Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010



Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice.



     

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Man follows his Heart instead of Heart Meds

Here's a great little story I got in my email:



Andy Mackie has survived 10 heart surgeries and numerous heart attacks. His love of music and teaching kids keeps him going. Heaven Can Wait for Andy! If you would like to support Andy Mackie’s efforts to teach and share music with kids you can do so through the Andy Mackie Music Foundation.

Something to live for, a passion to do something, can make such a difference even for someone with serious heath issues. Can anyone doubt that teaching music has helped keep Andy Mackie alive? Good for him. And good for all those lucky kids.
     

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Union abuses are costing taxpayer's plenty

The taxpayers need to be outraged. From Neal Boortz:

THE UNIONS ARE OUTRAGED?
Yesterday I told you about the unionized New York City bus drivers who took an average of two months paid leave in order to recover from being "assaulted" by spit. Turns out that someone in New York is actually trying to do something about these abuses. That person would be MTA Chairman Jay Walder, and boy does he have the unions spitting nails. They are actually MAD that they are being called out for not doing their job.

The bus driver assault story is pretty outrageous. But unfortunately, it doesn't stop there. Here are some other examples from the New York Post of some of the outrageous union practices in New York City.



  • Overtime kicks in by eight-hour day rather than 40-hour week. So employees earn full pay while working less by calling out sick and then making up the lost wages through (premium) overtime.

  • Many bus drivers clock a 12-hour shift for driving four hours in the morning rush and four in the evening rush. For the four hours in between, they're paid for being available -- but with no work to do.

  • Whenever crew members of the Long Island Rail Road are switched from one train to another, they get another day's full pay.

  • Real-time bus arrival information is finally being tested on Manhattan's 34th Street -- more than a decade after technology had made it possible. Union drivers didn't want to be tracked, so union bus mechanics refused to service wheels with the rotation-counting device needed to supplement GPS in its early days.

  • While the new system on the Canarsie line can run trains with no crew aboard, L trains still operate with crews of two -- thanks to union work rules.

  • The union representing crane operators insists on having full-time "oilers" at construction sites every day. But unlike the steam-driven equipment of old, modern cranes don't need constant lubrication.

  • On building sites across the city, union operators must staff elevators -- even when they have normal push-buttons for each floor.

  • Told it would cost $1,000 to have a union electrician plug a laptop into the wall of a Midtown hotel, one smart customer ran out and bought a spare battery for $70 instead -- and then noted it would be cheaper to buy a whole new computer than to pay the hotel electrician.

  • A Midtown hotel just lost out on hosting the Sidney Hillman Foundation awards dinner after its unionized workers said they'd refuse to serve the foundation president -- because he also heads up a rival union.

Sort of makes you wonder how much money we could save on government if government employee unions were made illegal.

Bold emphasis mine. It's a good question. If the unions are going to destroy the taxpayers who pay them, I say destroy the parasitical unions. It's self-defense.


Also see:

Another perfect example of how unionized government employees are dragging us all down

Why Greece is in trouble. And a warning for us.

The cure for Greece is the one for US too
     

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Another perfect example of how unionized government employees are dragging us all down

They just keep wanting more and more, as if taxpayers have bottomless pockets, even in a bad economy. Not to mention the lies. From Neal Boortz:



GOVERNMENT SCHOOL TEACHER GETS SCHOOLED
I love it! And not just any government school teacher .. a unionized government school teacher in New Jersey. Who did she get schooled by? The Governor, Chris Christie. Here's what happened. Governor Christie spoke to a small crowd in a church gymnasium the other day. (No .. .so far as we know the ACLU didn't raise a stink about a representative of government speaking in a building owned by a church.) The subject was budget cuts, property tax caps and other painful necessities that need to be done in order to get New Jersey's fiscal matters back in order.

Then it came time for questions. Unionized government employees don't like budget caps. Unionized government employees don't like caps on property taxes. Sooooo ... up to the mic steps union government school teacher Rita O'Neill-Wilson ... you know how I feel about women with hyphenated names ... make up your mind lady, either you're married or not! Anywaaaay .... Rita stands up and does not ask a question, she proceeds to complain about how much she is making (thanks to the taxpayers) and how she is entitled to more money. She tells the governor that if she were paid $3 an hour for the 30 children in her class, she would be earning $83,000 a year. She says she doesn't earn anywhere near that much (we will get to that claim in a second). Governor Christie interrupts her to remind her that she is earning a lot more if you include the cost of her benefits, which are generous considering her membership in a teachers union. Then Rita O'NeillhyphenWilson says that she has a master's degree and that she isn't being compensated for her education or her experience. Governor Christie's response? "Well, you know then that you don't have to do it." I love it! Christie for President! Remind this unionized government hack that NOBODY is forcing her to be a teacher and that she is perfectly free to sever the government ties and head out there to find another job that will pay her more. As if that response wasn't good enough, Christie slams one final nail in the coffin by reminding Rita O'Neill-Wilson that he would not be in this position of having to impose cuts in education if Rita's precious teachers union had agreed to a one-year salary freeze and a 1.5% increase in employee benefit contributions. Christie addresses Rita: "Your union said that is the greatest assault on public education in the history of the state ... That's why the union has no credibility, stupid statements like that."

If Rita is black this would make Governor Christie a racist. I'm assuming she's a woman, so he most certainly is a sexist.

