Friday, March 30, 2012

Lilli the Six-Legged Calf

"Six-legged Swiss calf uncowed by disability"
Associated Press, via (March 29, 2012)

"A six-legged calf has defied the odds by thriving despite a vet's prediction at birth that it wouldn't survive.

"Seven-week-old Lilli is now a minor celebrity in her native Switzerland after local media were splashed with images of the calf frolicking across a sunny field...."

Andreas Knutti, the farmer who owns Lilli, said he decided not to euthanize the six-legged critter "because she was 'so full of life.' " Aside from the extra legs, Lilli has a non-standard curve in her spine that apparently means she won't be a "normal milk cow." Just what that means, the AP article didn't say.

"...But Knutti says if the calf stays healthy she'll still be allowed to join the others when they head for their Alpine pastures this summer...."
(Associated Press, via

The Lemming will forgo comments about Rudolph the ostracized reindeer. Or getting serious about disabilities, or cattle, or psychological ramifications of dysfunctional peer bonding.

It's Friday, and the Lemming is looking forward to the weekend.

And the Lemming is glad Mr. Knutti let Lilli live.

Related posts:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mies van der Rohe: Born 126 Years Ago, Yesterday

"Google honors architect Mies van der Rohe with latest 'doodle'"
Culture Monster, Los Angeles Times (March 27, 2012)

"Benevolent Internet masters Google released the latest logo-tweaking tribute to an artist on Tuesday, honoring the 126th birthday of the late German American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

"With the letters to the search titan's name squared off and tucked behind the glass of a boxy rendering that evokes Mies van der Rohe's S.R. Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology (pictured), the doodle honors the modernist architect commonly associated with the aphorisms 'Less is more' and 'God is in the details.'

"Part of the German avant-garde who was also part of the Bauhaus design school in the 1920s and '30s, Mies van der Rohe immigrated to the U.S. in 1937 to head the architecture department at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he would design many of the campus' buildings...."

What set Mies van der Rohe apart from architects who played 'hide the entrance,' in the Lemming's opinion, is that van der Rohe knew what he was doing. "Less is more" makes sense as a reaction to 19th century decorative exuberance. But when the "less" extends to making a building's door look like just another spot on a featureless wall?

Anyway, that Los Angeles Times post talks about van der Rohe, buildings, and has a photo of one of the master architect's pieces: the S.R. Crown Hall at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Part of it, anyway.

Happily, architects seem to have gotten past the "lets make a glass box" idea, and that's almost another topic.

Actually, the Lemming likes the 'glass box' style. When it's done sensibly. Steel and glass don't look like, or act like, stone and wood: something that Victorian-era architects didn't seem to appreciate. Seriously: metal support beams shaped to resemble Greek or Roman stone work? More topics.

Sort-of-related posts:

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cold Kern and the Amazing Scale Trek

"Globe-trotting gnome highlights Earth's weird gravity"
Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience, via (March 24, 2012)

"There aren't too many gardens at the South Pole. But there are, apparently, garden gnomes.

"A globe-trotting little garden gnome dubbed "Kern" recently visited Amundsen-Scott Research Station at the geographic South Pole in Antarctica. The inanimate traveler's trip was a take on the 'Traveling Gnome Prank,' a joke that's been in vogue since the 1980s, when pranksters started stealing garden gnomes and sending photographs of the statuettes in front of famous sightseeing spots to their owners...."

(from, via, used w/o permission)
"Here, the gnome is standing at the Antarctic South Pole. Turns out, the gnome (and you) weighs more at the South Pole than at the equator. ("

Kern looks like he wishes he'd packed a parka. That's how it looks to the Lemming, anyway.

A Little Schooling, a Little Science, and Maybe Sell Some Scales

"...Kern's travels have a scientific bent, however. The precision scale company Kern & Sohn is teaming up with schools and research stations worldwide to highlight the variations of gravity across the globe.

