Archive for the ‘news’ Category

my gods.

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I am so, so glad that I live in an age when I can watch my soon-to-be president’s face as he walks through hallways of walls and people on his way to assume office.

I’ll be telling my children about this day. My goodness, the smiles on people’s faces.

I don’t care if he doesn’t live up to the hype. There’s no way for him to. He’s a person, a politician, a president I want to follow. It’s breathtaking.

Aaron Sorkin is a god second only to Joss Whedon.

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Although I’m thinking Joss is getting a run for his title.

New York Times’ Maureen Dowd contacted Sorkin to find out what happened when Obama met The West Wing‘s Democratic ex-President Jed Bartlet. Here’s what happened. (And here’s the LiveJournal backup link if you don’t have a NYTimes online account, and/or if NYTimes locks this thing down later.)

N.B., for the three people in the world who don’t know: The West Wing was fiction. So is President Bartlet. A shame, really.

coincidence? you decide.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

News in the past day or so: out-of-state couples will soon be able to marry in MA!!, as a 1913 state law originally aimed at interracial couples is repealed.



I’d say we’re taking off, as a society.

Haven’t been updating, or not here anyway. Dealing with taxes and other emotionally loaded issues, as well as being super busy at work, participating in my village and preparing for Burning Man and its attendant road trip, have all kept me running around. You can see some of my life on Flickr. I suspect this – both the relative dearth of posting on Words’ End and the snippets viewable on Flickr – is going to continue for a while.

Albert Hofmann, 1906-2008

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Albert Hofmann’s dead. At the age of 102, in good health almost right up until the heart attack at the end. As someone on a mailing list said, he had a good run.

Thank you, Dr. Hoffman, for the wonder and perspective you’ve brought into the world.

bad-ass pink cardigan

Friday, April 18th, 2008

I have other thoughts to post, perhaps later. But just look at this for 40 seconds:

Molly rightly says, “I have never seen a more bad-ass pink cardigan.” Gods, I’d love to see this woman as our first lady.

News of the strangeworld

Friday, January 18th, 2008

What I like about this small collection of links is that none of them came from News of the Weird. This is all off my feed reader – you know, BBC, Wired, ScienceBlogs, personal blogs, that sort of thing. On to the articles of interest:

If your surgeon is a videogaming geek and has played around with a Wii, you may be in luck! Chances are, her skills have improved.

I love Norway: “A millionaire real-estate magnate and art dealer from Setesdal in southern Norway has been fined NOK 425,000 (USD 85,000) for drunk driving, and been further required to chop wood for 30 days.”

Hey, baby, want to see my spy gear?

And on a slightly more serious note, here’s a well-written article on the politics of legal and illegal drugs. Even if the author get just a tad too earnest, I am thankful for publications like SFGate, which run these stories from time to time to remind us that the war on drugs has nothing to do with science.

seaweed, ftw?

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Wired: “Group Touts Seaweed As Warming Weapon.”

The idea is simple: deforestation? No problem – just use the vast amounts of space out there in the oceans to grow a bunch of seaweed and algae of various sorts, which apparently photosynthesize carbon dioxide “at rates comparable to the mightiest rain forests.” Better: they grow quickly.

Critics say that this isn’t truly carbon sequestration if the seaweed is then fed to people, because then the carbon is released right back out. I clearly don’t know enough of the mechanics of photosynthesis – I thought the carbon was transformed and/or incorporated into more complex structures, not merely stored? And if it’s stored as something other than carbohydrates and (as the Wired article says) the carbon is released into the atmosphere as seaweed decomposes, isn’t it a good idea to feed it to people, then?

Ahha, gummint scientists to the rescue:

Q. Should we be concerned with human breathing as a source of CO2?

A. No. While people do exhale carbon dioxide (the rate is approximately 1 kg per day, and it depends strongly on the person’s activity level), this carbon dioxide includes carbon that was originally taken out of the carbon dioxide in the air by plants through photosynthesis – whether you eat the plants directly or animals that eat the plants. Thus, there is a closed loop, with no net addition to the atmosphere.

Anyway. The question of using seaweed to combat the insanely high levels of carbon dioxide humans put out is only beginning to be explored, but already it is an interesting idea!

Artists arrested in Boston for LED “bomb” scare.

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Did you hear about the Boston “bomb” scare?

Here’s a CNN article that tells about it. BBC has reported on it, too. Lots of coverage.

They were art pieces advertising Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They were put up by a member of the Glitch Crew video art collective, who was contracted to do so by Turner Broadcasting. Some people thought they were bombs; bomb squads went berserk.

A good friend of mine, also a member of Glitch, was helping Peter put them up. He’s in jail too, with a $100,000 bail on his head. Arraignment is tomorrow morning, and I hope they’ll just be let go.

They got arrested after Turner owned up. As far as I know, Turner is letting them spend the night in jail. Which, as far as I’m concerned, may be easier but is… a bit assinine on the part of one of the richest media companies in the U.S.

I’ll post again after I know what happens at the arraignment. Meanwhile, here’s a link to a Grand Text Auto post that mentions other instances in which artists have gotten in trouble because we’re now scared of EVERYTHING.

Edited to add: no, wait. I’m taking issue with some stuff in the CNN article. (I’m sure other news sources are no better, by the way, just picking up on their wording.)

