Archive for October 15th, 2011

October 15, 2011

Chewbacca Defense

Chewbacca Defense

The Chewbacca defense is a fictional legal strategy used in an episode of ‘South Park’ in1998. The aim of the argument is to deliberately confuse the jury by making use of the fallacy known as ignoratio elenchi, or a red herring. It starts by stating that Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor (doubly incorrect: No longer sedentary, he used to live on a different planet, Kashyyyk.). The argument continues from there, the false premise leading to a series of nonsense conclusions. The concept satirized attorney Johnnie Cochran’s closing argument defending O. J. Simpson in his murder trial. The Associated Press noted it as an example of Cochran’s position in popular culture. The concept has become a minor Internet phenomenon, used frequently as a running gag on satirical sites and in forums as a form of rhetoric.

‘Why would a Wookiee, an 8-foot-tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of 2-foot-tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense! Look at me. I’m a lawyer defending a major record company, and I’m talkin’ about Chewbacca! Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to remember, when you’re in that jury room deliberatin’ and conjugatin’ the Emancipation Proclamation, does it make sense? No! Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.’

October 15, 2011

Facial Composite


A facial composite is a graphical representation of an eyewitness’s memory of a face, as recorded by a composite artist. Facial composites are used mainly by police in their investigation of (usually serious) crimes. Construction of the composite was originally performed by a trained artist, through drawing, sketching, or painting, in consultation with a witness or crime victim. In the 1960s techniques were devised for use by those less artistically skilled, employing interchangeable templates of separate facial features, such as ‘Photofit’ in the UK and Smith & Wesson’s ‘Identi-Kit’ in the US. In the last two decades, a number of computer based facial composite systems have been introduced, amongst the most widely used systems are ‘Identi-Kit 2000,’ ‘FACES,’ and ‘E-FIT.’ In the U.S. the FBI maintains that hand-drawing is its preferred method for constructing a facial composite. Many other police agencies, however, use software, since suitable artistic talent is often not available.

Until quite recently, the facial composite systems used by international police forces were exclusively based on a construction methodology in which individual facial features (eyes, nose, mouth, eyebrows, etc.) are selected one at a time from a large database and then electronically ’overlaid’ to make the composite image. Such systems are often referred to as feature-based since they essentially rely on the selection of individual features in isolation. However, after a long period of research and development work conducted largely within British Universities, systems based on a rather different principle are finding increasing use by police forces. These systems may be broadly described as holistic or global in that they primarily attempt to create a likeness to the suspect through an evolutionary mechanism in which a witness’s response to groups of complete faces (not just features) converges towards an increasingly accurate image.

October 15, 2011

Ring of Steel

ring of steel by paul dalimore

watched by anna barriball

The ring of steel is the popular name for the security and surveillance cordon surrounding the City of London, installed to deter the IRA and other threats. The term was borrowed from an earlier stage of the Troubles when the centre of Belfast was fortified against attacks, the perimeter of which was known as the ring of steel. Roads entering the City are narrowed and have small chicanes to force drivers to slow down and be recorded by CCTV cameras. These roads typically have a concrete median with a sentry box where police can stand guard and monitor traffic. City planners call these types of precautions ‘fortress urbanism.’

Initially the ring of steel consisted of plastic cones and on duty policemen which the locals described as the ‘ring of plastic.’ It served the purpose of providing a visible sign to the public that the City authorities were taking the threats of more attacks by the IRA seriously. This was replaced by more permanent structures consisting of concrete barriers, checkpoints and thousands of video cameras. Following IRA ceasefires the police presence was curtailed. However, following the September 11 attacks, and a reported increased terrorist threat to the United Kingdom, security was stepped up again somewhat, with occasional spot checks on vehicles entering the cordon, although not to previous levels.

October 15, 2011

Crime in New York City


Violent crime in New York City has decreased in the last fifteen years, and the murder rate in 2007 was at its lowest since at least 1963 when reliable statistics were first kept. Crime rates spiked in the 1980s and early 1990s as the crack epidemic hit the city. During the 1990s the NYPD adopted CompStat, broken windows policing and other strategies in a major effort to reduce crime. The city’s dramatic drop in crime has been attributed by criminologists to these policing tactics, the end of the crack epidemic and demographic changes. Most of the crime remaining occurs in poor areas, which tend to be outlying.

