November 2005 Archives

I Wish I'd Thought Of This


Mobile Strip Club For Tailgaters Found Outside Tampa Football Stadium:

Officers found a 40-foot-long mobile home filled with strippers, bouncers and tailgaters outside Raymond James Stadium before Tampa's game with the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

The mobile strip club featured a stripper pole and a disco ball, Local 6 News reported.

For $20, men were allowed to enter the mobile home, according to the report.

Undercover police said the men were given alcohol and then offered nude lap dances for money.

"Bringing it to a family environment such as a Bucs game totally surprises me," Tampa police Officer Bill Todd said.

5,700 Channels And Nothing's On

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Even though this story involves a small town in West Virginia and 12 satellite dishes, it is NOT my White Trash Wednesday story, since neither meth nor stupid crime is involved, and Mr. Jessup seems like a decent guy who just likes to watch TV.

A lot of TV.

Do constant reruns of “I Love the ’80s” on VH1 have you ready to gouge out your eyeballs?

Then come to Al Jessup’s house — where his 5,000-plus radio and television stations from around the world beamed in by his 12 satellite dishes are bound to keep you entertained somehow.

Since 1998, the Beckley resident has amassed a collection of 12 dishes around his James Street home. He said he first just began subscribing to Direct TV and Dish Network, but he later learned that by purchasing special satellite receivers he could receive “free to air” programming from several different satellites swirling the globe. The information on how to adjust a dish and set up a receiver to pick up programming from these stations such as Galaxy 10, AMC 2 and Telestar 5 is included with these receivers.

“Up in the sky, there’s lots of free stuff,” he said.
. . .
The last time he counted, he received more than 5,000 channels. He has stopped counting since.

[H/T Boing Boing]

Next Week's Auction: Ladder 58's Tire Gauge

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Whatever 'it' is, you can get it on eBay, whether it's a fake 9/11 firefighter's helmet or an authentic FDNY prybar used at Ground Zero:

A firefighting tool that disappeared from a Bronx firetruck at Ground Zero on Sept. 11 has been returned after an eagle-eyed captain spotted the device for sale on eBay.

Capt. Joe Principio of Ladder Co. 58 on East Tremont Avenue saw the prying bar, called a Halligan tool, being auctioned in May ? and quickly notified fire marshals. "I recognized it immediately," said Principio. "We had spot-welded '58' on the forked portion."
The seller sent the Halligan tool back at his own expense when contacted by the fire marshals; the article didn't say whether further action will be taken or how the seller got the tool in the first place.

And if that isn't sad enough, read this:

Ladder 58's Halligan tool disappeared Sept. 11 from the side of its truck after the company responded to the World Trade Center attack.

"Our rig was stripped," said Principio. "Most of our equipment was gone."

Nice Shootin', Ute!

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Via News of The Weird comes this Deseret News Salt Lake City road-rage story:

One of four shots from a .357-caliber revolver hit the tip of a man's raised middle finger as he was driving on I-15 early Friday.
The incident appears to be one of road rage, and police are looking for an unidentified woman who fired the shots from another car.
About 12:40 a.m., the 25-year-old man was waiting at 500 South for the light to change so he could get on the freeway, said South Salt Lake Police Capt. Chris Snyder.
As he waited, a woman in what turned out to be a stolen car pulled up next to him.
The two made eye contact, but there was something about the contact that made the man uncomfortable, Snyder said. The light turned green and the two cars entered the freeway.
On the onramp, the man told police, the woman began to drive aggressively and sped up to pass the man. In doing so, she hit some traffic cones that gradually closed some of the southbound lanes, Snyder said.
Somewhere between 2100 South and 3300 South, the woman rolled down the window of her car and yelled at the man.
So he made an obscene hand gesture.
That's when she apparently fired four shots at the driver's side of the man's car. One of the bullets hit the tip of the man's middle finger on his right hand, severing it. His index finger also was injured, but not as seriously.
It could be argued that this was just an Old West-style discussion: he expressed his opinion; she expressed hers. And to hit a small moving target from a moving platform, I'd have to say it was quite an eloquent expression.
It appears the woman made a U-turn on I-15 after the shooting and headed north. She crashed into a concrete barricade near the I-15 and I-80 interchange and took the State Street exit on I-80, Snyder said.
Witnesses saw the woman as she left the car in the middle of the southbound lanes on State Street and ran away.
OK, so she shoots better than she drives. Nobody's perfect.

