Thoughts Gallery March 2002
March 1
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I relaxed googley-eyed at home this weekend, to the sounds of electronica music. One day I want to travel down to brazil to enjoy the Mardis Gras street festivals.
March 2
Image of the Day
Unleashing the Dogs of Cyber-War on Iraq
If a U.S.-led war with Iraq is imminent, Iraqi Internet professionals expect the first strike will be against the country's Internet access via hacking, computer viruses, and electromagnetic pulse bombs. However, blocking Iraq's Internet connectivity could be a simple matter, because its only ISP transmits and receives almost all of its traffic over satellite networks supplied by companies operating in the United States and England, according to a study of network records and routing patterns. Export sanctions against Iraq could be leveraged in order to force the U.S. operator, Atlanta International Teleport, to cut off Iraq's email and Web access; meanwhile, the British operator, SMS Internet, could be pressured to do the same because of a U.N. trade embargo. Furthermore, Iraq's Internet-connected systems can be easily exploited by hackers because of misconfigured DNS servers, and reliance on buggy and possibly outdated software, which Iraqi tech experts blame on trade sanctions. Other vulnerabilities in Iraq's network access include the relatively poor skills and resources of the country's tech talent, and a lack of broadband access or affordable home dial-up access. "It's as though they're extending an invitation to be hacked," comments government security researcher Robert G. Ferrell. In addition, experts such as Iraqi Prospect Organization Chairman Ahmed Shames find it unlikely that Iraq is able to launch a cyberattack of its own, noting that the government seems to be more occupied with online censorship and Web-based monitoring of Iraq's citizenry. An Iraqi computer scientist who uses the pseudonym "Sameer" believes that such a cyber-assault would be carried out by computer mercenaries or Iraq sympathizers.
March 3
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U.S. Invites Bids for Iraq Reconstruction Work
The U.S. government has invited at least five engineering companies to submit bids for a contract to do reconstruction work in Iraq, U.S. and company officials said. The winning company would get about $900 million to repair Iraqi health services, ports and airports, and schools and other educational institutions, they said. "Because of the urgent circumstances and the unique nature of this work, USAID will undertake a limited selection process that expedites the review and selection of contractors for these projects," said a spokeswoman for the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Wall Street Journal said invitations also went to Parsons Corp., Louis Berger Group Inc. and Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of the Halliburton Co. once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. The USAID spokeswoman, who asked not to be identified, said the invitation was part of the U.S. government's contingency planning for Iraq, which the United States has threatened to invade with or without U.N. approval. Asked to explain the narrow selection of companies for such a large contract and the secrecy of the procedure, she said, "These are not companies which are new to this type of work."
       Halliburton's Kellogg Brown & Root has already won a government contract to oversee firefighting operations at Iraqi oilfields after any U.S.-led invasion, a Defense Department source told Reuters last week. Cheney was Halliburton's chief executive officer from 1995 to 2000. Bechtel Group Inc. and Fluor Corp. confirmed they had received the invitations from USAID. "We did receive a proposal and we are responding to it with a proposal," said Bechtel spokesman Jonathan Marshall. Fluor spokesman Jerry Holloway said the company had already submitted a bid. He declined to give details. Sources at the companies said the invitation was unusual in that USAID did not ask them to set a price for defined services but rather asked them to say what they could do for $900 million. Parsons spokeswoman Erin Kuhlman declined to say whether the company had received an invitation. But she said: "We've done reconstruction work in Bosnia and Kosovo. We are in our fifth year in Bosnia, and our second year in Kosovo. Louis Berger and Kellogg Root & Brown declined to comment. 
March 4
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This is your body on food, this is your body on drugs, which one do you want to look like, you choose... 
About a month ago, ex-addict Penny Wood avoided a prison term by agreeing to let authorities use these before-and-after photos of her to steer people away from the ravages of methamphetamine use. Now, she regrets the deal, saying the fliers have become an embarrassment for her, her children and grandchildren.
March 5
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 An Australian East Coast Freetail Micro Bat sits on the hand of handler Chris Eyre-Holmes while it snacks on a worm at the handler's house in Sydney, Australia. The bat was rescued after it was injured by a cat. Weighing in at eight grams (0.28 onces), and stretching 3 centimeters (1.18 inches) from head to tail, the tiny nocturnal mammal eats insects, bugs and worms, and is the smallest native bat in Australia and is often mistaken for a moth. 
