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Friday, July 13, 2007

Soylent.Green


Set in the year 2022, Soylent Green depicts a dystopia, a Malthusian catastrophe that occurs because humanity has failed to pursue sustainable development and has not halted uncontrolled population growth; New York City's population is 40,000,000, with more than half of it unemployed. Global warming, air and water pollution have produced a year-round heatwave and a thin, yellow, daytime smog. Food and fuel are scarce resources, because of animal and plant decimation, housing is dilapidated and overcrowded, and widespread government-sponsored euthanasia is encouraged to control and reduce overpopulation.

Meat, bread, cheese, fruit, vegetables, and even alcoholic beverages are scarce and extremely expensive; for example, a six-ounce jar of strawberry jam is 150 "Ds" (US Dollars). Like the soylent food factories, the farms producing foodstuffs are heavily guarded and off-limits to civilians. For most of the populace, natural foods are a rarely, if ever, enjoyed luxury. The government dispenses rations of synthetic food — soylent yellow, soylent red — made by the Soylent Corporation; their newest and most popular version, soylent green, is made from plankton, according to the food firm.

Soylent green
Soylent .Green -- tofu?!

Soylent's food products are mostly distributed as brightly colored crackers which may be eaten with margarine, although they are also seen being sold as bread-like buns and in crumb form. The word "soylent" is a portmanteau combining soybean and lentil (cheap, very high-yield crops).[citation needed]

Specific Soylent products are distributed to the populace on different days of the week, however, yet even the those supplies are limited and there is much competition among people to get their rations early. The competition is such that if the supply is exhausted, rioting for food is common. To deal with this problem, the distribution centers are heavily guarded by police who deal with rioters very heavy-handedly, using "scoops" — scoop-equipped dump truck scooping and dumping rioters into the containers in back; such callous, violent treatment invariably is fatal to some rioters.

In contrast, the rich elite live in spacious apartments, with regular access to real food, tobacco, and alcohol, though even then they often are of poor quality. Some of the rich can even afford "furniture", the film's term for concubines economically attached to the apartments.

Robert Thorn, (Charlton Heston), is a New York City police detective investigating the murder of William R. Simonson (Joseph Cotten), a director of the Soylent Corporation. Thorn lives with his aged "police book" partner Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson) in a one-room tenement apartment. Long before, Sol was a college professor, but now is employed as a police researcher. Unlike most people in A.D. 2022, including Thorn, Sol received a formal education and is literate; education of any sort is available only to the wealthy elite. Sol and people such as he are known as "books", because real books are out of print, as there is no wood for paper, along with electricity, water, food, and printing press shortages.

During his investigation of Simonson's murder, Thorn slowly uncovers a conspiracy, which would be revealed to him if only he can learn what occurs in the HOME euthanasia centers. When the dispirited Sol opts for euthanasia, Thorn forces his way into the euthanasia center, making two shocking discoveries. First, he sees motion pictures of the beautiful Earth of former times that are shown only to those about being euthanised. It startles him he cries when he sees how beautiful the Earth was before it eroded to its current state in the 21st century. When Sol goes "home," Thorn is too late to stop him; he cries bitterly at Sol's death. Second, when Thorn follows the disposal of Sol's cadaver, he discovers that soylent green includes the recycled cadavers of the people who have used the government-sponsored HOME euthanasia centers, leading to his famous outcry: "Soylent Green is people!" -scififlicks.o- some great quotes. --\ IMDB \__

Trivia

  • The actual Soylent Green in the movie is made out of food-colored tofu.
  • Charlton Heston's tears at Sol's death were real, as Heston was the only cast member who knew that Edward G. Robinson was dying of terminal cancer. This was the 100th and last movie in which Robinson appeared. He died nine days after the shooting was done, on January 26, 1973.
  • A character is briefly seen operating a Computer Space arcade game (Spacewar, developed by students at MIT), marking the movie as one of the first to show the emerging pop cultural phenomenon of video games.
  • This was the last feature film to have exteriors shot using the old MGM back lot.
  • Chuck Connors had a hard time fighting Heston in the movie because he didn't like hitting "Moses", Heston's role in the film The Ten Commandments.
  • In the cartoon Futurama, Bender the robot and Elzar the Neptunian chef compete for the title of Iron Cook. Soylent Green is used as the theme ingredient, and Ethan "Bubble Gum" Tate, one of the judges, makes the statement, "Soylent Green is my kind of people!" A reference to a Soylent Cola is also made in one episode, which is made from people. As Leela describes the drink, "It varies from person to person".

