Goose the Blog 2.0

"Oh, ha! Sarcasm: The last refuge of sons of bitches!"


Before & After Photos

by SamIam at 12/31/2004 11:10:00 AM

This was covered on Slashdot but I thought I'd repost for our little group. Here are some satallite before & after photos of areas hit hardest by the Tsunami.


year end wrap up

by John at 12/30/2004 01:22:00 PM

I suppose this could probably wait until tomorrow, but here is a year end wrap up of some of the neat things I found on the web but never told you about.
The dragon sits on our TV at home. He is cool!


"'Tis the Season"

by John at 12/28/2004 09:19:00 AM

"Weird fiction" writer China MiƩville has a heartwarming short story in Socialist Review about a privatized ChristmasTM. (Yoink! Boing Boing)

forty thousand

by John at 12/28/2004 08:39:00 AM

Nature laughs at our puny attempts to hurt each other.

Proving once again who really runs things on this planet, in one fell movement Sunday Nature killed upwards of 40,000 people as an earthquake-generated tsunami crashed into eleven nations surrounding the Indian Ocean, leaving millions homeless and without safe water, food, or medical care.

If you want to help, here is a list of charities that will be providing immediate aid to the affected people and countries.

Boing Boing is keeping up with news from the region through personal, on-scene blogs.

Update: 12/29/04 estimate is more than 67,000 dead. Bush has finally decided that the calamity is large enough to merit interrupting his Christmas vacation.

Update 2: 12/30/04 morning estimate is 116,000 dead. The Red Cross guesses that the total number of deaths may double because of communicable disease.


know your chicken

by John at 12/22/2004 05:50:00 PM

I know my chicken
You got to know your chicken!*

Egg data as of 12/22/04
number date color chicken mass(g)
1 11/30/04 G J 39

2 12/07/04 G J 39

3 12/08/04 G J 42

4 12/10/04 G J 44
given to Peter
5 12/11/04 G J 46

6 12/11/04 B C 68
double yolk, over easy
7 12/13/04 B C 43

8 12/14/04 G J 46
given to Peter
9 12/14/04 B C 46

10 12/15/04 G J 48
11 12/15/04 B C 48

12 12/16/04 G J 48
given to Peter
13 12/16/04 S B 48
14 12/18/04 B C 46
given to Peter
15 12/19/04 G J 44

16 12/19/04 S B 45

17 12/20/04 G J 50

18 12/21/04 B C 50

19 12/21/04 G J 49

20 12/22/04 B C 52

21 12/22/04 G J 49

color: G=green, B=brown, S=speckled brown
chicken: J=Junior, C=Cookie, B=Buffy

* Cibo Matto - "Know Your Chicken"

what's in your car?

by John at 12/22/2004 09:27:00 AM

CDs in my car:

Elvis Costello and the Attractions- Blood & Chocolate
Puffy Amiyumi - Nice
Paul Simon - Graceland
Fountains of Wayne - Welcome Interstate Managers
Frank Black and the Catholics - Dog in the Sand
Wheat - Medeiros
Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty
Wheat - Per Second, Per Second, Per Second... Every Second
Neil Finn - One Nil
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Björk - Medúlla
Ben Folds Five - Whatever & Ever Amen
Björk - Post
Elastica - The Menace
The Flaming Lips - The Soft Bulletin
Takako Minekawa - Roomic Cube
Elvis Costello - Brutal Youth
Frank Black and the Catholics - Devil's Workshop


more on torture

by Bill at 12/21/2004 10:16:00 PM

I heard about this on free speech radio news (go KPFA!) on my long commute home. This group (Center for Constitutional Rights) is upset that nothing beyond low level soldiers is being investigated is regards to prisoner abuse at Guatanamo and in Iraq. It seems that certain countries abise by "universal" criminal codes, historically reserved for stuff like piracy on the high seas and such. Torture has been added to those universal codes after WWII. Germany, most likely due to their role in the sufferring during WWII has some of the best explained and most specific universal law codes. This group is hoping to try Rumsfield and others (top military officials involved in intelligence and operations of the prisons for torture. You can send the German prosecutor an email of support here. Of course I cannot guarantee you won't then get a knock on your door from Homeland Security (the dreaded HS). Check out the center site and email your support here.

freaking cold

by John at 12/21/2004 01:32:00 PM

Today is the winter solstice if you are in the northern hemisphere, and to celebrate Jack Frost sent a frigid arctic air mass down through Canada and into my backyard on Sunday night.

