Monthly Archives: October 2007

More Pictures

We’re in Portland now and I had a moment to post some pics from the last two days, mostly Yellowstone, which was incredible. Click to see pictures of Yellowstone.


Road Trip!!

Key to any road trip: ample sandwiches. In our case turkey, salami, cheese, vegannaise and mustard or tofurkey and soy cheese.

However, even that could not prepare us for the frigid night to come in Mitchell, South Dakota. It was so cold that we couldn’t sleep, but it was a good first night for the trip.

The next day, however, brought us great success as we hiked through the Badlands, which was amazing (as you can clearly see here).

We made it to Devil’s Tower that night as the sun was setting and the moon was rising. We had sandwiches for dinner, of course, and drove to Sheridan, Wyoming. Out the window of our cheap motel (hey, it’s cold out there) are the first snow-capped mountains of the trip. Today we head to Yellowstone (if the roads aren’t snowed in).

Check out more pictures.

Small Flying Surveillance Devices

dfly.jpgSo I got an email from the antiwar coalition A.N.S.W.E.R. whose subject was, “Is the goverment [sic] using small flying surveillance devices on the antiwar movement?” I groaned inwardly and thought, “has A.N.S.W.E.R. gone off the deep end?” My friend John and I used to get really freaked out by drinking lots of coffee and talking about government conspiracies. One of the things he mentioned once was that DARPA was working on some sort of unmanned surveillance flying robot thingies. I thought it was ridiculous but couldn’t help keep looking at the window to see if they were there listening to our conversation. In the end though I didn’t give it much credence–for whatever reason it just seemed too ridiculous to be true, or if true, useless to worry about.

Well John and A.N.S.W.E.R., I have been proven wrong. Now this story is actually being reported on by the mainstream media. The Washington Post suggests that these mini flying dragonfly devices have been used at recent antiwar demonstrations in Washington, DC.

“I’d never seen anything like it in my life,” the Washington lawyer said. “They were large for dragonflies. I thought, ‘Is that mechanical, or is that alive?’ ”

That is just one of the questions hovering over a handful of similar sightings at political events in Washington and New York. Some suspect the insectlike drones are high-tech surveillance tools, perhaps deployed by the Department of Homeland Security.

They probably saw dragonflies, said Jerry Louton, an entomologist at the National Museum of Natural History. Washington is home to some large, spectacularly adorned dragonflies that “can knock your socks off,” he said.

At the same time, he added, some details do not make sense. Three people at the D.C. event independently described a row of spheres, the size of small berries, attached along the tails of the big dragonflies — an accoutrement that Louton could not explain. And all reported seeing at least three maneuvering in unison.

“Dragonflies never fly in a pack,” he said.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard of the Partnership for Civil Justice said her group is investigating witness reports and has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with several federal agencies. If such devices are being used to spy on political activists, she said, “it would be a significant violation of people’s civil rights.”

For many roboticists still struggling to get off the ground, however, that concern — and their technology’s potential role — seems superfluous.


Read the full article.

Brian Eno is Against the War


It would take courage for Gordon Brown to say: “This war was a catastrophe.” It would take even greater courage to admit that the seeds of the catastrophe were in its conception: it wasn’t a good idea badly done (the neocons’ last refuge–“Blame it all on Rumsfeld”), but a bad idea badly done. And it would take perhaps superhuman courage to say: “And now we should withdraw and pay reparations to this poor country.”

Read more.