Santa suit

Yesterday we noticed today that the city had put up signs that prevented street parking on our block and the next block up. Today we decided to go out for coffee in the freezing wind and snow, and noticed a large number of trailers the next block up, near the park and the old Park District building. We decided to change course and investigate.

It turns out that the trucks were movie trucks. We noticed a tall man outside, smoking a cigarette and chatting with a security guard by the Park District building entrance. The tall man was dressed head to toe in a Santa outfit. Another guard told us that that that man was Vince Vaughn, and the movie was Fred Claus.

Wish I had a camera with a good zoom lens on me.

Untraceable, uncensorable documents

Wikileaks is developing an uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis.

I was just thinking about how I would post something anonymously for the world to see yesterday. Good timing! More nefarious/criminal/profitable uses: posting insider information on a company to affect the stock price in one direction or another (does anyone have a Wikipedia aggregator?)…

Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations.

Site link here.

Personalized highway billboards

MINI USA, the company that makes Mini’s, is doing something very cool.

The idea is simple, first give MINI USA some irreverent information about yourself (nothing too personal). Then MINI USA then sends out a special keyfob (4-6 weeks after sign-up) that identifies you to each of the Motorboards you pass. When the boards detect that you are about the drive by, they deliver a personal message based on the information you originally gave.

So, if I have a Mini and drive past one of their billboards, I can have it say, “Jason, you are one handsome man!” for the world to see. In Chicago, the billboard is on 294 near O’Hare.

Bush’s “responsibility” for the Iraq War

My favorite quote in response to Bush’s “acknowledgement” of responsibility for the War in Iraq.

And what the hell does it mean that “the responsibility rests with me”? Not “I take responsibility” or “I accept responsibility,” but responsibility coming, apparently under its own power, to rest in the general vicinity of George W. Bush. It’s his way of saying, “I can’t really get away with denying responsibility, so by default I’ll let it attach itself to me.” It’s really pathetic.

Quote of the day

“He (Bush) should resign straight away and be tried by the same kangaroo court.” – Mahathir Mohamad, former Malasian premier

What is a “kangaroo court”? Turns out it’s a well-known phrase, one that I had never heard before. Although the picture below indicates a better vision of what I thought was meant.

There is no Spoon (or fork)

Look closely: the spoon and fork are suspended from the table, balancing across a toothpick on the very edge of the glass. I took the pictures, and they were not manipulated in any way. (I should have taken a picture of the full glass, but couldn’t find the right angle). Can anyone explain how it’s done?

EDIT: Here is a wikiHow article on this stunt. Unfortunately, the explanation is not really helpful.
EDIT: I think the center of gravity of the spork-combination must be directly below the edge of where the toothpick touches the glass. Is this true?

Open source Electronic Medical Records software

Chirag mentioned that the Department of Veteran’s Affairs has recently released the VA Vista EMR as an application, as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Having studied large-scale EMR systems to some extent, this made me a tad nervous as I hadn’t yet heard about it.

After a bit of research, turns out that I need not worry about this system replacing the likes of Cerner or Eclipsys without government intervention (no pun intended…). At the very least, it is a system that should be watched carefully to see how its use evolves.

The following from a site compiling open-source EMR systems. The bold text is my emphasis. (And, by the way, has anyone heard of the M programming language??)

    • The U.S. Veteran’s Administration Software.
    • Available free due to the Freedom of Information Act
    • Becoming easier to install the basic system on Linux due to the packaging efforts of World Vista Team.
    • Still very difficult to set up a working installation due to detailed working knowlege of M programming language, and other detailed knowlege of the system required. I suspect the arcane knowlege required to set up and maintain it ensured job security for the team of programmers who spent their entire careers working on VISTA for the VA. This worked well at the VA where the users contributed the ideas and the develpers responded, but resulted in extreme dependence on the developer team provided by the VA. This may be VISTA’s Achille’s heel for the open source transition. Hopefully VISTA can eventually be packaged in a way that mere mortals can set it up and maintain it.
    • The M language used is still good, but newer open source programmers are not familiar with it, which hampers recruitment of new developers.