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Puzzle Floor

Posted on May 31st, 2006 at 14:53 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture, News

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[Quote:]

The solid hardwood flooring components really are as they appear — pre-finished, precision fit puzzle pieces. Two individual patterns interlock quickly and easily to create a floor that’s durable, easy to care for and fun.


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World War II Poster Collection from Northwestern University Library

Posted on May 31st, 2006 at 13:38 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture

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[Quote:]

The Government and Geographic Information and Data Services Department at Northwestern University Library has a comprehensive collection of over 300 posters issued by U.S. Federal agencies from the onset of war through 1945.


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Comments:

  1. Should brave men die so you can drive…? History repeats.

Sweetbread Jesus

Posted on May 31st, 2006 at 12:10 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News

1. Discover image of Christ on your food
2. Alert the media
3. ???
4. Profit.


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Brad, Angelina and the rise of ‘celebrity colonialism’

Posted on May 31st, 2006 at 11:59 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ, News, What were they thinking?

[Quote:]

Over the past six weeks a Western security force has effectively taken over the small African nation of Namibia. A beach resort in Langstrand in Western Namibia has been sealed off with security cordons, and armed security personnel have been keeping both local residents and visiting foreigners at bay. A no-fly zone has been enforced over part of the country. The Westerners have also demanded that the Namibian government severely restrict the movement of journalists into and out of Namibia. The government agreed and, in a move described by one human rights organisation as ‘heavy-handed and brutal’, banned certain reporters from crossing its borders.

However, this Western security force is not a US or European army plundering Namibia’s natural resources or threatening to topple its government. It is the security entourage of one Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the celebrity couple better known for living it up in LA than slumming it in Namibia. They reportedly wanted their first child to be born in Namibia because the country is ‘the cradle of human kind’ and it would be a ‘special’ experience. And it seems that no security measure is too stringent in the name of making Ms Jolie feel special. Welcome to the new celebrity colonialism.


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Cartoons

Posted on May 31st, 2006 at 11:27 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

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Witness: Saddam ‘victims’ alive

Posted on May 31st, 2006 at 10:48 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

A witness in the trial of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has said at least 23 of the 148 Shia villagers said to have been executed are in fact alive.

Saddam and seven co-defendants are on trial over the deaths of 148 men and teenagers after a failed attempt on Saddam’s life in Dujail in 1982.

“The prosecutor said they were executed but I am telling you I ate with them some time ago,” said the witness.

The defendants have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The anonymous witness said he was a teenager in Dujail in 1982 when the assassination attempt led to what the prosecution has termed a massive crackdown on the village.

“Around 23 of those who were mentioned among the 148 are still alive, and I know most of them,” the witness said from behind a curtain to protect his identity.


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Burger King

Posted on May 31st, 2006 at 8:45 by John Sinteur in category: If you're in marketing, kill yourself

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Why would anyone try to rip off a cigarette company’s advertising or even imitate it? Are they trying to tell us junk food is just as healthy?


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High Court Trims Whistleblower Rights

Posted on May 31st, 2006 at 8:04 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

The Supreme Court scaled back protections for government workers who blow the whistle on official misconduct Tuesday, a 5-4 decision in which new Justice Samuel Alito cast the deciding vote.

In a victory for the Bush administration, justices said the 20 million public employees do not have free-speech protections for what they say as part of their jobs.

Critics predicted the impact would be sweeping, from silencing police officers who fear retribution for reporting department corruption, to subduing federal employees who want to reveal problems with government hurricane preparedness or terrorist-related security.

Supporters said that it will protect governments from lawsuits filed by disgruntled workers pretending to be legitimate whistleblowers.

[..]

Stephen Kohn, chairman of the National Whistleblower Center, said: “The ruling is a victory for every crooked politician in the United States.”


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Baby with 3 arms may have surgery

Posted on May 31st, 2006 at 7:57 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture, News

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[Quote:]

Doctors in Shanghai on Tuesday were considering surgery options for a two-month old boy born with an unusually well-formed third arm.

Neither of the boy’s two left arms is fully functional and tests have so far been unable to determine which was more developed, said Dr. Chen Bochang, head of the orthopedics department at Shanghai Children’s Medical Center.

“His case is quite peculiar. We have no record of any child with such a complete third arm,” Chen said in a telephone interview. “It’s quite difficult to decide how to do the operation on him.”

The boy, identified only as “Jie-jie,” also was born with just one kidney and may have problems that could lead to curvature of the spine, according to local media reports.