March 6
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 A 'tree sitter', who identified herself as Melissa, waves as she practices to climb a redwood tree in Carlotta, Ca. A judge has ordered tree sitters on Pacific Lumber Company land to 'immediately and permanently' remove themselves and their personal property from the trees. 
March 7
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A large fir tree heads to the forest floor after it is cut by an unidentified logger in the Umpqua National Forest near Oakridge, Ore. A Bush Administration plan allows logging companies to cut large, commercially valuable trees in national forests in exchange for clearing smaller, more fire-prone trees and brush.
March 8
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Looks like big bird is going to have some competition in the fashion lines now!! I spent the weekend in Houston, we had an open house at my parents house in Houston, for people unable to attend the wedding over in austin last month.  We had about 40 families show up to congratulate us, and say farewell to my sister Heidi who is leaving on a mission on monday.
March 9
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Heidi was set apart this afternoon as a missionary, she is set to go to the Latvia, Slovenia, Lithuania mission over near Russia for the next 18 months. It was interesting to see her have to cram everything into two suitcase to live out of for the entire mission.  Guess she'll be needing lots of care packages of food and warm blankets.  
March 10
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 A man prepares to fill his car with gasoline at a gas station in San Francisco. Supply problems in California have helped push up the average price of gasoline over the past two weeks. San Francisco continues to have the nation's highest price for self-serve regular gasoline and the lowest price was in Atlanta.
March 11
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 A US infantry soldier relaxes as he sits next to his Humvee in the desert outside Kuwait City. Britain said splits that have delayed a new U.N. vote on Iraq were sending Iraqi President Saddam Hussein the wrong signal as opponents of a rush to war pressed for an extension of weapons inspections.
March 12
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So what prevents the government from geting the frequency of this tag, and starting to track civilians around in the name of national security.  This could be a useful technology to track down all those unpaired socks in my drawer, and see where the dryer hides them all...
A person holds the tag on a Benetton top showing where A smart tag is attached. Clothes sold at Benetton stores will soon contain microchip transmitters that allow the Italian retailer to track its garments from their point of manufacture to the moment they're sold in any of its 5,000 shops.
March 13
Image of the Day
 In this image taken from video provided by the Qatari television network Al-Jazeera, volunteers from different Arab nations perform training exercises at an undisclosed location 15 miles northeast of Baghdad, Iraq to counter a possible attack against Iraq.  Iraq has opened a training camp at al-Khalis, 40 miles northeast of Baghdad for Arab volunteers willing to carry out suicide bombings against U.S. forces in case they invade Iraq.
March 14
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I wonder if Austin or Texas has any anti-fence laws.
Paul Cooper poses for a photograph next to the black iron fence in front of his house, in Glendale, Calif. Soon the city of Glendale will send a notice to Cooper, telling him he is in violation of a 1922 anti-fence law and he will have to take the fence down.
March 15
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I have to honestly say that I don't see the purpose of this ritual, following with blind faith may be something to be reveared in most religions, but you are still supposed to use your head & conscience to make sure you are doing the right thing.  What does a child honestly gain from beating his head with a sword.
Shiite Muslim men cut their heads with swords during the annual ritual to mark Ashoura Day in the southern Lebanese town of Nabatiyeh. Hundreds of Shiites in south Lebanon marked the 7th century killing of their most revered saint Imam Hussein, killed by his rival over 1,400 years ago,by slashing their heads with blades on the occasion known as Ashoura. Al Hussein was a grandson of Islam's Prophet Mohammed and is a symbol of martydrom for Shiite Muslims.  A Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim mother helps her son beat himself with a sword during a ceremony of Ashoura. More than 150,000 Lebanese packed the streets of Beirut's southern suburbs, chanting 'Death to America,death to Israel,' in a mass rally called by Lebanon's Hizbollah guerrilla group.

March 16
Image of the Day
At some point you should be smart enough to move from in front of the buldozer, before it's too late. Heckling a driver doesn't make him stop when he has orders to fullfill.  THe power of an image in choosing a side is important, which picture do you pick, shows what more accurately reflects your sentiments of the situation.
Rachel Corrie, 23, from Olympia, Wash., a member of the 'International Solidarity Movement,' uses a loudspeaker as she stands between an Israeli buldozer and a Palestinian physician's house in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. Corrie died Sunday while trying to stop a bulldozer from tearing down the physician's home. Rachel Corrie, a member of the 'International Solidarity Movement,' burns a mock U.S. flag during a rally in the southern Gaza Strip.

