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Kettering University student Will Foster builds fully operational half-size Panzer tank

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 19:40 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


Will Foster never has too much trouble getting a parking spot for his second vehicle.

After all, who’s going to argue with a guy driving a half-scale Panzer tank complete with a working air cannon?

“I took it home, driving it around in this white picket fence neighborhood and one of the neighbors called the cops on us,” said Foster, a Kettering University student who began building the tank from scratch nearly two years ago.

“(Police) came and they just told us to head back home, but they were also laughing at it because they had never seen anything like that before.”


College students have a tank? Well, clearly the solution to the potential danger this poses is to give every college student a tank, perhaps concealed, so that they can respond to any potential tank-based violence with the appropriate force.

Charleston Heston, we need your uncompromising vision now more than ever!

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Saving Coral Reefs in Indonesia

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 18:49 by John Sinteur in category: News

Some good news for a change…


The EcoReefs cover several thousand square feet of sea floor. According to Mark Erdmann, their installation was one of the highlights of his career. “These areas of the reef had been bombed in the 1970s, mostly by people from Sulawesi,” he’d told me. “But even after all this time, there was no recovery. The villagers didn’t understand why this was so; hadn’t they been forgiven?” The reason is that reefs are bombed where there are the most fish–and fish are attracted to a strong current. But that current also makes it hard for corals to grow back.”

The villagers asked for help rehabilitating the area, and Erdmann’s team crafted a Seacology proposal. Six hundred modules were brought over, and the local dive operators and community worked together to install them. “It was fantastic,” Erdmann said. “Everyone, from little kids to grandparents, helped out. Then the dive operators came again, to do the underwater installation.”

On land, EcoReefs look attractive but artificial, like contemporary sculpture. Nearly two years later, they’re something else entirely: a hybrid of technology and organic life, like Jeff Goldblum at the end of The Fly. Their antler-shaped arms are covered with baby corals and sponges, more varieties than I can count. Parrotfish, Moorish idols and clownfish have set up shop beneath their limbs; two tiger cowries nestle near one’s center.

One of the techniques used to jump-start growth on the EcoReefs was “coral tranplants.” Chunks of loose coral were physically attached to the EcoReefs with little plastic ties. Oddly, those modules have done no better than the ones left to their own devices. No one knows why; perhaps corals, like delicate houseplants, favor a specific angle to the sun. When that orientation is lost, the polyps wallow in confusion.


In my early days as a diver I’d heard that damaged reefs would take a century to re-grow. It’s mind-boggling to see how fast these corals are returning. Moore has a lot of faith in his reefs–“If we build them, they will come”–but this growth would probably exceed his wildest dreams.

An hour later, back on the boat, Christiane lights a clove cigarette and shakes her head. “It’s incredible,” she says. “There are all kinds of fish; much more diversity than when I visited last. And at least two kinds of corals: acrophora, and millephora. Millephora, fire coral, is an especially good sign, because it means big boulders–coral heads–will grow. The whole area will become the foundation for a new reef. This is exactly what everybody was wishing for.”

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Nokia confirms ‘iPhone killer’ handset in pipeline

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 17:40 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


Nokia has confirmed that it’s developing a touchscreen-equipped handset to take on the Apple iPhone, and has shown off pictures of the upcoming phone to drooling onlookers.

Which also means they’ve already given up.

If you *really* want to create an X-killer, you need to create a new product Y that will make people think “how will the next version of X ever match that?”

Instead, people are looking at this new version and how it matches up to the *current* iPhone.

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  1. Since the iPhone is expensive and tied to one provider, there’s probably a pretty substantial market for a phone that’s half as cool, way cheaper, and available from other providers.

  2. Of course there is. But you wouldn’t call it an iPhone “killer”…

  3. I wouldn’t say all kinds of things that The Register says. So what? 🙂

  4. is it just me, or is comment nesting busted?

  5. Comment nesting is indeed busted since the WP 2.5 upgrade.

    I wouldn’t say all kinds of things that The Register says. So what?

    That makes you smarter than the Register, welcome to 99.5% of the population 🙂

Is Europe’s war on Islamist terror running out of terrorists?

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 17:35 by John Sinteur in category: Security


The terror threat to Europe – Islamist or otherwise – may not be all it’s cracked up to be, statistics published by Europol this week indicate. Europol, a criminal intelligence support service for European law enforcement agencies, maintains that the Islamist terror threat remains high despite a 22 per cent drop in arrest numbers, but as was the case with last year’s report, very few actual incidents of, or attempts at, Islamist terror attacks were reported.


We can draw several conclusions. First, as far as the numbers are concerned, Europe’s war on terror is largely a French and Spanish matter, related to crackdowns on Basque and Corsican groups. Here, the number of arrests appears to reflect the number of incidents – evidence that there’s a struggle, if not a full-scale war, going on. France, incidentally, was the major influence on the overall drop in Islamist terrorism arrests, with its numbers down 35 per cent from 2006.