Peter Berdovsky, 27, a freelance video artist from Arlington, Massachusetts, was facing charges of placing a hoax device in a way that results in panic, as well as one count of disorderly conduct, said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. The charge is a felony, she said.

According to his Web site, Berdovsky is a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and a founding member of a video artists group called Glitch who goes by the nickname “Zebbler” and sings in a band called “Superfiction.”

Authorities believe Berdovsky was “in the employ of other individuals” as part of the marketing campaign, Coakley said. “How exactly this was executed, we are still investigating.” Berdovsky is scheduled for arraignment at 9 a.m. Thursday in Charlestown District Court.

“In the employ of other individuals”? YES, YOU DIPSHITS, HE WAS IN THE EMPLOY OF TURNER. And also, stop calling them “suspicious packages.” They’re not packages. They’re CIRCUIT BOARDS WITH LIGHTS AND THREE AA BATTERIES IN THEM. If you hold them up, you can see through the holes in them. Nothing was ever hidden from view in them. So stop fucking scaremongering now that you know what they are.

Gah. News media.

Edited again: Oh, good. Now CNN has updated the article to include “Sean Stevens, 28” in the two-name list of the people arrested. Now I don’t feel quite as weird about talking about Sean by name.

Also, ha! NOBODY IS SAFE. CNN again: “Turner Broadcasting said the devices had been in place for two to three weeks in Boston; New York; Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; Atlanta, Georgia; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; San Francisco, California; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”

Global warming and other calamities.

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Back from California, with a cold given to me by brother and nephew, who brought it with them from New York.

The funeral was… a funeral. It was sad. We cried.

I feel like my grandmother left so long ago, it’s difficult to find the words for talking about her death as something recent. Far more real for me was my mother’s pain, and my uncle’s. From this perspective, the family time was a very good thing indeed.

Now we’re back, and I would be diving right into the work if not for the cold that waylaid me in the morning and early afternoon. And I have a doctor’s appointment in an hour (unrelated)! Guess today’s a sick day.

Last week Ethan and I and other family had a long and at times heated conversation about politics, environment and other controversial topics. My mom and I have one of those more or less every time we see each other, and given that we’re on the opposite sides of the political spectrum from each other, you can imagine how they tend to go. One thing, though – we’re learning to not let the disagreements cloud our interactions for days. I guess that’s a good thing.

I’m all for providing information, but hate it when someone force-feeds it to me. So, WHEREAS I desire to share information on contentious topics with my mother, AND I love her, AND I don’t want to force all of it upon her, LET THEREFORE be established a new purpose for this weblog, BEING to more thoroughly document my perception of the world.

Let’s see if this lasts for more than a day, mm? I was always terrible at letter-writing, and diary-writing, and blogging. I’m hurtling headlong into the (hopefully?) final stages of my dissertation. But the world keeps going, and I need an outlet – and a tangible link to the outside of my head.

The evening after our big debate, I found the following interesting bits on the web.

Personal Responsibility

Wired reports that people can cause earthquakes! The 5.6 one that took place in 1989 in Australia was caused, National Geographic says, by 200 years of coal mining. And, HA ha, the extensive damage done by the earthquake cost more than all the coal they got out of that mine, put together. The damage and undoubted deaths aren’t funny, but in a perverse sense, the whole thing is. Remember, gang: what we do with our environment affects everyone.

Global warming isn’t new. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again. With or without us. Except that this time around, it’s us making it happen.

Fear not, though, some of us are acting to make things better. Jyllands-Posten reports that Danes will have access to bioethanol by 2010. Denmark is generally pretty cool, as Brad DeLong documents in “The Scandinavian Model.”

So what can you do? Well, for one thing you can offset the emissions you generate through travel by buying energy credits. Their calculator is flawed, but the money goes to developing renewable-energy projects.

Depending on where you live, you may also have the option of paying a little more to get your energy from renewable sources only. Here’s one place to start (in the US, at least).

You can even join Al Gore’s information troops.

Giving The Man The Finger


All passports issued by the US State Department after January 1 will have always-on radio frequency identification chips, making it easy for officials – and hackers – to grab your personal stats. Getting paranoid about strangers slurping up your identity? Here’s what you can do about it.

They do warn that tampering with these chips is illegal, and let me emphasize that I’m linking to someone else’s article here. Don’t shoot the messenger, Mr. Man!

Just Cool

Pleo the Robo-Dinosaur!

Off to the doctor’s. Y’all take care now, y’hear?

Study: Psilocybin relieves OCD symptoms

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

TUCSON, Ariz. – A preliminary study of the active ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms has found it is effective in relieving the symptoms of people suffering from severe obsessive compulsive disorder, a University of Arizona psychiatrist reports.

Dr. Francisco A. Moreno led the first FDA-approved clinical study of psilocybin since it was outlawed in 1970. The results of the small-scale study are published in the latest edition of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Psilocybin is, as you will surely know, the psychoactive ingredient in mushrooms of the Psilocybe genus. The article above is a fun little read, and the Erowid link… well, Erowid may not be a “little” read, but is always fun and educational. :)

(If you follow the second link above and find the information interesting and well presented, won’t you donate to Erowid before the year is out? They are the largest online repository of information on psychoactives from caffeine to smart drugs to heroin; they do some great work, and are supported entirely by [non-governmental!] donations. Definitely a worthy cause to support.)