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Current Topic: Society

The Mystery of Lord Lucan
Topic: Society 12:03 pm EDT, Apr 11, 2003

While reading the BBC field reports from Iraq, I ran across a puzzling reference from one reporter, who said, "Saddam Hussein has already been spotted in more places than Lord Lucan. He's been in the Russian embassy, he's been in the mosque this morning, he's alleged to be on a convoy to Syria - no doubt he'll soon be found on a sofa in Huddersfield." (

Never having heard of the "Lord Lucan" reference (but guessing it to be somewhat of a British equivalent to an Elvis sighting), I went poking around the web and was intrigued by the story:

] At 9.45pm on the night of 7th November 1974, a distressed
] and bloodstained woman burst into the bar of The Plumber's
] Arms, Lower Belgrave Street, crying out "Help me, help me,
] help me. I've just escaped from being murdered. He's in the
] house. He's murdered the Nanny!"

Though it sounds like the plot of a mystery novel or urban legend, it's evidently quite true: Over 25 years ago, a British nobleman murdered the nanny and disappeared, to be followed by a string of sightings placing him in a variety of countries around the world. The full story of the night of the murder is here:

The most recent "hard news" that I could find was a 1999 BBC News article announcing that the missing Lord had finally been officially declared dead:

And the most recently updated info that I could find, was from a site by Lady Lucan, "setting the record straight" on some of the misinformation that's accumulated over the years. This seems to be the most up-to-date information, and includes many pictures from family photo albums, as well as quite a bit of rant from Lady Lucan. Some of it seems to be fact-based, though there are other sections which make accusations of a "criminal conspiracy" to take away her rights, and "a device used by the medical profession to simulate nervous breakdown" and that she became "involuntarily addicted" to certain types of medication. She goes on to accuse the authorities of abusing her human rights, and levels accusations at various other people with examples of "rude behavior" (such as not inviting her to a family wedding):

Anyway, it was an interesting little side jaunt into British culture . . .

The Mystery of Lord Lucan

NYT Archive Disappears from the Net
Topic: Society 2:11 am EDT, Apr  7, 2003

Jeremy wrote:
The New York Times has changed its policy for online access to news articles older than thirty days. These articles are no longer available via the free registration process.

Do a Memestreams search for "nytimes" and browse down a few pages into the results for an NYT article from 2002. Try to follow the link. No dice.

What do they hope to gain by this? It seems likely to encourage private full-text archival of NYT articles, rather than on-demand online retrieval. Some may be dissuaded from linking to NYT at all, given the short fuse, and migrate to other publications that don't have a similar policy.

Yeah, NYT has been one of those "difficult to link to" sites. Often when I find something there that I want to meme, I first do a search on part of the article to see if anyone else is mirroring it, and then I link to the mirror instead.

NYT Archive Disappears from the Net

Gallup Poll Results
Topic: Society 12:50 pm EST, Mar 31, 2003

] Support for the war in Iraq and perceptions of how
] well it is going have remained stable over the past week --
] down somewhat from the initial measures following the
] start of the war.
] The latest poll shows that 70% of Americans favor the war
] and 27% oppose it, essentially unchanged from last week.
] Thirty-three percent say the war is going "very well,"
] virtually the same as the percentage who said that at the
] beginning of last week, but down from 44% who said that a
] week ago Sunday and 62% the day before.
] In the wake of criticism that the war is going more
] slowly than anticipated, 72% of Americans say it is going
] according to plan, while 25% disagree.
] Sixty-nine percent say the United States is "certain" to
] win the war, while 25% say "likely." Just 4% think the
] United States will not win.

I'm recommending this link not just for the results of the polls as of today, but also for future reference to the Gallup site.

Gallup Poll Results

Statistical Summary: America's Major Wars
Topic: Society 5:01 pm EST, Mar 25, 2003

Some interesting statistics on wars from the Revolutionary War to the (first) Gulf War, on things such as:
- Percentage of population enrolled in the military
- Number of casualties (both absolute and percentage)
- Cost of the war (converted to 1990 dollars)
- Duration of war, average casualties/month, and so forth

Statistical Summary: America's Major Wars - fighting the left... doing it right
Topic: Society 11:36 am EST, Mar 21, 2003

] Welcome to, a website created to help
] arm the liberty-loving Silent Majority with ammo --
] ammo that strikes at the intellectual solar plexus of
] the Left.

I don't know if I'd count myself as one of the militant "ProtestWarriors," but I do like the picture on the site that has one of the "Anti-War" signs saying "War Has Never Solved Anything," but then adds the scribble, "Except for ending Slavery, Fascism, Nazism, and Communism"! - fighting the left... doing it right

Department of Homeland Security
Topic: Society 12:20 pm EST, Mar 19, 2003

This is the official homepage of the DHS - Department of Homeland Security. The current color-coded threat advisory is listed at the top of the page (and hyperlinked to a general definition of what each level means). There's also info there about the current "Liberty Shield" program.

Department of Homeland Security

Libraries post Patriot Act warnings
Topic: Society 12:04 pm EST, Mar 18, 2003

] Along with the usual reminders to hold the noise down and
] pay overdue fines, library patrons in Santa Cruz are
] seeing a new type of sign these days: a warning that
] records of the books they borrow may wind up in the hands
] of federal agents.
] The signs, posted in the 10 county branches last week and
] on the library's Web site, also inform the reader that
] the USA Patriot Act "prohibits library workers from
] informing you if federal agents have obtained records
] about you."
] "Questions about this policy," patrons are told, "should
] be directed to Attorney General John Ashcroft, Department
] of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20530."

I think this is an excellent way to get more support for the "Freedom to Read Protection Act" that was introduced last week. Something I'm fully in support of.

More information at this Memestreams Thread, too:

Libraries post Patriot Act warnings

Google Press Center: 2002 Year-End Zeitgeist
Topic: Society 1:23 pm EST, Jan 19, 2003

The most popular search terms on Google over the year, sorted by category, increasing/decreasing popularity, and even country of origin. Fascinating stuff.

Google Press Center: 2002 Year-End Zeitgeist

Topic: Society 11:59 am EST, Jan 16, 2003

] Cool, yet slightly disturbing.

Running totals of the world's total population, births, and deaths. And yes, it's a very odd sensation to watch the numbers change, and contemplate the human realities that are occurring each second. Speaking personally, it gives me an intensified sense of just how *many* different people and families and societies and cultures are on this planet at any given moment.


Visual Thesaurus
Topic: Society 2:42 pm EST, Jan  6, 2003

] "An experiment in language and interface, Plumb Design's
] Visual Thesaurus is both an artistic exploration and a
] tool to explore, study, and analyze the structure of
] language. By displaying the interrelationships between
] words and meanings as spatial maps, the Visual Thesaurus
] translates language into a visible architecture. "

Type in a word, and you get an artistic representation of how that word is connected to other words, each of which you can click on to see how *they* are connected... A great tool, and a very pleasing visual interface, too. It's neat to see what it attaches to more obscure words, but to really see it blossom like a flower, type in one of those small slippery words such as "do" "have" or "go".

Added note: You must have Java installed to see the cool visual effects.

Visual Thesaurus

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