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District of Columbia v. Heller
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:14 pm EDT, Mar 18, 2008

Gura & Possessky, P.L.L.C. has an archive of the relevant documents in the U. S. Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller. The amicus curiae brief filed by the U. S. Dept. of Justice for the petitioners is quite interesting, especially in light of the amicus curiae brief filed by Vice President Cheney, 55 Senators, and 250 Members of Congress for the respondent.

It's strange, what reading the briefs of a Second Amendment case can do for one's attitude. I haven't felt this giddy in a long time. It's comparable to realizing that you're falling in love... you're hopefully excited, yet terrified at the same time. I'll be a nervous wreck until this is over.

District of Columbia v. Heller

Bush: ‘Fairness Doctrine’ unfair
Topic: Business 12:23 pm EDT, Mar 12, 2008

The Austin American-Statesman
By Ken Herman
Tuesday, March 11, 2008, 02:19 PM

In Nashville today, during a speech to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention, President Bush said there’s nothing fair about the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” that once required broadcasters to offer air time for competing ideologies.

[Bush] “This organization has had many important missions, but none more important than ensuring our airways - America’s airways - stay open to those who preach the ‘Good News.’ The very first amendment to our Constitution includes the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. Founders believed these unalienable rights were endowed to us by our Creator. They are vital to a healthy democracy, and we must never let anyone take those freedoms away.”

[Bush] "If Congress should ever pass any legislation that stifles your right to express your views, I’m going to veto it.”

Bush: ‘Fairness Doctrine’ unfair

UNICEF vs. Japan
Topic: Society 10:50 am EDT, Mar 12, 2008

Reuters UK
Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:22am GMT
UNICEF says Japan failing to control child porn

Japan's government is inching towards a ban on the possession of obscene images of children, which would bring it into line with most other industrialised countries. But the Japan branch of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) urged Tokyo to beef up its laws by banning child pornography in manga comics, animated films and computer games as well as individual possession.

Japan and Russia are alone among G8 countries in not banning possession of child pornography. Some members of Japan's main opposition Democratic Party oppose a ban because it might grant police too much power, domestic newspaper reports have said.

It doesn't happen often, but I have to commend the U.N. this time.

UNICEF vs. Japan

Chess - Linares Round 12: Carlsen mates Topalov, closes gap to Anand
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:34 pm EST, Mar  6, 2008

Summary by Dennis Monokroussos 04.03.2008

Carlsen,M (2733) - Topalov,V (2780) [A28]
XXV SuperGM Morelia/Linares MEX/ESP (12), 04.03.2008

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.d3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nb6 7.Be2 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.a4 Be6 10.Be3 Nd7 11.d4 exd4 12.Nxd4 Nxd4 13.Qxd4 c6 14.a5 Nc5 15.Qe5 Nb3 16.Ra4 Bd6 17.Qh5 g6 18.Qh6 Be5 19.Bg5 Qc7 20.Be3 Nxa5 21.f4 Bg7 22.Qh4 Bb3 23.Rd4!?

This second sacrifice probably could have been accepted, but Topalov’s safe 23...Rad8 sufficed for an advantage as well. 24.e5 Rxd4 25.Bxd4 c5 26.Be3 f6 27.Nb5 Qd8 28.f5. 28.e6 would have been interesting (28…Qe7 29.f5 gxf5 30.Rf3 is one possible continuation), but Carlsen’s move leads to complex play as well, again sacrificing material for activity and headhunting prospects. 28...fxe5 29.Bg5 Qb6

White is two pawns down and struggling to show what he has for them. Magnus Carlsen goes on the attack: 30.f6 c4+ 31.Kh1 Qxb5 32.fxg7 Rxf1+ 33.Bxf1 Topalov could have avoided perpetual check with 33…Qd7, though after 34.Bh6 Nc6 35.Bxc4+ Bxc4 36.Qxc4+ Qf7 37.Qc1 Black will have a hard time creating real winning possibilities. His move 33…Kxg7?! was safer – or should have been. 34.Bd8 Nc6??


Incredible: this allows a forced mate. 34…Qd5 more or less forces White to take a perpetual check: 35.Bxa5 Qxa5 36.Qe7+ etc. 35.Qf6+ Kg8 36.Qe6+ Kf8 37.Bg5 threatening 38.Bh6#, so 37...Kg7 38.Qf6+ Kg8 39.Bh6 followed by 40.Qg7 mate. 1-0.

While that loss was Topalov's fault, Carlsen has been a machine this year!

[EDIT] Linares Tournament Home Page

Chess - Linares Round 12: Carlsen mates Topalov, closes gap to Anand

Plane flies five passengers from US to London
Topic: Society 6:46 pm EST, Mar  5, 2008

Richard Dyer, Friends of the Earth's transport campaigner said: "Flying virtually empty planes is an obscene waste of fuel. Through no fault of their own, each passenger's carbon footprint for this flight is about 45 times what it would have been if the plane had been full.

Oh, but it's O.K. for politicians around the world to do that every day. Geez...

As a passenger, I would've loved it! I seriously doubt that those five passengers were worried about their carbon footprints, but I think Gerard Arpey would rather see his business be a little more cost-effective. lol

Plane flies five passengers from US to London

Geldof and Bush: Diary From the Road
Topic: Society 3:14 pm EST, Feb 28, 2008

I gave the president my book. He raised an eyebrow. "Who wrote this for ya, Geldof?" he said without looking up from the cover. Very dry. "Who will you get to read it for you, Mr. President?" I replied. No response.