It also appears that the .357 Mag is the preferred handgun of road-ragers (something to keep in mind when you're shopping for your next kevlar car coat). From another Deseret News article:

Williamson, 45, played the shrimp-loving soldier Bubba in "Forrest Gump." According to a police report, his car may have cut off Diaz's sport utility vehicle on a Gardena street on May 3.
Diaz began to "aggressively tailgate" Williamson and flash gang hand signs, the report said.
When Williamson pulled over to let him pass, Diaz instead parked in front of his car, got out, pointed a .357 magnum revolver at Williamson and threatened to kill him, police reported.

Former ad exec Kalle Lasn didn't want you to buy anything last Friday. S/he is protesting our consumerist culture with 'Buy Nothing Day,' asking people not to buy anything on the day after Thanksgiving. Wired caught up with him/her recently:

. . .the anti-holiday's founder, who acknowledged the internet's role in making BND a global protest movement, but decried the laziness of many bloggers and the digital generation's disengagement from the real world.

Wired News: How are you using the internet to spread the word about BND?

Kalle Lasn: BND was a relatively insignificant event in its early days. It wasn't until we put the campaign on the internet that it took off worldwide.... That synergy that we created on the internet was what really launched BND into the worldwide event that it is today....

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart's plan to destroy the Earth continues unabated. And s/he says we're disengaged from the real world?

About that. Here's another howler:

People who grew up with the internet or iPods, that whole digital revolution, are the first generation that spend more time in the electronic environment than they do in the natural environment. So we are definitely going to try and launch social-marketing campaigns that encourage people to just unplug, just to pull out of the virtual electronic environment and try to live more than half their lives in the real world.
You know, the real world - where you have to have clothes to wear, and food to eat, and a roof over your head that Lasn apparently thinks you can just miracle into existence, because s/he

How Beer Goggles Work

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Somehow I don't expect this one to end up on How Stuff Works, but British scientists may have figured out why guys sometimes wake up next to a double-coyote-fugly:

SCIENTISTS have figured out why alcohol makes ugly people seem more attractive - otherwise known as the "beer goggles" effect.

Far from being a simple matter of how much you have to drink, the researchers have devised a complex formula which takes into account the level of light in the pub or club, the drinkers' own eyesight, the smokiness of the room and the distance between two people.

. . .

"The beer goggles effect isn't solely dependent on how much alcohol a person consumes, there are other influencing factors at play too," said Professor Nathan Efron, Professor of Clinical Optometry at the University of Manchester. Amazingly, scientists now believe you don't even need to have had an alcoholic drink to suffer from the beer goggles effect.

"The formula shows for example, that a person with poor vision who's talking to someone in a very smoky bar will be experiencing a beer goggles effect close to someone who has consumed eight pints in a smoke-free and well-lit room."

The formula can work out a final score to measure the effect.
And if it's 69, you win!

Zenu Wuz Here. And Will Be Again.

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A WaPo article referenced in Boing Boing describes how Albuquerque TV station KRQE has found $cientology's Dead Sea Scrolls, so to speak:

Secret Flying Saucer Base Found in New Mexico?

Maybe. From the state that gave us Roswell, the epicenter of UFO lore since 1947, comes a report from an Albuquerque TV station about its discovery of strange landscape markings in the remote desert. They're etched in New Mexico's barren northern reaches, resemble crop circles and are recognizable only from a high altitude.

Also, they are directly connected to the Church of Scientology.

The church tried to persuade station KRQE not to air its report last week about the aerial signposts marking a Scientology compound that includes a huge vault "built into a mountainside," the station said on its Web site. The tunnel was constructed to protect the works of L. Ron Hubbard, the late science-fiction writer who founded the church in the 1950s.

