Lo!

The whole thing, online.

New stars appear. There are disturbances upon this earth — there are volcanic appearances in the sky — volumes of smoke and dust roll down upon this earth.

And the meaning of it all may some day be — “Skyward ho!” Storms, upon a constellation’s vacant areas, of Poles and Russians. A black cloud appears in the sky of Lyra, and down pours a deluge of Italians. Drifting sands of Scandinavians sift down to a star.

Courtesy of Mr X, who also has the other three books by Charles Hoy Fort.


Defenestration

Thailand’s Finance Minister Suchart Jaovisidha had to be rescued today from inside his expensive BMW limousine after the onboard computer crashed, leaving the vehicle immobilized.

When the Windows CE based “i-drive” system crashed, the electric windows and air conditioning wouldn’t work and the inside of the car began heating up rapidly. A bystander had to use a sledgehammer to smash open a window of the car.

Friends don’t let friends drive Microsoft.


Old News

Within a year of the terrorist attack, the nation’s leader determined that the various local police and federal agencies around the nation were lacking the clear communication and overall coordinated administration necessary to deal with the terrorist threat facing the nation, particularly those citizens who were of Middle Eastern ancestry and thus probably terrorist and communist sympathizers, and various troublesome “intellectuals” and “liberals.” He proposed a single new national agency to protect the security of the homeland, consolidating the actions of dozens of previously independent police, border, and investigative agencies under a single leader.

He appointed one of his most trusted associates to be leader of this new agency, the Central Security Office for the homeland, and gave it a role in the government equal to the other major departments.

February 27, 2003, was the 70th anniversary of the bombing of the German Parliament (Reichstag). Thom Hartmann wrote about this back in March. Some things are worth remembering.


Dispersed to the Wind

A Washington Post article about the 75th Exploitation Task Force — the main US weapons search team — preparing to go home after finding not a damn thing. They seem a little upset about the difference between what they were told they would find and what they actually did:

McPhee, an artillery brigade commander from Oklahoma who was assigned to the task force five months ago, reflected on the weapons hunt as the sun set outside his improvised sleeping quarters, a cot and mosquito net set down in the wreckage of a marble palace annex. He smoked a cigar, but without the peace of mind he said the evening ritual usually brings.

“My unit has not found chemical weapons,” he said. “That’s a fact. And I’m 47 years old, having a birthday in one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces on a lake in the middle of Baghdad. It’s surreal. The whole thing is surreal.

“Am I convinced that what we did in this fight was viable? I tell you from the bottom of my heart: We stopped Saddam Hussein in his WMD programs,” he said, using the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction. “Do I know where they are? I wish I did . . . but we will find them. Or not. I don’t know. I’m being honest here.”

Later in the conversation, he flung the unfinished cigar into the lake with somewhat more force than required.

“I don’t think we’ll find anything,” said Army Capt. Tom Baird, one of two deputy operations officers under McPhee. “What I see is a lot of stuff destroyed.” The Defense Intelligence Agency officer, describing a “sort of a lull period” in the search, said that whatever may have been at the target sites is now “dispersed to the wind.”

Isn’t that a pretty image? If there ever were any deadly nerve agents or maybe a nice genetically modified virus, they’ve all wafted away on a gentle desert breeze, along with all the looted nukular waste. Looking on the bright side, maybe it was all just a massive lie. Hopefully.

In totally unrelated news, the current crop of colonial overlords are being tagged out (marking the first time I remember seeing Barbara Bodine prominently mentioned in the news) which has nothing to do with the diplomatic skill and nation building expertise being exercised by our occupying forces in the newly free Baghdad, as described in this NY Times story with further wafting imagery:

“Unless we do something in the near future, it is likely to blow up in our face,” one official said.

Today, black smoke billowed over Baghdad’s skyline as looters set fire to the city’s former telephone communications center, apparently as a distraction for others who tried to steal cars nearby.

Update: Daily Kos comes to a similar conclusion


Commemoration

All conspiracy theories aside, governor Bush has given seven different descriptions of what he was doing when he first heard of the attack on the World Trade Center. In several of these, he claims he watched the first plane hit the tower on television live. (No one saw the first plane hit the tower on live TV). I suppose this is could be interpreted as only as a massive embarrassment for our interim chief executive. But reading the full timeline of the morning of September 11, 2001, it seems much much worse than simplemindedness.

