Fauster's Facts Either you're with us, or you're with the terrorists

Thursday, February 24, 2005

New Helens Dome Pics

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Putin's Dirty Work?

In former Soviet republics, high-profile deaths spark rumors Excerpts: "in late January, Georgia's reformist prime minister, Zurab Zhvania, was found dead in an apartment. He and a friend, a regional politician, apparently had been poisoned by carbon monoxide from a faulty gas heater." When this story first broke I was amazed at how quickly the police declared the event an accident. Further: "Yushchenko has again called for a resolution to the probe into the 2000 beheading of investigative journalist Georgiy Gongadze. Former Ukraine President Leonid Kuchma has been heard on secret recordings approving the murder of Gongadze. Kuchma says the tapes are fakes and denies any involvement." Voice analysis could easily determine the authenticity of the tapes. What is the CIA's call on this?

Jason Kottke going pro Wish him luck! Patrons thus far.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Hunter S. Thompson is Dead. A Sad Day for America

The last article of his that I read was a rolling stone piece predicting Bush's defeat after he lost in the debates. Poor guy took the triumph of fascism hard. The Boomer's 60's dream of a more enlightened tomorrow died today. I hear he was writing essays about the Bush doctrine recently. To me, Hunter is a hero to be admired, but not emulated. From Fear and Loathing:

"San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant... We had all the momentum. we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark - that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

Bush Conversations Taped: "In Secretly Taped Conversations, Glimpses of the Future President" by DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

Excerpts/Direct Quotes (before the times Article is archived into a pay-per-read area): Simultaneously "[Bush] was wary of unnerving secular voters by meeting publicly with evangelical leaders. When he thought his aides had agreed to such a meeting, Mr. Bush complained to Karl Rove, his political strategist, "What the hell is this about?"

Mr. Bush... told Mr. Wead on the tapes that he could withstand scrutiny of his past. He said it involved nothing more than "just, you know, wild behavior." He worried, though, that allegations of cocaine use would surface in the campaign, and he blamed his opponents for stirring rumors. "If nobody shows up, there's no story," he told Mr. Wead, "and if somebody shows up, it is going to be made up." But when Mr. Wead said that Mr. Bush had in the past publicly denied using cocaine, Mr. Bush replied, "I haven't denied anything."...

He refused to answer reporters' questions about his past behavior, he said, even though it might cost him the election. Defending his approach, Mr. Bush said: "I wouldn't answer the marijuana questions. You know why? Because I don't want some little kid doing what I tried."

Mr. Bush threatened that if his rival Steve Forbes attacked him too hard during the campaign and won, both Mr. Bush, then the Texas governor, and his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, would withhold their support. "He can forget Texas. And he can forget Florida. And I will sit on my hands," Mr. Bush said.

Dr. Dobson, probably the most influential evangelical conservative, wanted to examine the candidate's Christian credentials.

"He said he would like to meet me, you know, he had heard some nice things, you know, well, 'I don't know if he is a true believer' kind of attitude," Mr. Bush said.

By the end of the primary, Mr. Bush alluded to Dr. Dobson's strong views on abortion again, apparently ruling out potential vice presidents including Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania and Gen. Colin L. Powell, who favored abortion rights. Picking any of them could turn conservative Christians away from the ticket, Mr. Bush said.

"They are not going to like it anyway, boy," Mr. Bush said. "Dobson made it clear."

Early on, though, Mr. Bush appeared most worried that Christian conservatives would object to his determination not to criticize gay people. "I think he wants me to attack homosexuals," Mr. Bush said after meeting James Robison, a prominent evangelical minister in Texas.

But Mr. Bush said he did not intend to change his position. He said he told Mr. Robison: "Look, James, I got to tell you two things right off the bat. One, I'm not going to kick gays, because I'm a sinner. How can I differentiate sin?"

Later, he read aloud an aide's report from a convention of the Christian Coalition, a conservative political group: "This crowd uses gays as the enemy. It's hard to distinguish between fear of the homosexual political agenda and fear of homosexuality, however."

