Friday, September 07, 2007

Security Theater (of the Absurd)

Well done!

Eight ABC cast and crew members and three hired drivers have been charged with entering a restricted area without justification.

The group was arrested after staging a fake motorcade through Sydney's CBD and were stopped near the InterContinental Hotel where US President George W Bush is staying.

One of the Chaser crew was dressed as Osama bin Laden. (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Australia has spent $A165 million on security for APEC. There have been black hawk helicopters, police and troops and snipers deployed as well as this concrete and 10 foot high wire fence erected that surrounds the CBD of Sydney. It has created absolute havoc with traffic, public transport and people trying to get to work. You can't get over the bridge into the city. An absolute mess, and the folks of Sydney are a bit pissed with it all. But hey, there is this VERY real risk of terrorism we are told ad nauseum, so what the heck. It must all be necessary. It's a bargain for $A165 million, to guarantee our safety.

Then these guys from the ABC comedy show, The Chasers War on Everything, are able to put together a fake Canadian diplomatic motorcade of a limo with 2 escort SUVs with little Canadian flags flapping, and that was good enough to get past $A165 million dollars worth of security planning and three security checkpoints and pull up to the front of the Intercontinental Hotel where President Bush was staying on the 29th floor.

The comedian actor Chas Licciardello, who was dressed and disguised as Osama Bin Laden, popped out of the limo at the hotel and reportedly shouted "Where is my friend Bush? It has all been a misunderstanding!!!" Now the police recognise that something is not quite right and they pounce on the perpetrators, and arrest all involved, 11 in total.

The police officials and Minister of Police and various and sundry other authorities went into major spin damage control, even claiming that the security was good because arrests were made. (email from a reader).

Why It's Likely I'll Write in Ron Paul for President

From the GOP debate on Wednesday:

MR. HUME: This round of questions is going to be based on a scenario which we think is quite plausible that any of you as president might well end up facing. It concerns Iran, and these are the circumstances.
Its nuclear program has continued to advance.
U.N. weapons inspectors have -- are now saying that it appears that Iran is on the verge of being able to produce and may even be producing nuclear weapons. Iran has suspended its cooperation with the U.N. nuclear agency and asked the inspectors to leave the country. Cross-border incidents in Iraq involving elements of the Revolutionary Guard that continue to increase and are a continuing problem for U.S. forces there and for the Iraqis as well. The U.N. Security Council has imposed some economic sanctions on Iran, but has refused to authorize the use of force against that country. In addition, the threats by Iran’s leader against Israel have become more pronounced and more extreme.
What do you do?
Congressman Paul.

REP. PAUL: For one thing, one thing I would remember very clearly is the president doesn’t have the authority to go to war -- (cheers) -- he goes to the Congress.

MR. HUME: What do you do? So what do you do? (Applause.)

REP. PAUL: He goes to the Congress and finds out if there’s any threat to our national security. And thinking back to the 1960s when I was in the Air Force for five years -- and with the Cold War going on, and the Soviets had 40,000, and we stood them down and we didn’t have to have a nuclear confrontation -- I would say that we should go very cautiously. We should back off. We should be talking to Iran right now. We shouldn’t be looking for the opportunity to attack them. They are at the present time, according to the AEIA (sic/IAEA), cooperating, and by the end of the year they’re supposed to be willing to reveal all that they are doing.

So instead of looking for this scenario where it is inevitable that we have to attack, I think we ought to be talking about how do you get along with some people that are deadly like the Soviets and the Chinese and the many others. We don’t have to resort to war every single time there’s a confrontation.

I almost always vote for the person I think should actually be president, regardless of whether or not they are running. In 1996 I wrote in Colin Powell. I broke that rule in 2004 and voted for Kerry because I believed the stakes were too high not to. We could do a lot worse than Ron Paul, and frankly, we have.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Conservapedia *has* to be a Joke...

From the Conservative Alternative to Wiki:


According to the origins theory model used by young earth creation scientists, modern kangaroos are the descendants of the two founding members of the modern kangaroo baramin that were taken aboard Noah's Ark prior to the Great Flood. It has not yet been determined by baraminologists whether kangaroos form a holobaramin with the wallaby, tree-kangaroo, wallaroo, pademelon and quokka, or if all these species are in fact apobaraminic or polybaraminic.

After the Flood, these kangaroos bred from the Ark passengers migrated to Australia. There is debate whether this migration happened over land[6] with lower sea levels during the post-flood ice age, or before the supercontinent of Pangea broke apart[7], or if they rafted on mats of vegetation torn up by the receding flood waters.[6] The idea that God simply generated kangaroos into existence there is considered by most creation researchers to be contra-Biblical.
Other views on kangaroo origins include the belief of some
Australian Aborigines that kangaroos were sung into existence by their ancestors during the "Dreamtime" [8] and the evolutionary view that kangaroos and the other marsupials evolved from a common marsupial ancestor which lived hundreds of millions of years ago.[9]

A majority of biologists regard evolution as the most likely explanation for the origin of species including the kangaroo.