Now - what about Rita hyphen-hyphen's income? Rita O'Neill-Wilson claims that a $83,000 salary is nowhere near what she earns. Too bad she works for the government and her salary is public record. Turns out that Rita O'Neill-Wilson earns a salary of $86,389 a year. On top of that, health benefits for family coverage in New Jersey can cost up to $22,000 a year. Add that to the cost of employing this woman, and Rita O'Neill-Wilson is costing the taxpayers well over $100,000 a year. On top of that, New Jersey ranks fourth in the entire nation in teacher pay. The average New Jersey teacher earns $63,154 a year, which is $13,000 higher than the per capita income in the state of New Jersey, which is $50,313. The median pay for New Jersey teachers with a master's degree is $66,212, which means that Rita O'Neill-Wilson is earning well above the average based on her education. Apparently that isn't good enough for the New Jersey teachers unions. Maybe they are just jealous of other unionized government workers. Police officers in New Jersey are the highest paid in the country, which an average base salary of $75,400 a year. The average firefighter earns $69,620 a year.

I know that there are many wunnerful government teachers out there. Rita isn't on that list.

We keep hearing about Wall Street Greed. What about Union Greed?
     

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Monday, May 24, 2010

The cure for Greece is the one for US too

America faces a big, fat Greek-style bankruptcy
[...] Greece's problem is Europe's problem ... and following closely behind, America's problem, too. We're all Greeks now. Quite simply, Greece's problem starts and ends with government employee unions. There are too many government employees (one of every three Greek citizens works for government); their salaries are way too high; their bonuses can be described only as insane (2 months for each public employee); their pensions are ridiculous (retirement far too young and free health care for life); and their government jobs are guaranteed for life.

Sounds crazy, right? Sounds like in Greece the inmates must be running the asylum. Except America has the exact same problem. California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois are our very own homegrown versions of Greece. These states are bankrupt, insolvent and desperately need a bailout. Why? For the same reasons as Greece. Far too many government employees; bloated salaries for civil servants; bonuses and raises are contractually obligated even during an economic crisis; sky high pensions; and jobs guaranteed for life. The only difference is that we are a nation of 300 million, so the debt is far bigger than Greece. It turns out that we are Greece squared.

The solution to save America from economic Armageddon? Simple. Use the same "austerity measures" imposed upon Greece, in return for this $145 billion loan, to dramatically cut spending on government employees:

-- Freeze government hiring for the next three years.

-- Eliminate bonuses and raises for the foreseeable future.

-- Institute layoffs and across the board wage cuts. Why should government employees enjoy "privileged status" that no employee in the private sector enjoys?

-- Change pensions from "defined benefit" to "defined contribution" pension plans, meaning retirees receive only what has been built up in their 401K type retirement accounts.

-- Raise the retirement age. In Greece it is going from age 53 to 67. Gold-plated pension plans are the single biggest factor that bankrupted Greece. The same problem bankrupted U.S. automakers GM and Chrysler.

-- Require government employees to pay more of their health care (through co-pays and deductibles).

-- Change the way pensions are calculated by eliminating overtime and raises in the last years of employment to "game the system."

The real global threat to our existence isn't global warming -- it's catastrophic government spending and, more specifically, spending on government employees. Our government's unfunded liabilities are now estimated at $60 trillion to $75 trillion over the coming decades. To give you some perspective, the New York Post recently reported that one New York firefighter is retiring on a pension of $240,000 per year. If he lives 40 years beyond retirement, that will cost the taxpayers almost $10 million. That's for one single government employee.

There are millions of them on the federal, state and local level. It can only be described as a ticking time bomb that threatens to destroy our children's and grandchildren's future.

Nevada's economic future is clouded by this same crisis.

Government employees should be cheering the solutions I have laid out above. [...]

Yes, they should, and the author goes on to explain why. The way things are, government employees are risking losing it all. But the unions are doing every thing they can to block any changes to make pensions sustainable. Excessive Union greed can kill the host, the goose that lays the golden eggs, the prosperity engine that pays the bills, leaving us all poorer.

I know that unions are not going to disappear, but there must be balance. Their relationship to their employer needs to be symbiotic, not parasitic. In the private sector that concept is sometimes understood, by unions that understand enlightened self-interest; they know that their employer needs to thrive, so that the union can also thrive and survive. But in the government sector, that concept doesn't even exist. It's a parasitic relationship that's completely out of control. And the taxpayers are the host that's being attacked. We need the cure, for ALL our sakes!

I wanted to print this entire article, it explains the causes perfectly and has the answers too. It's worth reading the whole thing.
     

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

The learning curve for "Gotcha!" politics

Rand Paul is Learning What It's Like to Be Me, Says Sarah Palin
Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul is feeling what it is like to be Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice presidential candidate said Sunday, comparing the media's preoccupation with Paul's recent statements about the 1964 Civil Rights Act to her own treatment in the press.

Palin said that Paul is seeing firsthand how "gotcha" politics work after the libertarian-leaning Republican spent days on defense spelling out his support for the Civil Rights Act and the government's role in regulating how private businesses can deal with their customers.