Monday when I let the dogs out for their morning pee, it was 9°F outside, and getting colder. The wind chill (I later read) was -18°F. But what about the chickens?

The poor chickens had been in the cold all night. The heat lamp inside their coop was only able to generate less than a +10° temperature difference with the outside, so it was a not-so-comfortable 18°F inside. The chickens seemed alright (though a little extra squawky), and Junior even went so far as to lay an egg for us. The heat lamp just couldn't keep up with the heat lost to the outside air, especially when the wind was blowing through the ventilation vents near the roofline.

The vents are necessary because chickens are fast breathers, and have a high CO2 and water vapor output. Vents are there to provide adequate turnover of the air inside the coop. This is mostly necessary in the summer, but it is also important in the winter to keep down bad odors and bacteria.

Concerned that the chickens would have to put up with another extra chilly night, I designed some wind breaks to put over the vents - the goal was to allow sufficient ventilation without allowing the wind to blow directly through. They work like this:

After work yesterday, I built the wind breaks in my garage and attached them to the coop while the sun was setting. It was only about 15°F out. Last night was the test - I was able to get about +15°F heating, and this morning it was actually above freezing inside the coop. Junior gave us another egg, and Cookie did to.

Coming soon - all the egg data you can handle!

cool tool

by John at 12/21/2004 08:44:00 AM

If you're like me, many times you've wanted to copy the text out of a pdf file and paste it into another document. I never knew a good way to do this - until now!

Adobe has two online conversion tools to convert a pdf document into text or html:
1) An online form for documents on the internet
2) An email service for documents on your local drive or intranet

Cool! Check it out.

Note to the user: Adobe says, "By submitting content through these tools, you understand and agree that Adobe may occasionally access the content you submit for purposes of quality control and administration of the conversion service," so you probably shouldn't submit anything you think is secret, personal, or illegal.

(Yoink! Boing Boing)


this is who you elected

by John at 12/20/2004 08:42:00 PM

"The two-page e-mail that references an Executive Order states that the President directly authorized interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and 'sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc.' The ACLU is urging the White House to confirm or deny the existence of such an order and immediately to release the order if it exists. The FBI e-mail, which was sent in May 2004 from 'On Scene Commander--Baghdad' to a handful of senior FBI officials, notes that the FBI has prohibited its agents from employing the techniques that the President is said to have authorized."

ACLU press release, email referring to "Executive Order"

Unfortunately, 44% of Americans probably don't see a problem with this.

steady leadership in times of change

by John at 12/20/2004 01:00:00 PM

(Yoink! Fafblog)

some inflammatory rhetoric

by John at 12/20/2004 11:27:00 AM

Newsflash: Democrats, atheists less un-American than Republicans, highly religious

A Cornell University survey has found that Republicans are more likely than Democrats to favor restrictions of civil liberties, on Muslim Americans and the general population:

Highly religious people are also more likely than others to favor restrictions of civil liberties, on Muslim Americans and the general population:



Sharia...American sytle

by Bill at 12/15/2004 06:07:00 PM

I can't remember where I heard it but I recall be told that we portray our enemies as having the traits we most fear are within ourselves, or something like that.

On that note here comes sharia American style.


the soft bigotry of low expectations

by John at 12/14/2004 03:05:00 PM

Politics again, sorry.

So, today at lunch, I was watching a video of President Bush awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom Failure to three of our nation's most worthy recipients: retired Gen. Tommy Franks, former CIA Director George Tenet, and former CPA administrator L. Paul Bremer. Down is the new up, brought to you by the man who has never made a mistake.

Is Santa Doing OK?

by Amy, Bill, Guillermo and Alma at 12/14/2004 02:30:00 PM

Came across this funny article looking for news to put on our website here at the UW. Here's to Santa making it through another few years!!

dance fever

by John at 12/14/2004 11:31:00 AM

More cool new music makes we want to get up and shake it like a Polaroid picture - except that is not appropriate office behavior.

Check out 8bitpeoples - making music the old fashioned way: on 8 bit home computers and video game consoles.