Jie-jie cried when either of his left arms was touched, but smiled and responded normally to other stimuli, the reports said.


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Microsoft support (update)

Posted on May 31st, 2006 at 7:49 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft

As a follow-up to this post, the contact form on the dutch website is now fixed.

And I’ve thanked Nina for her effort – it rare enough to get support emails from people who know their stuff…


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Why do ex-Marines hate America

Posted on May 30th, 2006 at 21:27 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

Dear Mr. Hewitt, Mr Owens, Mr. Gross, and Mr. Dickus,

About a week and a half ago, each of you published scathing posts attacking Rep. John Murtha for his comments about war crimes at Al Haditha, Iraq. Mr Owens called for Murtha’s censure; Mr. Dickus demanded his resignation; Mr. Gross wants him frog marched off the Hill.

What seemed to enrage you the most about Murtha’s comments was that he had made them before it has been established by the Marine Corps that a crime had been committed. I couldn’t agree more. I mean we aren’t talking about a goatherd at Gitmo here, we can’t jump to any conclusions until Our Leader and Sean Hannity tell us it’s acceptable to do so.

Maybe it wasn’t a war crime at all. The final report might show that the victims were all terrorists. Who knows? Perhaps the 6 year old was shouldering an RPG and the 3 and 4 year olds were manning a .50 cal machine gun. We won’t know until the final report is issued.

But as much grief as you gave Murtha for his remarks, you haven’t written a word about these remarks attributed to Rep. John Kline:

“I was saddened, surprised and outraged that this could happen,” Kline said. He said he thought the incident would be regarded as “a horrific aberration” for the Marines.

or these:

This was not an accident. This was not an immediate response to an attack. This would be an atrocity.

Why have you been silent? Isn’t he jumping to the same conclusion as Murtha? An official report hasn’t been issued. He can’t be certain that a war crime was committed, can he.

Worse yet, like Murtha, Kline is a retired Marine. Why is it that these ex-leathernecks seem to be the angriest about what happened at Haditha? Does leaving the Marine Corps cause you to hate America? Maybe you should look into that.

Oh wait. I just realized that Kline is a Republican and one of Our Leader’s most loyal servants.

Never mind.


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Pedophiles to launch political party

Posted on May 30th, 2006 at 19:47 by John Sinteur in category: Nederland is Gek!

[Quote:]

Dutch pedophiles are launching a political party to push for a cut in the legal age for sexual relations to 12 from 16 and the legalization of child pornography and sex with animals, sparking widespread outrage.

The Charity, Freedom and Diversity (NVD) party said on its Web site it would be officially registered Wednesday, proclaiming: “We are going to shake The Hague awake!”

The party said it wanted to cut the legal age for sexual relations to 12 and eventually scrap the limit altogether.

“A ban just makes children curious,” Ad van den Berg, one of the party’s founders, told the Algemeen Dagblad (AD) newspaper.

“We want to make pedophilia the subject of discussion,” he said, adding the subject had been a taboo since the 1996 Marc Dutroux child abuse scandal in neighboring Belgium.

“We want to get into parliament so we have a voice. Other politicians only talk about us in a negative sense, as if we were criminals,” Van den Berg told Reuters.

Well, as you can see, as much as I mock US politics, my own country has a ready supply of idiocy as well.


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Comments:

  1. Could be worse. They could have been stopped by the (secret)police. At least, in The Netherlands these people are stopped by the process of democratic voting.

  2. For now, they’re stopped by voting. Under Islamic law, they would be dealt with by decapitation (of the lower head). While I’m an opponent of radical Isalm, I’d approve of such punishment of actual practitioners of NVD’s central proposition…

  3. Un’altra indennità ha ragionato bene proclamazione il mio caro camerata, il vostro Il Duce.

Drought order leaves British clowns high and dry

Posted on May 30th, 2006 at 15:15 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ

[Quote:]

Circus clowns have fallen foul of a drought order granted to a British utility because of diminishing stocks of water, a number of newspapers reported.

Entertainers from Zippo’s Circus were told they risked heavy fines if they continued to throw up to 20 buckets of the increasingly precious resource over each other in their slapstick “slosh” shows, Saturday’s papers said.

With a hosepipe ban also in place, the funnymen and women will not be able to squirt each other with water from plastic flowers in their buttonholes, either.