Sweet Jesus

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Shuttle Endeavor Photos

Props to McBride for passing this along, these are amazing and beautiful.

The Very Axis of Evil

From PZ Myers:

The managing editor of a small town newspaper in Wisconsin, Rose Eddy, is very upset with certain vicious hate groups, so she made up a list for her staff and announced that they will not be accepting ads or information from them, ever. And then she publicized it, declaring her unimpeachable moral probity in the pages of her newspaper. Here's her list of awful, terrible people who must not appear in print:

The Nazi Party. Bad, very bad. I think this one has been condemned by history well enough.

Al Qaeda. A known terrorist organization that wants to destroy America — the very symbol of evil today.

The Ayn Rand Institute. Um, well. OK. They are kind of selfish libertarian creepazoids, who seem to be infamously pretentious … but they don't seem to be quite in the same category as Nazis and fanatical terrorists.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Nazis, Al Qaeda, Ayn Rand, Elvis, and atheists. Ms Rose Eddy has a very peculiar pattern of discrimination, I think. How could she have left off mimes, Amway salesmen, and Paris Hilton?

Physics and Economics

There is an interesting article over in Slate this week based on this paper mapping economic output networks of nations. The goal is to answer a deceptively simple question, “why are poor nations poor?”. The answer, it seems, is pretty complicated and has more to do with synergistic network effects than it does with basics like natural resources or access to transportation networks (e.g. the sea). Worth a read when you have a chance as it lays out a strategy for building a set of incentives that would move a national economy to a more successful probability space.

That is, if you assume an economy is a sphere…

The physicists' map shows each economy in this network of products, by highlighting the products each country exported. Over time, economies move across the product map as their export mix changes. Rich countries have larger, more diversified economies, and so produce lots of products—especially products close to the densely connected heart of the network. East Asian economies look very different, with a big cluster around textiles and another around electronics manufacturing, and—contrary to the hype—not much activity in the products produced by rich countries. African countries tend to produce a few products with no great similarity to any others.

That could be a big problem. The network maps show that economies tend to develop through closely related products. A country such as Colombia makes products that are well connected on the network, and so there are plenty of opportunities for private firms to move in to, provided other parts of the business climate allow it. But many of South Africa's current exports—diamonds, for example—are not very similar to anything.

At Work

A conversation:

Brian Jackson [11:34 AM]:
we should expand the alphabet to ensure that all TLAs are unique
Mark Horvath [11:34 AM]:
then makes words out of the letters
it would be a TLAacaust

Other Heroes News

A New Trailer and a New Interview(Spoilers).
The Flying Petrelli Brothers and, unfortunately, about Syler seem to be regulars now.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Am Excellent Review of the New (and last) Harry Potter Book

Though the book's low print run makes it obscure and hard to find, you might be able to track down a copy at your local bookstore, if you search hard and check that it hasn't fallen behind works by more successful authors.

here. Spoiler light and I agree with the jist of it.

Syler is Spock!

Holy cow!

Where the Dinosaurs Went

A strange and somewhat mystifying blend of fiction, some facts, more fiction and enough illogic to make Spock bleed from the ears.

Of course, it's a Genuine Chick Track!

Getting Frugal with the Sun

How long is the Sun going to last? According to our best understanding of astrophysics today, the total lifespan should be around 12 billion years, of which we have arrived at about the halfway point.

But what if we built a Dyson sphere? Could we extend the life of the Sun indefinately? One astronomer thinks so:

So just how much energy is available? If all the Sun’s mass converted to energy at current output it would last 14.5 trillion years. But it’s a giant fusion reactor instead. Proton-proton fusion, and associated reactions, convert 0.7% of the mass into energy. As the Sun is currently 74% hydrogen, proton-proton fusion would last 75 billion years using all the hydrogen. If we ignited helium fusion after that we might get another 30 billion years.

Some of the energy involved in the Sun’s evolution is from gravitational collapse. About half the Sun’s mass will collapse into a white dwarf liberating a few billion years worth. If the Sun could be collapsed further then even more would be liberated. The absolute limit is, of course, when the Schwarzschild radius is reached and we’ve made a black hole. If we collapsed the Sun into a quark-star just 6 km in radius we might extra a few trillion years of energy out of it.

Via reverse baryogenesis we might then extract all the mass-energy out of the remaining quark mass, thus getting the full 14.5 trillion years. All up we might extract 20 trillion years out of the Sun. But what happens then?

It's an interesting article, here.

The exactly, polar opposite is here.