Rock out to Trash80 and Mesa Kasumai, or get in the holiday spirit with The 8bits of Christmas ("Let it Snow" will infect your brain in old school GameBoy style). It's probably better than you think!

MSNBC has an article on the 8 bit music explosion.

(Yoink! Boing Boing)


Blown Away (in a good way)

by Amy, Bill, Guillermo and Alma at 12/13/2004 07:50:00 PM

So, Bill and I saw a show on Saturday and were pretty much blown away by one of the bands we saw. Arcade Fire is a Montreal band that's worth a listen. Their site is a little lacking, but they have a link to a few mp3s on their label's site. Worth checking out!

big hands, I know you're the one

by John at 12/13/2004 11:45:00 AM

I remember, as a boy, lying in bed at night with a fever, carefully holding my hands on my chest so that my boulder-sized finger tips didn't touch the surrounding world. It was necessary. Every external surface felt enormous and rough - I could differentiate microscopic features in the bedsheets around me. At the same time, paradoxically, I was worried about crushing myself with the unbelievably huge hands attached to the end of my arms. It was terrifying. Only by pressing my fingers to my own body could I stop the shifting perspective - now, I imagine that act provided a kind of feedback that forced my senses to align in some reasonable fashion.

Other fever-induced sensations were dizzyingly rotating end-over-end or sinking endlessly into a huge pillow, but wielding giant hands was far and away the most disturbing.

What brought back that disturbing memory? This and this. Cool.


In regards to the egg pool...

by Bill at 12/08/2004 07:20:00 PM

I believe that I won so I just have to say...I want my two dollars!

Farenheit 9/11 makes People's Choice Awards list

by Amy, Bill, Guillermo and Alma at 12/08/2004 07:06:00 PM

In Michael Moore's weekly email today:

"Fahrenheit 9/11" has been nominated by the People's Choice Awards as the American public's "Favorite Film of the Year." The five nominees were chosen from a poll of thousands of Americans in mid-to-late November. The other nominees for best film are "Spiderman 2," "The Incredibles," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (with Jim Carrey), and "Shrek 2." It is the first time ever a documentary has been nominated for best film by the People's Choice Awards.

The People's Choice Awards are considered, among all the awards shows, to be the one which most accurately reflects the "mainstream" public opinion in the United States."

If you want to vote for any of the above mentioned films, you can.

Freedom of Speech, it's not just for breakfast anymore!

by Bill at 12/08/2004 06:16:00 PM

"Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings."
-- Heinrich Heine

"In an apparent reversal of decades of U.S. practice, recent federal Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations bar American companies from publishing works by dissident writers in countries under sanction unless they first obtain U.S. government approval."

My question is what the hell is the rational for that!


revisiting a couple of items

by John at 12/07/2004 01:13:00 PM (watch a commercial) has a few interesting articles on some items that have been peripherally mentioned in this blog:

1) Wild Wes - an interview with Wes Anderson about his movies and the upcoming "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou."

2) Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell makes their top five list for fiction in 2004. Now that you've got your Day Pass, you can also read an earlier review of the novel. I just started reading this book last night on Amy's recommendation!



by John at 12/06/2004 09:26:00 AM

Steve Martin sets the record straight on King Tut in the NYT.

Trespassers William

by MarkJumblie at 12/06/2004 01:33:00 AM

Hey Music Luvvers,

Here's a little break from the global gloom.
A "new" band for you to check out.

Check out "Lie in the Sound". Free download.

Lemme know what ya think! Do you think this sound affects guys differently than the ladies?



by John at 12/05/2004 09:08:00 AM

Remember when some people thought that Bush actually had a plan to encourage democracy to the Middle East, and that a democratic Iraq was just the first step along the way? This was part of Bush's solution to global terrorism.

Not any more.

"WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 - When Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and other senior American officials arrive at a summit meeting in Morocco next week that is intended to promote democracy across the Arab world, they have no plans to introduce any political initiatives to encourage democratic change.

President Bush started speaking in 2002 about the need to bring democracy to the Arab nations. Since then, however, the popular view of the United States in the region has grown so dark, even hateful, that American officials are approaching the meeting with caution and with a package of financial and social initiatives that have only a scant relationship to the original goal of political change.

Administration officials and their allies defend the change in strategy, saying the United States should no longer try to take the lead."


