May 5th, 2006

From ABC News : Rumsfeld making a speech in Atlanta recently.

Rumsfeld said Bush, who made the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons his main justification for war, also “spent weeks and weeks with the Central Intelligence people” before making his case to the American people.”They gave the world their honest opinion,” Rumsfeld added. “It appears that there were no weapons of mass destruction.”

McGovern shot back, “You said you knew where they were,” referring to the Iraqi weapons.

“I did not,” Rumsfeld retorted. “I said I knew where suspect sites were.”

“You said you know where they were, near Tikrit, near Baghdad, and north, east, south and west of there. Those are your words,” McGovern shot back.

“I’d just like an honest answer,” McGovern added. “We’re talking about lies,” also mentioning the administration’s assertions of prewar ties between Iraq and al Qaeda.

The article then goes on to add

A week and a half into the war, Rumsfeld was asked on March 30, 2003, on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” whether he found it curious that U.S. forces had not yet found weapons of mass destruction.

“Not at all,” Rumsfeld responded, according to a Pentagon transcript of the interview.

“We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat,” Rumsfeld stated.

Rumsfeld on January 20, 2003, said Saddam’s government had “large, unaccounted for stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, including VX, sarin, mustard gas, anthrax, botulism, and possibly smallpox,” as well as “an active program to acquire and develop nuclear weapons.”

Two Online Videos

April 30th, 2006
  1. (via John Tokash) This video is demo of what the QuickCam Orbit MP is capable of.

    You can add one of dozens of augmentations ranging from hats to glasses to full blown avatars to your video chat experience. All of the effects utilize face tracking to keep in synch with your face’s eyes, eyebrows, lips, etc. Very impressive.

  2. (via Dean Armstrong)
    Awesome animation of aurorae seen from the International Space Station. This is a bit old (2003) but very interesting to read/see if you haven’t already.

Rainbow’s End

April 27th, 2006

Vernor Vinge has a new novel coming out on May 2nd called Rainbow’s end. I really liked his previous novels, A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. Vinge is a mathematician who used to teach at San Diego State University, but he retired to write full time. What amazes me about his writing is the scale of the universe in which he sets his stories. I hope this new novel will be as exciting to read as his previous novels.

US Press secretary

April 26th, 2006

GWB appointed a new press secretary.

BBC’s headline : Radio host is new Bush spokesman

CNN’s headline : Fox anchor named Bush press secretary

Guess which one provokes more derision and maniacal laughter. I wonder what the Onion will have to say next week.

Magpie Unit tests

April 26th, 2006

Since people were waving tasks around several months ago and I finally got tired of atom feeds showing up incorrectly in Gregarius, I decided to port some of tests to . I created a rudimentary ajax-ified unit testing harness for Magpie. You can download it to your webserver with subversion

svn co

Then, just point any ajax enabled browser at the runTests.php file. You can see it in action here.

Unfortunately, I could not think of any nice cross-language way to write the expect condition, and so I wrote some scripts (similar to Sam Ruby’s scripts) to statically convert the python expect condition to php. Writing the correct expect condition is much harder than I thought. My goal is to port about 1000 or so feedparser tests that I care about (out of the 3000 that exist) and make changes to Magpie without regressing anything. Then I will put this branch version of Magpie back into the Gregarius trunk.

Dreamhost Quirks

April 26th, 2006

Dreamhost is doing some strange things with my php scripts.

  1. Why are you stealing my newlines?

    For some strange reason newlines at the end of files seem to be eaten. Take a look at these two php files.

    < ?php
    echo "This string has no newline at the end";


    < ?php
    echo "This first string has a newline at the end\n";

    If you wget these two files (file1, file2) you will see that they are exactly the same. Who took my newline at the end of the second file?

  2. Why don’t you be polite and flush?

    This is a slightly more serious problem as it prevents Gregarius’ serverpush method for updating feeds from working on my dreamhost server. I took a very simple serverpush example from the XUL Planet Developer Guide and put it on my dreamhost server.

    < ?php
    ('Content-type: multipart/x-mixed-replace;boundary="rn9012"');

      print "--rn9012\n";
    "Content-type: application/xml\n\n";
    "< ?xml version='1.0'?>\n";
    "First Part\n";

    "Content-type: application/xml\n\n";
    "< ?xml version='1.0'?>\n";
    "Second Part\n";


    If you are using a Gecko browser and you point to this file on a dreamhost server, there will be a 5 second pause and you will only see the second part. Compare this with the same file on the xulplanet webserver, where you see the first part and then after a 5 second pause the second part.

If you have any ideas about what is going on, please let me know. You can find all these files (and their sources) here.

Chicago Museums

April 25th, 2006

Via Factoids (an excellent little site at UChicago) I learnt about the MUSEUM PASSPORTS at the Chicago Public Library. You can check out a museum passport for 1 week from any of the Chicago Public Libraries. It gives you (and your immediate family) absolutely free access to 11 museums in Chicago. I shall try to see if I can get one when my family comes to visit at the end of May.

Particle Accelerator day

April 22nd, 2006

(Via Cosmic Variance) Yesterday, Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, declared Particle Accelerator Day, in Illinois, in recognition of the state’s federal laboratories (Fermilab and Argonne) as world leaders in accelerator technology. I wonder what other wierd days have been declared in Illinios.

Since the UofC helps to manage Fermilab and Argonne, I was hoping that someone would organize a tour of the facilities and I would get a chance to visit before I graduate. It doesn’t look like that is going to happen. On the other hand, after missing many chances, I am finally going to go to visit the Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin tonight. The weather is nice for viewing the night sky, and it should be fun.

Silly Links

March 19th, 2006

Sarong(Via MetaFilter and L. Spice) The Sarong Theorem Archive is the premier online repository for pictures of mathematicans in sarongs proving theorems. There is also a strange webpage with pictures of female mathematicians with teal hair. We have two people from UofC on that page. Got any other wierd math links to share?


March 12th, 2006

From the How-on-Earth-is-this-possible department:

Australia made 434 for 4 in their one day cricket match against South Africa (a world record by a huge margin) and then they lost the match by one wicket and one ball!!!. This is simply incredible.