" 'Most people don't realize Earth's gravity actually varies slightly,' Tommy Fimpel, one of the experiment's coordinators, explained in a statement. 'One of the main causes is variations in the shape of the planet. Believe it or not, the Earth is actually slightly potato-shaped, so you'll weigh up to 0.5 percent more or less, depending on where you go.'..."

That 0.5 percent variation may not seem like much, but someone who weighs 150 pounds would find that weight going from nearly 151 to almost 149. Which, come to think about it, doesn't seem like much. Still: almost two pounds difference, depending on where you stand?

There's a joke lurking somewhere near that "slightly potato-shaped" phrase, but the Lemming couldn't find it.

As for the marketing angle of Kern's travels, the Lemming doesn't have a problem with that. Folks working at Kern & Sohn have bills to pay, like everyone else, and selling a few more scales will help keep the paychecks coming. And that's another topic.

Related (?) posts:

Friday, March 23, 2012

'Someone's Knocking' - - - on the Basement?!!

"Relatively quiet night in Wisconsin boom town"
Associated Press, via Chicago Tribune (March 22, 2012)

"If the number of phone calls to police is any indication, it was a relatively quiet night in the eastern Wisconsin community of Clintonville where mysterious booms have awakened residents for several nights.

"Police received several calls early Thursday morning, compared to more than 100 overnight Sunday to Monday when the racket began.

"The strange disturbance sounds like distant thunder, fireworks or someone slamming a heavy door. Officials have checked water, sewer and gas lines, contacted the military about any exercises in the area, reviewed permits for mining explosives, in addition to testing methane levels at the local landfill.

"The city is also investigating geological causes. Officials plan to bring in vibration detection devices to try to determine the epicenter of any underground activity. Authorities set up audio and video equipment overnight but didn't capture any evidence of shaking or booming despite at least one loud noise about 5 a.m. Wednesday...."

The odds are, in the Lemming's opinion, that Clintonville, Wisconsin, isn't in any particular danger at the moment. The booms and rattling could be caused by mining or heavy truck traffic. If either was in the area. Which they're not.

'Nothing to Worry About,' and the Kryptonian Science Council

"...However, a local scientist said nothing has surfaced that suggests townspeople should be afraid...."

Didn't the Kryptonian Science Council say something like that, shortly before the planet blew up? Well, that was a comic book story. Clintonville, Wisconsin, is a real place.

Something like this happened in the small Minnesota town where the Lemming lives. Except that was one really big 'BOOM!' And we found out what happened pretty quick. Someone had decided to get rid of a big pile of stuff, by burning it. And discovered what happens when fuel vapors accumulate before you set the fire. Nobody was hurt, happily.

No Known Fault Lines

"...Steve Dutch, a geologist at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, said the ground beneath them is solid, and that there are no known earthquake fault lines in the area.

"Dutch said he heard some people worrying that a sinkhole might open up and swallow homes. That can happen in areas where the ground is rich with limestone and other rocks that can be dissolved by water, he said. But the rock below Clintonville is mainly solid granite that's largely impermeable.

"He speculated that water and granite could hold the key to the mystery. Granite has small cracks that water can fill, but if the underground water table falls especially low, water can seep out, leaving gaps that cause the rocks to settle and generate loud noises...."

There are several things going on here.

What Dutch said about sinkholes lines up with what the Lemming's read about those real estate surprises. Granite simply isn't the sort of rock that's at all likely to develop big holes like that.

The Lemming doesn't doubt that there aren't any known fault lines under Clintonville, Wisconsin. But folks didn't know about the New Madrid fault, until it unclenched, back in the 19th century. Still, it doesn't seem all that likely that there's a previously-unmapped fault under Clintonville.

Let's Not Forget Cthulhu

Looks like the Lemming isn't the only one with an imagination.

"...Some residents are having fun with the mystery, which has drawn media attention from around the nation.

"Jordan Pfeiler said people stayed up late on the first two nights to walk around listening for booms. They came up with outlandish theories to explain the noise - for example, that the White House was building an underground bunker in the area or that mole men had found a home there.

" 'And the aliens, of course, there's always the aliens,' she said...."