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

the Upside of Smoking...

Fantastic Lad sends us to Wired for a story on the upside of nicotine.
Researchers are developing drugs based on nicotine that may prove
beneficial for [0]brains, bowels, blood vessels and immune systems.
"Nicotine acts on the acetylcholine receptors in the brain, stimulating
and regulating the release of a slew of brain chemicals, including
seratonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Now drugs derived from nicotine
and the research on nicotine receptors are in clinical trials for
everything from helping to heal wounds, to depression, schizophrenia,
Alzheimer's, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, anger management and anxiety." A
separate story talks about [1]nicotine warding off Parkinson's disease.

source -- slashdot

Monday, July 9, 2007

Pakistani soldiers storm Red Mosque

Pakistan's troops move towards the Red Mosque in Islamabad on 10 July 2007
The operation was launched early in the morning
Troops in Pakistan's city of Islamabad have stormed the Red Mosque, after talks with radicals broke down.

"It is a final push to clear the place of armed militants," said military spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad.

The army said at 20 militants were killed in the operation, as loud explosions and gunfire were heard.

Twenty children escaped from the mosque, where women are also being held. Three soldiers are reported killed and some 20 others injured.

The military operation began at about 0400 (2300 GMT Monday).

The troops entered the compound and exchanged fire with the militants holed up inside.

Men wait for news of family members inside the Red Mosque
It is an anxious wait for those with relatives inside the mosque

The army said 20 militants were killed and another 15 injured.

Local medical officials said 20 government troops were injured, and three had died of their wounds after being taken to local hospitals.

The army says it has taken over the building's roof.

However, it is meeting particularly strong resistance from militants in the basement, reports the BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan at the scene.

Those inside the mosque are using hand grenades, light machine guns, petrol bombs and other weapons, and the army says it expects the operation will last another four hours.

Ambulances are waiting nearby to help any wounded.

It is not clear exactly how many people were left inside the mosque when the assault began.

Olive-Pomace Oil inhibits AIDS spread

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Monday July 09, @04:07PM

Researchers in Madrid are claiming that they have discovered that a type of wax found in olive skin can help to slow the spread of HIV. "Their work shows that maslinic acid - a natural product extracted from dry olive-pomace oil in oil mills - inhibits serin-protease, an enzyme used by HIV to release itself from the infected cell into the extracellular environment and, consequently, to spread the infection into the whole body. These scientists from Granada determined that the use of olive-pomace oil can produce an 80% slowing down in AIDS spreading in the body."

Google Spies on China

An image of what could be one of China's new nuclear ballistic missile submarines is available on the Google Maps and Google Earth satellite-image site, a defense blogger claimed Tuesday. The satellite picture was discovered by Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project for the Federation of American Scientists, and announced Tuesday on his blog. Kristensen believes the picture, taken by the Quickbird satellite late last year, reveals China's new Jin-class, or Type 094, nuclear ballistic missile sub. The new sub class is approximately 35 feet longer than its predecessor, the Xia-class, also known as Type 092, according to two images Kristensen compares on the blog. The Jin-class sub has an extended midsection that houses 12 missile tubes and part of the reactor compartment, Kristensen explains. -- source: Slashdot --

Bush aides not to testify

US President George W Bush has invoked executive privilege to deny requests by Congress for the testimony of two aides over the firing of federal prosecutors.

The row hinges on whether the attorneys were sacked for political motives.