March 17 
Image of the Day
So any bets on what the highest oil prices will be, for a short war (less than 3 months) my bet is $2.75, for a long term war (more than 3 months) my bet is $3.25.
U.S Patriot missiles protect a British- U.S. airbase close to oilfields in Kuwait. Oil prices jumped on March 17 on the imminent threat of war with Iraq, the world's seventh largest exporter, after the U.S. offered just one more day of U.N. talks to sanction the use of force. International benchmark Brent crude oil futures surged $1.52 at one point before trimming gains to stand 32 cents up at $30.45 per barrel.
March 18
Image of the Day
I'm sure glad that I don't have to pack up my family & belongings & run for the mountains or closest border. It interesting as a country wouldn't ever have to land soldiers on our soil again, to put terror into the minds of civilians.  If they could disable our internet or diminish our 14-day oil reserves or any of our other economy weak points you could see this happening all over the US also.
An Iraqi Kurdish family atop a pick-up truck drive thr.ough the northern Iraqi town of Dohuk in fear of a possible war The United States and its allies abandoned efforts to win U.N. backing for war with Iraqand prepared to deliver a final ultimatum to President Saddam Hussein to go into exile immediately or face annihilation. 
March 19
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I think making a pre-emptive strike sets a bad example to the rest of the world.  What if Pakistan did a pre-emptive strike against India, they would be saying the United States does it, why can't we?  Thad being said I think that we have attempted to use the world organizations such as the UN to their fullest before having to step up to our responsibility as the lone superpower of the world.  The silent majority must not be allowed to be percieved as the vocal majority.  The military has become more a political tool than white knights in shining armor going off to save democracy. I'm not sure if this is the role that we want to portray military to be in the long run.
An Iraqi woman sits in front of pictures of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in Kerbala, about 60 miles south of Baghdad. Until now, many Iraqis had seemed in denial about the prospect of war. No longer. Baghdad is beating to a different rhythm in the final hours before the seemingly inevitable U.S.-led onslaught starts. After President Bush set Monday as the final day for U.N. diplomacy to disarm Baghdad, even those who were skeptical before are panicking now.
March 20
Image of the Day
The wars and rumors of wars are amidst us, as even the local hair salon's have a tv with live covereage of the war and events as they unflod in Iraq.
A Buchanan thought for the day....
"The Buchanan clan is thought to have origniated in 1016 A.D. when Anselan O'Kyan (or Absalon) fled Ireland. He was the son of the reigning Ulster monarch and was forced to flee Ireland by Canute the Dane. He was then employed by Malcom II (the Scottish king) to defend against Norse attacks in the west. He was awarded land (through marriage into the family of the Earl of Lennox) on the east bank of Loch Lomond. The Buchanan lands lying to the east of Loch Lomond, remained in the clan for nearly seven centuries. The lands and the Buchanan House were sold in 1682 to the 3rd Marquess of Montrose on the death of John, the 22nd laird. Despite the number of cadet branches, the clan became dispersed." James I & VI had a tutor named Buchanan whom he regarded very highly, and he later granted land to the Buchanan clan in Ireland and encouraged a number of them to emigrate there. This appears to be the origin of the Irish Buchanans in more modern times. 


March 21
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Iraq Still Online
As of March 21, Iraq's major Web sites were still operating despite the continuing war, including, the government's official site. The site featured the current date and also displayed links to video streams of the recent interview between Saddam Hussein and CBS News anchor Dan Rather. An online counter indicated that more than 14,200 people visited the site on March 20, the heaviest traffic experienced by the site since it was launched in December. The Web site of the BabilOnline newspaper was also functioning as well as the site of Iraq's satellite television channel despite intense aerial bombardment of Baghdad. The country's main email and not to have been affected. The Bush administration could order Atlanta International Teleport and Satellite Media Services, the two satellite firms that handle Iraq's Internet traffic, to cut off service, but such a move might seem to go against the administration's statement that it is not at war with the Iraqi people. The United States might also use the Internet to send emails to Iraqi leaders willing to subvert Hussein.

An Indonesian Muslim protester points his toy gun to Ronald McDonald during an anti-war demonstration at a McDonald's restaurant in Jakarta. Muslims in Indonesia - the world's most populous Islamic nation - warned that a war in Iraq could cause more terrorist attacks across the world.
