Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Google Maps find Secret Stealth Bomber Base

stealth bomber

German Spiegel News finds a stealth bomber uncovered on Google Maps. Spiegel writes, “As you know it’s prohibited to get close to military bases, let alone photograph them. Usually satellite images which are made public online are retouched to blur scenerey which might compromise security. At least that’s what you assume in times of terror. However, the googling tourist stumbles upon a stealth bomber on a military airport in California. Apparently, someone forgot to paint over this one.”

via Philipp Lenssen

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Doomsday Recipes: How to Destroy the Earth

Methods for destroying the Earth:

  1. Gobbled up by strangelets

  2. Sucked into a microscopic black hole

  3. Operspun: accelerate the Earth's rotation

  4. Blown up by matter/antimatter reaction

  5. Sucked into a giant black hole

  6. Meticulously and systematically deconstructed

  7. Pulverized by impact with blunt instrument

  8. Frazzled by solar plasma

  9. Eaten by von Neumann machines

  10. Hurled into the Sun

  11. Torn apart by Jupiter

  12. Total existence failure

  13. Whipped by a cosmic string

  14. Written off in the backlash from a stellar collision

  15. Swallowed up as the Sun enters red giant stage

  16. Crunched

  17. Ripped asunder

  18. Decayed

  19. Heat death

How to destory the Earth [Sam Hughes]
Earth Destruction Forum [ezboard.com]
You too can destroy the planet! [BostonPhoenix.com]
Jon Carrol [sfgate.com]

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Adrian Holovaty just opened the website ChicagoCrime.org:

The site is a freely browsable database of crimes reported in Chicago. My scripts collect data from the Chicago Police Department once every weekday. The site slices and dices crime information in a ton of different ways, complete with a wide assortment of Google Maps.

I did all the development, data munging, etc. My talented friend and coworker Wilson Miner did the slick design.

Adrian Holovaty Blog [Holovaty.com]

Monday, May 23, 2005

Inflation and The Real Estate Bubble

According to the United States Federal Reserve's historical data the money supply (as measured by M3) has increased as follows:

January 1959, the money supply stood at $292 billion
January 1970 - $618 billion
September 1975 - $1,145 billion
January 1980 - $1,826 billion
August 1982 - $2,396 billion
April 1986 - $3,310 billion
January 1990 - $4,092 billion
May 1995 - $4,476 billion
January 2000 - $6,605 billion

As of April 2005, the money supply stands at $9,616 billion

M3 is the broadest measure of money; it is used by economists and the Fed to estimate the entire supply of money within an economy.

Note that between Jan. 1959 and April 1986 (26 years 4 months) the Federal Reserve increased the money supply by $3,018 billion.

But between Jan. 2000 and April 2005 (5 years 4 months) the Federal Reserve increased the money supply by a like amount: $3,011 billion.

Certainly the value of a dollar has changed over 46 years. However, this does make one wonder if the Federal Reserve is goosing the money supply and causing asset inflation and a real estate bubble.

For example, seeing a cozy 600 square foot studio condo in Greenwich Village, New York, selling for $795,000 seems a little bubbly.

The Great Inflation Illusion: A Historic Perspective [Doug Wakefield/PrudentBear.com, May 20, 2005]
History of US Money Supply [Federal Reserve]

Saturday, May 21, 2005

More Anthrax Spores in the Future?

The anthrax killer took the lives of these five people in the Fall of 2001:

• Robert Stevens - a photo editor in Boca Raton, FL
• Kathy Nguyen - a Vietnamese immigrant from New York City
• Ottilie Lundren - a 94-year old woman from Oxford, Connecticut
• Thomas Morris Jr. - postal worker in Washington, D.C.
• Joseph Curseen. - postal worker in Washington, D.C.

The killer is still at large. The next anthrax attack might be 100,000 times more deadly. Forbes Magazine reviews some of the work being done to protect the public:

The short-lived anthrax attacks that started a week after Sept. 11 are still shrouded in mystery. Innocuous white envelopes arrived by mail at big media companies and Capitol Hill. Twenty-two people were sickened and five died. "This is next," the letter-writer warned. To date no one has been charged.