Democratic leaders say they could go to court to challenge Mr Bush's move. He invoked the same little-used power last month to withhold subpoenaed documents.

The White House says Mr Bush is acting in good faith and has offered to let the aides do off-the-record interviews.

The pair in question are Harriet Miers, former White House counsel, and Sara Taylor, former political director for the White House.

Ms Miers has been summoned to appear under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and Ms Taylor to testify before the House Judiciary Committee the next day.

'Unreasonable' demands

The Democratic heads of the two judiciary committees had set a deadline of Monday for the White House to explain the first invocation of privilege last month and to log what documents were being withheld.

In a letter to congressional leaders, White House counsel Fred Fielding said their demands were "unreasonable" because they represented "a substantial incursion into presidential prerogatives".

John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, responded with a warning that Congress was prepared to go to court over the matter.

"Contrary to what the White House may believe, it is Congress and the courts that will decide whether an invocation of executive privilege is valid, not the White House unilaterally," he wrote. --source: BBC--

What is Politics?

Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.

Blackwater Scandal Part 2

Internal memos show that four security contractors who were ambushed and killed in Iraq three years ago were told to go through the dangerous city of Fallujah when a safer route was available, a newspaper reported Sunday.
The memos said a Blackwater USA supervisor also plucked two members of each six-man team for other work, reducing the teams' numbers and making them more vulnerable to attack, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported.
Memos from the second team _ whose leader decided to go around Fallujah on March 31, 2004, and which wasn't attacked _ said the teams also were sent without maps, although other memos suggest maps were available, the newspaper said. "These reports were written by people who were not there," Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell told The Associated Press. "The answer to what really happened in Fallujah is a tragedy in which four brave men were killed."
Tyrrell said she couldn't comment on specifics because of pending litigation and wouldn't comment on the memos.
A team called Bravo 2, which went around Fallujah, said both teams were told to go through the city but got back to Baghdad safely because they took a different route than the one they were told to use.
The other team, called November 1, went into the city as instructed, escorting empty trucks, and ran into a deadly ambush, according to the memos.
The Bravo 2 memos said the decisions were made by Blackwater's site manager in Baghdad, despite protests that the teams had too few people and weren't ready, the newspaper said.
Bravo 2 was ordered the morning after it arrived from the United States to go to the Jordanian border, pick up an executive for a food service company and take him to Baghdad, a memo said.
Team members protested that they hadn't had time to sight their weapons to be sure they were accurate. They were told to do their job or go home, a memo said.
Families of the four men killed sued Blackwater. The company countersued and won a ruling that the disputes would be heard in closed arbitration sessions instead of open court. source-- msnbc

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Cool Web Sites and Stuff

Cool Software and Websites: (All free unless stated otherwise)

When the Dictator Dictates

'In his remarkable book, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar, Simon Sebag Montefiore does a service by focusing on the intimacies of power. In his detailed, highly readable account of Joseph Stalin's entourage, Montefiore shows how power is often a byproduct of informal interaction, a thing of the dinner table, the hunting expedition, the boudoir.

'But Montefiore also poses another question, one more specific to the Soviet leader. Why is it that the experienced, ruthless, conceited men and women around Stalin could so easily fall under his ruinous power, to the extent that some remained loyal even after the murder or imprisonment of members of their families? The answer is deceptively simple: There was no sovereign rule of law to mediate the relation. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s Stalin himself became the law, replacing the hard but more egalitarian conventions of the Communist Party. The absolute leader destroyed a system and replaced it with his own absolute ego.

'Observing that the absence of the rule of law leads to the abuse of power is trite. However, this can be applied to state systems, and helps explain why destabilizing dictatorships can so easily impose their will on other sometimes more powerful states around them. The Arab state system is a prime example of this condition. Looking back several decades, and up to this day, a recurrent pattern in the Middle East and North Africa is that of the most thuggish regimes managing to get away with murder, even though their reckless behavior endangers the interests of other regimes.' (Reason article).