"This is an issue I have been trying to downplay," Mr. Bush said. "I think it is bad for Republicans to be kicking gays."

As early as 1998, however, Mr. Bush had already identified one gay-rights issue where he found common ground with conservative Christians: same-sex marriage. "Gay marriage, I am against that. Special rights, I am against that," Mr. Bush told Mr. Wead, five years before a Massachusetts court brought the issue to national attention. [smart call on Bush's part]

Mr. Bush took stock of conservative Christian views of foreign policy as well. Reading more of the report from the Christian Coalition meeting, Mr. Bush said to Mr. Wead: "Sovereignty. The issue is huge. The mere mention of Kofi Annan in the U.N. caused the crowd to go into a veritable fit. The coalition wants America strong and wants the American flag flying overseas, not the pale blue of the U.N."

When Mr. Wead warned that he had heard reporters talking about Mr. Bush's "immature" past, Mr. Bush said, "That's part of my schtick, which is, look, we have all made mistakes."

He paid particular attention to Senator John Ashcroft. "I like Ashcroft a lot," he told Mr. Wead in November 1998. "He is a competent man. He would be a good Supreme Court pick. He would be a good attorney general. He would be a good vice president."

When Mr. Wead predicted an uproar if Mr. Ashcroft were appointed to the court because of his conservative religious views, Mr. Bush replied, "Well, tough."

"I want Ashcroft to stay in there, and I want him to be very strong," Mr. Bush said. " I would love it to be a Bush-Ashcroft race. Only because I respect him. He wouldn't say ugly things about me. And I damn sure wouldn't say ugly things about him."

Recalling the bruising primary fight Mr. Forbes waged against Bob Dole in 1996, Mr. Bush told Mr. Wead, "Steve Forbes is going to hear this message from me. I will do nothing for him if he does to me what he did to Dole. Period. There is going to be a consequence. He is not dealing with the average, you know, 'Oh gosh, let's all get together after it's over.' I will promise you, I will not help him. I don't care."
[spiteful! That's not very Christian!]

he acknowledged that winning might require hard jabs. "I may have to get a little rough for a while," he told Mr. Wead, "but that is what the old man had to do with Dukakis, remember?""

That's the summary of the important quips that Bush made. He comes off as intelligent and machivellian. His public image is dumb (due to flubs in speeches), resolute and stubborn. I like his quote about his "schtick"!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Iran Fantasy

The U.S. has, without a doubt been engaged in covert operations to determine locations associated with Iran's nuclear program for over a year. Unlike the case with Iraq, there is little doubt that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Additionally, Iran will doubtlessly become the world's newest nuclear power over the next couple of years. The U.S. obviously doesn't want this to happen, and The Iran Fantasy is the pipe dream that we can do something minor to stop them. In addition to having Pentagon special forces in Iran, the U.S. has been flying drones over Iran in an attempt to pick up radioactive signatures. The fantasy is this: with isotope detectors we'll find one or two sloppily disguised locations where all the centrifuges are located. We'll surprise Iran and the world by bombing key facillities with satellite-guided misses. We'll destroy the centrifuges and the experts in one strike. With our superior technology we will have thwarted a state sponsor of terror from it's attempts to join the nuclear club without losing a single soldier. Maybe if we're lucky, we'll even locate the supreme leader after he threatens retaliation, and off him too. With this key figure gone, The Iranian Caliphates will fall apart in fear, and democracy will suddenly resurge in Iran, transforming the country back to a U.S. friendly civil-society. This is a fantasy, but one that is currently entertained by Bush, Rumsfield, and Pentagon Hawks. wargames scenarios have been run, and the conclusion is that we can't win a war with Iran while simultaneously keeping troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, unless we resort to our nuclear capability. But maybe, just maybe, we could win with a daring use of technology. The Iraq Fantasy was very similar. We could take out Saddam, retroactively find his chemical weapons, and eternally grateful Shiites and Kurds would elect a U.S.-friendly prime minister. Oil would flow, and contracts with Texan oil companies would be struck, and a prosperous, civil Iraq would be transformed into a greater-Kuwait in a few short years. Go back further and we find The Cuba Fantasy, yet unfufilled.