"One thing that we can learn in this lesson that I have learned and Rand Paul is learning now is don't assume that you can engage in a hypothetical discussion about constitutional impacts with a reporter or a media personality who has an agenda, who may be prejudiced before they even get into the interview in regards to what your answer may be -- and then the opportunity that they seize to get you," Palin told "Fox News Sunday."

[...]

Palin, who endorsed Paul in his primary bid, said she is thankful that Paul has had the opportunity to clarify his comments but he's facing a double standard. Paul wrongly anticipated being able to engage in discussion "with a TV character, a media personality, who perhaps had an agenda in asking the question and then interpreting his answer the way that she did," she said.

"And I think that more of those who serve in the Senate, and Rand we anticipate will be serving in the Senate, should ask questions about the constitutionality of policies that are proposed. I think more questions should be asked as to the impacts. And Rand isn't going to be shy about asking the questions," Palin added. [...]

Yeah, but like Palin, the clarification of his comments won't be as widely disseminated in the media, as will the media's interpretation of what he said. That is the Democrat's big advantage, and they will use it without mercy to hammer anyone who disagrees with them.

And talk about double standards. President Obama hasn't had a press conference since last July! Can you imagine a Republican President avoiding questions from the press for that long, and the media putting up with it? Talk about media bias. Thank God for the internet.


Related link:

Government debt the biggest threat to freedom

     

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saudi women rebelling: change is coming

Saudi woman beats up virtue cop
It was a scene Saudi women’s rights activists have dreamt of for years.

When a Saudi religious policeman sauntered about an amusement park in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of Al-Mubarraz looking for unmarried couples illegally socializing, he probably wasn’t expecting much opposition.

But when he approached a young, 20-something couple meandering through the park together, he received an unprecedented whooping.

A member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the Saudi religious police known locally as the Hai’a, asked the couple to confirm their identities and relationship to one another, as it is a crime in Saudi Arabia for unmarried men and women to mix.

For unknown reasons, the young man collapsed upon being questioned by the cop.

According to the Saudi daily Okaz, the woman then allegedly laid into the religious policeman, punching him repeatedly, and leaving him to be taken to the hospital with bruises across his body and face.

“To see resistance from a woman means a lot,” Wajiha Al-Huwaidar, a Saudi women’s rights activist, told The Media Line news agency. “People are fed up with these religious police, and now they have to pay the price for the humiliation they put people through for years and years. This is just the beginning and there will be more resistance.”

“The media and the Internet have given people a lot of power and the freedom to express their anger,” she said. “The Hai’a are like a militia, but now whenever they do something it’s all over the Internet. This gives them a horrible reputation and gives people power to react.”

[...]

The decision last year by Saudi King Abdullah to open the kingdom’s first co-educational institution, with no religious police on campus, led to a national crises for Saudi Arabia’s conservative religious authorities, with the new university becoming a cultural proxy war for whether or not women and men should be allowed to mix publicly.

A senior Saudi cleric publicly criticized the gender mixing at the university and was summarily fired by the king.

[...]

"There is some sort of change taking place," Nadya Khalife, the Middle East women’s rights researcher for Human Rights Watch, told The Media Line. "There is clearly a shifting mentality regarding to the male guardianship law and similar issues. More women are speaking out, there are changes within the government, there is a mixed university, the king was photographed with women, they want to allow women to work in the courts and there are changes within the justice ministry. So you can witness some kind of change unfolding but it’s not quite clear what’s happening and it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight."

Read the whole thing for more about the changes that have been happening there. Other Muslim countries are much less harsh and more modern in their interpretation of Islamic law. Modern examples abound. Change may not come to Saudi Arabia overnight, but come it must. And it will. The sooner the better.

Also see:

Will Turkey bring Islam into the 21st century?
     

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Did the U.S. government shake loose its constitutional moorings more than 70 years ago?

Paul Remarks Have Deep Roots
Republican candidate Rand Paul's controversial remarks on the 1964 Civil Rights Act unsettled GOP leaders this week, but they reflect deeply held iconoclastic beliefs held by some in his party, and many in the tea-party movement, that the U.S. government shook its constitutional moorings more than 70 years ago.

[...]

In tea-party circles, Mr. Paul's views are not unusual. They fit into a "Constitutionalist" view under which the federal government has no right to dictate the behavior of private enterprises. On the stump, especially among tea-party supporters, Mr. Paul says "big government" didn't start with President Obama, Lyndon Johnson's Great Society of the 1960s or the advance of central governance sparked by World War II and the economic boom that followed.

He traces it to 1937, when the Supreme Court, under heated pressure from President Franklin Roosevelt, upheld a state minimum-wage law on a 5-4 vote, ushering in the legal justification for government intervention in private markets.

Until the case, West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, the Supreme Court had sharply limited government action that impinged on the private sector, infuriating Mr. Roosevelt so much that he threatened to expand the court and stack it with his own appointees.

"It didn't start last year. I think it started back in 1936 or 1937, and I point really to a couple of key constitutional cases… that all had to do with the commerce clause," Mr. Paul said in an interview before Tuesday's election, in which he defeated a Republican establishment candidate, hand-picked by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Ky.).

Mr. Paul has said that, if elected, one of his first demands will be that Congress print the constitutional justification on any law is passes.