Mole men are a good start. So are aliens. But let's not be satisfied with half-measures here. Eldritch subterranean thunder? No readily-apparent explanation? Cracks in the basement walls? If this were a particular sort of story, we'd be within a few chapters of the big guy himself showing up: Cthulhu.

No, the Lemming doesn't really think so. Cthulhu and company are fiction. That sort of thing does make a good story, though. In the Lemming's opinion.

Sort-of-related posts:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lemming Tracks: Designing Better Street Lighting

Charles Linn, FAIA, Architect Magazine (March 1, 2012)
"A newfound appreciation for dark skies, a model lighting ordinance, and LEDs may help maintain night vision by reducing outdoor illumination levels.
Lemming Tracks: Designing Better Street Lighting
"In cities around the world, telling a child, 'I used to see stars from my backyard,' may soon sound as credible as, 'I used to walk 10 miles to school in 6-foot-high snowdrifts uphill in both directions.' Sky glow, light pollution, and light trespass are the consequences of development and outgrowth in urban and rural landscapes. The damage isn't merely aesthetic. Research suggests that excess night light can harm nearly everything living under the sun. The offender may be as simple as stadium lights fatally mistaken by fledgling birds for the moon, or the neighbor's porch light that beams into your bedroom, resulting in fatigue and diminished productivity...."

What the Lemming noticed second about this article was the long paragraphs. If this wasn't written for and published in an ink-and-paper magazine, and then posted: It's the Lemming's guess that it was written by someone who learned the craft before the Information Age started.

So did the Lemming: and that's another topic.

The first thing the Lemming noticed was that this is another 'light pollution' article. These have been popping up at intervals for years. Some make sense, some tell more about the author than the subject, a few make good points.

This one, in the Lemming's opinion, makes sense. And makes good points.

Another trio of massive paragraphs, then the Lemming will opine.

Gigawatt-Hours, IDA, and Tradeoffs

"...The amount of energy and money expended to illuminate what is essentially water vapor and floating particulates in our atmosphere is not trivial. According a 2009 document published by the nonprofit International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), the U.S. expends 22,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity—the equivalent of 3.6 million tons of coal—each year in light pollution. At the rate of 10 cents per kilowatt-hour, this energy translates to $2.2 billion annually....

"...In the past half-century, the light source of choice for streets and parking lots was high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps, which included mercury vapor and low-pressure sodium lamps, but mostly the ubiquitous yellow-orange high-pressure sodium (HPS)....

"...It is difficult to design optics that can control stray uplight and glare without significant tradeoffs in luminaire efficiency. Despite their notoriously poor color rendering, HPS lamps are inexpensive, can last up to 24,000 hours, and output a lot of light initially; the output declines as they age. In the last 30 years, the use of metal halide, an HID source that produces whiter light than HPS, has increased, but HPS still dominates...."

This article gets points for discussing the technologies involved in outdoor lighting, the legal and regulatory situations: and, particularly, the awkward economic decisions folks need to make.

Is sky glow a real problem? Even though the Lemming's read some angst-filled articles about frightfully vital wildlife, and slightly-restrained rants by amateur astronomers who can't see through the haze overhead: yes, the Lemming thinks there's a real problem here.

Maybe not on the 'and we're all gonna die' level: but it does look like human beings are designed with 24-hour lighting cycle in mind: one where the lights are out for several hours each night. Humans are adaptable critters, and can survive bright light 24-7: but they do seem to thrive better with regular darkness.

Amateur Astronomers and the Asteroid Patrol

At the risk of being overly dramatic, the Lemming thinks it's prudent to recall that the bit of debris that upset the dinosaur's world wasn't alone.

Amateur astronomers often are the first to notice some new bit of cosmic stuff swinging by Earth's neighborhood. Most new asteroids and comets don't come particularly close to this planet. A few do.

And, every once in a while, one of their orbits gets them up close and personal with Earth. When that happens, something like the Tunguska event happens.

So far, humans have been lucky. The explosions haven't happened near cities. Of course, there are a few ancient civilizations that simply stopped being there: and that's probably another topic.

