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Exoskeletons For Human Performance Augmentation
via Plastic

You can't make this stuff up. The DOD is developing human exoskeleton battle armor for combat troops. Jesus. Now I see what we need that huge defense budget for. Better than nuclear weapons I guess, but still a world far beyond my comprehension.

posted by AES on Thursday, March 14, 2002 | link to this post |

The Left Has Lost Its Bearings

Warning: academic content

In the latest "Editor's Salon" section of Dissent, Michael Walzer outlines an argument addressing the fundamental failure of the American Left's response to the events of September 11. To quote the basic problem: "...the leftist critique--most clearly, I think, from the Vietnam years forward (from the time of “Amerika,” Viet Cong flags, and breathless trips to the North)--has been stupid, overwrought, grossly inaccurate. It is the product of what Philip Roth, in his novel I Married a Communist, aptly described as “the combination of embitterment and not thinking.” The left has lost its bearings. Why? "

Walzer identifies several reasons the left has become an ineffectual political voice and force in American politics:

1. Ideology: the lingering effects of the Marxist theory of imperialism and of the third worldist doctrines of the 1960s and 1970s.

2. Powerlessness and alienation: leftists have no power in the United States and most of us don't expect to exercise power, ever.

*my opinion*: I think this is a key point. I think the left's fear and denial of their own potential political power keeps them in a position of irrelevancy, esp. regarding the events of September 11. The left's spectacular failure to adequately and courageously address and deconstruct the real issues of power of September 11 and the American response comes from the underlying premise of naive leftist doctrine, or "Political power=oppression. If the left ever got power, we would de facto be oppressors. Therefore, we don't want any power and we don't think America should exercise global power either."

It's easy, not to mention intellectually dishonest, to fight and rage against a perceived "oppressor". But the step the left can't seem to take is what comes after the initial rage experienced at the realization of abuses of power. And that step is the escape the dichotemy of "victim or abuser", "oppressed or oppressor" and come to an honest appraisal of their own movement's power, the existence and value of power, the reality and nature of power abuses, and how to best handle power in a morally coherent and responsible manner.

As long as the left is content to merely bitch about "oppression" and refuse to recognize their own power as an intellectual and political force, they will only be caught in an increasing downward spiral of ineffectual whining.*end opinion*

3. The moral purism of blaming America first: many leftists seem to believe that this is like blaming oneself, taking responsibility for the crimes of the imperial state.

4. The sense of not being entitled to criticize anyone else: how can we live here in America, the richest, most powerful, and most privileged country in the world, and say anything critical about people who are poorer and weaker than we are?

These are all highly insightful points, and, I believe, a great place to start for an honest inventory of the left's recent failures, and, as Walzer puts it, for the left to "begin again."

posted by AES on Thursday, March 14, 2002 | link to this post |

This Just In: Willis Kicks Vanilla's Ass

Fox's "Celebrity Boxing" is a hit!

"Jones was no match for Harding, who after all has a résumé that includes smashing in a boyfriend's face and throwing a hubcap at his head for good measure. Jones had only put a U.S. president in the doghouse, and besides, she had an expensive nose job to protect. By the start of Round 2, Jones was trying to hide behind the ref.

"Earlier in the evening, Danny "Boom Boom" Bonaduce, a k a Danny Partridge, and Todd "Mad Dog" Bridges of '70s sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" respectively whomped wimps Barry "Da Butcher" Williams, who used to be Greg Brady of the Bunch, and Rob "I Used to Be Vanilla Ice" Van Winkle without breaking a sweat.

"Harding, Bonaduce and Bridges had all enterprisingly sold their backs to, an online casino. The casino's Web address appeared to have been tattooed on each of their backs with a Marks-a-Lot, which must be a TV advertising first. "

posted by AES on Thursday, March 14, 2002 | link to this post |

Two Disabled Men Draw Weapons in Fight Over Handicapped Parking Spot

See, this is why I want to move to Florida. I have a feeling this is not out of the ordinary for those people.

"SPRING HILL -- There were no courteous words or gallant waves when two disabled men decided they wanted the same handicapped parking space outside Oak Hill Hospital on Wednesday.

One honked. The other shouted a profanity.

One unsheathed a sword. The other raised a 9mm handgun.

Bystanders in the crowded parking lot watched. They saw the man with the sword turn around and race inside the hospital.
A sword? Excellent!

posted by AES on Thursday, March 14, 2002 | link to this post |


TechWatch: Microsoft to go Nuclear

Following the announcement that the Defense Department is planning to upgrade its tactical nuclear capabilities, Microsoft officials this week have reached agreement with the Pentagon on a $200 million contract to develop new control systems for nuclear warheads. Based on the popular X-Box video game system, the proposed system will help special forces units in the field strike quickly at emerging targets, using a new generation of lightweight, "smart" warheads guided by specialized computer hardware and software.