Last week, Mr. Paul encouraged a tea-party gathering in Louisville to look at the origins of "unconstitutional government." He told the crowd there of Wickard v. Filburn, a favorite reference on the stump, in which the Supreme Court rejected the claims of farmer Roscoe Filburn that wheat he grew for his own use was beyond the reach of federal regulation. The 1942 ruling upheld federal laws limiting wheat production, saying Mr. Filburn's crop affected interstate commerce. Even if he fed his wheat to his own livestock, the court reasoned, he was implicitly affecting wheat prices. If he had bought the wheat on the market, he would subtly have raised the national price of the crop.

"That's when we quit owning our own property. That's when we became renters on our own land," Mr. Paul told the crowd.

In an interview, Mr. Paul expressed support for purely in-state gun industries, in which firearms are produced in one state with no imported parts and no exports. Guns produced under those circumstances can't be subjected to a federal background check, waiting period or other rules, he reasons.

"I'm not for having a civil war or anything like that, but I am for challenging federal authority over the states, through the courts, to see if we can get some better rulings," he said.

To supporters, such ideological purity has made the Bowling Green ophthalmologist a hero.

"He's going back to the Constitution," said Heather Toombs, a Louisville supporter who came to watch him at a meet-and-greet at a suburban home last week. "He's taking back the government." [...]

Of course that doesn't mean we have to discard everything that's happened since 1937. It's not about trying to go back to the past, but about understanding the past and using that knowledge to make course corrections in the present, to keep us guided and protected under our Constitution. Read the whole thing for context, it's not a very long article.
     

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today is Draw Mohammed Day



More details here:

Dhimmitude and Draw Mohammed Day


Also see:

The Lying Danish Imams
Should be Put to DEATH... according to Islam!


The American Main Stream Media
and the Danish Cartoons


Do we need a "Star Wars" strategy for Islam?

"It's in the Koran", the explanation of The Song by that title.

Will Turkey bring Islam into the 21st century?

Mohammed Image Archive: Depictions of Mohammed Throughout History
     

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Honda's life-like humanoid robot, "Asimo"

Recently I was looking through a lawnmower brochure from our local Honda Dealer. In one of the sidebars was a blurb about the different technologies Honda is involved with. One of the featured items was a robot called "Asimo". I was curious, so I googled it, and found the following:


ASIMO the world's most advanced humanoid robot

This link is Honda's main site about Asimo. It has links about the robot.From one of the pages:

Meet the Future: ASIMO

At Honda, we have always considered ourselves to be first and foremost a mobility company. We started out with motorcycles, because that was the quickest way to help people get around. But as we grew, we continued to focus on creating new dreams for our customers, and harnessing advanced technology to provide new and better mobility for people.

That passion for the advancement of mobility has led us to the creation of ASIMO, one of the world's most sophisticated humanoid robots. Building ASIMO was an incredible challenge for Honda engineers. It is the result of years of research in many scientific fields.

Honda engineers created ASIMO for the sole purpose of helping people. ASIMO has the unique ability to walk forward, backward, side step and even climb stairs with human-like agility. With the capability to navigate and operate in our world, ASIMO will be able to perform tasks to assist people, especially those lacking full mobility. ASIMO will serve as another set of eyes, ears, hands and legs for all kinds of people in need, and will provide them with a new sense of independence and mobility in their everyday lives.

The history link has a larger photo of the one below, of all the different models leading up to the current one, and many other details:


Asimo History
It's quite a fascinating evolution, and really quite an accomplishment. I suppose they made the current model smaller, like a child, because it was cheaper to build, and also made it seem less... menacing. When it moves, it's kinda scary. Below is a video of Asimo in action:



I find Asimo's movements so lifelike, it's both amazing and... kinda creepy!

You can also check out Asimo's page on Wikipedia for some quick facts.

The Japanese sure love their robots. Will there be a robot in YOUR future?

Oh Brave New World...


     

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Oregon votes to keep it's incumbents

A pro-incumbent year in Oregon
This is supposedly an anti-incumbent year. But not in Oregon. Yesterday nine incumbents in the state legislature won primaries, and in perhaps the most high-profile race of the election -- the Democratic gubernatorial primary -- voters took opting for the incumbent one step further, selecting Democrat John Kitzhaber, himself a former two-term governor (1995-2003), to run for an unprecedented -- and inconsecutive, Grover Cleveland-style -- third term. Kitzhaber’s victory is especially noteworthy, considering his opponent was Bill Bradbury, a popular former secretary of state who saw his more progressive platform shouted down by Democratic voters who chose the “go with what you know” route with Kitzhaber. Too much of that can be bad for democracy. [...]

Are there are more people getting hand-outs than there are taxpayers? I fear Oregon is in danger of catching the California Disease.

We'll see in November.
     

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Which one do you believe?

Here is an advertisement from GM, spinning their BS:




Here is a version where someone dubbed it over with a new soundtrack, which explains what REALLY happened:



H.T. to Maynard at TammyBruce.com.

I'll bet by Monday, the 2nd video is going to get yanked off of Youtube.


Also see:

Ford: The way to run an Automobile Company

Let the Automakers Fail - and be Reborn

     

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

South Africa's Linux Device: The "Linkbook"


South African netbook runs Ubuntu Linux
South Africa-based mobile provider Vodacom has begun selling an Ubuntu Linux based netbook. The Linkbook, which was developed by a South African company of the same name, is equipped with 16GB of flash storage, HSDPA, WiFi, two USB ports, and an 8.9-inch display, says Vodacom.

