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Showing posts from February 24, 2002
Remora We've all seen thieves, in movies, confer, engage, succeed, and then ironically flame out. The Thomas Crown Affair. Sexy Beast.To Catch a Thief. Rikki. We've all seen the movie in which the older, experienced thief engineers the heist of a lifetime, the impossible steal. The maximum flash plan, the camera at his glamorous or weary heel, here he is, coordinating his greedy but colorful crew, their various prison nourished talents. We all know that the heist itself will form around moments of near discovery, the cop who knocks on the door, the non-descript, whistling museum guard making an unexpected round. From Hollywood bandits lets segue to Hollywood banditry, because we can see the movie leap off the screen this week in Washington D.C. The script calls for boosting the commons, as unguarded as any lamely secured art treasure. Like Egyptian grave robbers in the hungrier dynasties, these thieves of the common have already made their depredations into a growth industry
Remora A group at MIT has come up with a little robot reporter. It is based on the design of one of those nifty machines NASA uses to explore Mars, the kind they always used to diagram in the National Geographics of my youth, except that this little baby has more RAM. And since there is, reportedly, intelligent life on Earth, communication between the robot and its base will be quicker: "One example of how designing for Intraplanetary exploration is significantly simpler than Interplanetary systems is that information travels much faster from one side of the Earth to another than it does between planets. It can take minutes for radio information to travel from Mars to Earth, which is too long if the message is "I'm rolling towards the edge of a cliff!" Lag time in our system is expected to be less than 1000 milliseconds. Likewise, lifting a payload into orbit is incredibly expensive, and serves as perhaps the largest single constraint in the design of space
Remora The mentally unstable bovine has rather slipped from the popular consciousness, now that we have real diseases, like anthrax, to worry about. So was it all simply fun and games, the hecatombs of beef? Shall we crank up the Peggy Lee? Is that all there is? In Salon, there's a report on a report by the GAO, which says, inevitably, that : "Mad cow disease could slip into the country and infect cattle herds because of weaknesses in import controls and lax enforcement of animal feed rules, congressional investigators warned Tuesday." This report is a little screwy. The search for BSE in this country has been, shall we say, lackadaisical. In fact, cows that are down aren't routinely inspected for BSE. We know that American minks and deer have a BSE like disease, and that it is becoming endemic. Nodowners is a good site to start with if you want to get a jump on the next plague. They have a report on down cattle and the incidence of other animal spong
Remora As blood is to the mosquito, the vampire bat, the tick, the tse-tse fly, so is idiocy to Limited Inc. Naturally - yes, obviously, like your most predictable carpers, with the kind of grim satisfaction at all our most cherished, worst prejudices being realized exhibited by some harridan in a suburban subdivision, watching hubby come home from a drunk - we recommend that our readers go to the NYT article reporting the testimony of stockmarket analysts to the US Senate's investigation of Enron . The grafs that put us into a delirium of bloodlust are these: "Eleven of 16 analysts who followed Enron were still rating it as a ``buy'' or ``strong buy'' as late as Nov. 8, two weeks after the Securities and Exchange Commission announced it had opened an inquiry into the company's accounting. "``I did not own Enron stock,'' testified Anatol Feygin, a senior analyst at J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. ``I have complete freedom with respect to
Remora Limited Inc, like Ronald Reagan, has a repertoire of anecdotes we go back to obsessively. One of them is that penicillin was not patented by Ernst Chain, Howard Florey and Edward Abraham, the Oxford scientists who took Alexander Fleming's discovery, purified it, and made it medically useful. What can and can't be patented is one of the burning questions of our time -- but it burns, admittedly, far beneath the average consciousness, which doesn't know a patent from a property right, and doesn't know the smell of smoke from the fire that produced it. Unfortunately, the conservatives are winning this argument by default -- there are very few voices crying out against the extension of monopoly, which is what a patent is, or the public/private partnerships that routinely rip the public off, for private benefit. In Tom Paine, Stephen Jones publishes an article that illustrates the rip off. Since the article is about wheat seeds, there will be readers out th
Dope Reader, go to the WP magazine section and read the very sad story of the "cheating scandal" in Silver Springs, Maryland. Last year, a teacher in the Silver Springs International school, a rather miraculous school in Montgomery County distinguished for using tried and true progressive methods, was 'released' for having used the questions from some inane comprehensive test before giving the test, thus breaching the 'security' of the test. Never mind that the test had no security, that copies of it float around throughout the system. Any excuse to liquidate an alternative. This is the slogan of all sclerotic bureaucracies. Silver Springs was one of those miracles that prove that all the aims and goals of the progressive agenda are not dead, but come up, spontaneously, scattered about, seeding the future. The principle, Renee Brimfield, was trained at the Sorbonne, and came to the school, which had a considerable ethnic mix, and an income level below t