The circus is currently pitched in Wallington, southeast England, where the drought order granted to Sutton and East Surrey Water to restrict the “non-essential use” of water comes into force Saturday.

It was granted because a series of dry winters has left reservoirs and underground aquifers in the densely-populated, water-hungry southeast severely depleted.

“The water board has had a complete sense of humour failure,” said Zippo the Clown Martin


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Verbod op doorspelen passagiersgegegevens

Posted on May 30th, 2006 at 14:23 by John Sinteur in category: Privacy

[Quote:]

Een omstreden akkoord tussen de Europese Unie en de Verenigde Staten over het uitwisselen van gegevens van luchtreizigers is ongeldig wegens een vormfout. Dat vonnis dinsdag van het Europese Hof van Justitie in Luxemburg betekent een overwinning voor het Europees Parlement.

De regeling moet volgens het Hof per 30 september beëindigd worden. Het parlement had het akkoord bij het hoogste rechtscollege in Europa aangeklaagd omdat de VS veel te veel informatie zouden krijgen over Europese burgers, zoals hun kredietkaartgegevens.


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Cargo

Posted on May 30th, 2006 at 8:02 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture

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Six Flags over Jesus

Posted on May 30th, 2006 at 8:00 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News

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Too long to quote here, but read this piece. Theocratic nationalism was the idea of Mussolini, and now it is infecting America mainly through large Fundamentalist churches.


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2 CBS team members killed; reporter hurt

Posted on May 30th, 2006 at 7:59 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia

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[Quote:]

Cameraman Paul Douglas had spent more than a decade covering the world’s hot spots for CBS News. Freelance soundman James Brolan was part of a CBS team honored for its dispatches on the earthquake in Pakistan. Correspondent Kimberly Dozier had reported on the deteriorating situation in
Iraq for nearly three years.

The two British men were killed Monday in Baghdad when a car bomb exploded as they were working on a story about American troops in Iraq on Memorial Day. Douglas, 48, and Brolan, 42, died at the scene, the network said.

The U.S. military said an American soldier and an Iraqi interpreter were also killed in the same blast and six American soldiers were injured.


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Acht kandidaten voor lijsttrekkerschap D66

Posted on May 30th, 2006 at 6:58 by John Sinteur in category: Nederland is Gek!

[Quote:]

Bij D66 hebben zich acht leden gemeld voor het lijsttrekkerschap van de partij. Dat heeft het partijbestuur maandagavond bekendgemaakt.

D’66 – de partij met meer lijsttrekkers dan zetels. Meestal is dat toch andersom…


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Microsoft Help and Support

Posted on May 29th, 2006 at 18:55 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft

[Quote:]

Wij hechten grote waarde aan uw vragen en opmerkingen.

Gebruik dit formulier om een vraag te stellen, klacht in te dienen of verbeteringssuggestie te doen.

Bloody liars.

The text above, on the dutch microsoft web site, basically says that they value feedback, and you should use the linked web form to enter your message. Which then goes to a “not found” error page. And here I tried to tell them that a couple of 419 scammers were sending out a batch of spam using the microsoft name, and the spam had a dutch mobile number in them. I would hope microsoft has a regular contact with the police department for that kind of crap, but this behaviour of their website doesn’t give me much hope.

Looking through the US web site, I couldn’t find any way to give this kind of feedback – odd, because I know microsoft has assisted law enforcement on this kind of stuff in the past. So, I finally found a “report issues about this website” form, and told them their dutch feedback form was broken, and “oh, by the way” forward the following to your dutch security team.

Bleh.


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Comments:

  1. Well the site works now. So at least one part of your message got through.

  2. No, sorry – the page still points to http://www.microsoft.com/library/toolbar/3.0/search.aspx which still doesn’t exist.

  3. This is the page i get http://www.microsoft.com/netherlands/contact/feedback.aspx
    which besides the form gives the following text:

    Gebruik onderstaand formulier om een vraag te stellen, klacht in te dienen of verbeteringssuggestie te doen. Wij nemen dan zo snel mogelijk contact met u op. Wij kunnen uw bericht alleen verwerken als u alle velden met een * erachter invult.

    Let op! Gebruik dit formulier niet voor technische vragen. Daarvoor kunt u terecht bij Technische productondersteuning.