The Linkbook is being offered for 199 Rand (R199), or about $26 a month with a two-year contract. This appears to include all data charges, however, including a 300MB data bundle. According to Vodacom, the hardware costs in the package represent only about a fifth of the total cost.

Customized for South Africa, the netbook ships with links to popular local online content and e-commerce websites. The Vodacom release suggests that the company plans to eventually roll the Linkbook out in other countries in its Pan-African network.

[...]

As is typical in most reviews of low-cost netbooks, TechCentral's judgment was mixed. Particular problems included a cramped QWERTY keyboard, a fairly unresponsive touchpad, and a battery that lasts only two hours -- and that's with WiFi and 3G turned off, says the review.

On the plus side, 3G connectivity was fast and consistent, says TechCentral. While the highly customized version of Ubuntu appeared to the reviewer to be using the aging Hardy Heron (Ubuntu 8.04) release, the software selections and interface were generally given high marks. In the end, the review concludes "for the price, though, it's difficult to be too hard on the Linkbook."

According to Vodacom, PC ownership is still fairly rare in South Africa, although PCs are widely used in the business realm. In South Africa, the Linkbook will be going up against another Ubuntu-based netbook, the Intel Atom-based Simmtronics Simmbook [...]

Read the whole article for more details, and a link to the Linkbook website.
     

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Switzerland: a role model for everyone?

Only One Country Meets EU Criteria. It Is Not In EU
[...] Does any European country meet fully the EU’s criteria for membership? No, even Germany does not. By now, you have probably guessed that the list is likely to be as short as an amputated poodle’s tail is. “No one” would be an answer that sounds well. True it is not. But that allegation, too, would be wrong. Switzerland is the one country that meets the criteria.

The problem with this exception is that the only country in the center of the EU that surrounds it and that is stubbornly a non-member, is Switzerland. Could one say that the situation is a surprise? Not necessarily. Is it proper to state that her finances are sound although she is not a member? Hardly. The best fitting explanation is that Switzerland is OK because she is, regardless of being maligned, cajoled, pushed and extorted, not part of the EU. [...]

If a "European" model of government is going to be used by anyone, wouldn't it make sense to use a model that works well in real life? Switzerland may not be perfect (what country is?), but it's fiscally solvent, and it was smart enough not to join the EU. They're doing something right.


Also see: What can the Swiss teach us?
     

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The "Memristor" will revolutionize computing

No more hard drives and ram. Faster speeds and much more storage:


From the Youtube page:
Kwasi5179 — November 18, 2008 — Mark my words, this will VASTLY change the world... The memristor is the fourth element in integrated circuitry. Scientists are discovering the mathematic equations used to govern memristors are similiar to those which govern synapses in the brain.

In addition, memristors do not "forget" the voltage charge channeled through them. This will yeild several billion-fold times the capacity/performance than current hard drives. That, however, is just one of the multitude of products yet to utilize this incredible new discovery. (posted: 11/18/08)


More from Wikipedia: Potential applications
[...] Williams' solid-state memristors can be combined into devices called crossbar latches, which could replace transistors in future computers, taking up a much smaller area.

They can also be fashioned into non-volatile solid-state memory, which would allow greater data density than hard drives with access times potentially similar to DRAM, replacing both components.[34] HP prototyped a crossbar latch memory using the devices that can fit 100 gigabits in a square centimeter, and has designed a highly scalable 3D design (consisting of up to 1000 layers or 1 petabit in a cubic CM)[26].[8] HP has reported that its version of the memristor is currently about one-tenth the speed of DRAM.[35] The devices' resistance would be read with alternating current so that they do not affect the stored value.[36]

Some patents related to memristors appear to include applications in programmable logic,[37] signal processing,[38] neural networks,[39] and control systems.[40]

Recently, a simple electronic circuit[41] consisting of an LC network and a memristor was used to model experiments on adaptive behavior of unicellular organisms.[42] It was shown that the electronic circuit subjected to a train of periodic pulses learns and anticipates the next pulse to come, similarly to the behavior of slime molds Physarum polycephalum subjected to periodic changes of environment.[42] Such a learning circuit may find applications, e.g., in pattern recognition. [...]

How about an example? Here's one:

Cat Brain: A Step Toward the Electronic Equivalent
ScienceDaily (Apr. 15, 2010) — A cat can recognize a face faster and more efficiently than a supercomputer. That's one reason a feline brain is the model for a biologically-inspired computer project involving the University of Michigan.

U-M computer engineer Wei Lu has taken a step toward developing this revolutionary type of machine that could be capable of learning and recognizing, as well as making more complex decisions and performing more tasks simultaneously than conventional computers can.

Lu previously built a "memristor," a device that replaces a traditional transistor and acts like a biological synapse, remembering past voltages it was subjected to. Now, he has demonstrated that this memristor can connect conventional circuits and support a process that is the basis for memory and learning in biological systems.

[...]

In a conventional computer, logic and memory functions are located at different parts of the circuit and each computing unit is only connected to a handful of neighbors in the circuit. As a result, conventional computers execute code in a linear fashion, line by line, Lu said. They are excellent at performing relatively simple tasks with limited variables.

But a brain can perform many operations simultaneously, or in parallel. That's how we can recognize a face in an instant, but even a supercomputer would take much, much longer and consume much more energy in doing so.

