Someone tell me why modern skyscrapers aren’t being designed with this aesthetic.

Click on the pictures for an excellent article (and many, many more awesome pictures) put together by M. Christian on Dark Roasted Blend.

Rating: π1/log(π) out of 10.

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July 16, 2008 · Posted in reviews  
    
July 3, 2008 · Posted in reviews  
    

Oh, yes.

Scientists once saw itching as a form of pain. They now believe it to be a different order of sensation. Photograph by Gerald Slota.

     “Scratching is one of the sweetest gratifications of nature, and as ready at hand as any,” Montaigne wrote. “But repentance follows too annoyingly close at its heels.” For M., certainly, it did: the itching was so torturous, and the area so numb, that her scratching began to go through the skin. At a later office visit, her doctor found a silver-dollar-size patch of scalp where skin had been replaced by scab. M. tried bandaging her head, wearing caps to bed. But her fingernails would always find a way to her flesh, especially while she slept.
     One morning, after she was awakened by her bedside alarm, she sat up and, she recalled, “this fluid came down my face, this greenish liquid.” She pressed a square of gauze to her head and went to see her doctor again. M. showed the doctor the fluid on the dressing. The doctor looked closely at the wound. She shined a light on it and in M.’s eyes. Then she walked out of the room and called an ambulance. Only in the Emergency Department at Massachusetts General Hospital, after the doctors started swarming, and one told her she needed surgery now, did M. learn what had happened. She had scratched through her skull during the night—and all the way into her brain.

From a true life story.

9.987 zombies out of 10. Must read.

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June 27, 2008 · Posted in reviews  
    

You know, I’m really looking forward to seeing mention of this in the US press.

US accused of holding terror suspects on prison ships

USS Peleliu accompanied by an amphibious launch

A nifty highlight from an awesome article:

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s legal director, said: “They choose ships to try to keep their misconduct as far as possible from the prying eyes of the media and lawyers. We will eventually reunite these ghost prisoners with their legal rights.

“By its own admission, the US government is currently detaining at least 26,000 people without trial in secret prisons, and information suggests up to 80,000 have been ‘through the system’ since 2001. The US government must show a commitment to rights and basic humanity by immediately revealing who these people are, where they are, and what has been done to them.”

Emphasis my own.

While looking for previous mentions, I found the following:

This document from British Parliamentary files offering supporting evidence of an island called Diego Garcia (of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean) which was “cleansed” of existing population and converted to a British military base that has been, since 2001, critical in the US’s “extraordinary rendition” program dated mid October, 2007

Mentions of interviews in this book by Andy Worthington wherein it said interviewees mention their nightmare stays onboard US Navy prison ships

The Reprieve site, responsible for much of the ongoing investigation

From that study, according to The Guardian:

According to research carried out by Reprieve, the US may have used as many as 17 ships as “floating prisons” since 2001. Detainees are interrogated aboard the vessels and then rendered to other, often undisclosed, locations, it is claimed.

Ships that are understood to have held prisoners include the USS Bataan and USS Peleliu. A further 15 ships are suspected of having operated around the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which has been used as a military base by the UK and the Americans.

Reprieve will raise particular concerns over the activities of the USS Ashland and the time it spent off Somalia in early 2007 conducting maritime security operations in an effort to capture al-Qaida terrorists.

At this time many people were abducted by Somali, Kenyan and Ethiopian forces in a systematic operation involving regular interrogations by individuals believed to be members of the FBI and CIA. Ultimately more than 100 individuals were “disappeared” to prisons in locations including Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Guantánamo Bay.

Reprieve believes prisoners may have also been held for interrogation on the USS Ashland and other ships in the Gulf of Aden during this time.

80,000 “through the system”. System. Through the system guaranteed by our constitution to include, even for non-citizens, due process of law? Perhaps this is some other system. Like a sewage system.

Do me a favor. If you just happen to casually bump into your US Rep or maybe a Senator, perhaps you should suggest they introduce some legislation to make those who have sworn to uphold our constitution, particularly those who have taken an oath of office and/or daily don a military uniform, actually uphold our goddamn constitution, perhaps on pain of having their citizenship revoked.

It’s my firm opinion that Americans, both at home and abroad, especially those who have sworn oaths to do so, should be responsible for following the supreme law of the land and seeing that it applies to those under their responsibility or in their care. We can afford no exceptions.

[*]

PS:

Happy fuckin’ Monday.

[.]

June 2, 2008 · Posted in reviews  
    

I had an outage this morning, otherwise I wouldn’t have been checking.

Portscanned by our nameservers

My company has a Business DSL Service contract with AT&T, previously BellSouth. Just recently they turned up the throughput on our circuit as part of a promotion to let everyone in the neighborhood know that it can finally go faster. (It’s still not as fast as broadband, but broadband isn’t available on our block.) Incidentally, we’re located in the metropolitan sprawl-swamp north of Atlanta, GA, just off of GA 400 (a.k.a the Alpharetta Autobahn).

The IP addresses noted above, 205.152.37.23 and 205.152.144.23, are the primary and secondary nameservers assigned my company’s DSL router (via an automatic DHCP-like transaction, I assume) when it syncs up with the upstream router/DSLAM. So basically our own primary and secondary nameservers just portscanned us.

What were they looking for? They were looking to see if we had any UDP ports open on our network for port numbers 12113, 12123, 12125, 12133, 12141, and 12156. It took some digging to find this out, but a few of those ports are associated with projects like eMule and uTorrent. You know. Peer-to-peer filesharing networks. Big surprise. AT&T shouldn’t care what traffic I accept or generate, but apparently they do. As if a portscan will actually reveal what service is on the other end of it. As if running said services actually reveals illegal sharing of data/copyright violations.

