December 2004

Photo: Numbered Arm and Hand of a Tsunami Victim
A tag is placed on around a deceased person’s wrist so the body can be identified among hundreds outside a temple in Thaplamu, nearly 100 km (62 miles) north of the Thai resort island of Phuket on December 29, 2004. Stricken countries on the Indian Ocean worked swiftly on Wednesday to bury thousands of bodies as experts warned disease could kill as many people as the 68,000 already dead from the violent crush of Sunday’s tsunami. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

QuickBird Satellite Image of Sri Lanka After Tsunami Impact
This is a natural color, 60-centimeter (2-foot) high-resolution QuickBird satellite image featuring the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka. Imagery was collected at 10:20 a.m. local time, slightly less than four hours after the 6:28 a.m. (local Sri Lanka time) earthquake and shortly after the moment of tsunami impact.

Graphic: Duck and Cover

Boing Boing friend Ken Sitz sez: “My CONELRAD project just received a holiday gift from the Library of Congress in today’s announcement that DUCK AND COVER is being inducted into the National Film Registry, thus guaranteeing its perservation. We launched a campaign last March to rally our readers and interested parties to support our official nomination and we just published the first production history of the film.”

Photo: Buddhist Monks Searching for Survivors

A group of Buddhist monks and villagers search for the missing along railroad tracks at Telwatte, about 100 kilometers (63 miles) south of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2004. The massive tidal waves that slammed into Sri Lanka flung a train off its tracks, leaving many of its 1,000 passengers dead or missing, police said Tuesday, while rescuers uncovered thousands of bodies across the country. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

The Associated Press :
One of the most dramatic illustrations of nature’s force came to light Tuesday when reporters reached the scene of a Sri Lankan train carrying beachgoers that was swept into a marsh by a wall of water Sunday, killing at least 802. Eight rust-colored cars lay in deep pools of water in a ravaged palm grove, torn off wheels and baggage scattered among the twisted rails.

“Is this the fate that we had planned for? My darling, you were the only hope for me,” a young man cried for one of the train victims — his university sweetheart — as Buddhist monks prayed nearby.

The Associated Press reports:

SEATTLE (AP) - Inc. (AMZN) on Monday said sales of consumer electronics surpassed book sales for the first time and was its largest sales category over the Thanksgiving weekend, launching the online retailer’s busiest holiday selling season in 10 years.

The company also said it set a single-day sales record during the period with more than 2.8 million units, or 32 items per second, ordered across the globe.

Visitor traffic peaked at an estimated 700,000 users during a 60-minute period, according to’s Holiday Shoppers tracking program.

Joseph McCabe writes:

The Encyclopedia is, as its name implies, an ancient British institution inspired by the great French Encyclopedia of the 18th century. As the American reading public increased it served both countries, and by 1920 the special needs of American readers and the great development of science and technics made it necessary to prepare an entirely recast edition. It now had an American as well as a British staff and publishing house. and it was dedicated to King George and President Hoover. The last trace of the idealism of its earlier publishers disappeared. What bargains were secretly made to secure a large circulation we do not know but when the work was completed in 1928 the Westminster Catholic Federation which corresponds to the Catholic Welfare organization in America, made this boast in its annual report:

“The revision of the Encyclopedia Britannica was undertaken with a view to eliminate matter which was objectionable from a Catholic point of view and to insert what was accurate and unbiased. The whole of the 28 volumes were examined, objectionable parts noted, and the reasons for their deletion or amendment given. There is every reason to hope that the new edition of the Britannica will he found very much more accurate and impartial than its predecessors.”


Wade Roush, Technology Review (January 2005), writes:

To build a public encyclopedia, you don’t need faith in the possibility of knowledge, [Wikipedia cocreator Larry Sanger] says. “What you have to have faith in is human beings being able to work together.”


Photo: Smallest Baby
Neonatalogist Dr. Jonathan Muraskas places his hand next to Rumaisa Rahman, known to be the smallest baby in the world to survive birth, in this file photo taken three weeks after birth, at Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois. Rahman weighed 8.6 ounces at birth, about the size of a cellular phone. Reuters/Handout/Oscar Izquierdo

JIM RITTER, The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

No baby as tiny as 8.6 ounces had ever survived before Rumaisa Rahman was born Sept. 19.