Warrantless Internet Snooping Upheld

amigoro writes to let us know about an appeals court ruling on Friday that holds that federal agents can snoop on an individual's web surfing, email and all other forms of Internet communication habits without a warrant. The court found recording this kind of information to be analogous to the use of a pen register. In 1979 the Supreme Court ruled that this technique did not constitute a search for Fourth Amendment purposes. fullstory and discusion @ slashdot.

Watching Ants...

UFO Festival in Roswell

From the Washington Post: 'Attention, all aliens. Come on down. Because, seriously, this is your crowd. About 50,000 of your closest admirers are expected this weekend for the Roswell UFO Festival, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the nearby crash landing of a flying saucer — and, naturally, the ensuing government cover-up." Discuss at slashdot.

the Multiverse Interpretation

chinmay7 writes "There is an excellent selection of articles (and
quite a few related scientific papers) in [1]a special edition of Nature
magazine on interpretations of the multiverse theory. 'Fifty years ago
this month Hugh Everett III published his paper proposing a
"relative-state formulation of quantum mechanics" — the idea subsequently
described as the 'many worlds' or 'multiverse' interpretation. Its impact
on science and culture continues. In celebration, a science fiction
special edition of Nature on 5 July 2007 explores the symbiosis of
science and sf, as exemplified by Everett's hypothesis, its birth,
evolution, champions and opponents, in biology, physics, literature and
beyond.'

Discuss this story at:
http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=07/07/06/2323214

Links:
0. http://people.vanderbilt.edu/~chinmay.soman/
1. http://www.nature.com/nature/focus/arts/sciencefiction/index.html

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Rare Sqidley-Pus found in Hawaii

"A unique creature that's been dubbed an 'octosquid' with eight arms and a squid-like mantle, was discovered off Hawaii. The creature, of a previously unknown species, was trapped in the net covering a 3,000 foot-deep intake tube for the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority. From the article: 'The octosquid was pulled to the surface, along with three rattail fish and half a dozen satellite jellyfish, and stayed alive for three days. According to War, the lab usually checks its filters once a month, but this time, it put a plankton net in one of the filters and checked it two weeks later. The pitch-black conditions at 3,000 feet below sea level are unfamiliar to most but riveting to scientists who have had the opportunity to submerge. The sea floor is full of loose sediment, big boulders and rocks, and a lot of mucuslike things floating in the water, which are usually specimens that died at the surface and drifted to the bottom.'"

Friday, July 6, 2007

US court dismisses 'spying' case

A US appeals court has dismissed a case challenging President George W Bush's domestic surveillance programme.

The judges in Cincinnati ruled 2-1 that the groups which brought the lawsuit, including the American Civil Liberties Union, had no legal right to sue.

The ruling strikes down a lower court's order that found the programme, adopted after 9/11, to be unconstitutional.

It allowed the government to monitor contacts between US citizens and terror suspects abroad, without a warrant.

While President Bush says his wartime powers allowed him to authorise surveillance without the need for a warrant, critics say he violated Americans' civil liberties.

Mr Bush decided not to renew the domestic spying programme in January this year.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the government would instead seek approval from a special court for wiretaps. FULL STORY AT THE BBC...

New NY Anti-Piracy Law

"The BBC is carrying a story on new tightened New York anti-piracy legislation: A man has been been arrested, after smuggling video recording equipment into a theatre showing the new Transformers movie. 'Kalidou Diallo, 48, has been charged with unauthorized use of a video camera in a cinema. Under upgraded legislation, he could face six months in jail and fines of up to $5,000 (£2,487) if found guilty,' the BBC reports." --source: slashdot --

Fatah on shaky ground

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK — Routed in the Gaza Strip, the Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is fractured and adrift at a moment when it is viewed by the outside world as the best hope for blunting the militant Hamas movement in the West Bank.

