More voting machine madness

Posted on: Thu, 11/02/2006 - 12:33 By: Tom Swiss

In another fine piece in Rolling Stone, RFK Jr. shows the state of security and reliability for computerized voting machines:

Georgia law mandates that any change made in voting machines be certified by the state. But thanks to Cox's agreement with Diebold, the company was essentially allowed to certify itself. "It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state," Hood told me. "We were told not to talk to county personnel about it..."

According to Hood, Diebold employees altered software in some 5,000 machines in DeKalb and Fulton counties - the state's largest Democratic strongholds. To avoid detection, Hood and others on his team entered warehouses early in the morning. "We went in at 7:30 a.m. and were out by 11," Hood says. "There was a universal key to unlock the machines, and it's easy to get access. The machines in the warehouses were unlocked. We had control of everything. The state gave us the keys to the castle, so to speak, and they stayed out of our way."...

Zelda's exercise, Oct 29

Posted on: Sun, 10/29/2006 - 22:29 By: Tom Swiss

This week's Zelda's Inferno exercise was the "poetry obstacle course":

an empty bottle holds space, like the empty arms of one whose lover is gone
fire pulls in air from all sides and then pushes it upward
the river shapes its bed;
the riverbed shapes the river
books press the life out of words;
the reader breathes them back in
the waitress brought me coffee like a valkyrie taking me to Valhalla
seconds move by in a way that could be called "ticking" except that they were silent

oil and water still didn't mix
so he added an emulsifier

he pulled the planet toward him

Mother's voice gets more attention than alarm tones

Posted on: Mon, 10/23/2006 - 14:24 By: Tom Swiss

CNN reports on a study showing that sleeping children awoke to recordings of their mothers' voices more quickly and more often than to a beeping smoke alarm.

The study of 24 children ages 6 to 12 found that 23 awoke to the recorded voice of their mother saying "(Child's first name)! (Child's first name)! Wake up! Get out of bed! Leave the room!" Fourteen of the children also awoke to the traditional tone alarm. One child didn't wake up to either.

The children who woke up to the voice did so at a median time of 20 seconds, compared with three minutes for those who woke up to the tone, according to the study by Columbus Children's Hospital researchers being released Monday in Pediatrics.

Zelda's exercise, Oct 22

Posted on: Mon, 10/23/2006 - 11:13 By: Tom Swiss

Another set of Zelda's Inferno exercises:

1) given three phrases (selected from random texts):

I remember when it was so clean
maintaining close family ties
in order to live well

connect them in a poem:

to live well, I am starting to think, is less
about the outside than about the inside -
(hardly a stunning revelation but one that in this world must be repeated over and over
antihypnotic counter-charm against advertising etcetera)

Zelda's exercise, October 15

Posted on: Mon, 10/16/2006 - 12:06 By: Tom Swiss

Another Zelda's Inferno exercise. This one was a little more complicated:

1) Everyone in the group got a sheet of paper. They wrote a single line or phrase at the top, then passed the paper to the person next to them. That person wrote the "opposite", in the sense of "The Opposites Game" seen here, phrase on the next line, then folded the paper over so only their line was visibile, and passed it to the next person, who wrote an "opposite" line (which, this not being mathematics, was quite different than the first line). Each page was passed around until it had traversed the whole group. We all then looked at all the pages and each copied all the lines that we had written (one on each sheet). Those lines then provided source material for a poem.

Daniel Pinchbeck's psychedelic shamanist apocalyptic vision

Posted on: Wed, 10/11/2006 - 14:07 By: Tom Swiss

As those who know me know, I have nothing against the appropriate use of "psychedelic" or "entheogenic" substances. Far from it. But I have to shake my head when someone starts taking their own feedback-saturated perceptions too seriously, as seen in this Rolling Stone profile of Daniel Pinchbeck:

This was all before Pinchbeck himself started making some very unusual claims. After separating from the heiress in 2003, he made a trip to Hawaii and the Amazon with an incredibly hot abstract painter and Santo Daime priestess, sunbathing nude with her by the Hawaiian cliffs. In the Amazon, he received a transmission from God, in the form of Quetzalcoatl, a mystical bird-serpent in Mayan myths. Quetzalcoatl told Pinchbeck that he is a prophet -- all those times in his life when he thought he was a loser, because his birthdate happens to be in June 1966 (666), and his surname happens to be a fancy word for "false gold," were signs that one day he'd be chosen to transmit some very special, intradimensional knowledge to the planet. Here it is: The world as we know it is about to end -- on December 21st, 2012, the last day of time in the Mayan calendar.

Zelda's exercise, Oct 8

Posted on: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 16:38 By: Tom Swiss

A little Zelda's Inferno exercise: freewrite on the phrase "floating at the top of the arc"

floating at the top of the arc, weightless, like an astonaut training flight, to go up and hang in the sky, and be free of the grip of the ground. floating at the top of the arc, the sweet moment in between the work and the decay, between the crushing launch and the crushing fall. floating at the top of the arc, the one perfect moment, that can only be found mathematically, not in the actual experience, a single point of inflection. floating at the top of the arc, floating at the top of the arc, rising and falling and rising and falling actions of plots.

"Vonnegut's Apocalypse", Rolling Stone

Posted on: Mon, 10/09/2006 - 16:22 By: Tom Swiss

Rolling Stone talks with Kurt Vonnegut:

"I'm Jeremiah, and I'm not talking about God being mad at us," novelist Kurt Vonnegut says with a straight face, gazing out the parlor windows of his Manhattan brownstone. "I'm talking about us killing the planet as a life-support system with gasoline. What's going to happen is, very soon, we're going to run out of petroleum, and everything depends on petroleum. And there go the school buses. There go the fire engines. The food trucks will come to a halt. This is the end of the world. We've become far too dependent on hydrocarbons, and it's going to suddenly dry up. You talk about the gluttonous Roaring Twenties. That was nothing. We're crazy, going crazy, about petroleum. It's a drug like crack cocaine. Of course, the lunatic fringe of Christianity is welcoming the end of the world as the rapture. So I'm Jeremiah. It's going to have to stop. I'm sorry."

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