So far, Lu has connected two electronic circuits with one memristor. He has demonstrated that this system is capable of a memory and learning process called "spike timing dependent plasticity." This type of plasticity refers to the ability of connections between neurons to become stronger based on when they are stimulated in relation to each other. Spike timing dependent plasticity is thought to be the basis for memory and learning in mammalian brains.

"We show that we can use voltage timing to gradually increase or decrease the electrical conductance in this memristor-based system. In our brains, similar changes in synapse conductance essentially give rise to long term memory," Lu said.

The next step is to build a larger system, Lu said. His goal is achieve the sophistication of a supercomputer in a machine the size of a two-liter beverage container. That could be several years away. [...]

Impressive. But what will it mean for personal computers that we are using now? How will it change things?

HP Labs Outlines Breakthroughs in Memristor Chip Research
A memristor, basically a resistor with memory, seems to have more capabilities than anybody knew. HP Labs reports finding that a memristor can perform logic, potentially enabling computation to be performed in chips where data is stored. This could mean a radical change in the way IT is designed and built.

At the Flash Memory Summit in August 2009, updates on several new technologies involving NAND flash were presented to conference attendees. One of them was given by Stan Williams, Hewlett-Packard senior fellow and director of Quantum Science Research, and it involved something called the "memristor," a term condensed from "memory resistor."

On that day, Williams described the memristor this way: "This is sort of the missing element of the processor puzzle. It takes its place alongside the resistor, capacitor and inductor [as the fourth basic circuit element in chip engineering]. And it could change the way we do IT."

In summary, let's just say adding a memristor to a solid-state NAND flash drive can be like putting it on steroids.

Since flash media already owns the fastest I/O speeds known to IT science, increasing that speed tenfold or by a higher magnitude—HP's conservative estimate at this time—is certainly an intriguing proposition for processor engineers and IT systems makers.

On April 8, HP Labs published an update on advances in memristor research. These findings are also detailed in a paper published the same week in the journal "Nature" and written by Williams and five other researchers who work at HP's Information and Quantum Systems Laboratory, headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif.

HP Labs has six other locations around the world, in Bangalore, India; Beijing; Haifa, Israel; Bristol, England; St. Petersburg, Russia; and Fusionopolis, Singapore.

Following two years of research, Williams and his team discovered that the memristor has more capabilities than was previously thought. The team said in its report that "in addition to being useful in storage devices, the memristor can perform logic, enabling computation to one day be performed in chips where data is stored, rather than on a specialized central processing unit." [...]

It sounds great. The only question is... when does it become available to the consumer? Soon:
—HP has created development-ready architectures for memory chips using memristors and believes it is possible that devices incorporating the element could come to market within the next few years."

—HP researchers also have designed a new architecture within which multiple layers of memristor memory can be stacked on top of each other in a single chip. In five years, such chips could be used to create handheld devices that offer ten times greater embedded memory than exists today or to power supercomputers that allow work like movie rendering and genomic research to be done dramatically faster than Moore's Law suggests is possible.

—Eventually, memristor-based processors might replace the silicon in the smart display screens found in e-readers and could one day even become the successors to silicon on a larger scale.

—Memristors require less energy to operate and are faster than present solid-state storage technologies such as flash memory, and they can store at least twice as much data in the same area.

—Memristors are virtually immune toradiation, which can disrupt transistor-based technologies—making them an attractive way to enable ever smaller but ever more powerful devices.

—Because they do not "forget," memristors can enable [the creation of] computers that turn on and off like a light switch. [...]

Read the whole thing. It all has far reaching implications for fundamentally changing computer design.

Way to go, HP!

One more video:



     

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Are Facebook's "Social Plugins" making the service less popular with older users?

It would seem that users age 35 and older are concerned that their personal data is being carelessly handled:

Amid backlash, Facebook tries to save face
[...] Social plug-ins were one of Facebook's big announcements at F8, the developer conference that the social network held last month.

They take its existing Facebook Connect product a few steps further by bringing users' Facebook friends lists to external sites and showing them their friends' activity. A news site, for example, could show which stories your Facebook contacts have been recommending and commenting on.

CNN.com is one of several dozen sites that partner with Facebook to display and share users' interests.

Facebook says the Amazon-owned Internet Movie Database has seen referral traffic from Facebook double after it started putting Facebook "like" buttons on individual pages in its entertainment directory so that members can easily share their favorite movies and TV shows on their profiles; more than 350,000 "likes" have been pushed to Facebook through IMDB.

For news sites, Facebook reports that its referral traffic has increased 290 percent for the Washington Post and 250 percent for ABC News.

"We think the story behind these stats is more important than the stats themselves. As we've found on Facebook, people share, read, and generally engage more with any type of content when it's surfaced through friends and people they know and trust," the post by Facebook developer representative Justin Osofsky read.

"We're bringing activities that have been social in the offline world, such as sharing news, reviews, and sports enthusiasm, and giving sites a way for their users to experience their content with friends."

Unfortunately, though these numbers are a bright spot for potential partners, they don't do much for irritated users who say that Facebook is more or less toying with their personal information.

And the bad press, too, continues to roll in. Earlier on Tuesday, news broke that there was asecurity hole in Yelp -- one of the test partners in Facebook's "Instant Personalization" program -- that put Facebook user data at risk.