    Naam *

  4. I know – it’s the form that page *points to* that is missing, You can fill out what you want, it will never arrive.

  5. But on the same page there is a content section so you can fax, phone or snailmail it:

    Contactgegevens
    Microsoft B.V.
    Boeing Avenue 30
    1119 PE Schiphol-Rijk

    Tel.: 020-5001500
    Fax: 020-5001999

  6. I received a personal reply from the US web team – nina, thanks, and I sent you a followup!

Pope asks: ‘Where was God at Auschwitz?’

Posted on May 29th, 2006 at 18:25 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News

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[Quote:]

German-born Pope Benedict, head of the world’s largest church, asked on Sunday where God was when 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, died at the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

Speaking at the Birkenau section of the camp, near where Jews were led from trains to be gassed and cremated, the head of the Roman Catholic Church said it was almost impossible to speak in “this place of horror,” especially as a German Pope.

“In a place like this, words fail. In the end, there can only be a dread silence – a silence which is itself a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?” he said in a speech delivered in Italian.

“Our silence becomes in turn a plea for forgiveness and reconciliation, a plea to the living God never to let this happen again,” he said at the end of a four-day visit to Poland.

[Quote:]

The Theology of the Tsunami
by Richard Dawkins
Op-Ed column in Free Inquiry 25 (3), 12-13, April/May 2005

I have never found the problem of evil very persuasive as an argument against deities. There seems no obvious reason to presume that your God will be good. The question for me is why you think any God, good or evil or indifferent, exists at all. Most of the Greek pantheon sported very human vices, and the ‘jealous God’ of the Old Testament is surely one of the nastiest, most truly evil characters in all fiction. Tsunamis would be just up his street, and the more misery and mayhem the better. I have always thought the ‘Problem of Evil’ was a rather trivial problem for theists, compared to the Argument from Improbability which is a genuinely powerful, indeed knockdown argument against the very existence of all forms of unevolved creative intelligence.

Nevertheless, my experience is that godly people, who show no evidence of even beginning to understand the Argument from Improbability, are reduced to quivering embarrassment if not outright loss of faith, when confronted with a natural disaster or a major pestilence. Earthquakes, in particular, have traditionally shaken people’s faith in a benevolent deity, and December’s tsunami provoked a lot of agonized soul-searching on the question “How can religious people explain something like this?? The most prominent apparent quaverer was the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Anglican communion. It turned out that he had been traduced by the Daily Telegraph, a notoriously irresponsible and mischievous newspaper and one of several London newspapers which devoted many column inches to this knotty theological conundrum. It turned out that the Archbishop had not in fact said that the tsunami shook his own faith, only that he could sympathize with those who did have doubts.

The most famous precedent, several commentators reminded us, is the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, which deeply disturbed Kant and provoked Voltaire’s mockery in Candide. The Guardian published a flurry of Letters to the Editor, headed by one from the Bishop of Lincoln who asked God to preserve us from religious people who try to ‘explain’ the tsunami. Other letters attempted just that. One clergyman conceded that there was no intellectual answer: just hints of an explanation which “will only be found in a life lived by faith, prayer, contemplation and Christian action.? Another clergymen cited the Book of Job, and he thought he had found the beginnings of an explanation for suffering in Paul’s idea that the whole universe was experiencing something akin to the pains of a woman in childbirth:

“The argument for the existence of God from design would be fatally flawed if the universe were seen as complete already. Religious believers see the totality of experience as part of a greater narrative moving towards an as yet unimaginable goal.?

Is this the kind of thing theologians are paid to do? At least he didn’t sink to the level of a Professor of Theology in my University who once suggested, during a televised discussion with me and my colleague Peter Atkins among others, that the holocaust was God’s way of giving the Jews the opportunity to be brave and noble – a remark which prompted Dr Atkins to growl, “May you rot in hell!?

Read the rest of this entry »


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Smashup tied to ‘intoxication’

Posted on May 29th, 2006 at 17:32 by John Sinteur in category: News, What were they thinking?

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[Quote:]

A 19-year-old woman was in intensive care Wednesday after she suffered major head injuries in a Tuesday night collision on Harris Street.

Her brother was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

Accident victim Jaime Lee was one of four people hospitalized after the crash. She remained in intensive care as of Wednesday evening.

Her brother, Jeremy Daniel Lee, 22, of Eureka, was driving when the car collided with one coming in the opposite direction, Eureka Police Officer Wayne Cox said.

The collision was caused because of “Lee’s intoxication,? Cox said Wednesday.

The car Jeremy Lee was driving had a bumper sticker that read: “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings.?