With the facts in such total confusion, the Bush regime should want to put their full backing behind a far-reaching examination of 9/11, just in the name of their own self-interests, right? Right??

[see Tom Tomorrow for more]

Conspiracy theories not aside, how is it that a passport which was inside an incinerated building, presumably on the body of an incinerated person, who was inside an airplane which was so incinerated than not even the black box survived — how is it that this passport fluttered to earth unscathed several blocks from the rubble which was the WTC? This is a pretty major piece of evidence, and it looks so… unlikely.

I’m sure all of this will be clarified by the ’04 Republican National Convention so that the delegates can dance on the bones of the dead with a clear conscience.


Hit Clusters and Catalunia

Hit Song Science is a high-tech music analysis system that compares new songs to a massive database of chart-topping singles and predicts hit potential based on shared attributes.

In other words, the more your song has in common with Usher’s “U Don’t Have To Call” or Santana’s “Smooth,” the better your prospects for stardom.

All five of the major record companies – BMG, EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. – are currently using the service, founded last year by Barcelona-based Polyphonic HMI. A modified online version, geared toward songwriters, was introduced this week at www.hitsongscience.com.

“Our technology is to music what X-rays are to medicine,” says Polyphonic HMI’s chief executive, Mike McCready. “We help the record industry see their market and their music in a way they were previously unable to do.”

Hit Song Science technology isolates sonic patterns in a song, ranging from tempo and chord progressions to melody, harmony and pitch, and then compares the song to “hit clusters” gleaned from its database of 3.5 million songs. The system is updated weekly with new releases in order to effectively predict a song’s potential for success in the current market.
[article]

The Hit Song Science FAQ also links to a discussion of the logarithmic scales they use for their ranking system (something which a childhood of earthquake drills has instilled a deep inexplicable fondness in me.)

Which leads to the subject of psychophysics and what scale is used to measure subjective value. In this case, the database is comprised of “hits” of a particular commercial caliber. It’s not clear if the database is at all populated with “good” songs, or if they remain value neutral on this.

The company that started this service, Polyphonic HMI, is based in Barcelona. They sure are kooky in Barcelona. Something about Catalunia seems to encourage abstract thinking about scale and value.


War of the Unseen Spam Lords

In the Oregonian today, a former spammer talks about the biz. He claims that after a few months, he was making $1000 a week. The hidden spam gurus he learned from claimed to make $10,000 a week.

The slashdot thread discussing this story focused on how 4LL SP4MM3RZ MUST D13 (with a side discussion of $52k a year as chump change (???) ).

I’m more intrigued by the terrorist cell structure for accessing the pro grade spam software and advice, and how this secrecy is shaped by the universal hatred of spam:

As with most cases in the seedy world of bulk online advertising, many spam clubs aren’t “legitimate,” Shiels said. But he found two that offered many business leads and spamming tools.

“There’s a lot of people in there that are generous to help you out and give you information based on their experience,” he said. “But you have to probe it.”

Shiels slowly gained the anonymous spamming gurus’ trust.

He even spoke on the phone with some, though Shiels noted “they won’t usually give you their real name.”

Shiels would not reveal the companies that make the proprietary software, and he said they are difficult to track down. They only accepted payments through wire transfers, Shiels said.

“I could tell you the name right now, and you wouldn’t be able to find them,” he said.

The former spammer Shiels also pointed out that being a pro spammer was an evolutionary process requiring constant innovation. This evolutionary pressure is what shapes the spam biz, with it’s divisions of labor and proprietary tools, and carefully maintained structures to keep the death threats from easily reaching their targets (death threats, along with Darwinian pressure, are what convinced Shiels to change jobs.)

The shadow world of pro spammer as well-paid terrorist is also shaped by the structure of the Internet, a system designed to route information packets around damage. A system imagined for a civilization-destroying apocalypse, re-imagined as a tool for open communication, with something of the original grim intentions is resurfacing in the spam / counterspam dialectic.

Shiels described it as a war. And although he’s refering to the high cost of ammo (software and databases), it’s also a war in terms of being a period of intense and violent technical innovation which will shape future society.