Organized crime has long been associated with New York City, beginning with the Forty Thieves and the Roach Guards in the Five Points in the 1820s. The 20th century saw a rise in the Mafia dominated by the Five Families. Gangs including the Black Spades and Supreme Team also grew in the late 20th century. Numerous major riots have occurred in New York City since the mid 19th century, including the Draft Riots in 1863, the Stonewall riots, multiple riots at Tompkins Square Park, and in Harlem. The serial killings by the ‘Son of Sam,’ which began in 1976 and terrorized the city for the next year.

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October 15, 2011

Names of Large Numbers



This article lists and discusses the usage and derivation of names of large numbers, together with their possible extensions. There are two main ways of naming a number: scientific notation and naming by grouping. For example, the number 500,000,000,000,000,000,000 can be called 5 x 1020 in scientific notation since there are 20 zeros behind the 5. If the number is named by grouping, it is five hundred quintillion (American) or 500 trillion (European).

At times, the names of large numbers have been forced into common usage as a result of excessive inflation. The highest numerical value banknote ever printed was a note for 1 sextillion pengő (1021 or 1 milliard bilpengő as printed) printed in Hungary in 1946. In 2009, Zimbabwe printed a 100 trillion (1014) Zimbabwean dollar note, which at the time of printing was only worth about US$30.

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October 15, 2011

Sleep Eating

nighttime eating by Peter Oumanski

Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder (NSRED), also known as sleep eating or somnambulistic eating, is a combination of a parasomnia (sleep disorders) and an eating disorder. It is a category within somnambulism (sleepwalking) that includes behaviors connected to a person’s conscious wishes or wants. Thus many times NSRED is a person’s fulfilling of their conscious wants that they suppress; however, this disorder is difficult to distinguish from other similar types of disorders. NSRED is closely related to Night Eating Syndrome (NES) except for the fact that those suffering from NES are completely awake and aware of their eating and bingeing at night while those suffering from NSRED are sleeping and unaware of what they are doing. Both disorders have a common occurrence of approximately one to five percent of adults, and have been predominantly found in women, with a young adult onset.

Typical behaviors include: ‘Partial arousals from sleep, usually within 2 to 3 hours of sleep onset, and subsequent ingestion of food in a rapid or ‘out of control’ manner.’ Sleep eaters also attempt to eat bizarre amalgamations of foods and even potentially harmful substances such as glue, wood, or other toxic materials. Paatients eat sweets, pastas, both hot and cold meals, improper substances such as ‘raw, frozen, or spoiled foods; salt or sugar sandwiches; buttered cigarettes; and odd mixtures prepared in a blender.’ Some eat their food with their bare hands while others attempt to eat it with utensils. This occasionally results in injuries to the person as well as other injuries.

October 15, 2011


sleep talking by Peter Quach

Somniloquy [som-nil-o-kwee] or sleep-talking is a parasomnia (sleep disorder) that refers to talking aloud in one’s sleep. It can be quite loud, ranging from simple sounds to long speeches, and can occur many times during sleep. Listeners may or may not be able to understand what the person is saying. Sleep-talking usually occurs during transitory arousals from NREM sleep, which is when the body does not move smoothly from one stage in NREM sleep to another, and they become partially aroused from sleep. Further it can also occur during REM sleep at which time it represents a motor breakthrough (see sleep paralysis) of dream speech, words spoken in a dream are spoken out loud.

Sleep-talking is very common and is reported in 50% of young children, with most of them outgrowing it by puberty, although it may persist into adulthood (about 4% of adults are reported to talk in their sleep). It appears to run in families. Sleep-talking can be associated with fever. Sleep-talking by itself is harmless; however, it can wake up others and cause them consternation—especially when misinterpreted as conscious speech by an observer. If the sleep-talking is dramatic, emotional, or profane it may be a sign of another sleep disorder. Sleep-talking can be monitored by a partner or by using an audio recording device; devices which remain idle until detecting a sound wave are ideal for this purpose. Polysomnography (sleep recording) shows episodes of sleep talking that can occur in any stage of sleep.