The figures for the UK, the third of the major drivers of the Europol stats, don’t match the French and Spanish pattern. The UK doesn’t break down the figures it submits to Europol into categories (which is odd, given that such figures are submitted to Lord Carlile for his reviews of terrorism legislation), but the “vast majority” of its 203 arrests related to Islamist terrorism. There were two (or possibly just the one, see above) Islamist attempts, while numbers weren’t submitted for any other categories. The UK’s 203 (mainly) Islamist arrests were double those in France, four times those in Spain, and almost ten times those in Italy. No other country made it into double figures, and the other two Islamist terror attempts took place in Denmark and Germany (nine and three arrests respectively).

The UK is therefore arresting an awful lot of people while experiencing a very small number of incidents, and the large number of arrests (half of the European total for Islamist terror) causes massive distortion in the European statistics.

There’s a chicken and egg discussion associated with these lopsided (compared with the French and Spanish figures) numbers. Is it the case, as UK law enforcement would have us believe, that the small number of incidents is accounted for by the success of the security services in nipping plots in the bud at an early stage (hence resulting in large numbers of arrests)? Is the UK more alert to the threat than anybody else? Is the UK massively more threatened than anybody else? Or is it the case that the large numbers of arrests are a consequence of wildly overestimating the size of the threat?

The fact that most of the plots uncovered so far have been incompetently planned and substantially incomplete at time of arrest suggests the latter.

Feel safer yet?

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Judges can still punish acquitted defendants

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 13:33 by John Sinteur in category: ¿ʞɔnɟ ǝɥʇ ʇɐɥʍ


The Supreme Court declined Monday to reconsider a legal rule that might surprise most Americans: Judges can punish defendants for certain crimes even after a jury has acquitted them of those charges.

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Charlie Brooker on the pseudoscience of Brain Gym

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 13:13 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News


Man the lifeboats. The idiots are winning.

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Unicorns Are Real

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 13:08 by John Sinteur in category: News


In reaction to Kentucky’s Creation Museum, the folks at This Week In Science have launched a website for the Unicorn Museum. The idea behind the Unicorn Museum is to parody a principle that many theists adhere to: If it’s in the Bible, It’s true. Unicorns are mentioned 9 times in the King James Version of the Bible.

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Patch day

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 12:16 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon


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Obama Didn’t Want My Money

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 10:25 by John Sinteur in category: Indecision 2008


I went to the mailbox and found a letter from the Obama Campaign. Enclosed was a check for $100, the return of my contribution from earlier this month along with a letter explaining why it would not be accepted.

You see, I am a registered lobbyist for a non-profit organziation. We are a non-partisan, non-political membership organziation, we do not have a political action committee and strictly observe a policy of non-particpation in any event that even remotely appears political. I serve as their legislative rep, trying to ensure that expertise of our membership is heard by public officials on issues related to their area of expertise (public safety).

I guess given the fact that I was not a corporate/industry lobbyist, I never really considered that Obama’s no-lobbyist money ban would apply to me, but it did! The letter thanked me for my interest in the campaign, but stated flately that my donation was not acceptable.

It’s not often you get told that you are persona non grata and end up praising the person who exiled you. But that what I am doing. Obama actions are living up to his words. Through the actions of his campaign he is demonstrating that his values are real and his commitment is certain.

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McCain’s “triumph” over a nonexistent heckler

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 10:23 by John Sinteur in category: Indecision 2008


One wonders, if McCain aides themselves had written the CNN script, whether it would have been this sycophantic.

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Wall St banks ‘hooked on emergency funds scheme’

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 10:20 by John Sinteur in category: News


The latest loan data released by the Fed shows that Wall Street banks and investment firms borrowed an average of $38.4bn every day last week, a big jump from the $32.9bn borrowed the week before, but almost three times the $13.4bn borrowed when the emergency scheme was launched on 17 March.

The loan programme was part of a wider Wall Street rescue package ushered in to stave off the imminent collapse of Bear Stearns, the troubled investment bank being bought by JP Morgan.

The scheme, called the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, is made available through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and is designed to help big investment banks oil the wheels of the credit market so they can continue with business as usual, even though the credit crunch shows no signs of abating.

The Fed has capped the amount available to all banks at $50bn, although insiders said it never imagined the banks would take advantage of the entire facility. Analysts and economists now fear it is being too heavily exploited, and that banks may be using it to delay facing up to liquidity problems.

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Best Game Ever at Improv Everywhere

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 8:52 by John Sinteur in category: awesome


For our latest mission, we turned a little league baseball game in Hermosa Beach, California into a major league event. Enjoy the video below and then go behind the scenes with our mission report and photos.

