, these ten commandments seem much better suited to our modern values than those of Moses - don't you agree?

:: Deb 1:09 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 12.14.2004 ::  

Monopoly $$

Now that Cingular has bought AT&T Wireless, Verizon is making a bid for Sprint.

EA Sports has signed an exclusive 5-year deal with the National Football League and the league's players, "giving EA sole rights to put NFL players, stadiums and teams in its games." This is a major blow to Sega and Take-Two's "ESPN" line of sports video games, which only cost $20 and have been eating into EA's market share.

Oh, good. So much for competition.

Both links found on Fark.


"Telecommunications giant Sprint Corp. is acquiring Nextel Communications Inc. in a $35 billion deal that would create the nation's third largest wireless telephone service provider." This deal is mentioned in the first link above; read more about it here.

:: Deb 2:40 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 12.09.2004 ::  

Please support our troops, Mr Rumsfeld

Spc. Thomas Wilson: "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?... We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north." [Quoted in this YahooNews article from the AP]

Rumsfeld: "It's essentially a matter of physics, not a matter of money. It's a matter of production and the capability of doing it." [Quoted in this CNN article.]

Robert Mecredy, president of Armor Holdings Inc., the sole supplier of protective plates for the Humvee military vehicles used in Iraq: "We're prepared to build 50 to 100 vehicles more per month. I've told the customer that and I stand ready to do that."

AM General (the company that manufactures the Humvees) spokesman Lee Woodward: "If they ordered more trucks, we'd build more trucks. We're not close to capacity. It might take some time to ramp up but we can do it."

The latter quotes were lifted from this Bloomberg article, found on Fark. Here's more:
At the Pentagon, spokesman Larry Di Rita said production of armored Humvees had increased from 15 to 450 a month since fall 2003, when commanders in Iraq started asking for them because of insurgents' heavy use of roadside explosives.

Overall, there are 19,000 armored Humvees in the Iraqi theater. Some were built with additional armor, others had it added on later. That's, 2,000 short of what commanders are asking for, Di Rita acknowledged.
Wanna try that answer again, Rummy?

:: Deb 5:40 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

Ever wonder what, exactly, we sold to Iraq?

Well, now you can see for yourself.
Records available from the supplier for the period from 1985 until the present show that during this time, pathogenic (meaning "disease producing"), toxigenic (meaning "poisonous"), and other biological research materials were exported to Iraq pursuant to application and licensing by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Records prior to 1985 were not available, according to the supplier. These exported biological materials were not attenuated or weakened and were capable of reproduction.
You can read the full list of materials we sold to Iraq in the Riegle Report, including several Class III pathogens (e.g. anthrax, a bacterial source of botulinum toxin, and a "highly toxic bateria which causes gas gangrene"), E. Coli, and West Nile Virus. We also sold them cloned human DNA. Site also includes explanations of the effects on humans of the biological agents the US sold to Iraq. Linked by Tom Tomorrow.

Here's my question:
How could we legally possess such materials, much less sell them to someone of questionable motives, after signing The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention of 1972?

Each State Party to this Convention undertakes never in any circumstance to develop, produce, stockpile or otherwise acquire or retain:

(1) Microbial or other biological agents, or toxins whatever their origin or method of production, of types and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes;

Each State Party to this Convention undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever, directly or indirectly, and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any State, group of States or international organizations to manufacture or otherwise acquire any of the agents, toxins, weapons, equipment or means of delivery specified in article I of the Convention.
[emphasis mine]
In order to remain in agreement with this convention, we should have just enough Class III pathogenic material (for example) to develop defenses against it, right? We should not have enough left over to sell to someone else.

:: Deb 2:59 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

:: 12.06.2004 ::  

Majority of FCC indecency complaints filed by a single organization
According to a new FCC estimate obtained by Mediaweek, nearly all indecency complaints in 2003 — 99.8 percent — were filed by the Parents Television Council, an activist group.

This year, the trend has continued, and perhaps intensified.

Through early October, 99.9 percent of indecency complaints — aside from those concerning the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” during the Super Bowl halftime show broadcast on CBS — were brought by the PTC, according to the FCC analysis dated Oct. 1.
Not that Michael Powell mentioned that little detail to the Senate when presenting statistics about the steep increase in complaints over the last few years, citing “a dramatic rise in public concern and outrage about what is being broadcast into their homes.” Full story on MediaWeek, c/o Fark.

:: Deb 4:52 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

8 soldiers sue Army over stop-loss policy

All eight have been barred from leaving their units even though their enlistment contracts have long since run out.
"They were desperately looking for some way to solve their situations, and it looks like most of the people they found who were trying to counsel or represent people in their situation were antiwar people," Mr. Lobel said. "But to me, the most interesting aspect of this whole thing is that it's not a question of antiwar or pro-war. It's not a question of red states or blue states. This stop-loss question is just about fairness."
Only one of the soldiers is named in the lawsuit - the rest, fearing retribution, are listed as John Does 1 through 7. Full story in the New York Times.

:: Deb 2:52 PM :: permalink :: [0] comments :: links to this post ::

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