Local man apparently live-tweeted Osama mansion raid

This fellow, a consultant in Abbottabad, appears to have reported events from the attack on Osama bin Laden's compound on Twitter, without being aware of their significance: "Uh oh, now I'm the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it." Read the rest

Osama bin Laden dead

Osama bin Laden is dead.

"Tonight I can announce to the American people, and to the world, the United States has conducted an operation that has killed bin Laden," President Obama said Sunday evening during a surprise address to the nation. Recounting a manhunt that spanned a decade, he said U.S. forces killed the Al Qaeda leader at a compound deep inside Pakistan.

"Today at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan," Obama said. "A small team of Americans carried out that operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama Bin Laden and took custody of his body."

The town where Bin Laden hid is near Islamabad, Pakistan's capital city, far from the remote areas often associated with the hunt.

Based on intelligence received a few months ago, the operation took weeks to organize. The mansion in Abbottabad attracted the attention of agents, according to wire reports, because it was substantially larger than nearby dwellings, unusually well-fortified, and lacking internet or phone service despite an assessed value of more than $1m. Trash was burned rather than put out for collection. Bin Laden was eventually identified as one of the occupants.

Earlier in the evening, members of the White House press corps were roused by cryptic messages; "Get to work," the NYT reports as the totality of one email sent to reporters. Donald Rumsfeld aide Keith Urbahn tweeted at about 10:25 p.m. Read the rest

Lara Logan of CBS News, on surviving sexual assault.

"There are a lot of women who experience these kinds of things as journalists and they don't want it to stop their job because they do it for the same reasons as me - they are committed to what they do. They are not adrenaline junkies you know, they're not glory hounds, they do it because they believe in being journalists."—Lara Logan, speaking for the first time about the sexual assault she survived while covering the popular uprising in Egypt. (CBS News) Read the rest

Wikileaks: America will foot the bill for record company enforcement in NZ if NZ will let America write its laws

Michael Geist sez, "Wikileaks has just posted hundreds of cables from U.S. personnel in New Zealand that reveal regular government lobbying on copyright, offers to draft New Zealand three-strikes and you're out legislation, and a recommendation to spend over NZ$500,000 to fund a recording industry-backed IP enforcement initiative.

For example, an April 2005 cable reveals the U.S. willingness to pay over NZ$500,000 (US$386,000) to fund a recording industry enforcement initiative. The project was backed by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS). Performance metrics include:"

The project's performance will be judged by specific milestones, including increases in the number of enforcement operations and seizures, with percentages or numerical targets re-set annually. The unit also will be measured by the number of reports it submits to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) on its contributions to IP protection and enforcement methodology.

The proposed budget included four salaried positions, legal costs for investigation and prosecution, and training programs. The RIANZ still runs an anti-piracy site, but does not include disclosure about the source of funding. It certainly raises the question of whether New Zealand is aware that local enforcement initiatives have been funded by the U.S. government

Wikileaks on New Zealand Copyright: US Funds IP Enforcement, Offers to Draft Legislation Read the rest

Crap Thermometers

Verdict: The generic thermometers at Lowes are crap. Read the rest

Belts that turn into handcuffs

Australian leathermaker Pete has a company called PM Leather that makes leather belts that convert into "hobbles" -- kinkyspeak for handcuffs, evidently. A pal of Pete's gave me one while I was there last year for WorldCon, and I find it to be a good, stylish, practical belt. I'm not really a handcuffs (or "hobble") kind of guy, but from some informal experiments, I'd venture that this is a strictly consensual device -- if the hobble-ee tried very hard to get loose, s/he would. Or possibly there's a trick to it. Either way: nice belts!

Hobble Belts Read the rest


How do you toast a cockney faerie? "You're elf." Read the rest

Glasses convert 3D movies to 2D

I have no idea if these 2D glasses -- which purport to convert 3D movies to 2D -- work, but they'd be a godsend for me if they did. I get wicked headaches from 3D movies, and all the blockbusters in town are showing 3D-only half the time. We've switched date-night to art-house movies and live theater, which are great, but sometimes my wife really, really wants to see robots blowing stuff up and I hate to be a stick in the mud.

2D glasses are designed to convert 3D graphics into 2D through a single polarized channel. This product helps eliminate headaches, nausea and motion sickness. Wear this where RealD 3D technology is used.

2D Glasses

(via Red Ferret) Read the rest

Wee rusty junkbots for sale

SpratMan makes and sells (on Etsy) adorable rusty junkbots called "Forgotten Robots." He says: "They've been in the factory so long that most have forgotten their names. The original Makers either left or died off long, long ago.

Over the eons the robots 'woke up'. Now with their new self-awareness and personalities the forgotten robots are looking for new homes and new names. They are hard workers and fun to be around and would make a welcome addition to any home or office desk."

Forgotten Robots

(Thanks, Spratman!) Read the rest

Horology considered hazardous: the "German Time Bomb" clock with its deadly mainspring

Robotech sez, "You wouldn't expect gears and springs to constitute a literal safety hazard, but my antique clock repairman father pointed out this PDF file about an antique anniversary clock whose idiosyncratic construction means that its mainspring can potentially unwind catastrophically, destroying the clock and injuring bystanders. This destructive potential has earned it the nickname 'the German Time Bomb.' The article advises clockmakers wear heavy protective clothing if they should ever need to repair one."

If you are considering working on the movement, either to service or repair it, you need to be aware that this clock was not nicknamed 'The German Time Bomb' as a term of endearment but because it can and does cause injury without any warning, and it can do so at any time, ticking or not. If you are not an experienced clock repairer, do not attempt to work on it. Put it in a strong carton, cover it with an old towel, seal the box and mark the box appropriately. Store it away from children.

The Sigfried Haller 'Time Bomb' Anniversary Clock (PDF)

(Thanks, Robotech!) Read the rest