The next attack could be far more horrific. Two hundred and twenty pounds of aerosolized anthrax spores sprayed from a nondescript truck in any U.S. city would wipe out anywhere from 130,000 to 3 million people, the equivalent of a hydrogen bomb. The scenario is considered one of the gravest bioterror threats to the U.S. Victims would be utterly clueless. Anthrax is odorless and tasteless and produces early symptoms that can dupe people into thinking they have the common flu. The inhaled version is usually fatal.

Spore Wars - The anthrax attacks of 2001 were brutal and deadly. The next attack could be even worse. Are we prepared? [Forbes, Jun. 6, 2005]
2001 anthrax attacks [Wikipedia.org]
Top Ten Modern Day Cold Case Murder Mysteries [TJN]
The Anthrax Murder Mystery [TJN]

Friday, May 20, 2005

Debit Cards: target of choice for thieves

Debit cards are as good as cash money to crooks. Sandra Block of USA Today, "Your Money," points out one of the big pitfalls of debit cards:

To protect yourself from identity theft, hold your credit cards close, and your debit cards closer.

Armed with the right information, thieves can use your debit card to make fraudulent charges or withdraw money from your bank account. You may not know you've been victimized until your mortgage check bounces. Cleaning up the mess could take months.

...debit cards don't carry the same legal protections as credit cards.

Debit card users also have to worry about another unique threat called "skimming." Skimming occurs when thieves set up a device that captures the magnetic stripe and keypad information from ATM machines and gas pumps.

Thieves love debit cards, so keep them safe — here's how [USA Today, May 9, 2005]
Skimming and Scamming - How to Protect Yourself Against Debit Card Fraud [American Bankers Assoc.]
Plastic Fraud-Getting a Handle on Debit and Credit Cards [Federal Reserve]

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Darth Vader: the hockey goalkeeper from hell

Darth Vader is an immaculately conceived knight-bastard imbued with magical powers who rules the known galaxy at the right hand of the merciless and brilliant Emperor Palpatine I. Though he maintains palaces on both Coruscant and Vjun, Vader spends most of his time travelling aboard Executor, the flagship of his deadly pan-galactic armada. He enjoys fixing things, listening to music, and crushing people's tracheas with his mind.

The Darth Side: Memoirs of a Monster

Friday, May 13, 2005

Deadly Dog Flu May Jump to Humans

A guaranteed hot zone has been set up in Lynn, Massachusetts for both humans and dogs. The Boston Herald is reporting this morning:

The devastating and shadowy malady that is claiming the lives of greyhounds at Revere's Wonderland racetrack may have even deadlier ambitions: lovable Fido and perhaps even his master.

The federal government's top scientists are exploring whether a deadly dog flu that has ripped through greyhound tracks across the country - and is suspected in Massachusetts - could leap to humans. The strain of canine influenza has already popped up in other dogs in animal shelters around the country.

...veterinarians treating sick and dying greyhounds at Wonderland's gated, barracks-like kennel compound yesterday enforced a strict quarantine - one aimed at not only dogs, but humans as well.

Dr. Lisa Zerbel, a veterinarian at North Shore Animal Hospital who is treating Wonderland's 1,200 greyhounds, rejected a request from a Herald reporter to enter the compound, located in an industrial section of Lynn.

Zerbel said even casual human contact with the infected dogs could spread the killer illness beyond the hot zone.

Race flu may kill your pet: CDC probes possible link to humans [Boston Herald, May 13, 2005]
Bird Flu Killing Greyhounds Throughout the United States? [recombinomics.com, May 13, 2005]

Saturday, May 7, 2005

Most Dangerous Destinations

Forbes.com with help from iJet Intelligent Risk Systems of Annapolis, Maryland, lists the most dangerous travel destinations for 2005:

Afganistan: With former Taliban and al Qaeda operatives still at large, U.S. citizens and employees of international NGOs are constantly at risk of kidnapping and assassination. Military operations, frequent terrorist attacks and landmines make travel throughout the country nearly impossible, and Afghan authorities have a limited ability to ensure the safety of visitors. The United Nations was forced to suspend operations temporarily last year after the number of attacks on international aid workers grew.