Once dominant in Palestinian affairs, the organization long led by the late Yasser Arafat is beset by a weak and aging leadership, internal schisms and a widespread reputation among Palestinians as corrupt, ineffectual and out of touch. Those troubles have some Palestinians wondering whether Fatah is more likely to lose the West Bank than to recapture the Gaza Strip from Hamas.

The crisis facing Fatah has deepened since Hamas crushed its forces in Gaza last month, leaving Fatah's authority limited to the West Bank. The United States, Israel and European allies have promised to bolster Abbas, a relative moderate, and his party as a way to isolate Hamas.

Fatah ruled unchallenged under Arafat, but was sent reeling after his death when it lost to Hamas in parliamentary elections in January 2006. Fatah's calamitous military defeat in Gaza has heightened worries among members. --source--
iamlucky13 writes "In January of 2004, the NASA's Stardust mission made a flyby of comet Wild-2, taking images and collecting samples from its tail that have since been returned to earth in a detachable capsule. On July 4, 2005, Deep Impact smashed a 350 kg projectile traveling 37,000 km/h into comet Tempel 1 as part of its studies of that object. With both craft in good shape at the end of their missions, NASA has been considering additional tasks for the probes. These plans have now been confirmed with a variety of tasks costing an estimated 15% what a new mission would. Among the new duties will be a revisit of Tempel 1, a flyby of comet Boethin, and transit studies of known extra-solar planets. --source-slashdot--

ESET releases online virus Scan.

ESET, a global provider of antivirus software, today announced a release of its new online scanning service. Powered by award-winning ESET NOD32 Antivirus software, ESET Online Scanner is a free Web-based service that enables computer users to perform a comprehensive system scan to check for and clean viruses, spyware, and other malware—without uninstalling their existing antivirus solution.

make use of.com bonus newsletter

Posted: 05 Jul 2007 08:19 PM CDT


Cool Software and Websites: (All free unless stated otherwise)



  • eSnailer - send free postal letters to anywhere in the U.S.


  • Glubble - here is something for your little ones. Gubble is a free and impressive parental control suite for Firefox. It turns your browser into a locked environment where kids can only surf Gubble-approved sites.

  • l8r - service to compose and schedule future emails. “… many people use l8r to email their future selves and track personal goals.” (free account limited to 3 pending messages at a time). Alternatively, checkout FutureMail or Thunderbird’s Send Later.

  • Phozi - simple service that lets you add some fun to your images.Share them with others on your profile (Myspace, Facebook, iGoogle, Xanga, etc.).


  • Plaxo - excellent web-based address book, Calendar and ToDo list service. Syncs with Microsoft (Hotmail, …), Google (Gmail, Gcal), Yahoo, AOL, the Mac, Thunderbird, and mobile phones.

  • Sk-rt - Digg-like news service for girls. ;-)

  • SocialPoster - handy configurable utility for submitting websites to multiple social networks and bookmarking sites all at once.

  • Yuntaa - online file storage, backup and sharing service. Features: file sharing, easy image/video/audio sharing, backup/restore services, sync. yuntaa-stored files with your desktop, and more. (Free account is restricted to 1GB of storage)



Cool Articles and Tips:


Panic Over Failing QuikSCAT Satellite Overblown

Panic Over Failing QuikSCAT Satellite Overblown |
| from the glad-that's-all-worked-out dept. |
| posted by samzenpus on Thursday July 05, @07:59 (Space) |
| http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/07/05/0414204 |
+--------------------------------------------------------------------+

daeg writes "We previously [0]read and discussed about the aging QuikSCAT
weather satellite used to help predict tropical storms. It turns out that
[1]the panic is likely overblown and the loss of the satellite won't have
any dramatic effects on forecasting at all. Some in the National
Hurricane Center are now [2]calling for Director Proenza's resignation
over this and his overall handling of the center."

Discuss this story at:
http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=07/07/05/0414204

Links:
0. http://politics.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/06/16/182240&tid=160
1. http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=710&tstamp=200707
2. http://www.tampabays10.com/weather/article.aspx?storyid=58263

free will and personal choice

Intoxicate me, my cigarette
And give me a scornful air,
I want to stay cold and silent
While hearing sweet confessions.