The Propaganda War has begun. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty use same fake photo of "Iranian" Nuke plant. Not just one mistake at CNN anymore. This points towards the conclusion that the U.S. government is spreading false info about Iran. Yes, Bush's rhetoric is that we have no intentions to invade, though "a president never says never." The rhetoric is that we want a diplomatic solution to work. We've heard this before. It may be Israel that takes action first, as Cheney has hinted. However action in Iran is not imminent. It takes a few years to develop enough nuclear grade uranium with the number of centrifugues that Iran has obtained. Rumsfield has said as much. However Iran and Syria are on the radar. North Korea is not. The Pentagon hopes that star wars will progress quickly after these initial setbacks. Twenty years from now, even if Iran has nukes, we'll still be able to invade, confident that their missles will be destroyed before they reach their targets.

Negorponte: Iran contra criminal tapped to lead national intelligence advisor post.

Global Warming Ocean temperatures have risen half a degree celsius in 40 years. Volcanic and solar explanations for temperature rise discredited. Nice photos of glacier recession .

Who Links Here

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Excellent article on an autistic savant. "Since his epileptic fit, he has been able to see numbers as shapes, colours and textures. The number two, for instance, is a motion, and five is a clap of thunder. "When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges""

CNN uses North Korea Nuke Plant Photos and says they're suspected Iranian plant photos!!!
Who gave them these photos? Did a single journalist try to pull a Jason Blair? Is the Government building a fake case against Iran A La Iraq? When I initially saw this CNN article, I assumed the photo was real, and I was impressed that the U.S. actually had a prospective target should they launch ceremonial missles at Iran.

Science News: Researchers Kill Cancer in Mice using a virus that's 20% HIV. If any virus holds hope for gene therapy, it's HIV. It's conceivable that using HIV to insert genes will be much less risky to the individual than a modified rhino or corona virus. However, will the transfer of genes then be communicable though unprotected sex or needle use? Possible benefits to individuals with life-threatening conditions outweigh the risks.

Intel Builds First Continuous Laser with Silicon

Database giant gives access to fake firms: "ChoicePoint aggregates and sells [names, addresses, Social Security numbers, credit reports] to private companies" but not individuals. Anyone can register a company, and suddenly have rights and power that no individual has. What distinguishes a fake company from a real company? Perhaps nothing more than a criminal record and/or number of employees. What gives 2-bit corporations more of a right to violate my privacy than the 2-bit individuals who own them?

Nice double-chin mugshot!
Take note: Women on pill prefer healthy faces. Remember to exfoliate.

Pa. Sen. Specter Says He Has Hodgkin's: Pat Robertson says yet another testimonial of the power of prayer

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Bush on 911

Review of CNN videos related to the Jim Guckert scandal. According to Aaron Brown: "There is I think here a kind of so-what quality here... so why the fuss?" Guckert has a whitehouse press corp pass 6 days after setting up a "news" website. A few months later, he's getting CIA documents regarding Valerie Plame, who's identity as an undercover CIA agent was illegally exposed. When the real name of this Whitehouse press patsy was revealed, we quickly learned that he owned the domain names hotmilitarystud.com militaryescorts.com, and militaryescortsm4m.com. On CNN he claimed that he was in the web development business and he was holding these domains for someone else, and no escort functionality was ever incorporated into these sites. Wolf Blitzer accepts this explanation without blinking an eye. The MSM barely mentions these websites as if it would denigrate the discussion. But come on, the Secret Service approving background checks on someone owning gay escort sites? Also, it's reported in the above link that they won't even accept an application to the whitehouse press corp without congressional press corp certification.

