Changes at Slashdot.
Did Roman sailors travel to the Americas? Via New Scientist.
Scientists claim to discover a new state of matter. Or a very old state of matter, depending on how you look at it. In this 'quark-gluon plasma' quarks roam free in a kind of cosmic soup. In normal forms of matter, quarks are bound together by other particles called gluons to form more complex particles such as protons and neutrons. It is argued that 'cosmic soup' was the form of matter in existence just after the Big Bang. Eventually quarks bonded together to form more complicated particles, which then formed molecules, giving rise to the kinds of physical matter we all experience now. Via BBC.
Putin's empire begins to growl. Via The Times. Also take a look at this Moscow Times story about missing journalist Andrey Babitsky, who was apparently handed over by the Russian authorities to Chechen rebels in exchange for the release of Russian soldiers. This is an extraordinary story.
Actually, there are some very odd stories circulating around right now; the Elian story in Florida could almost be a Woody Allen script, as could the story of the Afghan airlines hijacking. I'm not following these stories in this weblog because I don't think it's right to stir too much controversy or try to make political capital out of either small children or refugees, two of the weakest groups in society. Over the Elian case, both rightwing Republicans in the US and the Cuban government have made considerable capital with their constituencies - but does either side really have the kid's interests at heart?; in the UK, some newspapers are now alleging that the whole Afghan airline hijacking was part of an asylum scam. I don't know the truth about either Elian or the motives behind the hijacking, and in any case I don't think that what are actually opinions should be pushed as 'facts' or 'news'.. Without knowing the full facts, as a general principle, I disagree with using such issues in order to push one's own agenda. Funny old world.
Indonesia names Suharto as a corruption suspect. Via Reuters.
William Cobbett on why tea is bad and beer is good. Via Meme Pool.
'War' by Robley Wilson. Meditation on the appeal of war. Via Poetry Daily.
Vladimir Putin has got a poodle. Via Reuters.
Lots of good links through MonkeyFist - Umberto Eco in Davos (he has some very frightening predictions - the end of ethics, the end of fraternity, the end of representative democracy), Gunter Grass thinks that the pen is mightier than the net (I agree, to a certain extent - the net is a far more transient medium than a book, and the printed word can carry more depth and resonance than anything produced solely for the net. Both have a place.), the prison industry (I've covered this before, but I can't quite get over the fact that in the US, prisoners are used as a kind of cheap labour for private industry. I'm all for offenders performing work that is socially useful as a way of repaying their debt to society, but I really question the morality of private business getting in on the game - the pay is very low indeed, and I suspect it doesn't have a positive effect on the pay of workers outside of prison. Of course, it looks good for the prisoner when their case comes up for review, but that doesn't make it right.).
New travel guide slams London as dirty and expensive. London still has some of the coolest modern architecture in the world though. Take a look here to see some. Via Reuters and CNN respectively.
Pinochet may stay under house arrest for a while yet. Via BBC.
Hackers attack Yahoo. This was followed by attacks on a range of other sites including E*Trade, ZDNet, eBay, Amazon, CNN. This is not so long after an attack on Japanese government websites. Via BBC and CNN respectively.
The Castle Point Astronomy Club has a new page where you can track shadow transits for the solar system, the map of the night sky, Jupiter's moons etc., from various parts of the world. Good stuff.
Ellen's back. Hooray, hooray.
The Ise shrines in Japan are apparently demolished and rebuilt every few years using identical techniques but different tools. Via Bifurcated Rivets.
These papers on the sociology of cyberspace are somewhat interesting. Via Bifurcated Rivets.
From Poetry Daily - 'A Mayan Astronomer in Hell's Kitchen' by Martin Espada, 'A Neanderthal, with Help from Cave and Bear, Invents the Flute' by David Citino.
New risks digest. Via comp.risks.
A photographic guide to megalithic mysteries. As with some of the Buddhist architecture sites I've been pointing to, it's great that people try to bring such lovely things to the wider public. Via Bifurcated Rivets.
Eric Weisstein's world of mathematics. Via Bifurcated Rivets.
Artificial intelligence weblog. Via Robot Wisdom.
The Panat Times. Orest Ranum is a history of 17th century France. In the Panat Times he reviews the reading he does each summer in the tiny French village of Panat. Great site. You can see the house here. Via Bifurcated Rivets.
Welsh Buddhists marry in mine. Via Reuters.
Boss of London's Millennium Dome quits. Via Reuters.
A third of Japanese suffer chronic fatigue and a third of French have considered suicide. Via Reuters.