The archiving project, which the church has acknowledged, includes engraving Hubbard's writings on stainless steel tablets and encasing them in titanium capsules. It is overseen by a Scientology corporation called the Church of Spiritual Technology. Based in Los Angeles, the corporation dispatched an official named Jane McNairn and an attorney to visit the TV station in an effort to squelch the story, KRQE news director Michelle Donaldson said.

OK, maybe they're not so much their Dead Sea Scrolls as they are the ultimate offsite backup (you can kind of see it in this Google satshot [H/T Boing Boing reader Tom Pozar]):

The contents of the vault itself are not secret -- they were shown in 1998 on ABC News's "20/20."

"Buried deep in these New Mexico hills in steel-lined tunnels, said to be able to survive a nuclear blast, is what Scientology considers the future of mankind," ABC's Tom Jarriel said in his report. "Seen here for the first time, thousands of metal records, stored in heat-resistant titanium boxes and playable on a solar-powered turntable, all containing the beliefs of Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard."

But why bother? If there is an Apocalpyse, who will be around to listen to L. Ron's Greatest Hits? The folks who signed the billion-year contracts, that's who! And they'll be coming from a long way away:

The church maintains two other vaults in California to preserve Hubbard's materials and words, according to Hines and another longtime staff member who also quit a couple of years ago, Chuck Beatty of Pittsburgh.

"The whole purpose of putting these teachings in the underground vaults was expressly so that in the event that everything gets wiped out somehow, someone would be willing to locate them and they would still be there," said Beatty, who spent 28 years in Scientology. Some loyalists are tasked specifically with the "super-duper confidential" job of coming back to Earth in the far-off future, he added.

The billion-year contracts are signed by members of what Hubbard, a Navy lieutenant in World War II, called the church's Sea Organization. The motto of that cadre, according to Beatty and Hines, who said they were both members, is "We come back."

Rods From... Well, Not God. Maybe Saint Barbara.

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This baby step towards Rods From God could also be called "Brads from Brad," Brad being any Redleg firing this munition, coming soon to a tube near you:

The modern military is borrowing an idea from Robin Hood to deal with unexploded landmines. Patents filed by US defence contractor Raytheon concede that current landmine clearance is ineffective, especially if mines are in sand or under water.

But the company has developed a shell containing hundreds of steel "arrows" – 155 millimetres long and 15 mm in diameter – that can trigger landmines with a single shot.

Each rod has a flared rear end, like the feathers of an arrow, and hundreds can be packed into a single cylindrical shell. This shell can be lobbed into a mined area and just before impact a charge behind the arrows will fire them downwards. The metal flights will keep the arrows on a straight course so that they pepper the area at high velocity and at regular spaces.

Tests show that a shell containing hundreds of arrows can wipe out every mine in an area several metres square, even when the mines are buried under sand or under nearly a metre of water. GPS can also be used to guide the shells into overlapping patches in order to safely clear a wide area.

Let's think about some unintended consequences:

  • Scrap metal dealers in landmine-heavy areas overjoyed at the thought of money falling from the sky
  • Every crop grown in a field cleared this way will be iron-fortified
  • It'll drive metal detector-wielding battlefield scavengers batty - how are you supposed to find that ultra rare swivel hook from the Zimbabwean model ZM-214 field mess kit if your detector is going off every second?
  • A two-fer: ground mole and turf aeration problems solved forever!
  • For seaborne application, thousands of metal rods quickly moving through salt water will disrupt the earth's magnetic field, possibly waking the Elder Gods (I know Dave is hoping for this one)
[Full Disclosure and disclaimer - I work for Raytheon. That doesn't necessarily mean I think this is a good idea.]

Life Imitates CSI: Miami, Again

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Last time it was Money Plane; this time it's Nailed:

A woman, who was just about to sign her divorce papers, is found shot to death with a nail gun in her soon-to-be ex-husband's new home.

Dateline Nevada City, CA:

NEVADA CITY, Calif. -- A California man has been charged with murdering his estranged wife by shooting her in the head with a nail gun.