Right now, there's a chance that an amateur astronomer would notice something big enough to make an inconvenient gap in, say the eastern seaboard. Before it got so close that everybody could see it. For a few seconds, anyway.

Here is where 'light pollution,' sky glow, whatever comes in. All amateur astronomers that the Lemming knows about are on Earth. If the sky gets so bright at night that they can't 'see out:' well, we could lose more than some really good science.

Enough said.

On the 'up' side, quite a few folks have been working at finding practical solutions to bright city skies.

Allegedly-related posts:

Monday, March 19, 2012

QWERTY, Keyboards, Fluency, and Feelings

"The QWERTY Effect: How Typing May Shape the Meaning of Words"
Dave Mosher, Wired Science, Wired (March 7, 2012)

"A keyboard's arrangement could have a small but significant impact on how we perceive the meaning of words we type.

"Specifically, the QWERTY keyboard may gradually attach more positive meanings to words with more letters located on the right side of the layout (everything to the right of T, G and B).

" 'We know how a word is spoken can affect its meaning. So can how it's typed,' said cognitive scientist Kyle Jasmin of the University of College London, co-author of a study about the so-called 'QWERTY effect' in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. 'As we filter language, hundreds or thousands of words, through our fingers, we seem to be connecting the meanings of the words with the physical way they're typed on the keyboard.'..."

Basically, what's on the right side of the keyboard tends to be easier to type than what's on the left - and folks tend to react better when something's easy.

Basically. There's a detailed explanation in:By page two, you'll be reading things like "...analyzed valence-normed words from three corpora...." Jasmin & Casasanto don't crank up the fog factor in an egregious to emulate erudition, unlike some academic stuff the Lemming's had to read: but some of what they discuss is a trifle technical.


"...The QWERTY layout dates back to 1868. Until then, typewriters frequently jammed because some letters sat too close to one other on the keyboard. When typed in rapid succession, they sometimes stuck together.

"In response, inventors created the QWERTY layout and sold it to the Remington company. The layout has stuck ever since, and with the transition from typewriters to personal computers, it became ubiquitous...."

You'll find pretty much the same thing in Jasmin & Casasanto's paper.

Dvorak keyboards were all the rage a few years back. Maybe you use one. That keyboard arrangement makes sense - also from an ergonomic viewpoint - for folks who use today's non-mechanical gadgets with keyboards. And who feel like taking time to learn a new keyboard layout.

The Lemming uses the same sort of QWERTY keyboard that just about everybody else in the English-speaking world does - and that's another topic.

Bad News for Leszczynska

"...Jasmin and his colleague Daniel Casasanto, a social psychologist at the New School for Social Research, knew from previous research that the difficulty of using an object affected how positively or negatively people viewed it.

"The effect is called fluency, and it even seems to affect abstractions such as people's names. The more difficult it is to pronounce a person's name, for example, the less positively we might view that person...."

That could be bad news for a brilliant young attorney whose name is Jarizleifr Leszczynska. If he wants to get ahead in the firm of Johnson, Smith, and Roberts: well, that's another topic. Topics.


"Chirality?!" That means:
  • "property of non-surimposable entities (for example, the right hand and the left hand)"
    (Glossary, PCAS)
Turns out, words with lots of letters on the right side of a QWERTY keyboard tend to be seen more positively than others. Particularly newer words, coined since QWERTY started being widely used.

Which brings up more questions:
  1. Do folks who are left-handed react more positively to 'left-handed' words?
  2. Is there a sinister bias involved?
  3. Are kung fu fighting invisible ninjas behind it?
For what it's worth, the Lemming thinks:
  1. That's a good question
  2. Depends on what's meant by
    • Sinister
    • Bias
  3. Not likely
    • At all
A tip of the hat to Brian Clark, copyblogger, on Twitter.

Slightly-related posts:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lemming Tracks: 'And We're All Gonna Die!' or, not

The Lemming explained the sort of 'apathy' you'll find in this blog. It's not that the Lemming doesn't care about stuff. The Lemming just doesn't care about the 'right' stuff. Like how hopelessly awful everything always is.