The "Instant Personalization" program takes Facebook's social plug-ins even further by automatically importing Facebook profile information to third-party partners. Yelp says it's fixed the hole.

This adds to two Facebook-related security holes that surfaced last week, in which there were likely no malicious intentions but which didn't help already-concerned Facebook users from wondering just how safe their data is on a site that repeatedly modifies its privacy policies and has had a well-documented recent history of security flaws and phishing scams.

And one polling firm, YouGov, says that Facebook may want to start getting concerned about its brand image -- at least where adults are concerned.

The firm's BrandIndex service surveyed two slices of the U.S. population, adults 18 to 34 and those over 35, to discover if their perception of the Facebook brand has grown more positive or negative over the past few weeks and rating the results on a scale of -100 to 100. While Facebook's stock appears to be rising in the younger demographic, climbing from 32.8 to 44.8 since March 24, in the older one it's slid from 26.7 to 21.2. [...]

This is a good example of why I haven't jumped onto the social networking bandwagon. It's all too new, and there are still many unforeseen consequences. I'd rather not be the guinea pig. I'll wait and see what happens to other people first.


Also see:

Social Media Dangers in our Brave New World
A look at the creepy ways your social networking data can be used.
     

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Why British Tories can't be more "conservative"

In their situation, being more like American Conservatives is not an option:

Britain's Conservatives claim victory
[...] Winning power now in Britain could actually prove a double-edged sword. Scrubbing the red ink out of the country's finances will require potentially deep cuts in social services that could rouse public anger. The governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, was widely quoted recently as saying that whichever party came into power now risked being voted out for a generation at the next election because of the unpopular decisions it would have to take.

But Tony Travers, a political scientist at the London School of Economics, said a bitter pill for the public did not automatically have to be a suicide one for the government.

"The public in Britain knows rather more than the politicians have been willing to tell it, that the deficit has to be reduced," he said. "The question is … how they manage it, how they explain what they're doing, how they protect the vulnerable, how they spread the burden. If they can make it appear relatively fair, then they'll be credited for it. No one's going to blame them for the initial crisis."

Cameron tried to emphasize the same point, blaming 13 years of Labor rule for "the worst inheritance of any incoming government for at least 60 years." [...]

If you can't appeal to the electorate, then you can't make much of a difference. Just as a tree has to bend in the wind to keep from breaking, so do politicians. Sometimes they need to do more than bend; they need to be contortionists!

I feel sorry for the Tories, they have a real tough job ahead of them, trying to clean up Labor's mess. I hope Mr. Traver's is right about the public's understanding. I wouldn't count on it though; the unscrupulous Left is always relentlessly trying to tear down any opposition to their own power, and manipulating public opinion is usually their favorite weapon.
     

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Conservatives will have to "adjust their approach" to score major gains in 2010

Republicans in Resurgence
A new poll by Resurgent Republic, a conservative group, confirms the trends that other political observers have been seeing: This year’s electorate leans to the right, with most independents seeing eye to eye with Republicans on the major issues. But the survey also includes some warning signs for conservatives.

[...]

The survey, in short, provides an enormous amount of good news for Republicans and conservatives. It even finds that Republicans in Congress, while still unpopular, are less disliked than Democrats in Congress. But the picture is not wholly sunny. A fair reading of the survey results suggests that conservatives would have to adjust their approach on some issues to bring the public on board.

It is Republican voters who are out of step with independents, for example, on the question of whether human beings are causing climate change. Most voters are also open to creating “a path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants, while Republicans believe that would reward lawbreaking.

The survey found that voters want to elect Republican congressmen as a counterweight to the Democrats — but their receptivity to the check-and-balance argument depended on how it was made. An argument that suggested that the Democrats were being “arrogant” and “ignoring what most voters want” persuaded fewer voters than an argument about the danger of “too much power in one party’s hands.” Similarly, voters were more receptive to the argument that federal spending is being squandered in ways that “create few private sector jobs” than to the argument that “the Obama Administration is taking advantage of the recession to make massive increases in government spending” that would hurt the economy. Voters do not attribute malign intent to Obama or his party. [...]

Read the whole thing for the details. It's obvious that it's the swing voters that can "swing" the election in the Republican's favor. If conservatives insist on ignoring swing voters in favor of ideological purity, the gains Republicans will make in 2010 may be less than we need, and short-lived. The Uber conservatives need to learn how to adapt, and embrace incremental change... or die.
     

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What happens if China stops buying US debt?

Some people who claim to know, are saying that time may be closer than we think:

China May `Crash' in Next 9 to 12 Months, Faber Says
Investor Marc Faber said China’s economy will slow and possibly “crash” within a year as declines in stock and commodity prices signal the nation’s property bubble is set to burst.

The Shanghai Composite Index has failed to regain its 2009 high while industrial commodities and shares of Australian resource exporters are acting “heavy,” Faber said. The opening of the World Expo in Shanghai last week is “not a particularly good omen,” he said, citing a property bust and depression that followed the 1873 World Exhibition in Vienna.

“The market is telling you that something is not quite right,” Faber, the publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom report, said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Hong Kong today. “The Chinese economy is going to slow down regardless. It is more likely that we will even have a crash sometime in the next nine to 12 months.”

[...]