105-year old offered space in Norwegian kindergarten. Bit of a Y2K-like story. Via Reuters.
Photo of the Sapporo snow festival in Hokkaido (far north Japan). Via Kyodo.
Washington Post predicts the demise of Usenet. Via Slashdot. They wish! Everyone has a voice on Usenet - not just the proprietor of a newspaper.
Can time flow backwards? Via New Scientist, links found on Mr. Barrett, MonkeyFist, lots of other places. The laws of thermodynamics state that entropy (the degree of disorder in system) always increases. For proof of this, stop tidying up your house and see what happens. ;) This is known as the thermodynamic arrow of time - time prefers to flow in the direction of increasing disorder. But what if there is a region of the Universe where disorder is _decreasing_? Interesting stuff.
Human rights for great apes? Or should that be 'sentient' rights? Via MonkeyFist/Salon. There's a body of scientific and empirical evidence suggesting that great apes can experience emotions, have something of an intellectual life, and can make ethical choices, so why not enshrine this in law? Surely they are something more than chattel?
Monarch butterflies in Mexico threatened. The human species has an unfortunate tendency to stuff good things up. Via Mr. Barrett.
Lots of stuff about Japan. Via Wire Mommy.
frolic.org is home to the naked dancing llama. Via Meme Pool.
Happy Chinese New Year.
Salon on Gary Bauer. Odd and funny. Thanks snake.
Who were you in your past life? Sort of fun. Via Remco.
Japanese Oni masks. Via GMT+9.
Crayon drawings at Naomi's. Via GMT+9.
New Austrian government takes office. Via BBC. The new coalition includes the far right Freedom Party whose leaders have tried to downplay Austria's role in World War 2. To his credit, the Austrian President (whose role is essentially a kind of figurehead, rather than an active member of government) has said that the coalition gives him 'gooseflesh' and he personally disapproves of it. The Freedom Party has been condemned in capitals across Europe, and Israel has withdrawn its ambassador.
Yesterday was the first day since 28th August 888 to have contain only even digits. (2-2-2000).
The Rainbow Bridge. In memory of pets gone by. This is an oldie but a good one. This time via mrbarrett.com.
A page about shrunken heads. This is a page about the anthropolgy and history of this practice. Don't try it at home. Thanks Ms. Barrett.
Someone's rowing from New Zealand to South America. And in a good cause too.
Notable recent NASA astronomy pictures - Saturn and a spiral galaxy.
Article on endangered primates. Via Honey Guide.
Could Europa have a radiation-driven ecosystem? Via Honey Guide.
It's likely that the next Austrian government will include the far right. Via BBC. I think this is more a reaction against a sterile political establishment by voting for a charismatic outsider than a lurch rightwards, however this is obviously worrying, and some past statements by Jorg Haider are really unsavoury. To his credit, the Austrian President has stated he personally is opposed to such a coalition.
First sexual experiences of various celebs. Via nerve.com/Robot Wisdom.
Interesting personal site.
The Governor of Illinois is to declare a moratorium of executions in the state until an inquiry has been conducted into why more death row inmates have been exonerated than executed since the death penalty was reintroduced. Good for him. Via Wire Mommy/Washington Post.
Sign the petition to end hunger in America.
New risks digest. Via comp.risks.
The Mayan Epigraphic Database. Via Bifurcated Rivets.
Evidence of AIDS in 1930's? Via Robot Wisdom.
Postcards of Americana. Via GMT+9.
History of the Canadian Mounties. Via History Today.
Recently from Poetry Daily - 'Language Lessons' by S.P.Zitner, 'Brewing Green Tea in a Glass Percolater after the Regular Brown Teapot has Broken' by Molly Tenenbaum, 'The Sausage Parade' by Martha Silano.
The 1999 Miss Squirrelly Pageant. Odd, but fun, I think!
This Uncle Sam picture is quite funny. In Newsweek, of all places. Via Mr. Pants.
Homework High! Channel 4's new homework service - sort of fun for the kids, I expect. Useful to see what kinds of things they teach in British schools these days.
Electoral collage. More funny funny US election satire and parody. Via Wire Mommy.
Ten websites to change the world? Via BBC/mrbarrett.com.
For some reason, I personally find the idea of using prison inmates as a form of cheap labour a little distasteful. This company apparently does just that. Read their website and make up your own mind... With fully 1 percent of the US adult population behind bars, what effect does this kind of thing have on the wages of ordinary (i.e. non-prison) workers?!
British firm accused of 'net piracy' for buying up domain names including the names of towns and villages in bulk. Via mrbarrett.com/BBC.