Once upon a time, Mr. Bush said, "It is hard work. It is hard work to go from a tyranny to a democracy. It's hard work to go from a place where people get their hands cut off, or executed, to a place where people are free. But it's necessary work."

Sure it's hard work. And it's even harder now than it was two years ago, because promoting democracy from behind the barrel of a gun (or a precision-guided bomb) just isn't a very good idea.


a letter to President Bush and President Allawi

by John at 12/03/2004 08:51:00 AM

Dear Sirs:

It sure is a good thing that we both "broke the back" of the insurgency and demolished al- Zarqawi's base of operations in the Fallujah battle last month.

I hear that you are adamant that next month's elections must go on as planned. Nonetheless, I imagine that you are still a little worried about the possibility of violence disrupting the electoral process. Well, I have a great idea!

Mr. Bush, remember last June when you wanted to hand over sovereignty to Mr. Allawi so freedom could reign, but you were worried about terrorist attacks? Your brilliant solution was to hand over sovereignty two days earlier than you said you would in a secret ceremony.

I bet you see where I am going with this. If you want to avoid violence on the January 30 elections, why not just hold a secret election two days earlier? That plan worked out so well last time - it is a sure winner.

If you decide to use this plan, there's no need to give me credit. I got my inspiration from you, so it's practically your idea anyway.

John B., Ph.D.

P.S. I'm a doctor (just like Dr. Rice!) so you can trust me


amazing bad luck

by John at 12/01/2004 04:13:00 PM

Last night on "Amazing Race", one of the tasks (I think it is called a Road Block) was to find one of 20 "Amazing Race" clues hidden inside 200 lb rolls of hay in a field with 240 rolls of hay.

The odds of picking a hay bale with a clue in it on the first try: 1 in 12.

The odds of picking through 100 hay bales and never finding a clue: about 17 in 100000!

That's just what happened, though. One member of the sister team unrolled hay bales for about eight hours, and the host estimated that she personally unrolled 100 of the 240 hay bales in the field. Either she just kept missing the clues (which were large, yellow and black envelopes about the size of a sheet of copy paper) as she pulled apart the bales, or she was really unfortunate.

She wasn't giving up, and eventually the host stepped in and brought the whole thing to a halt because their team was going to be eliminated from the race anyway. "A" for effort, though.

Update: In the car on the way home, I realized that my first approximation was not very accurate. More realistic odds are anywhere from about 7-15 times worse.

Of course, the sister will not look at the same hay bale more than once - this reduces her odds of not finding a clue in 100 bales to about 13 in 1 million. Mitigating this is the fact that 8 other teams were also looking for clues. On average, a team would have dig through 8 bales of hay to have even odds of finding a clue, so the other teams will look through 64 bales. To give her the best possible odds, we assume the other teams search through 64 bales and find 8 clues before she even starts (it didn't actually work this way - several teams search concurrently, and the sisters were one of the first teams to start). Her odds of not finding a clue in 100 bales is now about 25 in 1 million. Pretty bad luck!

Update 2: I can't seem to let it go. In the shower this morning (12/2), it occurred to me that my previous estimate of an average of 8 bales of hay per team to find a clue was wrong. I think it is closer to 12 bales per team, but again, this ignores the fact that teams won't look in bales that have already been unrolled. Anyway, at an average of 12 bales of hay per team for the first 8 teams, the odds of the sisters unrolling another 100 bales without finding a clue go to about 2 in 10 million!

And finally, I settled on a way to get this out of my system - stochastic modeling. I couldn't really stochasticly simulate the very long odds against unrolling 100 hay bales without finding a clue (actually, I could, but it would take a long time), so instead I simulated the number of bales for each of the other 8 teams to find a clue. It takes, on average, about 92 bales for the other 8 teams to find 8 clues. This means that the odds of the sisters team unrolling a further 100 bales without finding a clue are about 5 in 10 million. Still pretty long odds.

Update 3: Why are you still reading this? If you are as fascinated by this problem as I am, I feel sorry for you.

So, I caved. I made a full stochastic model of the Road Block. There are nine teams, and they each pick a bale of hay and unroll it looking for a clue in turn. If they find one, they stop; if not they pick another unrolled bale. I kept track of how many bales a team has to unroll before it finds a clue. This game is repeated 100,000 times, and it only takes about 2.5 minutes to play all of them.