Remember how the oceans would be dead by 1980? But it didn't matter, because the coming ice age would wipe out civilization?

Then there was the horrible death by starvation of all humanity that happened last year. Or would have, if the Lemming's deliberately screwball logic had been valid.

That particular doomsday prediction showed up in another blog by the Lemming:

Homo Sapiens, Statistics, and Silly Assumptions

"7,000,000,000 People, More or Less: Why I'm Not Alarmed"
A Catholic Citizen in America (October 31, 2011)

"Depending on who you listen to, the 7,000,000,000th member of humanity was born at two minutes past midnight today. Or, not. Since we don't have absolutely accurate, up-to-date, and verifiable statistics for everyone, that 'seven billionth' person is an educated guess.1

"Still, 7,000,000,000 is a whole lot more folks than live here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Or in Minnesota's Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area, for that matter.

"I did a little checking, and found out that everybody's going to die horribly in maybe a month or so: If I make a few assumptions. Here's the data I started with. To the best of my knowledge, it's accurate:2..."

The data is accurate enough. What the Lemming did with the data in that post was anything-but.

Next time you read about 'sustainable' something: think about assumptions that may have been made.

Here's what the Lemming came up with, in October of last year:

"'Absolute maximum sustainable human population' for Earth, under ideal conditions, using:"
  • All land, including Antarctica
    • 8,364,000
  • All land, and water
    • 28,135,000
  • Current world population (estimate)
    • 7,000,000,000
" 'Obviously,' we're doomed!"
(A Catholic Citizen in America)

That's because today, humanity's population is somewhere between a few hundred and a thousand times over Earth's 'sustainable' 'carrying capacity' for our species.

And has been for some time now.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

What the Lemming did was take quite real data about how much land it takes to support one human being. Assuming that the human being:
  • Is a large omnivore
    • True, as far as that goes
  • Has decided to stick with hunting and gathering
    • True, for a miniscule fraction of humanity
    • Nearly all human beings use agriculture
      • Directly or indirectly
      • And have, for the last 10,000 years
The problem today isn't producing enough food: it's getting the food to folks who need it.

Real Problems, Weird Solutions

This isn't a perfect world. Not even close. One of the problems is that some folks are living in really terrible conditions - because other folks aren't behaving like good neighbors. That's an enormous oversimplification, but the Lemming's already got a long post here.

The solutions - in the Lemming's considered opinion - involve short-term and long-term goals. In the short term, getting food and medical supplies to folks who need them is important: even if their 'betters' don't want to cooperate. In the long term, there isn't a social or economic system on the planet that couldn't use improvement.

And, in some cases, radical change.

None of the solutions, again in the Lemming's considered opinion, should involve making sure that people with darker-than-European skin stop having 'too many' babies. And that's another topic, for another blog. (A Catholic Citizen in America (May 6, 2010))

Related posts:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Olympic This, Olympic That, and Chobham Academy

"London Olympics Architecture : Buildings Information + Images"

It's basically a link page, where you can go to photos of the London Olympics Shooting Venue, Olympic Aquatics Centre, an areal view of the Olympic Park (under construction), Olympic Stadium, and Olympic Village.

And, for reasons that weren't immediately clear to the Lemming, Chobham Academy.

Related posts:

Monday, March 12, 2012

NASA: Good News, Bad News, and a Stolen Laptop

"NASA to Beef Up Cybersecurity After Laptop Computer Theft"
Clara Moskowitz, (March 8, 2012)

"NASA is taking steps to prevent another security lapse like the one that caused unencrypted space station codes to leak when a NASA laptop computer was stolen, the space agency's chief Charles Bolden told Congress Wednesday (March 7).

"The stolen NASA laptop was among 48 mobile devices taken from the space agency between April 2009 and April 2011, the agency's Inspector General office announced on Feb. 29. The laptop contained command and control codes for the International Space Station (ISS).