Richard Williams was arrested Friday after spending five weeks in a hospital for nail gun wounds to his chest and abdomen. [emphasis added]
It was supposed to be a murder-suicide, but it appears that Williams had some problems aiming the nail gun when it was pointed his way. Funny how that works.

But I think the best part of the story is the fact that he was arrested after spending five weeks in the hospital recovering. Why? Money, baby:

Officials said Williams wasn't arrested immediately after the October 22 incident because Nevada County would have been at least partly responsible for his hospital bills. Instead, guards were stationed outside his hospital room 24 hours a day, waiting for him to recover.
Justice ain't cheap.

White Trash Superfecta

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White Trash Wednesday

I'll see your 'traffic violation right in front of a cop while holding a beer' and raise you 'drugs in the car' and 'driving while revoked:'

Making an illegal left turn in front of police is not the dumbest thing a driver can do. Making an illegal left turn in front of police with five open beer bottles and cocaine in the car, however, ranks fairly high on the stupid scale. Police said a 38-year-old man did just that early Saturday morning. To boot, the man was allegedly driving a friend’s car with a revoked license. Police cited the car owner for allowing an unlicensed person to drive the vehicle.

As in some other WTW posts I've done, the race of today's hero is neither specified nor relevant.

It's White Trash Wednesday! Take the whole tour:

Check out what the governor of Tokyo (who?) thinks about our military:

Most Asian officials have expressed their views privately. Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has gone public, warning that the United States would lose any war with China.

. . .

Mr. Ishihara said U.S. ground forces, with the exception of the Marines, are "extremely incompetent" and would be unable to stem a Chinese conventional attack. [emphasis added]

. . .

The governor said the U.S. military could not counter a wave of millions of Chinese soldiers prepared to die in any onslaught against U.S. forces. After 2,000 casualties, he said, the U.S. military would be forced to withdraw.

I'll let Dave deal with the question of how we'd fare in a war against China; my question is "Whatever gave Ishihara-san the idea that our ground forces were incompetent?"

I'll give you a hint as to what my answer is: a TLA starting with "M".

(These only make sense if you've seen Goblet of Fire)

1. If shrinking violet Fleur Delacour was the best that Beauxbatons Academy had to offer, then that is one seriously lame-ass magic school.

2. I find it interesting that someone else can enter you into a binding magical contract. And I thought the lawyers in our world were bad...

3. Googling "Emma Watson turns 18 countdown" yields about 54,800 hits.

Oh, Sure, I Had To Be Right About This Game

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It was a lot closer than I expected it to be, but when aOSU got the ball with over four minutes to go, I knew it was over. The distance didn't matter - they could have had a hundred and eighty-eight yards to go and Michigan still couldn't have stopped them.

Update: Jake of MSR points out that he called this six weeks ago. Brian of mgoblog looks like he's seen the light about Lllloyd Carr.

I just got email from my sister letting me know that her Golden Retriever, Sullivan, died last Thursday. It wasn't a big surprise, since she had just turned 13 and had had health problems for several months, but it was still quite a blow. Sully basically grew up with our own Golden, Wrigley, who is only two months younger than she. Although he's still pretty healthy for a senior dog, it's never pleasant to be reminded that he won't be around forever.

My sister wrote a beautiful eulogy that she emailed to a few people; if I can get her permission, I'll add it to this entry later. My best memory of Sully is from several years ago, when we spent Fourth of July at my sister's then-boyfriend's parents' lake cottage. Whenever my son (who was probably seven or eight at the time) went into the water, Sully would stop whatever she was doing and walk out on the dock and watch him. If he went under water for more than a few seconds, she would start barking until he came back up.

Of course, we have pictures. Here's one from when they were less than a year old (Sully is the reddish one; Wrigley is the blonde):

Sully and Wrigley, summer 1993

And a couple from last Thanksgiving:

Sully and Wrigley, Thanksgiving 2004

Sully and Wrigley, Thanksgiving 2004

Kinda puts having your favorite football team losing its biggest game in perspective, doesn't it?