Anyway.

I was logged into the Netopia 3347NWG DSL router this morning, asking it what it thought the problem was. I clicked on a little Alert icon and this was what it showed me. I printed it out, just in case the security logs get wiped out when you reset the router. And it seems they do. But what this is saying is that the DSL router blocked their portscan. This is the DSL router THEY issued us. With the default firewall/security config.  THEY scanned us, and the basic hardware THEY shipped us with the default firewall config THEY ship it with stymied them.

And then the DSL SYNC light on the router went out. And we lost dial-tone on that phone line. Then, after a few minutes, dial-tone came back. I had to call them up and get them to twiddle things to get service restored–but while I was talking to my tech, the call dropped. She called me back on another line and we continued the troubleshooting process.

The outage is possibly unrelated–as I mentioned, I was having problems before the portscan or I wouldn’t have been logged into the router to check on things–but there’s still something laughable about their own hardware getting in the way of their own snooping.

Futher: While on hold and waiting for the DSL service tech, I listened to a recording that told me that common connectivity problems could be solved by powering down the DSL modem (router) and turning it back on. They recommend this to everyone, for whatever reason, to every joker on hold.

I say, sure, this might help. But it will also most likely wipe your security logs. I highly recommend you connect to your DSL router first to review any interesting tidbits that might be in your security logs before you wipe them by following the snoopin’-ass bastards at AT&T’s blindly recommended procedure. They shouldn’t be snooping in the first place. Neither should they be recommending that you wipe the logs that would reveal suspicious Denial-of-Service traffic before anyone gets a chance to look at them. Especially if they’re the one generating said traffic.

In my opinion, my company is paying for connectivity and bandwidth and AT&T shouldn’t have the first thing to say about how we use it until served with a warrant signed by a judge. In fact, if AT&T is just personally curious as to what traffic we generate or accept, then they can damn well put a sniffer on the line and passively generate their histograms. I expect them to do so, frankly. But a portscan is basically prank-calling your network and seeing if anyone picks up the phone when you dial whatever numbers you dial. My router is busy enough without having to answer (or decide not to answer) prank calls. AT&T’s nameservers are busy enough looking up IP addresses for whatever machine/service names we supply in our thousands of URLs without also being tasked to run hack-attacks on my network. And the recommendation that you flush any evidence before you ask them to help you figure out what’s happening? Actionably stupid.

I suppose it’s also possible that their nameservers have been hacked and are hacking on someone else’s behalf, but I’d like to think they check for that periodically. Frankly, I recommend running public-facing nameservers off of CDROM and rebooting them every couple of hours, but that’s just me.

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May 29, 2008 · Posted in reviews  
    

It's nice to have a girl around the house.

 

Though she was a tiger lady, our hero didn’t have to fire a shot to floor her. After one look at his Mr. Leggs slacks, she was ready to have him walk all over her. That noble styling sure soothes the savage heart! If you’d like your own doll-to-doll carpeting, hunt up a pair of these he-man Mr. Leggs slacks. Such as our new automatic wash wear blend of 65% “Dacron®” and 35% rayon—incomparably wrinkle-resistant. About $12.95 at plush-carpeted stores.

 

Well. I say I was alive. But was I really alive?

 

YIKES rating: 77.5 out of 100. Keep tusslin’ girls. Rawr.

[*]

 

PS:

Doesn’t seem to say how easy it is to get stains out of those slacks. Like blood. Or bodily wastes.

[.]

May 12, 2008 · Posted in reviews  
    

Twizzlers!

Click the pic for more historical entertainment. Please be warned: this one is not the funniest of the batch.

Thanks to Starchy for pointing this one out.

Further note: I’m horrible with names and titles and proper nouns of all sorts. Capitalize a word and it falls right through the holes in the sieve. The new titles on these old graphics fit right in with how my memory works anyway, as Mightywombat can attest.

12.3 out of 10.

[*]

April 26, 2008 · Posted in reviews  
    

Taser shock triggers fire in man’s pants

The Hamilton Spectator
Apr 19, 2008 Paul Morse

    A Hamilton man Tasered by police is in hospital after the stun gun ignited a “flammable object” in his pants, burning him.

    The incident is under review by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, which probes all police-related deaths and serious injuries. According to the SIU, police were called to a Queenston Road apartment in Hamilton’s east end around 9 p.m. Thursday.

    “Three officers went there in response to a disturbance call,” said SIU spokesman Frank Phillips yesterday. “During the interaction, an officer discharged his Taser. A flammable object the man had in the waistband of his pants ignited.”

    The man, 31, was burned on his hand and thigh. He was taken to Hamilton General Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

    Tasers are electrical discharge weapons that incapacitate a person by affecting the nervous system and muscle control. Hamilton police discharged their Tasers 50 times last year.

From here. You read it on the Internet so you know it must be true.

Rating: 2e out of 10.

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April 19, 2008 · Posted in reviews  
    

I haven’t tried the antenna-biting technique myself, but I think the effect needs some work.

Four out of ten.

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April 15, 2008 · Posted in reviews  
    

This is Waitomo Glowworm Cave on the North island of New Zealand.

ceiling constellation pleasure beads

From here.

The hungrier they are, the brighter their asses light up.

Here’s a game for you:

The ____________ Vidicon is, the brighter his ____________ lights up.

Answers accepted in comments. Winner gets a photo of the glowing item in question.

[*]

April 11, 2008 · Posted in reviews  
    

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