" 'I can take action there and I intend to do so,' Bolden told the U.S. Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation committee Wednesday (March 7). 'I can make it a policy or reemphasize the policy that when critical information is put on a laptop, it's encrypted.'..."

The good news is that folks on the ISS weren't in danger as a result of the laptop - and its data - getting stolen.

The not-so-good news is that NASA, and just about everybody else, is still getting used to the Information Age - and learning what is a good idea, and what isn't.

Encrypting data on gadgets that are easy to steal sounds like a really good idea.

It's not just NASA - SEGA, Sony, credit card companies, and a whole lot more outfits have been climbing a learning curve over the last few years.

Slightly-related posts:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Lemming's Got a Feed (big whoop)

This will not change the destiny of civilization, end poverty, or cure the common cold: but the Lemming thinks it's a pretty big deal, anyway.

Apathetic Lemming of the North is now available in a new (to the Lemming) format:You might even want to subscribe to that feed. Or, not.

One more thing: the feed's got advertising, which shouldn't get in the way too much. The Lemming's got bills to pay, like everybody else: and that's another topic.

The Lemming will be back, with something interesting (maybe), on Monday.

Vaguely-related posts:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hackers Hooked: Some of Them, Anyway

" 'Lulzsec hackers' arrested in international swoop"
Technology, BBC News (March 6, 2012)

"Seven alleged hackers based in the US, UK and Republic of Ireland have been charged with crimes related to computer attacks said to have affected 'over one million victims'.

"The FBI said that five of the men were involved in the group Lulzsec, while a sixth was a 'member' of Antisec.

"It said that Lulzsec's 'leader' Hector Xavier Monsegur had pleaded guilty in August to 12 criminal charges....

"...The bureau said that Mr Monsegur - also known as Sabu - had admitted involvement in cyber attacks against the media groups Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) among others...."

How bad could this be - really? After all, it looks like the victims are Big Businesses. The Lemming will skip the usual stuff about corporate greed, oppressed classes, and the rest. You've heard it all before, anyway.

Good Morning, Information Age

A hundred years ago, hacking into networks run by large companies wouldn't have made a bit of difference in the lives of ordinary folks. Mainly because there weren't any computer networks to be hacked into.

That was then, this is now.

Large corporations use contemporary information technology to store data about folks who do business with them - which includes a whole lot of folks all across the economic spectrum. Some of the data may not be as important as, say, access codes to bank accounts. It's a little hard to imagine how lives would be disrupted as a result of X Factor contestant data getting stolen.

On the other hand, little things can add up. Particularly in a world that's increasingly interconnected. And where an increasing share of the 7,000,000,000 or so folks have Internet access - or know someone who does.

Contestant Data, a Porn Site, America's Congress, and All That

"Hackers claiming to be part of Lulzsec said they had carried out or have been linked to the following attacks:"
  • May 7: US X Factor contestant database
  • May 10: user passwords
  • May 15: Database listing locations of UK cash machines
  • May 23: Sonymusic Japan website
  • May 30: US broadcaster PBS. Staff logon information
  • June 2: user information
  • June 3: Infragard website (FBI affiliated organisation)
  • June 3:
  • June 10: pornographic website
  • June 13: - website of US Senate
  • June 13: Bethesda software website. User information
  • June 14: EVE Online, League of Legends, The Escapist and others
  • June 16:'Technical disruption' to the website of the CIA
  • June 20: The website of the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) taken offline by denial of service attack
    (Source: BBC News)
The BBC article doesn't say, but presumably these dates are all in 2011.

Customers with data on probably didn't appreciate having their data fiddled with: but life would probably still go on, even if every customer of a giant like Nintendo lost data they'd entrusted to the entertainment company.

The American Congress, now: that lot is supposed to be running this country, so there might have been serious consequences.

The same goes for networks used by the FBI, CIA, and Soca. Not that they're running any countries - conspiracy buffs notwithstanding - but the Lemming thinks that data used by national law enforcement might be more important than access codes for online games. But that's just the Lemming's opinion.