If they haven't battened down the hatches in Ann Arbor by now, it's too late, because the barbarian hordes from 'Calcutta on the Scioto' (and I apologize to the citizens of the actual Calcutta for the comparison) have arrived for the latest battle in The 100-Yard War. Last year's abominable treatment of the Michigan team by Columbus police at the behest of aOSU's athletic department apparently will not be reciprocated in Ann Arbor.

Too bad. I would have liked seeing cops and drug dogs (aOSU players carrying in bombs? Naah. Carrying in dope? A definite possibility) lined up outside the aOSU team bus as it arrives, and then not searching anybody - just making the team walk by, say, thirty cops and ten dogs on their way into the stadium.

And that would probably be the highlight of the game for Michigan fans, because I don't see any way Michigan wins tomorrow. aOSU's defense is essentially the same one that squished Michigan last year, Henne is worse than he was last year and doesn't have Edwards to bail him out on every badly-thrown deep ball (that is to say, every deep ball), and the defense still hasn't convinced me it can stop a mobile quarterback with good receivers to throw to (Michigan State had four guys doing a 'Hands Of Stone' impression, Penn State had Williams and pretty much nobody else, Iowa was missing two of their top three guys, and Northwestern had, um, who again?). The only two things that give me a glimmer of hope about this game is that Michigan's at home and the team in the spoiler role often comes out on top.

But I don't think that'll be enough this year. An Ohio State University 28, The University Of Michigan 17. PSU takes care of business and finishes the demolition of Sparty's season, and Michigan goes to the Alamo Bowl to clobber the 8th-place team in the not-so-Big 12.

Now It's More Of A Greenish-Blue Tea...

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White Trash Wednesday

Unconventional toxicity is another White Trash staple, so it's only fitting that today's WTW features a woman who tried to off her hubby by spiking his green tea with anti-freeze:

A Lake Mary, Fla., woman was arrested on suspicion she tried to kill her husband by putting anti-freeze in his green tea, according to a Seminole County sheriff's report.

Investigators said Alisa Freeburn, 38, allegedly gave her husband the anti-freeze-laced drink on Nov. 4. She allegedly told him that it was green tea, according to the report.

After drinking the green tea, the man became ill and was hospitalized.

It's funny to me because not even an hour ago, I caught one of my friends in his office and asked: "Got any vodka? How 'bout Everclear, got any Everclear? Paint stripper? Bleach? Kerosene? Roundup?" because it's just been that kind of afternoon for me.

I didn't think to ask him for antifreeze.

It's White Trash Wednesday! Take the whole tour:

A local high school had a bomb scare today. The official procedure in this instance is apparently to go into lockdown - everybody's locked in their classrooms. I was all ready to file this one under Official Stupidity - why wouldn't you evacuate the building? - when I realized that it's a bit of a crap shoot. If the bomb's in a locker and it goes off while you're evacuating the building, well, 'Oops' probably wouldn't quite cover it. On the other hand, if the bomb's in a classroom...

Nothing was found and everything came out OK, except of course for the kid who made the threat.

This Can't Possibly Be What It Looks Like


Look at the assistant behind IU coach Terry Hoeppner in this video (773KB, opens in separate window) and tell me what you think he's doing.

Veterans' Day

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To all Vets everywhere and everywhen, but especially to my father, father-in-law, uncle, both brothers-in-law, and nephew:

Thank you for your service.

Life Imitates Nietzsche

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Comedian Mark Klein was on Bob & Tom yesterday morning, and the topic of conversation turned to the importance for women to get annual gynocological checkups. Klein had this to say:

The greatest practical joke I ever heard in my life was a young lady comic friend of mine who would put a glass eye up in there before the exam, just so something would look back for a change.
Which immediately made me think of Nietzsche:
When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.

Oi! Woite Troish Wedsdy!

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White Trash Wednesday

The UK has what is called an anti-social behaviour order, which is kind of like a restraining order but broader in its applicability:

. . .is a civil order made against a person who has been shown to have engaged in conduct which caused or was likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as himself (or herself) and where an ASBO is necessary to protect relevant persons from further anti-social acts by the Defendant.

