Day: April 25, 2004

Early-morning Comet

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“Comet Bradfield (C/2004 F4), which flew by the Sun on April 17th, is emerging now from the Sun’s glare. Look for it rising in the eastern sky just before dawn. The comet is barely visible to the naked eye, but it’s a beautiful sight through binoculars.” —

Our Hidden WMD Program

Why Bush is Spending So Much on Nuclear Weapons: “There is no nuclear arms race going on now. The world no longer offers many suitable nuclear targets. President Bush is trying to persuade other nations—especially “rogue regimes”—to forgo their nuclear ambitions. Yet he is shoveling money to U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories as if the Soviet Union still existed and the Cold War still raged.

These are the findings of a virtually unnoticed report written by weapons analyst Christopher Paine, based on data from official budget documents, and released earlier this month by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The report raises anew a question that always springs to mind after a close look at the U.S. military budget: What the hell is going on here? Specifically: Do we really need to be spending this kind of money on nuclear weapons? What role do nuclear weapons play in 21st-century military policy? How many weapons do we need, to deter what sort of attack or to hit what sorts of targets, with what level of confidence, for what strategic and tactical purposes?” — Fred Kaplan, Slate Web Specials

Reconditioned 40-hr TiVos are $99. If you watch any television at all, you should not waver about picking one up at this price. A DVR will tame and humanize your television viewing experience more than any other innovation except not watching at all…

Man Survives 18-Floor Plunge

“A South African man survived an 18-floor plunge from a Cape Town hotel room and was well enough to call out to amazed rescuers, police said on Thursday.

Nicholas du Plooy broke both arms and a leg and also injured his neck late on Tuesday after he toppled out of a 19th-floor window at the Cape Town Ritz Hotel late on Tuesday…

Police said they believed du Plooy’s plunge was accidental but would not speculate on the circumstances. “There’s no foul play suspected. The guy just fell out of the window,” police spokeswoman Priscilla Ndongeni said.” — Yahoo! News It may be an urban legend, but a certain degree of intoxication may contribute to avoidance of injury by keeping one loose and relaxed. Of course, it may also contribute to the tendency to fall in the first place.

Just fill in the blanks

Going on the offensive isn’t shocking any more: “The song currently at number one in the UK is either called I Don’t Want You Back (if you listen to DJs introduce it on the radio) or Fuck It (if you read the title on the posters all over the country). If you were actually to hear the record on the radio, it would sound something like ‘Uh-t, I don’t want you back.’

It is, to all intents and purposes, a rather sweet-sounding, heartbroken ballad of rejected love by young Irish American singer Eamon Doyle, except that he pulls no verbal punches in telling the girl who done him wrong where to get off.

This is, of course, the modern way. It may not be big and it may not be clever, but it sells records.

The prevalence of swearwords in modern pop has led to the rise of ‘radio friendly’ versions of singles, in which obscenities are muted, leaving only either the initial consonant or an isolated vowel.

When swearing is the very point of a record, this approach results in a quite bizarre stop-start patchwork of noise and silence. Perhaps this is a cunning marketing ploy.” — Telegraph.UK

Apt Timing?

Theater Review: Assassins: A Demon Gallery of Glory Hounds: “More than a decade after they first surfaced to critical shudders and head-scratching, the unhappy have-nots of “Assassins” — the glitteringly dark musical by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman about Americans who dream of killing their country’s presidents — have finally made it to Broadway.” — New York Times

Politics and Truth

“Kerry is stuck between politics and truth. After all, it is Kerry’s bravery as a soldier fighting the mistaken war, not his bravery as a veteran opposing it, that helps him in his bid for the presidency. ” — Jonathan Schell, AlterNet

Also: All Profile, No Courage: “This JFK needs to decide what defines him and his campaign—and soon.” — Doug Ireland,

Where’s My (Bleeping) Sex?

Who wants a DVD player that automatically deletes all the juicy bits of movies? One guess: “This is what is happening. This is the happy godlike agenda of Utah’s ClearPlay, a twee and shrill little corporation that has taken it upon itself to sit around the cube farm all day and watch countless Hollywood flicks and zap out any and all icky violent suggestive material in, say, ‘Lost In Translation.’ For your protection. How kind.” — Mark Morford, SF Chronicle

Music Playlists, a new site, helps uncover links to songs by making it easy for users to create and share playlists of songs on the Web. When you click on a playlist, the site assembles the links into a seamless radio show that you can listen to without any messy downloading. Think of it as a mix tape you can share and change at will.

Webjay already features several thousand playlists linking to more than 30,000 tracks, according to the site’s founder, Lucas Gonze, a programmer in Brooklyn. ‘The point is to find cool unknown songs and to encourage people to share what they find,’ he said. The playlists are varied and idiosyncratic, ranging from old radio shows and techno music to ‘Society 78’s from Stalin-era U.S.S.R.'” — New York Times