March 22
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I'm amused for a government official to label another government "jackasses".
Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf denounced leaders of neighboring Kuwait as "jackasses" for allowing the U.S. and Britain to use the country as a launch pad for tens of thousands of troops.  English and Arabic versions of a leaflet urging Iraqi soldiers to abandon their weapons to avoid destruction is seen in this undated file photo. The U.S. is bombarding military units in the south of Iraq with leaflets, broadcasts and e-mails urging them to surrender rather than oppose a looming invasion.
March 23
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Looks like the era of micro spy robots is just around the corner...
Seiko Epson Corporation employee Namiko Matsuhiro shows prototype Monsier II-P microrobots, one with its silver body cover, right, and one without it, at its Tokyo office. The Japanese information technology company, headquartered in Nagano, central Japan, took one year to develop the 12.5 grammes robot that dances on two wheels installed with a ultrathin, ultrasonic motors. Seiko Epson has no plans to put it on sale but plans to unveil the robot at the annual robot exhibition Robodex 2003 in Yokohama, west of Tokyo, in April with its multiple units' in a synchronized dancing demonstration, controlled by the Bluetooth module.
March 24
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Well my only main storage supplies at the moment are the year suppl y of toilet paper.  I spent the evening digging a ditch around the side of my house, installing a catch drain and pipes.  Just as I finished it started to hail 1" balls of ice from the sky for about 2 hours, which is good as I would've been outside trying to finish it in the bad weather.  I tackled the various IRS forms again, going to be a long process thsi year for taxes.
The self-reliance doctrine 
When it comes to planning ahead, whether for a terrorist attack or a hurricane, other Americans can take a lesson from the Mormons. Brian Laws plays with his daughter, McKell, on his shoulders, and her cousin, Chase Moore, in their grandparents' basement food shelter.  In addition to food and water, here's what the Mormon Church advises its members to store in case of emergency:
  • Matches, candles, lanterns, flashlights and battery-operated lighting equipment
  • A battery-operated radio
  • Knives, a hatchet, a shovel and other tools
  • Medicine, blankets and a first-aid kit
  • Mess kits or paper cups, paper plates and plastic utensils
  • A manual can opener
  • A wheat grinder
  • Plastic garbage bags and a plastic bucket
  • Soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and supplies for dentures and contact lenses
  • Toilet paper and sanitary items
  • Money, books or games for children

  •        Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are old hands at expecting the unexpected. In fact, long before the Department of Homeland Security introduced its new motto, "Don't be afraid, be ready," Mormon leaders were preaching the same thing. For more than 60 years, church members have been told to acquire a year's supply of food, clothing and other items. In addition, each member is supposed to have a 72-hour backpack stuffed with food, a change of clothing, a blanket and copies of important documents such as birth certificates and insurance policies. "Our Scripture says, 'If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear,'" said Dennis Moore of northeast Raleigh. "I think there's wisdom there. If you're prepared, you don't have to worry as much."
           Moore and his wife, Faye, Utah natives who moved to the Triangle 20 years ago, have taken their church's teachings to heart. When they built their dream home in Wakefield a few years ago, they designed a 600-square-foot basement "pantry" to hold a year's supply of food and toiletries, not only for themselves but for their four children and eight grandchildren who live nearby. In the event of an emergency, the entire family has a plan for converging on the house. Here, the Moores have set aside four 50-gallon drums of water, a 50-pound bag of dried milk, 40 boxes of cereal, 60 two-liter soda bottles, a dozen air-tight buckets filled with wheat, granola and rice, and hundreds of cans of soup, vegetables and fruit. The room also has a canning machine and a manual wheat grinder to make flour. The supplies can be used for a variety of emergencies: hurricane, tornado, earthquake, ice storm or terrorist attack. In addition to the basement pantry, the family has a working garden in the back yard, a well and a generator. Fuel is one item they don't have, but Moore is thinking about ways to solve that problem, too. To ensure that the food does not spoil, church members regularly rotate their stockpiles, using food that is about to expire and replenishing it with fresh supplies. At the Moore household, the shelves for cans are built on an incline. Newly bought cans are stacked at the back of the shelf, so that the cans retrieved at the front are the oldest. As soon as they are purchased, cans are marked with the month and year. Used plastic soda containers are filled with water and stored on a shelf.