Review of President's April 2004 Press Address in wake of Guckert Scandal:
  • White House Press Corp plant James Guckert lobs one softball question to Bush as he is grilled about 9-11. Implies that the number of 70 FBI agents on terrorism was exaggerated: "do you now believe you were falsely comforted by the FBI?" Interestingly enough, Bush knew "Jeff Gannon's" real first name.
  • Question to Bush from mainstream reporter: "...Did [the August 6th PDB that mentioned Bin Laden and hijackings]the trigger some specific actions on your part and the administration, since it dealt with potentially hundreds of lives?"
    Bush: "Had there been a threat that required action by anybody in the government, I would have dealt with it. In other words, had they come up and said, this is where we see something happening, you can rest assured that the people of this government would have responded, and responded in a forceful way." Okay, so the only something that this document see's happening is Al Qaeda hijacking planes inside the United States. However, since it doesn't mention which particular planes, the government doesn't respond in a forceful way?? Earlier in the session Bush laments only that the Department of Homelands Security wasn't formed before 9-11.
  • Additionally, Bush asserts: "nobody in our government, ...could envision flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale." Of course, Bush knows that people in his governemnet did envision terrorists using airplanes as weapons before 911, but the "massive scale" modifier makes the sentence true. Finally, Bush indignantly asserts: "had I had any inkling whatsoever that the people were going to fly airplanes into buildings, we would have moved heaven and earth to save the country!" I believe Bush when he implys he had no inkling that people were going to fly planes into buildings. However, Bush did have an inkling that Al Qaeda might try to to hijack airplanes in the U.S.. Granted, a hijacking is less serious a threat than a suicide hijacking, but in either scenario, a non-trivial number of people will die. Heaven wasn't moved. Earth wasn't moved. The country wasn't saved. The FAA was informed but passed little information on to the airlines. Congress wasn't notified that legislating locks on cockpit doors might be a good idea. Airline security wasn't upgraded. Why not? Is a hijacking a more manageable crisis? Can we reactively deal with a mere hijacking when a suicide attack would require proactive action? Were there threats posed by other governments abroad that better warranted the presidents attention?

The Onion the week of Bush's initial inauguration (updated by Chak).

The Memory Hole: More recently purged government documents.

Five common features of all fundamentalist Religions:
  • Men rule the roost and make the rules. Women are support staff and for reasons easy to imagine, homosexuality is intolerable.
  • all rules must apply to all people, no pluralism.
  • the rules must be precisely communicated to the next generation
  • "they spurn the modern, and want to return to a nostalgic vision of a golden age that never really existed.
  • Fundamentalists deny history in a "radical and idiosyncratic way."
However, the study also concludes that major successful liberal movements must have crossover fundamentalist appeal and rhetoric.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Fauster's Facts: wasting time smarter and faster


My name is Fauster. I'm a physics grad student.

The best blog out there that I know of is BoingBoing . However, I find myself longing for a blog with more political and current events content (minus redundant summary essays). My favorite political blog is The Daily KOS. But my ideal of a blog is one that bridges the gap between entertaining and informative. I don't wholly endorse the thoughts and opinions expressed in any of my links. Links must pass only the interesting litmus test.

Today's Thoughts: Never Trust Gallup's impartiality Or the media's breathless attention to emphasizing who's part of the in crowd.

Here's an obligatory James Gannon/Jeff Guckert/HotMilitaryStud article. The story is still active in blogland, but it dropped off the radar in Yahoo Most E-mailed and it's play on CNN and FOX has been muted and abbreviated. One of the things I really love about this story is that the investigation into Gannon's identity blew a scant day after John Stewart mocked his eggregious "Dems... out of touch with reality" question on The Daily Show . This story should get more play when one considers the disturbing trend of the Bush Admin to blatantly use taxpayer dollars for propaganda.