Cote d'Ivoire
: The Cote d'Ivoire has been in political turmoil since a military coup in 1999. The country is currently back in civilian control, but November 2004 saw a violent clash between the Ivorian government and rebel forces, leading to widespread demonstrations, rioting and looting in the coastal city of Abidjan. Public health has deteriorated greatly, and yellow fever and cholera are great risks to travelers.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: U.N. Peacekeeping Forces have been stationed here since a 1999 cease-fire was established between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and five regional states. Despite the formation of a transitional government in 2003, the area remains highly unstable, and the U.N. reports frequent violent clashes between tribal groups, armed military forces and government troops. Bribery and unauthorized detention is commonplace upon entering or leaving the country. The Ituri region is particularly prone to ethnic tension, rape and sporadic violence.

Haiti: The death in mid-April of a Philippine U.N. Peacekeeper in Haiti is only the latest symptom of the country's political instability. Haiti has no organized police force to speak of, and armed gangs roam the streets participating in spontaneous attacks on each other and on civilians. Criminal activity, including looting, car jacking and kidnapping, is common, and the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince has established a curfew of 9 P.M. to 5 A.M. to protect its employees.

Iraq: Daily reports of car bombings, kidnappings and assassinations in Iraq keep it in the headlines, even after the relatively peaceful elections in January. Former Baathists, international terrorists and miscellaneous criminals make the country almost impassable for civilians, as well as for the military. The kidnapping and execution of Americans, Europeans and Asians is a common terrorist technique, as is the use of IEDs (improvised explosive devices), which are hastily constructed and hidden in land mines or roadside litter.

Kyrgyzstan: This small country in Central Asia was left to fend for itself when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. It has since come under scrutiny from the U.N. because of its proximity to Uzbekistan and possible ties to the extremist group Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a terrorist organization linked to al Qaeda. Landmines throughout the country--and especially along the border with Uzbekistan--make travel extremely dangerous. The U.S. Embassy is carefully monitoring places that are likely to attract groups of Westerners for signs of potential terrorist attacks or suicide bombings.

Liberia: A protracted civil war has left Liberia one of the world's poorest countries. As a result, armed robbery and theft are commonplace, especially among international visitors. The high national unemployment rate means that street fights, political rallies and demonstrations are well-attended and can quickly spiral out of control. The State Department advises visitors not to travel alone or after dark if they must visit Liberia.

Somalia: Like Gambia or North Korea, Somalia is a "tracker country" in iJet lexicon, meaning iJet has few, if any, on-the-ground sources. The country has no U.S. Embassy or other U.S. presence of any kind. Inter-clan fighting and attacks against relief workers and international aid agencies are common, and the Mogadishu region, which is contested by many racial groups, is especially dangerous. Ships in the Indian Ocean off the Eastern coast of the country are at risk from sea-faring robbers. Somalia was the worst-hit country in Eastern Africa by the recent tsunami, and water contamination and waterborne disease have since been a major concern.

Sudan: Sudan's ongoing civil war has made the country practically uninhabitable, although the U.S. State Department believes a long-awaited peace agreement may be in the works. Still, recent reports of genocidal activity in Darfur, clashes between government forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Army, and ongoing reports of terrorist threats and general banditry mean you should steer clear if you can. Hostility towards U.S. foreign policy is widespread.

Togo: Togo's hotly contested presidential elections on April 24 have given rise to a new wave of violence. A favorite of leisure travelers in the early 1990s because of its beautiful beaches, the country's political unrest over the last 15 years has made visitors think twice about going, and rightly so. Protests in Lomé, the coastal capital, are violent and frequent, and sporadic violence and protests occur all over the country. Communication is difficult, especially around Lomé, as all commercial radio has been cancelled and phone lines cut. U.S. citizens are not at any greater risk than other foreigners, although several have reported being harassed by native Togolese who mistook them for French. U.S. Embassy personnel must abide by a 6 P.M. to 8 A.M. curfew.

Zimbabwe: Unemployment and inflation have effectively devastated the Zimbabwean economy. Annual March parliamentary elections are a particularly tense time, as election-related vote rigging and intimidation spark violence and unstable political rallies, especially in the high-density city of Harare. Commercial farms, home to government supporters who act with impunity from the law, are particularly dangerous to foreigners. Food and fuel shortages are widespread.