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The children of Guantanamo Bay

Posted on May 29th, 2006 at 12:44 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

The notorious US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay has been hit by fresh allegations of human rights abuses, with claims that dozens of children were sent there – some as young as 14 years old.

Lawyers in London estimate that more than 60 detainees held at the terrorists’ prison camp were boys under 18 when they were captured.

They include at least 10 detainees still held at the US base in Cuba who were 14 or 15 when they were seized – including child soldiers who were held in solitary confinement, repeatedly interrogated and allegedly tortured.

Psalm 137

8 O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.

9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.


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Cartoon

Posted on May 29th, 2006 at 9:05 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

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Are you ready_?

Posted on May 29th, 2006 at 8:46 by John Sinteur in category: If you're in marketing, kill yourself, Microsoft

[Quote:]

full page ad on p. 33 of the 22 May 2006 issue of The New Yorker:

Microsoft ‘people_ready’ ad from p. 33 of the 22 May 2006 New Yorker.

I’ll reproduce the text of the ad below, but I’ve posted a much larger copy of the image over on Flickr so you can examine it yourself. The ad reads:

Welcome to the people_ready business.

In a people-ready business, people make it happen. People, ready with software. When you give your people tools that connect, inform, and empower them, they’re ready. Ready to collaborate with partners, suppliers, and customers. Ready to streamline the supply chain, beat impossible deadlines, and develop ideas that can sway the course of industry. Ready to build a successful business: a people-ready business. Microsoft. Software for the people-ready business. To learn more, visit microsoft.com/peopleready

Please note: I venture into the following criticism knowing perfectly well that there is nothing more trite than a Mac nerd mocking Microsoft marketing material. But here goes:

What the hell does any of this even mean?

E.g., if “people make it happen? in a people-ready business, who or what makes it happen in non-people-ready businesses? Or is it not possible for “it? to happen in a non-people-ready business? I dare you to try to make this copy more devoid of actual meaning than it already is. If there’s any logic at all, it’s circular: that the people in a people-ready business are ready to build a people-ready business.

And what’s the point of the decorative underscores — the “people_ready? in the headline and the four “ready_?s tagging some of the people in the photo?

This ad epitomizes everything that’s wrong with Microsoft: they have nothing new to offer. There’s nothing wrong with branding ads; I like branding ads (e.g. Nike’s “Just Do It? and Apple’s “Think Different? campaigns). But if this “people_ready? ad is supposed to be about their brand, what is the message? The only message I can suss from it is “Buy Microsoft software just because it’s Microsoft software.? They would be better off running an ad that literally reads “No one ever got fired for buying Microsoft? — at least that would be bold.

Pretty painful, considering that Vista, their most visible new product, is conspicuously not ready, with or without an underscore.


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Comments:

  1. They dont put the “you’d get fired if you don’t” cause many die hard fans, using upto 99% mircosoft prods, would get the axe. They dont want that.

    Any way many of their ad campaigns try to instill fear w/o using the word fear specially the one with dinosaurs for xp office ( it runs in India at least ).

    It seems to me that this ad is directed toward big executive honchos who make decisions about 1000 computers, and, if you read dilbert, you’ll know no body thinks highly of their intellect. Notice how the people are lined up as they would before such a person :)

At least 1,000 British troops ‘desert’ since Iraq war

Posted on May 29th, 2006 at 8:04 by John Sinteur in category: Mess O'Potamia

[Quote:]

At least 1,000 troops have deserted the armed forces since the US-led war was launched in
Iraq three years ago, the BBC reported.

Britain’s defence ministry said however it knew of only “a handful of deserters since 1989″.

During 2005 alone, 377 people deserted and are still missing, the British Broadcasting Corporation said on its website, adding that so far this year another 189 are on the run.

Without explaining how it arrived at the figures, it said some 900 deserters have evaded capture since the Iraq war started in March 2003.

Lawmaker John McDonnell told parliament on Monday that the “number of abscondees has trebled since the invasion of Iraq” as he registerd opposition to a government bill to sentence deserters to a maximum of life in prison.

[..]

Ben Griffin, a member of the elite Special Air Service (SAS), told his commanding officer this year that he was not prepared to return to Iraq because he said he saw US forces carrying out what he thought were illegal acts.

Griffin, who was allowed to leave the military, told the BBC that he believed many other British troops shared his views, though he would advise them to speak out rather than actually desert if they think the war is wrong.

