Garrison Keillor: The ghosts of Christmas that never was - and probably never will be

Posted on: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 18:13 By: Tom Swiss

Beautiful piece by Garrison Keillor here:

R.W. waited for hours for the other two spirits and then went to sleep. When he awoke, it was Christmas. A fat, lumpy stocking was plopped in a chair. A note said, "Bob." It had licorice in it, and a rubber ball, a puzzle, a book and a big Christmas orange.

It was a proper, large navel orange with thick skin, fresh, fragrant, and the smell brought back all the jolly Christmases Past when they played whist and laughed, and the bubble lights twinkled, and the radio played carols. Grief and misery tend to be amorphous and make everything taste bitter, but small things, such as a well-turned sentence, the chorus of a song, a cup of peppermint tea, Jane Austen, an orange, have some power to break the spell.

a tale of social engineering

Posted on: Thu, 12/14/2006 - 16:05 By: Tom Swiss

Very interesting tale of social engineering at DarkReading.com:

I entered the bank lobby and was immediately greeted by a woman in a small glass-paneled workspace. I mentioned we called earlier, dropped the contact's name, and indicated I was here to service the copier/printer. Without hesitation I was escorted to the machine and left unattended. To make it appear as if I were working on the device, I opened every panel on the machine, pulled all the trays out, and placed my laptop on the glass surface of the copier/printer.

I was approached by a few people who needed to make copies, I apologized for the inconvenience and said the machine might be down for 30-40 minutes. I then disconnected the network cable from the copier/printer and attached my laptop. As soon as my laptop booted up, DHCP provided a network address and I was on the internal network. I started a few of our utilities and started sniffing the traffic on the network.

Mother Jones: John Kenneth Galbraith and the economics of the corporation

Posted on: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 16:27 By: Tom Swiss

MotherJones.com features commentary by James K. Galbraith on his father John Kenneth Galbraith's book The New Industrial State, in which he considers the large company not just as a seeker after profits but as an organization:

Corporations exist to control markets, and often to replace them. Business leaders reduce uncertainty not through clairvoyance (or "perfect foresight," as the economics textbooks call it), nor by confident exploitation of probability ("portfolio diversification"). They do it by forming organizations large enough to forge the future for themselves. In politics these are countries and parties; in economics, big corporations.

Mother Jones: 12 climate tipping points, and the tipping point in human perception to stop them

Posted on: Tue, 12/12/2006 - 15:49 By: Tom Swiss

A heavy article at MotherJones.com investigates a dozen "tipping points" for global warming, any of which could cause sudden and catastrophic climate change - and asks about the thirteenth tipping point, for our perception of it all:

IN 2004, JOHN SCHELLNHUBER, distinguished science adviser at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the United Kingdom, identified 12 global-warming tipping points, any one of which, if triggered, will likely initiate sudden, catastrophic changes across the planet. Odds are you've never heard of most of these tipping points, even though your entire genetic legacy—your children, your grandchildren, and beyond—may survive or not depending on their status.

what does karate teach us?

Posted on: Sat, 12/09/2006 - 21:43 By: Tom Swiss

Posted to the CyberDojo:

"Daisy Heskett" (address elided) writes:

> Does karate "really" teach us not to fight? Is it more
> of a thing where a karate person knows the limitations
> of what they can do whereas a street fighter wants to know
> his? So the street fighter will be more willing to fight not
> knowing he can kick his butt kicked.

Hopefully a karate student has given a lot of thought about what's
worth fighting over, and has come to the conclusion that not many of
things that people fight about are worth it.

Reuters: "SkySail" may help ships conserve fuel

Posted on: Mon, 12/04/2006 - 20:14 By: Tom Swiss

Reuters reports on a new type of sail, a sort of giant kite meant to boost a cargo ship's propulsion and save fuel.

"I got the idea on a sail boat a few years ago," Stephan Wrage, inventor and founder of SkySails GmbH & Co. KG, told Reuters. "I love flying kites and found sailing rather slow. I thought the enormous power in kites could somehow be utilized."

The technology he has developed is a throwback to an earlier age of maritime travel when ships relied solely on wind. But it also addresses a key concern of the modern age: climate change.

Reuters: Landlocked prisoners taught deep-water diving

Posted on: Mon, 12/04/2006 - 20:09 By: Tom Swiss

Reuters reports on a rehabilitation program for prisoners, a most interesting sort of job training:

A landlocked California men's prison aims to keep inmates from returning to jail by putting them in deep water -- training them for undersea construction and dam repair.

The California Institution for Men in Chino...houses a prison-based marine technology training program where inmates serving sentences of 14 months to 4 years learn skills authorities hope will help them find jobs when they return to society.

...

No more than 12 percent of the more than 1,600 inmates who have participated in the program have returned to prison -- far below the average recidivism rate of 50 percent in California prisons, officials said.

Zelda's exercise, Dec 3

Posted on: Mon, 12/04/2006 - 20:01 By: Tom Swiss

This week's Zelda's exercise: a poem portraying the self as an inanimate object

a drop of rain
I am separate for a moment
distinct from air ground ocean wood

I have my boundary, my undoubtable inside and outside
I hold together, even as I change shape

I reflect the world around me

I am falling toward a destiny I cannot see, cannot fully know as I am now

a drop of rain a drop of rain a drop of rain
small by myself, almost insignificant
but always part of a larger movement -
as unique as I am there are many like me

when I come in winter I am adorned, beautiful;

sitting in Leadbetters, 26 Nov

Posted on: Mon, 11/27/2006 - 14:02 By: Tom Swiss

"Roses, roses" says the man with an armful of blossoms, walking up and down the bar. It may be just about the only word of English he knows.

There's a whole group of them, maybe from an extended family, I see them often talking to each other in a language I don't understand. Sort of modern Eliza Doolittles, selling flowers to the relatively more well off, helping guys pick up girls.

(Somewhere at home I have tucked away a dried an withered rose that a beautiful redheaded girl bought for me from one of these guys, in this very bar years ago, something I could never just throw any, would have to toss into a sacred fire to get rid of.)

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