Interestingly (and most relevantly for today's topic), the Wikipedia article goes on to say

ASBOs are often linked with the chav or ned stereotype.
Digging a litle further, Wikipedia describes Chavs as
Chav is popular slang term that originated in England but is now used throughout the United Kingdom. It is usually used in a derogatory fashion, referring to a subcultural stereotype of a person with:
  • fashions such as flashy "bling" jewellery and/or counterfeit designer clothes (particularly Burberry);
  • a tendency to congregate around places such as fast-food outlets or other shopping areas;
  • a culture of antisocial behaviour.
In the past such people have been called yobs.
Interestingly (again, and again most relevantly for today's topic), this Wikipedia article goes on to say
. . . "chav" has similarities to American terms such as "white trash" and "trailer trash . . .."

So it seems reasonable to expect that your everyday Chav would be familiar - perhaps too familiar - with the concept of ASBOs. But I'm willing to bet that this is the first case of a misworded ASBO resulting in a license to par-TAY:

A teenager has been given an Asbo ordering him to get drunk in a court blunder

The error was only noticed when the 15-year-old ended up in front of magistrates again for an alleged breach of the conditions.

Magistrates heard the youngster, who cannot be named, was technically breaking the law if he was found walking the streets of a quiet market town without alcohol.

The order also required him to use threatening behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to members of the public in Alnwick, Northumberland.

The Asbo - issued last February after a string of complaints - reads 'without' rather than 'with', reports the Daily Mirror.

It's White Trash Wednesday! Take the whole tour:

Definitely NOT White Trash Wednesday

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[I'll have a WTW post later today.]

Jesus is black, Ronald Reagan is the devil, and the government is lying about 9/11!

This line from the opening moments of the first episode of Moonbats Boondocks tells me everything I need to know about the show.

Actually, there's also this: creator Aaron McGruder says

"The strip is not 'the revolution.' You wouldn't get to see the strip if very powerful white corporations didn't allow you to see the strip," McGruder told TV critics this summer in Los Angeles. "It's really, really just a really funny and inappropriate show."

Cartoon Network is paying $400 grand per episode for it. Yeah, Aaron. Tell me again how The Man is keeping you down.

Yet Another Reason I Don't Watch The West Wing

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What does it say about us when there's more fuss over a pretend debate on a TV drama than there is over real Presidential debates?

My son and I used to read Calvin & Hobbes together when he was little. Boy, was that a mistake. C&H is The Anarchist's Cookbook for seven-year-olds. As an aside, we read a lot of Shel Silverstein, too, which, now that I think about it, goes a long way towards explaing a lot of things. But I digress.

It's well known among C&H fans how publicity-averse Bill Watterson is - I was shocked to find a picture of him in his Wikipedia entry - but Len Peralta of Jawbone Radio took a trip to Watterson's hometown of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and managed to score a brief interview from Watterson's mother. It's worth a listen, especially if you start at about the 7:10 mark to avoid the slightly stalker-esque part where he interviews everyday folks in the town who might have some inside info about him.

[H/T Cory Doctorow at BoingBong]

Is Kabbalah a scam like any other cult? Say it ain't so!

America's "Material Girl," singer Madonna, may have to search for a new Kabbalah guru soon, unless she plans to make pilgrimages to an Israeli prison on visiting day to visit her rabbi.

According to reports coming out of Israel, Shaul Youdkevitch and other Kabbalah rabbis are accused of bilking a terminally ill woman out of over $30,000. Many believe this is merely the tip of the iceberg.
Actually, it's not like just any other cult...
Israeli police detectives alledge that Youdkevitch and rabbis managing the multi-million dollar Israel Kabbalah Center conned Leah Zonis and her husband, Boris, into making "significant and painful donations" if she wanted to recover from her cancer. Police say the rabbis sold the dying woman bottles of "holy water" with trademark Kabbalah labels. They were told the miraculous water would cure her ailment.

Boris Zonis' lawyer, Haim Cohen, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that, "The woman's condition continued to deteriorate and instead of telling the truth that these were empty promises, they took more money and cheated with medication that is just a bottle of water."