These lyrics from Lucianne Boyer's 1930 song "Dans la Fumée" demonstrate not only the psychological power of the cigarette, but also its role as a cultural icon. A poster featuring Madame Boyer's troubled visage can be found in one of this city's quirkier museums, the six-year-old Musée du Fumeur. Actually a storefront with a couple of tiny rooms in the back, the 650-square-foot space was formerly a butcher shop -- which you'll be reminded of as you breathe in wafts of roasting chicken from the store nearby. Ironically, you won't be graced with the aroma of cigarette smoke until you step outdoors. (Wall Street Journal article)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Cheney in Power Grab

Vice President Dick Cheney has asserted his office is not a part of the executive branch of the U.S. government, and therefore not bound by a presidential order governing the protection of classified information by government agencies, according to a new letter from Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., to Cheney.

Bill Leonard, head of the government's Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), told Waxman's staff that Cheney's office has refused to provide his staff with details regarding classified documents or submit to a routine inspection as required by presidential order, according to Waxman.

In pointed letters released today by Waxman, ISOO's Leonard twice questioned Cheney's office on its assertion it was exempt from the rules. He received no reply, but the vice president later tried to get rid of Leonard's office entirely, according to Waxman.

Leonard did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a statement e-mailed to the Blotter on ABCNews.com, Cheney spokeswoman Megan McGinn said, "We are confident that we are conducting the office properly under the law.”

As director of the tiny, 25-person Information Security Oversight Office, Leonard is responsible for keeping track of the nation's secrets and making sure they are properly protected.

For the first two years of the George W. Bush administration, Cheney's office complied with a presidential order that requires officials to report statistics on the number of documents it classifies and declassifies.

Since 2003, however, Cheney's office has refused to submit the data to ISOO. And when ISOO inspectors tried in 2004 to schedule a routine inspection of the vice president's offices, they were rebuffed, Waxman's letter claims.

Other White House offices, including the National Security Council, did not object to similar inspections, according to Waxman.

"Serious questions can be raised about both the legality and advisability of exempting your office from the rules that apply to all other executive branch officials," Waxman said in his letter to the vice president, and asked him to explain why he felt the rules didn't apply to him and his staff and how he was protecting classified information in his office.

Former Cheney aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was recently convicted on several counts of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from the leak of the identity of former covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, Waxman noted, and in 2006, former Cheney aide Leandro Aragoncillo pleaded guilty to sharing classified U.S. documents with foreign nationals. Aragoncillo also worked under former Democratic Vice President Al Gore, who complied with ISOO's requests. [source]

Lack Of Accountability-Libby Pays The Man

Sentence commuted, convicted felon scoots to take care of 250K fine

JULY 5--On the same day that President George W. Bush wiped away his 30-month prison sentence, convicted former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby purchased a $250,400 cashier's check to cover fines imposed by the federal judge whose sentence was gutted by the presidential commutation. A copy of the July 2 cashier's check (which you can find below) was docketed today in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.. In April, a jury convicted Libby of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation of the leak of the identity of former CIA agent Valerie Plame. Libby's Bank of America check satisifies a $250,000 fine imposed by Judge Reggie Walton and also covers an additional $400 "special assessment." Supporters of Libby, who served as Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, stressed that while Bush's action kept Libby from a prison cell, the onerous six-figure fine was still intact. Libby secured the cashier's check on the same day that an appeals court rejected his bid to remain free on bail while appealing his felony conviction. That court ruling was cited by Bush in a statement announcing his decision to commute Libby's "excessive" prison sentence.

Synopsys on the EU State of the Union

The unnatural division of Europe is now consigned to the past
We, the citizens of the European Union, have united for the better
We preserve in the European Union the identities and diverse traditions of its member states
We are united in our aim of placing the EU on a renewed common basis before the European Parliament elections in 2009 -- source