New Year's Eve QTVR panos from around the world

QTVR panoramas from celebrations in Dubai, Zermatt, Lisbon, and other cities. At the time of this post, photographer Jook Leung's annual shot of Times Square in NYC isn't yet posted -- but will likely be up by the time you put down your champagne long enough to click here: Link. Feliz año nuevo, y'all!

Happy New Year

Sarina and DonkeysI thought I'd make my last entry of the year a picture of the miniature donkey we would have bought if it hadn't bitten me on the leg.

Best wishes to everyone in 2005!

Justice memo redefines torture

The US Justice Department has released a new memo that revises and broadens the definition of torture, replacing a 2002 memo that justified its use to protect national security.
The 17-page document states flatly that torture violates U.S. and international law and omits two of the most controversial assertions made in now-disavowed 2002 Justice Department documents: that President Bush, as commander in chief in wartime, had authority superseding U.S. anti-torture laws and that U.S. personnel had several legal defenses against criminal liability in such cases.

"Consideration of the bounds of any such authority would be inconsistent with the president's unequivocal directive that United States personnel not engage in torture," said the memo from Daniel Levin, acting chief of the Office of Legal Counsel, to Deputy Attorney General James Comey.

Critics in Congress and many legal experts say the original documents set up a legal framework that led to abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, in Afghanistan and at the U.S. prison camp for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After the Iraqi prison abuses came to light, the Justice Department in June disavowed its previous legal reasoning and set to work on the replacement document to be released Friday. The Justice Department memo, dated Thursday, was released less than a week before the Senate Judiciary Committee is to consider President Bush's nomination of his chief White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, to replace John Ashcroft as attorney general.

Link to CBS News story (thanks, Scott Hille), Link to NPR (audio) coverage, WaPo, Guardian.

Here is the actual memo document, via the BBC story: Link to PDF(Thanks abi). Choice words in the final graf:

"There is no exception under the statute permitting torture to be used for a "good reason." Thus, a defendant's motive (to protect national security, for example) is not relevant to the question whether he has acted with the requisite specific intent under the statute."

Concrete TV

Ripped from the headlines over at Fleshbot:
Concrete Ron describes himself as "perhaps the greatest video editor of all time", and anyone who's ever caught Concrete TV on Manhattan public access television over the last decade or so probably wouldn't argue: a typical episode incorporates vintage porn movies, 80s aerobics videos, car crash footage, Hong Kong shoot-em-ups, old commercials, beefcake reels, pro wrestling smackdowns, cheesy B-movie moments, sex education films, random explosions, wet t-shirt contests, and plenty of "raw emotion, euphoria, physical collision, glee, fantasy, despair, and discomfort" in one noisy, violent, sexy, and brilliantly edited pop culture/infoporn mashup. If we ever had to show visitors from another planet what's going on in our collective brains at any given moment, we'd make them tune in here.
Link

More on Exeem

Following up on this previous BoingBoing post, reader Pseudonym says, in a rather hushed voice:
Whois shows the crowd behind Exeem are in fact a company by the name Swarm Systems Inc. that are in fact located in Saint Kitts and Nevis, so would presumably be free from prosecution and lawsuits like Sharman Networks.
And another anonymous reader (my, you're a sneaky lot) says,
Just wanted to let you guys know that exeem IS compatable with torrent files, you can load them up just like any other client. The ads sloncek was talking about are just ads not adware. The reason there isnt a mac or linux version is cause the program is still in beta and chances are that eventually there will be mac and linux versions. Here are some screenshots of it. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. Keep in mind that these are shots of the private beta so the public beta will probably be different since it has changed a lot sinse version 0.1.