On a side note, The Daily Show is cutting edge liberal media. The Daily Show heavily influences Moore's F-911 and increasingly frames the left's side in the crossfire-esqe cable news "debates". Thank God new Daily Show clips regularly appear online because I refuse to pay $40/month to government-approoved, non-A-la-Carte cable monopolies. Especially when I get most of my copyrighted media for free.

Gnucleus Is a must have open-source shareware program for any PC owner.
Unfortunately, I'm not yet aware of Linux and Mac binaries. I not only endorse the file-sharing of copyrighted material, but I feel that it piracy plays an important role in protecting American democracy. Fair use laws should absolutely extend to digital as well as printed media for the one reason that people consume it in such prolific quantities. We need to be able to download, display, and criticize flagrantly right wing FOX NEWS clips. We need to think critically about all aspects of news and popular media, not simply about what was said and what was printed. Cable news, commercials, and television clips can and should be chopped up, repackaged, and strewn across the gnutella networks. People should not only be allowed to download these democracy-influncing pieces of copyrighted works, but to redistribute them as well, so long as they don't personally profit from it. We must err on the side of a free discorse of ideas, not on the side of personal profit. Democracy, not income, is at stake. We've all had it beaten into us by the copyright-owning mass media powers that file-sharing is wrong, and criminal, and deserves Harsh Punishment . These voices come from institutions that care more about profit than justice, that care more about ratings than reality.

Fun Stuff: Here's a link that shows us how cool high resolution images can be: The original of each of these pictures has around 4 gb of info (A DVD!!). In a single image! Make sure to visit The GigaPxl Project . I am eagerly awaiting updates. Bet the spy agencies aren't happy with the quaility of his camera!

Learn to dance like a windsock!

Science News: link to the new Einstein Archives site. Complete with scans of original unpublished notes (in German unfortunately). Any great physicist must have dozens of unworkable ideas for every published theory. Maybe some of those dead ends are holed up here.

Finally, a site that drops the F-word: The Fourteen Points of Fascism. In the wake of 9-11, I and many others worried more about the impact of fear-mongering on our freedoms than that of Terror. In 2005 leftists and communists are unblinkingly labled Terrorists. Now, the Right has the new enemy that the miliary needed in communism's wake. In spite of America's manifestly Republican-owned liberal media, I don't believe we are yet a Fascist state. However, Neo-conservativism (i.e. post WTC conservatism), embraces many features of fascist states. Tyranny of the majority has come to pass. The system of Checks and Balances (beloved by our enlightened founding fathers) is comatose. Remember-> five of nine current supreme court justices are Republican-appointed. Though we're not there yet, I sincerely fear that we're one dirty bomb away from Fascism.

On a more personal note, one of my favorite physics professors is named Dr. Paul Csonka. Csonka (pronounced Chonka) graduated from high school in Hungary at the age of 16 and went straight to graduate school in Germany to study relativistic particle physics. He worked alongside The Werner Heisenberg as he earned his doctorate. Csonka lived in Europe as fascists gradually came to power. He now strongly warns his physics students that post-9-11 America has the same culture of fear that lead to fascism in Germany, Austria and Hungary. He knows what it feels like before fascists gain control of a democracy, and he says it feels like America in 2004. He warns us that with one more bomb in one more U.S. city our democracy and civil rights will be the greatest casualties. To be fair, we still live in a democracy, and talk of coming fascism is highly speculative. However, when so much is at stake, can we afford not to speculate? Comments welcome.

Pic of the day: An endangered tarsier, the world's smallest primate. His hind legs are long so he can jump and catch insects in midair. According to Wikipedia, "some are extremely traumatised by captivity, killing themselves by banging their heads against the cage." Poor wittle guy! =( Can you imagine him headbanging himself to death? How depressed and miserable do you have to be? He must be feeling something!

Sligtly related: The philosopher Nagel asserts that the problem with a scientific theory of consciousness is the subjective nature of human experience. We can never know what it's like to be something we're not, ergo it's impossible to know what it's like to be a tarsier trapped in a cage spazzing to death! Nagel article: "What is it like to be a bat" .