Most Dangerous Destinations 2005

Friday, May 6, 2005

Plague of Viruses, Worms, and Phishers

7,360: The number of new Windows-based virus and worm variants that emerged over the last six months of 2004

64%: The increase in new virus and worm variants over the previous six months

2,625: The number of active phishing sites reported in February 2005

64: The number of brand names (companies) targeted by phishing scams in January 2005

1: The United States' ranking for the country hosting the most phishing web sites

Anti-Phishing Working Group
(via: Network Magazine)

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

Polio Makes a Comeback

BBC today reported:

Indonesian authorities have confirmed a second case of polio, a day after announcing they had discovered the first case for almost 10 years.

The World Health Organization reported last Friday, April 29, 2005:
Eighteen new cases of polio have today been announced in Yemen, bringing the reported total number associated with an outbreak in the country to 22.

From Reuters/WHO, here are key facts about polio:

  • Indonesia is the 16th previously polio-free country to be reinfected in the past two years, including 13 in Africa, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). WHO said last week that a polio epidemic had broken out in Yemen, infecting 22 children.

  • Following a polio eradication initiative by WHO, polio cases have been drastically reduced from an estimated 350,000 cases worldwide in 1988 to 1,267 cases in 2004, up from 784 the previous year. The majority of new cases were in Nigeria where vaccinations were temporarily banned in some areas. Ninety-eight percent of all polio cases occur in Nigeria, India and Pakistan.

  • Poliomyelitis, or polio, is a viral disease of the brain and spinal cord that can cause irreversible paralysis in a matter of hours.

  • Polio mainly affects children under five. One in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis, usually in the legs. Amongst those paralysed, 5 to 10 percent die when their breathing fails.

  • There is no cure for polio, it can only be prevented. Polio vaccine, given multiple times, can protect a child for life. Vaccines can be oral or injectable.

Second polio case in Indonesia [BBC, May 4, 2005]
Polio outbreak spreads across Yemen [WHO, Apr. 29, 2005]
Key facts about polio [Reuters, May 4, 2005]
Polio [wikipedia.org]

Monday, May 2, 2005

Gambling Addictions and Online Poker

Poker, poker, poker...it's taking over cable TV. No one is exactly sure how many online poker rooms are on the internet. One source currently lists 270 of the most popular ones. A Hartford, Connecticut, women recently auctioned off her baby's legal name on eBay to an online casino that of course has a poker room.

Author/blogger/educator Stephen Elliott wrote a story for Salon.com awhile ago about online poker playing. He notes:

The economist Earl Grinols calculated that 52 percent of casino revenues come from problem gamblers. Of course, you never have a problem as long as you're winning.

His advice for online poker players:

1) Don't, it's a bad idea. I didn't get a thing done last week. Deadlines passed, phone calls went unreturned, my life fell apart.
2) If you think you're in a room with good players, leave the room.
3) Always stay in with a pair in the hole, even 2's: Take it to Fourth Street [the fourth flop card] no matter what the cost.
4) Don't do it, it's not worth the risk, there are six losers for every four winners, somebody has to lose for the house, the odds are against you.
5) Sit to the left of the chaser, the guy throwing money after every card; this will enable you to pick up double bets on your good hands.
6) Fold when you don't have it.
7) Don't drink and play; I know I said that earlier but it's important. Not a single beer.
8) The dealer seat is worth extra; if nobody has bet yet and you're the dealer, you bet.

Other thoughts for gamblers to ponder:

"Nobody is always a winner, and anybody who says he is, is either a liar or doesn't play poker."
-- Amarillo Slim

"The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket."
-- Kin Hubbard

"In a bet there is a fool and a thief."
-- Unknown

"God doesn't play dice."
-- Albert Einstein

"He had the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces."
-- Mark Twain

"The track takes 15 percent, but what's 15 percent of a dream?"
-- Charles Bukowski

"Italians come to ruin most generally in three ways, women, gambling, and farming. My family chose the slowest one."
-- Pope John XXIII

"It is the mark of an inexperienced man not to believe in luck."
-- Joseph Conrad

Swimming with the online card sharks [salon.com, May 2, 2002]

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