The Most Powerful Man in the World studied the front cover. Geldof in Africa — " 'The international best seller.' You write that bit yourself?" "That's right. It's called marketing. Something you obviously have no clue about or else I wouldn't have to be here telling people your Africa story."

This is a strange but entertaining article about their trip.

Geldof and Bush: Diary From the Road

Python Stalked, Then Ate Family Dog in Front of Children
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:12 am EST, Feb 27, 2008

BRISBANE, Australia — A 16-foot python stalked a family dog for days before swallowing the pet whole in front of horrified children in the Australian tropics, animal experts said Wednesday.

Throughout the world, cats are laughing.

Python Stalked, Then Ate Family Dog in Front of Children

Gates Sees Diminished Role for Keyboards
Topic: Technology 11:23 am EST, Feb 22, 2008

AP Friday February 22, 10:56 am ET

Bill Gates Says Microsoft Is Pushing Touchscreen and Speech Technology to Replace Keyboards

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- People will increasingly interact with computers using speech or touch screens rather than keyboards, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates said. "It's one of the big bets we're making," he said during the final stop of a farewell tour before he withdraws from the company's daily operations in July.

In five years, Microsoft expects more Internet searches to be done through speech than through typing on a keyboard, Gates told about 1,200 students and faculty members Thursday at Carnegie Mellon University. Gates also said the software that is proliferating in various branches of science, including biology and astronomy must become even more advanced. "They're dealing with so much information that ... the need for machine learning to figure out what's going on with that data is absolutely essential," he said.

Microsoft is trying to establish ties not only with university computer science departments but also with reseachers in other scientific areas "to help us understand where new inventions are necessary," Gates said. Gates plans to retire as Microsoft's chief software architect in July and focus on philanthropy.

I hate touch screens, so I guess I'll be one of the last holdouts. "...from my cold, dead hands."

Gates Sees Diminished Role for Keyboards

Space Station Crew Can Access Gun
Topic: Society 12:53 pm EST, Feb 14, 2008

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Astronauts aboard the International Space Station apparently have access to a gun.

Russian Cosmonauts carry a gun on their Soyuz space capsule, which is attached to the space station. Every spacecraft carries survival gear for crash landings, and the Russian Soyuz has a kit that includes the gun. A photo of a space tourist using one version of the weapon is posted on his [who's?] Web site.

But although the gun has been there for as long as the space station has been in orbit, its existence is kept quiet. NASA and Russian officials won't talk publicly about it. Former NASA engineer Jim Oberg, who is an author and journalist, wrote about the gun on his Web site. He said the gun has no place in an environment where people are under such high stress. "There have been cases of severe psychological strain on people in space, strain that they have taken out -- that their shipmates worried about the ultimate actions," Oberg said.

Experts said the idea of an astronaut losing control was unthinkable until one year ago, when Lisa Nowak shattered the myth. Her own attorney said she was insane when arrested for hunting down another woman, and prosecutors said she was heavily armed. Nowak had flown in space just seven months earlier. Oberg knows an astronaut bent on orbital manslaughter could simply throw any number of switches to do the job, but he said the crews would be safer if the gun was locked up or left on Earth.

The gun is located in a survival kit between some seats aboard the Soyuz spacecraft. All the crewmembers know about it, and U.S. astronauts who fly aboard the Soyuz are trained to use it.

You know you're a firearms enthusiast when... you read an article like that and come away frustrated because the author failed to mention the make, model, and caliber of the weapon in question. I found a description of the weapon carried on the Soyuz at Jim Oberg's website (I had to dig around to find the photos).

Russian participation means that there are guns on board the ISS, and the guns belong to the Russians. This is not quite as alarming as it sounds, and officially it’s no secret. However, I could never find any mention of this design feature on NASA web sites or mission press kits. Actually, it’s a safety feature, and not an unreasonable one.

American astronauts who trained for the 1995–1997 Mir visits, and later as part of the Soyuz spacecraft crews for the International Space Station, encountered a unique feature that cosmonauts need to master: target practice. Th... [ Read More (0.3k in body) ]

Space Station Crew Can Access Gun

Lookin' Good for Jesus
Topic: Society 5:09 pm EST, Feb 12, 2008

'Jesus' cosmetic row in Singapore
BBC News
Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 19:16 GMT

A leading retailer in Singapore has withdrawn a cosmetics range with a Jesus theme after complaints from local Roman Catholics, local media report. The range, named Lookin' Good for Jesus, was on sale at three Topshop outlets in the Asian city state.

Catholics complained the cosmetics' marketing was disrespectful, full of sexual innuendo and trivialised Christianity. About 15% of Singapore's 4.4 million population is Christian. The products included a "Virtuous vanilla" lip balm and a "Get Tight with Christ" hand and body cream, featuring a picture of Christ flanked by two adoring women.

"Why would anyone use religious figures to promote vanity products? It's very disrespectful and distasteful," the Straits Times newspaper quoted accountant Grace Ong, 24, as saying. A spokesman for the Wing Tai company, which runs Topshop's outlets in Singapore, told the newspaper it did not want to offend its customers, and withdrew the products last month. It was not clear whether other shops were still selling the range, which is produced by the US-based company, Blue Q.

Lookin' Good for Jesus

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