But - remember that we're living in a very interconnected world, and a big one. Get enough folks spending time unscrambling entertainment accounts, instead of going about their normal routines: and you've got the potential for some fairly large-scale consequences.

Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, and a 124-Year Sentence

"...According to the court papers Mr Monsegur formed Lulzsec last May. It said he acted as a 'rooter', identifying vulnerabilities in victim's computer systems.

"Alongside other recruited hackers he is also alleged to have attacked the US Senate, the cyber security firm Unveillance, Visa, Mastercard and Paypal.

"The FBI said he faced a maximum sentence of more than 124 years in prison if found guilty of all counts...."

That's 124 years, maximum, if found guilty: Mr. Monsegur will probably serve substantially less time. From his point of view, that's a sort of 'worst-case scenario.'

Is doing time for a dozen decades overkill for this sort of offense? That's a good question. It looks like Mr. Monsegur did an awful lot of damage - spread out over a whole lot of people, but still an awful lot of damage.

Whether or not the sentence is 'fair' or not: the Lemming hopes someone has the sense to make sure that Mr. Monsegur doesn't have Internet access while he's a guest of the legal system.

No Sudden Shortage of Hackers

"...Trend Micro's director of security research, Rik Ferguson, added that while this might mark the end of Lulzsec, it would be premature to say the same about Anonymous.

" 'Anonymous is a very different organisation to Lulzsec and other more closely linked groups - anyone can and does act in the name of Anonymous and their activities do not require individual hacker publicity or disclosure of personally identifiable details,' he said.

" 'The very fact that Sabu became the "celebrity" he was, illustrates the real difference between Lulzsec and Anonymous.

" 'I think the hackers we really need to worry about are those that trusted no-one and sought no glory in the first place.'..."

It would be nice if someone could wave a magic wand, and make everybody want to be nice to everybody else. Or, not.

Actually, the Lemming would be very, very, concerned if someone could do that. The situation could make Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" look like a Sunday school picnic, in comparison. And that's another topic.

It's somewhat reassuring to see another set of arrests. The Lemming's not being vindictive: it's a relief to see that law enforcement is taking 'cybercrime' seriously. It's also, in the Lemming's opinion, good that the legal codes in America and the United Kingdom now take late-20th-century information technology into account.

Will there be other hack attacks? Almost certainly. But it looks like folks are starting to take the issue seriously - and that's a good thing.

Related posts:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

And Now, For Something Completely Different: Portable Buildings; and an Octopus Cartoon

"Athletic builds: the architecture of the London 2012 Olympics"
Steve Rose, Culture > Art and design > Architecture, theguardian (UK) (March 5, 2012)

"You've seen the pool, the stadium and the velodrome – now here's the octopus-tentacle shooting range and the multicoloured rubber bridge. Steve Rose looks at the hidden architectural highlights of London 2012

"Olympic octopus … Magma's shooting gallery. Photograph: J.L.Diehl
(via, used w/o permission)

"For the first half of the 20th century, architecture featured as an Olympic event. Medals in the 'culture games' were also awarded for sports-related endeavours in the fields of music, painting, literature and even town-planning. But the practice was abandoned after the 1948 games, when the last gold medals for architecture went to an Austrian ski-jump and an athletics centre in Finland...."

There's more, partly about the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Velodrome, Zaha Hadid, and why London in 2012 won't look like Beijing in 2008. Also a refreshing bit of common sense labeled as "sustainable:" a basketball area and shooting venue that event organizers can move around the world. Or to Glasgow.

By far not the worst idea the Lemming's seen.

This Video has Nothing to do with the Olympics

And now, for something completely different: an animated cartoon about two octopuses. Octopi. Octopods. Oh, never mind.

"Octopus cartoon"

elgreco01, YouTube (November 25, 2008)
video, 2:26

Enjoy.Related (?) posts:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Brainless Blobs Invade Hawaii! - Or - Attack of the Ctenophores!

"Strange jellyfish-like creatures cloud Hanauma Bay"
Kathy Muneno, KOHN2 (March 3, 2012)

"A few weeks ago at Hanauma Bay, a group of swimmers ran into a group strange looking jellyfish.