Said one Pentagon official familiar with the Microsoft proposal, “I know it sounds odd, but the X-Box is actually a very sophisticated battle management system. At its current stage of development it already meets 90 percent of the control specifications we’ve set for the next phase of nuclear programs development."

As a top Microsoft official explained, “at first, we considered using a set of DOS extensions we developed for controlling weapons deployment within a specialized Windows environment. This tested well in battle simulations, but ultimately we decided to go with the X-Box operating system, to ensure that the Pentagon has the most up-to-date system we could deliver. Quality is especially important in a specialized vertical market like nuclear battle management, so we’re excited about the opportunity to take what we’ve learned in consumer markets and put it to work on critical national defense applications."

posted by p on Wednesday, March 13, 2002 | link to this post |

Fashion Notes: Versace on the “Nude Europe”

Milan—Racy advertisements are nothing new in the fashion world, but this month Versace made waves with a new series of ads depicting beach scenes with fully-clothed female models surrounded by nude or nearly-nude men. As Donatella Versace explained in an interview, her goal for the ads went far beyond the daring, sexy image Versace is famous for.

“I was thinking about Europe, really, when I decided on this concept for our Fall collections,” said Versace. “At this time in history, it is important for European men to be stripped, to show the world what they value most, which is pleasure, not war. This is a difficult time, so in Europe I want to reduce the international tension by making a statement, that men should become more open and less afraid of being vulnerable.” When asked about concerns expressed by some American editors that her ads were a little too revealing, Versace replied, “If they feel uncomfortable about men’s bodies, that is fine with me. It’s a start.”

posted by p on Wednesday, March 13, 2002 | link to this post |


Every Thang's Gonna be All White!

"An intramural basketball team at the University of Northern Colorado called “The Fighting Whities” is turning the tables on the Eaton mascot issue. Led by Solomon Little Owl, director of Native American Student Services at UNC, the team chose a white man as its mascot to raise awareness and understanding of stereotypes that some cultures endure.

"The players, made up of a mixture of American Indian, Hispanic and caucasian students, wear white jerseys with the picture of a white man in a suit on the front and the slogan “Every thang’s gonna be all white!” printed beneath."

This rules so hard.

posted by AES on Tuesday, March 12, 2002 | link to this post |


Brits Obsessed with Injured Cat Webcam
(via BoingBoing)

Frank the Cat, who is recovering from a broken pelvis caused by a car accident last January, has a webcam and fan site that is all the rage these days as concerned cat lovers watch Frank's recovery from their desktops. Also on Frank's site are forms for sending Frank a get-well message, FrankFacts, Frank's X-rays, and pictures of readers' pets that have been sent in. Get well soon Frank! You're a doll!

posted by AES on Monday, March 11, 2002 | link to this post | Worms Eat My Garbage!

Last Saturday I brought home a brand-new worm bin for indoor composting of vegetable scraps, which I am *very excited* about. For the uninitiated, worm bins and vermicomposting take vegetable scraps and peels and lets redworms (Eisinia fetida) eat them, transforming the scraps into incredibly nutrient-rich worm castings that house and garden plants love. is a website published by the recognized worm composting guru herself, Mary Appelhof. Check it out- it doesn't stink, it's easy, and you can feel good about reducing your personal contribution to the waste stream. Plus, having worms in the house is just plain fun and cool.

Time to start knitting my redworm!

posted by AES on Monday, March 11, 2002 | link to this post |

Messiness Can Indicate Personality Traits

In a study published in the latest issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology called "A Room With a Cue", researchers at the University of Texas at Austin asked participants to "find out how much people deduce from someone's "social environment"--and whether those deductions are accurate--Gosling and his colleagues enrolled 83 current and former students and 94 office workers in a study. All agreed to have either their bedrooms (in the students' case) or offices assessed by 7 or 8 observers."

Participants were asked to rate the occupants of the rooms/offices on a scale of 1-7 for several criteria (known by psychologists as the "Big Five": openness to new experiences; agreeableness; extroversion; emotional stability; a measure of how calm, relaxed and self-assured someone is; and conscientiousness, an indication not of morality but dependability.

The results?

"Raters gleaned a lot in just a few minutes...They weren't great at accurately assessing agreeableness and extroversion, but they were surprisingly adept at scoring someone's dependability and openness to new experiences.

"Now Gosling and colleagues plan to analyze the phenomenon in more detail. They have huge inventories of room contents--all those pebbles from beaches, unwashed coffee mugs, postcards declaring "you don't have to be crazy to work here but it helps," and more. They want to dissect more precisely what these things say about someone.

posted by AES on Monday, March 11, 2002 | link to this post |

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