“I can’t speak for others, but there’s a lot of dissent in the army about the legality of war and concerns that they’re spending too much time there,” he told the BBC.


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Zoo celebrates tortoise arrivals

Posted on May 28th, 2006 at 11:21 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture

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[Quote:]

Staff at Chester Zoo are celebrating the arrival of three tiny additions which are set to continue their work to save a species from extinction.

Three Egyptian tortoises, each smaller than a raspberry, were hatched at the zoo in the last few days.

Kevin Buley, head of lower vertebrates and invertebrates, said the survival of the species depended on breeding programmes at zoos across the world.

The Egyptian Tortoise is critically endangered in the wild.

“Our tortoises might well be tiny at the moment but what they currently lack in size, they make up for in importance,” said Mr Buley.

“It is only through the continued successful breeding of this species in zoos in the coming years, that there can be any hope of one day seeing these animals returned to the wild.”

The Egyptian Tortoise is found in the wild in Mediterranean coastal deserts of Egypt, Eastern Libya and western Negev in Israel.

Its numbers have rapidly declined since the 1960s because of the exotic pet trade and destruction of its habitat through development.


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Cartoons

Posted on May 28th, 2006 at 11:17 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon, News

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NYC Mayor Advocates U.S. Worker Database

Posted on May 28th, 2006 at 10:12 by John Sinteur in category: News

[Quote:]

Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg thrust himself into the national immigration debate Wednesday, advocating a plan that would establish a DNA or fingerprint database to track and verify all legal U.S. workers.

[..]

Bloomberg compared his proposed federal identification database to the Social Security card, insisting that such a system would not violate citizens’ privacy and was not a civil liberties issue.

And just by saying that, he acknowledges that it is indeed a civil liberties issue.

Perhaps a better solution would be to simply tattoo a serial number on everybody’s arm — it’d be functionally equivalent, but much cheaper to implement.


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Comments:

  1. And of course, has a proven track record.

Some Cell Phone Owners Spurn Gadgetry

Posted on May 28th, 2006 at 9:30 by John Sinteur in category: Software

[Quote:]

Nathan Bales represents a troubling trend for cellular phone carriers. The Kansas City-area countertop installer recently traded in a number of feature-laden phones for a stripped-down model. He said he didn’t like using them to surf the Internet, rarely took pictures with them and couldn’t stand scrolling through seemingly endless menus to get the functions to work.

“I want a phone that is tough and easy to use,” said Bales, 30. “I don’t want to listen to music with it. I’m not a cyber-savvy guy.”

[..]

On one recent day, a trio of researchers watched through one-way glass and overhead cameras as a volunteer navigated her way through a prototype program that lets parents set limits on their children’s phone use.

The observers monitored how many steps it took for the woman to make the program work, how easily she made mistakes and how quickly she could get herself out of trouble. The results could be used to further tweak the program, said Robert Moritz, director of device development.

“If you bring somebody in and they have problems, it’s not because they’re dumb, but we were dumb with the design,” Moritz said, adding that the lab typically tests devices and programs with up to 50 users over three to nine months. The company also uses focus groups to determine what people want from their phones and what they say needs fixing.

The results of those studies can sometimes push back the release of a product. For example, Michael Coffey, vice president of Sprint’s user-experience design, said the company delayed releasing its walkie-talkie Ready Link service for about a year after testers said they didn’t like the short delay between when the user pushes the button and the recipient answers.

Coffey said the testing is worth it because ease-of-use can be a competitive edge.

“IPod was not the first MP3 player on the market, but once they figured it out (the user interface), they became the predominant one overnight,” he said. “Whether you make it a marketing message or not, the public will discover that usability and choose your product over a competitor’s.”

Amazing that companies keep rediscovering the obvious…


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Oprah Goes To Auschwitz

Posted on May 27th, 2006 at 11:28 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ

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[Quote:]

A reader sent in this photo of the new Oprah billboard perched above La Cienga Boulevard at Melrose touting today’s show about her journey to Auschwitz with author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. If the oddly cheery ad is any indication (have they no templates where she’s not beaming quite so brightly?), maybe Oprah, despite her burgeoning position as America’s spiritual shepherd, is in a little over her head this time. The usually ecstatic moment in which Oprah shouts, “Everyone gets a car!” will lack its ringing note of triumph, instead taking on a sad poignancy when Wiesel bows his head and responds, “Yes, yes. I suppose they do.”


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  1. Americans, you can’t really ignore them, and you can’t really pity them.


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