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Staring at the sun

I wonder how long before we hear there was a slight problem with calibration and that some of the victims have been permanently blinded, since that’s how these things seem to go:

The technology, developed by a former Royal Marine commando, temporarily impairs the vision of anyone who looks towards the source.

It has impressed a division of the Home Office which is testing a new range of devices because of the growing number of violent situations facing the police.

The developer, British-based Photonic Security Systems, hopes to offer the device to shipping companies to deter pirates. Similar devices have been used by ISAF troops in Afghanistan to protect convoys from insurgents.

The laser, resembling a rifle and known as an SMU 100, can dazzle and incapacitate targets up to 500m away with a wall of light up to three metres squared. It costs £25,000 and has an infrared scope to spot looters in poor visibility.

Looking at the intense beam causes a short-lived effect similar to staring at the sun, forcing the target to turn away.

‘Ending’ torture

Diane Feinstein: “Much more systemic and widespread than thought.” And yes, it’s still happening. Used to be Americans cared about that sort of thing…

It is the nature of my various sinus afflictions that I can’t pick up smells as easily as normal people, and so the things that I should not be breathing frequently creep up on me without that olfactory alarm.

Which is another way of saying that my Christmas tree is killing me. Yeah, it looks pretty. But it’s a weapon of evil.

I really wanted a tree this year. I’m tired of being sick and cranky, and I wanted something to cheer me up. So my friend Cos came over yesterday to help me haul up my Christmas stuff from my landlord’s garage. I was surprised at how moldy everything smelled; after we brought the artificial tree into the house, I sprayed it with an anti-mold solution (which apparently doesn’t work). All I know is, I spent a couple of hours decorating the damn thing and now my eyes and sinuses are all swollen and they hurt and so does my throat, because did I mention I’m allergic to mold? Of course I am.

I’m also allergic to real Christmas trees, which is how I ended up with the toxic, moldy artificial one. (I once had a severe asthma attack that was induced by being stuck in traffic behind a trash truck that was crunching Christmas trees.)

I suppose I’ll have to take the damned thing down and get another one. (Fortunately, I saw one just like it at the local drugstore for $12.99, so it’s not the end of the world. But still, what a pain in the ass.)

On the bright side, I didn’t have any gall bladder pain yesterday. So now I have a completely different set of symptoms to endure – woo hoo!

What a wonderful world

Eva Cassidy:

All I want for Christmas is you

You know, I believe the world would be much improved if we all lived as if we were in musical comedies. Here’s a guy dancing and lipsyncing through two Nashville malls. I dare you to watch it and not smile:

I’m glad Paul Krugman took a moment Friday to link Oliver Stone’s 1987 movie Wall Street to Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy, but I’m wondering why the columnist pulled his punches rather than go for the KO. More here.

All I want for Christmas is you

Olivia Olson in “Love Actually”:

Bing Crosby:


I just saw a pair in the backyard of the shelter.

Winter is here.

The warning in Gary Webb’s death

Oh come on, this is America! Things like that don’t happen here, right?

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