Although no bigger than a cell phone, Rumaisa still had some things in her favor, doctors at Loyola University Medical Center explained Tuesday as they introduced her to the media.

Rumaisa spent nearly 26 weeks in the womb before she was delivered by Caesarean section, along with her twin sister. That’s three weeks longer than the minimum needed to survive.

Simone Clarke (L), who plays the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, adjusts her ballet shoe ribbons as she stands beside a guard before a party held by Britain’s Duke of York for the ballet’s cast at Buckingham Palace in London, December 14, 2004. REUTERS/Ben Gurr/The Times/Pool

The BBC reports:

Time magazine has given its Person of the Year award to United States President George W Bush.

1938 - Adolf Hitler
1942 - Joseph Stalin

Helicopter photo showing the collapse, with most of the tower falling inside the fence.

The Capital Gold Dial Guide reports:

Los Angeles - It’s not often we report on west coast news, but then again it’s not often when a Class 1A clear channel station gets knocked off the air either. The 700-foot tower for 50,000 watt KFI AM 640 tumbled to the ground after being struck by a small single engine plane. The two people aboard the plane were killed on impact. KFI returned to the air about an hour later with 5kw, using their backup tower at the same location. No damages or injuries on the ground were reported.

From Dieter Gewissler, Mahayana Sutra and Tantra Center (Howell, NJ):

We note with immense sorrow and profound sense of loss the passing of Sermey Khensur Lobsang Tharchin Rinpoche (1921-2004), an eminent lama and renowned scholar of the Tibetan Gelukpa tradition.

The Ann Arbor News Staff and The Associated Press report:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A Whitmore Lake man was sentenced to nine years in federal prison Wednesday for hacking into the national computer system of Lowe’s hardware stores and trying to steal customers’ credit card information.

The government said it is the longest prison term ever handed down in a computer crime case in the United States.

Brian Salcedo, 21, who was already on probation for hacking into an Ann Arbor Internet provider’s system four years ago, pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy and other hacking charges.

The University of Michigan News Servicereports:

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Google and the University of Michigan today (Tuesday) announced a joint agreement that will add the 7 million volumes in the U-M library to the Google search engine and open the way to universal access to information.

QuickBird satellite of freighter Selendang Ayu
This is a natural color, 60-centimeter (2-foot) high-resolution QuickBird satellite image featuring the freighter Selendang Ayu that ran aground and broke apart off the shore of Unalaska Island.

Photo: The Millau Viaduct
The Millau Viaduct, designed by the English architect Lord Norman Foster, crosses the cloud-covered valley of the river Tarn in Millau, December 9, 2004. The Millau Viaduct is composed of seven slender soaring pillars and becomes the highest bridge in the world at 343 meters, creating a direct route between Paris and the Mediterranean coast. The bridge will be inaugurated by French President Chirac at a ceremony December 14. REUTERS/Jean-Philippe Arles

The Associated Press reports (via WTOL-TV):

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ A gunman charged onstage at a packed nightclub and opened fire on the band and crowd, killing top heavy metal guitarist “Dimebag'’ Darrel Abbott and three other people before a police officer shot him to death, authorities and witnesses said.

The gunman was holding a man in a headlock and appeared ready to shoot him when the officer fired, police spokesman Sgt. Brent Mull said. Police spokeswoman Sherry Mercurio identified three of the victims of Wednesday’s shooting as Abbott, who played for the Texas-based band Damageplan, and two other men, fan Nathan Bray, 23; and Erin Halk, 29. She identified the gunman as Nathan Gale, 25, of Marysville, 25 miles northwest of Columbus.

Photo: Babs

The Associated Press reports, via CNN, via BoingBoing:

BROOKFIELD, Illinois (AP) — After Babs the gorilla died at age 30, keepers at Brookfield Zoo decided to allow surviving gorillas to mourn the most influential female in their social family.

One by one Tuesday, the gorillas filed into the Tropic World building where Babs’ body lay, arms outstretched. Curator Melinda Pruett Jones called it a “gorilla wake.”

Babs’ 9-year-old daughter, Bana, was the first to approach the body, followed by Babs’ mother, Alpha, 43. Bana sat down, held Babs’ hand and stroked her mother’s stomach. Then she sat down and laid her head on Babs’ arm.