    March 25
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    A U.S. Marine replaces the Iraqi flag at the entrance to Iraq's main port of Umm Qasr with the Stars and Stripes and the flag of the Marine Corps. Marines briefly raised the U.S. flag over Umm Qasr after facing tougher than expected resistance in and around the southern Iraq port.
    March 26
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    It's interesting how the success of McDonalds is perceived as being a representation of the spread of american culture across the world. 
    Ecuadorean demonstrators carry a Ronald McDonald statue to be burned in front of the U.S. Embassy during a rally protesting the war against Iraq in Quito. The demonstration were held to protest against the military strike on Iraq launched by the U.S.-led coalition.
    March 27
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    The Global Positioning System (GPS), a network of 27 satellites often dedicated to civilian applications such as location services, is also a military tool, and a critical component of the U.S.-led war against Iraq. Thanks to GPS, bombs can hit targets more precisely because GPS signals are unaffected by smoke or clouds, unlike laser-guided targeting systems. One GPS feature that has not been reactivated is selective availability, which would give certain military users more accurate signals, but could reduce the accuracy of GPS products in use by both civilians and military personnel. The biggest drawback of GPS is that its weak transmissions -designed to be so in order to avoid interference with other forms of broadcast--can be disrupted with little difficulty. However, it is doubtful that the absence of GPS would seriously impact the flying ability of most American smart weapons because they are equipped with alternative navigational systems. In fact, the Pentagon plans to replace GPS with the more advanced GPS III over the next 10 years, to the tune of $15 billion. Still, an even greater danger exists: It is theorized that the global proliferation of GPS-based weaponry could make war a more politically safe option for civilians, if it can reduce battlefield casualties as intended. 
    March 28
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    South Korean anti-war activists, wearing a U.S. President George W. Bush maskand a costume representing an Iraqi woman, protest on a logo of McDonalds restaurant in Seoul. Protesters used a truck-mounted ladder to scale the golden arches of a McDonalds restaurant and hang an anti-war banner. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun has urged parliament to vote soon on his plan to send non-combat troops to Iraq after the legislature deferred a vote because of public protests, his office said.
    March 29
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     Three members of a Basque antiwar group stage a die-in next to Coca-Cola bottles in a supermarket of Anglet, southwestern France, in a show of anger against a US-led war against Iraq. The group calls for a boycott of American goods.
    March 30
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    "Bio-Battery Runs on Shots of Alcohol"
    St. Louis University researcher Shelley Minteer and colleagues revealed at the American Chemical Society's annual meeting on Monday that they have created an enzyme-catalyzed ethanol fuel cell that could eventually be used to power laptop computers and cell phones. The fuel cell is shielded from degradation by a new polymer. The enzymes are employed to divest the ethanol of hydrogen, which is converted to electricity. However, slight changes in pH and temperature can decay the enzymes rapidly, which until now has limited bio-batteries' life spans to no more than several days. The St. Louis University researchers' solution is to coat the electrodes with a polymer boasting specially tailored pores that can snare the enzymes and allow the alcohol to pass through while simultaneously maintaining a neutral pH level. Minteer reports that the enzymes are still operating, more than two months later. Furthermore, her team claims that the devices have 32 times as much power density as those of other groups. The researchers are now focused on reducing the size of the fuel cell to make it more compatible with portable devices. Toshiba recently unveiled a prototype methanol-based fuel cell that can power a laptop for five hours; Minteer says ethanol's advantages include wider availability, greater productivity, and less toxicity.
    March 31
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    DNS Expert: More Sophisticated Internet Attacks Coming
    Domain Name System (DNS) designer Paul Mockapetris argues that the denial-of-service attacks launched against the DNS last October were but a foretaste of more advanced assaults in the future. He contends that future attacks will target DNS components that are more difficult to shield than root servers, such as name servers. Hacker attacks will progress to forgery or identity theft, Mockapetris predicts. In the October attacks, the strategic response was to filter out Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) packets, but Mockapetris says that launching an attack with DNS queries instead of ICMP packets will make filtering impossible. "We recently found out that just like email can carry [lethal] attachments, there is DNS data that can actually cause applications to crash if they reference it," he points out. To shore up the DNS' defenses, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is developing a digital signature that can confirm the legitimacy of incoming information and thus thwart data forging. Mockapetris suggests that companies can prepare for more sophisticated DNS attacks by fortifying their DNS information access methodologies, both internally and externally. He adds that businesses can eliminate their dependency on root server operators by obtaining a copy of the root server data.