After several treatments, the distraught couple told the Kabbalah rabbis they could not afford to pay for more holy water, police state, and that the rabbis conned the husband to work for their centre in order to work off future payments [emphasis added]. It was at that point Mr. Zonis filed a complaint with the police charging the Youdkevitch with extortion.
The 'if you can't afford it, come work for us' ploy is a well-known tactic of Scientology (as is the Billion-Year Contract). Of course, as a celebrity, Madonna would get the Celebrity Centre treatment.

White Trash Halloween

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White Trash Wednesday

I was Googling around for some White Trash Halloween costumes, and you know what? I didn't find all that many. A lot of them looked like this one [ref]:

Or this one [ref]:

Although this variant [ref] was particularly elegant (and thus kind of missed the point):

I was able to find some good ones, though. Check out, two at Zarkle's World (search for 'Goth Raggedy Ann;' there's another Cletus not quite halfway down), and another one here.

It's White Trash Wednesday! Take the whole tour:

From My Lips To CMU's Ears

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Last week, I speculated that the DARPA Grand Challenge might later be referred to as the dawn of the Age of Machines. A couple of days later, I noted another advance that may mark the Middle of the Beginning of the End. So it's not a moment too soon that I see this article about a new book, How To Survive A Robot Uprising:

A new book by a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute is poised to make waves behind the cloistered doors of the school's famed robotics labs, and its rights have already been optioned for a Hollywood film.

It is not a sexy roman a clef or an investigative look at the school's ties to the U.S. Defense Department, but rather a humorous guidebook for battling a robot takeover of Earth.

"Any robot could rebel, from a toaster to a Terminator, and so it is crucial to learn the strengths and weaknesses of every robot enemy," author Daniel H. Wilson warns in "How to Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion."

What makes the book cool -- and unlike some other survival books -- is that Wilson is an actual roboticist, who got his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon last month. While his scenarios are outlandish -- describing attacks by humanoid robots, some of them with creepy tails, some that can climb walls or swim -- the research on how to build and attack the robot creatures is quite real.
We can only hope it isn't already too late. [H/T Gear Factor]

Bleg For 'Every 10 Minutes' Points

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Does anybody have any Every 10 Minutes points they forgot to enter in time for the final drawing last night? They're still good towards Dew gear until November 15th.

And if you've some caps lying around that you haven't entered the codes from, and don't plan to, could you flip 'em my way? I need six more for a t-shirt. Thanks.

Force protection is a big deal and getting bigger all the time, as evidenced by this new counter-sniper system:

WASHINGTON -- A sniper fires on American troops in Iraq. In the milliseconds before the bullet hits -- in fact, before the shot is even heard -- a computer screen reveals the gun's model and exact location. That's the kind of intelligence that can save soldiers' lives. The Army is currently testing the technology in combat.

. . .

Walt Smith, a technology director at Radiance who traveled with the system to Iraq during its March 2004 launch, said soldiers like it because of its precision.

"A person who has a rugged tablet personal computer can see an image," Smith said. "Someone on the second floor, third window from the right, shot from that location."

The system was tested on top of a building where there was a high concentration of insurgent gunfire. Within a few days, American troops were able to use WeaponWatch to return fire more rapidly, Smith said, resulting in a noticeable drop in enemy attacks.
It was at this point in reading the article that I wondered how long it would be before somebody figured out that they could connect this to a weapon and make an automatic gun like in Goldeneye or Half-Life. Of course, they're already ahead of me:
Kimzey said that because the technology has become so mobile and keeps getting smaller, there's virtually no end to the possibilities. For example, the Marines recently tested a program that links the infrared detector to an automatic weapon. It would allow the combatant wielding that weapon to get a shot off almost immediately after the enemy fired.
Of course, now the lawyers would get involved:
Kimzey said such an invention could be problematic because military rules of engagement require that a human being, and not a machine make firing decisions in the field of combat.
Party poopers.

[full disclosure: we're working on something similar linked to the LCMR for anti-mortar force protection]


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