"Called a ctenophore, it may not look menacing, but a swimmer said there were thousands - so many, they had to get out of the water.

" 'I was not very surprised, it's a very rare event and those people who got to see them were actually very lucky people because they're really harmless and it's a rare sight,' said Mark Martindale, a UH professor and ctenophora expert.

"That's right, although swimmers said they felt like these animals stung them, they are harmless.

" 'They do not sting, they have tentacles but instead of having stinging cells like the Medusi jellyfish that most people are familiar with, these animals use their tentacles to stick to the prey and then they bring them to their mouth, so yeah they're perfectly harmless,' Martindale said.

" 'These aren't jellyfish at all but they certainly look the part,' said UH professor Angel Yanagihara.

"But they can harm some environments, like when they depleted fish stocks in the Black Sea...."

Not to worry, apparently: the ctenophores aren't likely to eat Hawaii. The places where the voracious little predators caused problems are smallish bodies of water. The Pacific Ocean - isn't.

The hand-sized blobs of appetite showing up in Hanauma Bay may have something to do with the dropoff near the bay's mouth. Or maybe something else was going on. That's what the Lemming gathered from the article, anyway.

One more thing - a UH professor and ctenophora expert Mark Martindale says the critters are "extremely important" because "they're the most ancient example of multi-cellular animals. They've been around longer than any fish." Not that the individuals at Hanauma Bay are upwards of 488,300,000 years old. Mark Martindale probably meant that critters that looked like ctenophores have been around for something like half of a billion years.

Brainless Blobs

Ctenophores - mercifully - have another name. One that's easier to pronounce: comb jellies. Oddly, there don't seem to be brush jams, although the Lemming is familiar with door jams, and that's another topic.

Ctenophores are a sort of minimal animal, getting by with no brain: just a 'nerve net,' a sort of cobweb of nerves that runs through the critter. There's a gag or two involving elections, committees, or opinion polls, lurking in that factoid: but they eluded the Lemming. The gags, that is.

Other posts about critters:

Friday, March 2, 2012

And Now, For Something Completely Different: "The Typewriter" in Concert

"The Typewriter Leroy Anderson Martin Breinschmid with Strauß Festival Orchestra Vienna"

martinbrei123, YouTube (September 10, 2009)
video, 2:11

"Viennese Percussionist Martin Breinschmid with his version of the "Typewriter" Live at the BASF concert hall Ludwigshafen,Germany 2008,Strauß Festival Orchestra Vienna"

For the benefit of folks who never saw an IBM Selectric, let alone a Royal Model O, the machine that looks like a desktop printer with a keyboard is a "manual typewriter." Quite a few folks, including the Lemming, learned keyboard skills on something like that.

The Lemming remembers when typewriters sounded like that - minus the orchestra, of course. Ah, the 'good old days' of correction fluid, jammed keys, and - - - there's a reason why manual typewriters are mostly in museums, antique collections, and the occasional orchestral performance.

A Half-Century of ClickatikatikatikatikaDing!

"The Typewriter"
PBS - The Music of Leroy Anderson

"As with all his other compositions, Leroy Anderson wrote The Typewriter for orchestra, completing the work on October 9, 1950. The Typewriter received its first performance when Leroy Anderson conducted his short piece (only one minute and forty-five seconds) for a Decca Records recording session on September 8, 1953. Mills Music published the orchestral version in 1953. Soon after a band arrangement by Fred Werle was also published.

"The Typewriter is used as a theme for numerous radio programs and some television shows. The 1963 film 'Who's Minding the Store?' features Jerry Lewis pantomiming playing the typewriter part in mid-air. Candid Camera, a television show from the 60's, ran a humorous feature of novice typists in a typing class to the music of 'The Typewriter'...."

The Lemming likes "The Typewriter" partly because it's part of childhood memories: mostly as something playing on the radio. That was back when AM music was state-of-the-art, and that's another topic.

Odds are pretty good that you're younger than the Lemming: but maybe you'll enjoy the peppy little melody, too.

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