Fun intro to the Kama Sutra. Via http://www.wiremommy.com/weblog.html.
Why Dilbert is a Communist. This is an ironic joke, I'm glad to say; and very very funny. Via http://www.wiremommy.com/weblog.html.
US cartoonists on John McCain's presidential campaign. Hoho. Via mrbarrett.com.
SciFaiku - Science Fiction haiku. Via Meme Pool.
History of the public toilet. Via Meme Pool.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Britain to mark annual Holocaust Day to honour the memory of victims of genocide and promote tolerance. Germany to dedicate Holocaust monument in Berlin. Diplomats from neutral countries honoured for saving lives during Holocaust, often at considerable risk to themselves (this is a fascinating story). All links via Reuters.
Japanese government website hacked (BBC) and Japanese government website hacked again (Daily Yomiuri) Both links via GMT+9. This seems to be linked to a far-right conference held in Osaka to deny the 1937 Nanjing massacre. More on that story here (via Reuters).
Dreadful weather on the US East Coast, especially in North Carolina. Take a look at this webcam in Raleigh, NC. As I type this, it's very white!
I highly recommend the current photography exhibition at the Barbican Centre's art gallery in the City of London. 'Our Turning World: Photographs 1989-1999' celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the respected Magnum photo agency with a superb exhibition of photographs from all over the world, taken since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The whole exhibition feels like both a chronicle of our time, and a photographic map of the world.
There are a couple of amusing George Bush Jr. quotes in The Economist today :-
'What I am against is quotas. I am against hard quotas, quotas they basically delineate based upon whatever. However, they delineate, quotas, I think vulcanise society. So I don't know how that fits into what everybody else is saying, their relative positions, but that's my position.' (quoted in Slate).
'When I was coming up it was a dangerous world and we knew exactly who the they were. It was us versus them and it was clear who them was. Today, we're not so sure who the they are, but we know they're there.' (quoted in the New York Times).
A sad farewell to Willie Hamilton, former Labour MP and British anti-royalist campaigner.
A couple of good Eskimo Nebula related links - from NASA and this one via Honey Guide.
Take a look at these cute and handy architectural travel guides to cities and countries.
Learn Japanese in 10 minutes! Well, a bit anyway. Via Meme Pool.
Forgotten New York. Good for New York City fans, like myself. Or indeed anyone who is interested in the hidden, oddball history of cities. Via Meme Pool.
Good for reference - Cambridge History of English and American Literature. Via Meme Pool.
Happy Burns Night! Well, a bit belated. Via Meme Pool.
'Embertide in Advent' by David Middleton. Via Poetry Daily.
Donate up to 3 cups of staple food for free at Hunger.
Notable recent presents from Ellen - downhill from here, you own me, I am great.
New risks digest. Via comp.risks.
Everything there is to know about saints and angels.
Xibological Perimeter. Xibo = !Kibo.
Radioactive quack cures. Via GMT+9.
George Bush Jr. poses with a friend. V. amusing. Via Mr. Pants.
Another fun weblog at Bird on a Wire.
Princeton University's photographic archive of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. Very powerful. Via GMT+9.
How many places called Newport are there in Great Britain? Answer - a lot! (I actually used to live in one of them). It's a pretty funny thread. Via soc.culture.british.
Fun personal site at squixel.net.
Lots of oddball stuff at Wire Mommy, where I found this amusing satirical page about George Bush Jr.
Robot Wars! I saw this last night - what a scream!
Fine rant on Pinochet. Via Robot Wisdom/The Nation.
Around Christmas Microsoft forgot to pay their registration fee for one of the domains that gives access to Hotmail. A kind Linux user then coughed up the US$35 fee, taking pity on all the Hotmail users who couldn't read their email. He then auctioned the cheque on eBay! Via Remco.
Good stuff about haikus. Via Treehouse.
Currently listening to the soundtrack for Buena Vista Social Club.
Mr. Pants' amusing weblog.
You know you've been in Japan too long when... Very good. Via Bifurcated Rivets/Mr. Pants. But in the UK, too. US$17 _isn't_ such a bad price for a new paperback!!! And I agree - Princess Masako is beautiful, Hillary C. is cute ;).
Whatever became of Pauline Hanson's One Nation? Via GMT+9/The Age(Melbourne).
Japanese grope for the right words. Via GMT+9/Financial Times. This story reminds me of something similar going on in France - how to preserve national identity in the age of McDonalds and Disney? Personally, I would find a monolingual, monocultural, monochrome world far too sad and boring for words. Vive la difference.