Like I said above, the mean number is about 12 bales per team - on average, it takes 11.48+-5.27 bales for each team to find a clue (95% confidence interval). In every game, of course, one team has to unroll more bales than the other teams. The average maximum number unrolled is 31.55+-22.56. The big question: how many times in 100,000 games did a team need more than 100 tries before they found a clue? The big answer: 9 times. To bracket that with a standard deviation, I'd have to run the 100,000 game simulation a bunch of times (one rule of thumb for standard deviation is about 25 samples), which I think will take about an hour. I'll get right on it.

Anyway, It's probably safe to say that the odds against the sisters team having to unroll 100 hay bales are about 1 in 10,000. This makes my previous analysis look faulty, but I think that can be explained by the constraints I put on the game (specifically, the sisters only get to unroll hay bales after everyone else has found a clue). This model is more realistic, but in the actual event, some teams started earlier than others and finished before the other teams even began, so it is still not a very accurate recreation of the show.

Update 4: 25 simulations later...

The odds: 8.72+-4.10 in 100,000. Or probability 0.00872+-0.00410%. Or (the way Wendy likes it) 1 chance in 11468 (21,645 - 7,800).

just in time for Christmas

by John at 12/01/2004 01:09:00 PM

New music!

Eigenradio is playing the hits, 24 hours a day, streaming live to you over the web.

But, this isn't music like you've heard it before. I'll let Eigenradio explain:

Eigenradio plays only the most important frequencies, only the beats with the highest entropy. If you took a bunch of music and asked it, "Music, what are you, really?" you'd hear Eigenradio singing back at you. When you're tuned in to Eigenradio, you always know that you're hearing the latest, rawest, most statistically separable thing you can possibly put in your ear.

Basically, Eigenradio is a bank of computers listening to live radio, processing the signals they receive, and reconstructing a new signal that represents the dominant structures in the received signals. From the obscure diagram, it looks like Eigenradio is using principle component analysis to find the largest eigenvalues / vectors of the input signals (that's the box labeled PCA) - your guess is as good as mine for what happens after that.

And, for Christmas, you can download the cool and spacy "A Singular Christmas" composed of all the Christmas music Eigenradio could handle. I'm listening to it right now to help me get in the holiday spirit after what I posted below.

(yoink! Boing Boing)

welcome to red America

by John at 12/01/2004 12:06:00 PM

Tolerance, apparently, is too controversial for broadcast TV.

We on the left call it the "so-called liberal media" for a reason.

NBC and even "liberal" CBS have declined to air an advertisement for the United Church of Christ (see it here). The ad promotes their church as a place of inclusion over intolerance, including a subtle emphasis on the acceptance of homosexuals. Shocking, isn't it?

So, here is what Viacom (owner of CBS and UPN) had to say about that:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations," the group states an explanation from CBS reads, "and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks."

The ad is unacceptable because it implies other groups might not be as accepting of certain minorities as the UCC is, and because the message is at odds with the political goals of Our Leader? Well, the first part is a damned fact, and the second part (leaving out the implication that public debate on important issues is a bad thing) is a non-sequitor because the commercial doesn't address homosexual marriage at all!

These broadcasters get to use our frequencies for free, and as part of that agreement they are obligated to serve the public interest, not just the narrow interests ($$) of the mega-corporations that own them. The UCC, interestingly, had a hand in establishing this:

In 1959, the Rev. Everett C. Parker organized United Church of Christ members to monitor the racist practices of WLBT. Like many southern television stations at the time, WLBT had imposed a news blackout on the growing civil rights movement, pulling the plug on then-attorney Thurgood Marshall. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. implored the UCC to get involved in the media civil rights issues. Parker, founding director of the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, organized churches and won in federal court a ruling that the airwaves are public, not private property. That decision ultimately led to an increase in the number of persons of color in television studios and newsrooms. The suit clearly established that television and radio stations, as keepers of the public airwaves, must broadcast in the public interest.

Unless I miss my guess, serving the public interest does not just mean pleasing religious conservatives and serving the expressed interests of the Executive Branch.

I wonder if the right-wing will speak out against this clear case of stifled religious expression?

(yoink! Talking Points Memo)

if you voted for Bush...

by John at 12/01/2004 11:59:00 AM

...this is what you voted for.