In order to pull this mission off we worked with the commissioner of the Hermosa Beach Little League. The commissioner provided us with the names, numbers, and batting order of all of the players for both teams. He told us the 2 PM game between the Mudcats and the Lugnuts would be ideal for our mission, and allowed us to arrive early to set up all of our equipment. He was the only person involved with the league who knew what was going to happen. The players, coaches, and parents were kept completely in the dark.

The league’s games are six innings, and we planned our mission to unfold slowly, heightening with each passing inning. As the game started, the only unusual thing anyone could notice was a large truck parked just pass the outfield wall (housing our jumbotron to be revealed later.) All of the cameras remained hidden away.

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Crime cameras not capturing many crimes

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 8:47 by John Sinteur in category: Security


San Francisco’s 68 controversial anti-crime cameras haven’t deterred criminals from committing assaults, sex offenses or robberies – and they’ve only moved homicides down the block, according to a new report from UC Berkeley.

Researchers found that nonviolent thefts dropped by 22 percent within 100 feet of the cameras, but the devices had no effect on burglaries or car theft. And they’ve had no effect on violent crime.

Mayor Gavin Newsom called the report “conclusively inconclusive” on Thursday but said he still wants to install more cameras around the city because they make residents feel safer.


They looked at seven types of crime: larcenies, burglaries, motor vehicle theft, assault, robbery, homicide and forcible sex offenses.

The only positive deterrent effect was the reduction of larcenies within 100 feet of the cameras. No other crimes were affected – except for homicides, which had an interesting pattern.

Murders went down within 250 feet of the cameras, but the reduction was completely offset by an increase 250 to 500 feet away, suggesting people moved down the block before killing each other.

Making people “feel safer” is the only real effect, then.

Well, feel safer yet?

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Special license plates shield officials from traffic tickets

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 8:43 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Register found that the confidential plate program shields these motorists in ways most of us can only dream about:

•Vehicles with protected license plates can run through dozens of intersections controlled by red light cameras and breeze along the 91 toll lanes with impunity.

•Parking citations issued to vehicles with protected plates are often dismissed because the process necessary to pierce the shield is too cumbersome.

•Some patrol officers let drivers with protected plates off with a warning because the plates signal that the drivers are “one of their own” or related to someone who is.

Exactly how many people are taking advantage of their protected plates is impossible to calculate. Like the Orange County Transportation Authority, which operates the tollway, many agencies have automated processes and have never focused on what happens to confidential plate holders. Sometimes police take note of the plate and don’t write a ticket at all.


Some police officers confess that when they pull over someone with a confidential license plate they’re more likely to let them off with a warning. In most cases, one said, if an officer realizes a motorist has a confidential plate, the car won’t be pulled over at all.

“It’s an unwritten rule that we would extend professional courtesy,” said Ron Smith, a retired Los Angeles Police Department officer who worked patrol for 23 years. “Nine out of 10 times I would.”

To the law, everybody is equal. Except some people are more equal than others…

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Scientology threatens Wikileaks with injunction

Posted on April 8th, 2008 at 8:38 by John Sinteur in category: Pastafarian News


On March 24, the swashbuckling truth-seekers at Wikileaks.org published what they referred to as “the collected secret ‘bibles’ of Scientology,” and three days later, church-friendly lawyers threatened the site with legal action if the documents weren’t taken down. Calling them “Advanced Technology of the Scientology religion,” the lawyers pointed out that the documents are copyrighted works registered to the Religious Technology Center (RIC), a church-related holding company.

Wikileaks did not remove the documents. But it did tell the world their veracity has been verified.


In an apparent effort to find out who leaked the Advanced Technology in the first place, the lawyers also urged Wikileaks to “preserve any and all documents pertaining to this matter…including, but not limited to, logs, data entry sheets, applications – electronic or otherwise, registrations forms, billings statements or invoices, computer print-outs, disks, hard drives, etc.”

Clearly, the Church of Scientology is unaware that Wikileaks preserves almost nothing – and that it isn’t frightened of the law. Wikileaks realizes that the Church has often used lawyers and copyrights to prevent public access to its materials, but it sees this as little more than an indictment of the Western media.

“After reviewing documentation on Scientology’s endless attacks, legal and illegal, on critics ranging from Time Magazine and CNN, which spent over $3 million defending against just one of their suits, to investigative freelancers who have had publishers pulp their books rather than facing litigation costs, we have come to the conclusion that Scientology is not only an abusive cult, but that it aids and abets a general climate of Western media self-censorship, due to the fear of litigation costs,” a representative of the site told us.

“If the West cannot defend its cultural values of free speech and press freedoms against a money making cult like Scientology, it can hardly lecture China and other state abusers of these same values. Such states are quick to proclaim their censorship regime is no mere matter of protecting a cult’s profits, but rather of national security.”

Should Wikileaks lose this, you can download the document from the Daily Irrelevant servers here. It clearly serves a higher goal to expose the Scientology church this way, and for that I’m covered by European law.

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