Ix-nay on the b-word

Not long ago, NY Daily News gossipist Lloyd Grove decreed his column a Paris Hilton-free zone, announcing that only if "she discovers a cure for cancer, wins the Nobel Peace Prize, launches herself into outer space - or even gets her high-school diploma" would the shark-jumping heiress appear again by name. Well, I've been guilty of a similar sin in 2004, and I hereby pledge to go cold turkey on the word "blog" for, oh, at least the next 72 hours. Today, there's news that dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster named "blog" the "Word of the Year," and that just feels like the last fucking straw. It's time for at least a temporary autokibosh. There. Hear that? The sound of the b, l, o, and g keys on my key**ard hittin* the **tt*m *f the trash can here in my *ffice. F*r a few days, anyway. Link

NYE drug of choice for Burners

This New Year's Eve, Burning Man devotees homesick for Black Rock City are drowning their yearnings in the finest intoxicant earth has to offer: lines of playa dust. Twice as sweet as sugar, twice as bitter as salt. And if you get hooked, baby, it's nobody else's fault. Link to (snort) full-size image. (Thanks, Rusty!)

Home made tank tears through old shed

Picture 2 This home made tank reminds me of the wireframe tank in Battlezone. Watch this video of it as it tears through a field and knocks over an old shed. I could without the lame music in the background. They should have used "Teddy Bears' Picnic" if they really wanted to enhance the mood. Link

Sleek looking old car mod

 Images Tiburon Henry Covington made eight of these jetsonian cars (custom bodies on Renault frames) in 1958. He called it El Tiburon (The Shark). A guy in Riverbank, CA bought the last remaining Tiburon body from Covinton's widow for $800 and put in on a Porsche frame. This Modesto Bee article has more photographs.

(Check out the cover of the 1960s Mechanix Illustrated near the bottom of the page, too. The articles sound great: "ICE CUBES MADE WITH FLASHLIGHT BATTERIES," "NEW ARMY COMBAT VEHICLE 'WALKS' LIKE A MAN", and "WEEGEE TELLS HOW TO MAKE THOSE WEIRD PHOTOS." I'd buy that magazine for 25 cents.) Link (Via Mookie)

Fun with home made bomb

Picture 1 Windows media video of some guys in the Netherlands blowing up a bomb beneath a freeway overpass or a subway tunnel. Link

$6 stapler doesn't use staples

Treehugger reports on a cute-as-a-button stapler that doesn't use staples.
 Files Staplers Instead of using the tiny pieces of metal that add up to lots waste, this ingenious little device joins your papers by punching a small, neat hole in your documents and folding the remaining flaps together for a secure binding.
Link

High altitude kites for beating the peak oil problem

 Images Artwork Top-Wings Well, probably not. But this is an interesting idea: using a kite "laddermill" (as opposed to a rigid, ground-based windmill) to harness the high-speed wind blowing at 30,000 feet and convert it to electricity. Link (Via Mirabilis)

ABC World News Tonight "Bloggers" segment video online

Archived video of last night's ABC World News Tonight segment about bloggers as "people of the year" is now online: Link WMV, 4MB. (thanks Mike!)

Tsunami Reconnect Project: Update

BoingBoing pal Mike Outmesguine gives us an update on the blog-driven project to provide free wireless communication services to areas cut off by the disaster:
Here's a rough update. Smartbridges located in Singapore has pledged 5 access points to begin with and more as specific needs arise. They can be used to connect remote locales over a distance or to create coverage in a local area.

Individuals have pledged spare antennas and radio bridges. Several people have volunteered their time and expertise, including volunteers from the US and Europe prepared to travel to the area to help set up the equipment.

I have been asked specifically to help rebuild communications from people in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and an island near the epicenter without any telecom connection to nearby Sumatra.

We are now working in coordination with the efforts of the Wireless Comm Association International, and I will be attending the Jan. 13th disaster relief meeting in san jose. Other wireless activists and group leaders have contacted me about working together, which I am thrilled to do. I am in touch with companies that want to help, but are working with us to determine what specific models we could put in use.

Bloggers without Borders has pledged 10% of current donations will go to socalwug for this effort.

Donations can be made to socalwug via paypal (through my account at mo@transstellar.com) or credit card. Equipment can be sent to me to redistribute or may ship directly from the manufacturer to the site if practical (as in SmartBridges case from Singapore.)

Link

Tsunami media bubble: a trickle or a flood?

Choire Sicha deconstructs wildly contradictory headlines related to the Asian disaster. "I'm all for opinionated reporting and interpretation, but this I find this actually quite disturbing and very sad, particularly when one gets a whiff of agenda in the headlines." Link