Faber joins hedge fund manager Jim Chanos and Harvard University’s Kenneth Rogoff in warning of a crash in China.

China is “on a treadmill to hell” because it’s hooked on property development for driving growth, Chanos said in an interview last month. As much as 60 percent of the country’s gross domestic product relies on construction, he said. Rogoff said in February a debt-fueled bubble in China may trigger a regional recession within a decade. [...]

Read the whole thing for the details. It sounds like China is on an unsustainable path. So if China stops buying our debt, what could the response of the US government be? Neal Boortz speculated about this recently:

ARE YOU STARTING TO BELIEVE ME NOW?
[...] A story in this week's edition of Human Events details a request by the Obama Administration to the Departments of Labor and Treasury to provide information regarding the "annuitization" of private 401K plans through something the Obama crowd calls "lifetime income options." Yeah ... lifetime income options paid by and controlled by the government. The Republicans are prepared to fight .. but until next year they don't have the numbers.

The second scenario in which the government could seize our 401K or IRA plans isn't really getting all that much attention ... yet. Maybe I just dreamed it up. Here's the scenario: Obama and the Democrats, with no small amount of help from the Republicans, continue to spend America into bankruptcy. The deficit grows and our national debt grows even more hideously. Finally China, facing some economic problems of its own, decides it owns enough U.S. debt. Treasury tries to auction some more debt instruments, and China shows no interest. Suddenly the Imperial Federal Government is faced with a problem ... who is going to buy U.S. Treasuries? Just how much interest are we going to have to pay? Answer? Why, we'll make our own citizens buy them! The next thing you know the Democrats are rushing to pass legislation mandating that all outstanding funds in 401K and IRA plans be immediately used to purchase a special issue of Treasury Bills! If you want to maintain the tax advantages of these retirement instruments you'll have to invest the money in low-yield Treasuries and hold "your fair share" of American debt. Good bye to making your own investment decisions and good bye to any decent rate of return on your retirement savings. [...]

I've sometimes regretted not maintaining a 401k. Now I'm wondering if it's just as well that I didn't.
     

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Who are the "real" Tea Party people?

Politicians such as Palin aren't the real Tea Party
[...] Neither Democrats nor Republicans fully understand the Tea Party's inner workings or how to manipulate or co-opt it -- and they won't be able to. The modern-day Tea Party movement is managed by political newcomers whose primary motivation is love of country and a desire for a better future for their children.

Like anything else that grows into a national phenomenon, the Tea Party has seen some enter the scene with ulterior motives. Generally, the motives center around money. Some have slapped the Tea Party name on their tired political action committees. Others are organizations with political interests and agendas, but foremost are the money-gathering operations.

Others are big-name politicians or media personalities such as Sarah Palin, who charge up to $100,000 a speech before packing up and taking their show to another city. They leave little lasting substance, and their words are quickly forgotten.

[...]

I regard the "pure in heart" Tea Party leaders as the real center and strength of the movement. These are the people who work full-time jobs, have family responsibilities and make time to manage and grow their own group.

[...]

The goal is to get middle-class taxpayers engaged in local politics and into the primary and general election voting booths as never before. Each of these neighborhood coordinators and the people they lead are volunteers.

The time they devote to the Tea Party movement comes at the expense of something else in their busy lives. These people don't get huge speaking fees. They don't appear on national news shows. They don't sell books or merchandise. They do what they do because of their devotion to Tea Party principles. These people are the true heroes of the Tea Party movement.

The Tea Party will continue to grow in numbers and power as our leaders in Washington continue to govern irresponsibly. There will be many who try to take ownership of the movement. Certainly, the mainstream media would like nothing more than a single target to attack.

Yet, the Tea Party will succeed. If one leader in a sea of thousands falls, another will replace him or her just as a starfish grows another arm if one is cut off. The Tea Party movement is not about individuals but ideals. [...]

Yes, but politics is the art of compromise. We need ideals for sure, as standards to inspire us. But the world is not, and never will be, an ideal place. Government and politicians are both necessary evils.

You can be 100% right about something, but if you can't win elections and promote your ideas, you can't make any difference, not even incrementally. And if you can't make a difference, why even bother? There comes a point where emphasizing wedge issues is just nonproductive.


Also see:

It's the economy Barbara Boxer,stupid!

More on the California bitch fight

     

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Why Greece is in trouble. And a warning for us.

From Neal Boortz:
BECOMING GREECE
Some of you may think that I am being dramatic when I say that images of Greece may soon become a reality in America, if we continue down our current path. Yeah ... that's me. Mr. Drama. There are two main issues that led to the downfall of Greece. First, the government took on too much debt, which means the Greek government spends too much money. While our own government debt is alarming - and growing at record rates with The Community Organizer in charge. We're in a financial crisis right now - not as bad as Greece, but bad enough - but it wasn't caused so much by government debt as it was by government ineptness. It was private debt that sent us into a tailspin. Specifically, trillions of dollars owed on real estate loans by people who didn't have and never had much of a chance of paying those loans off. Our government debt problem can still be solved - but not with this man in the White House and these big-spenders controlling the congress.

What is going to be a lot harder to solve is the second issue that led to Greece's downfall: an entitlement culture. Greece is a country that has managed to convince its people that they need the government in order to survive. Not only do they need the government but they are ENTITLED to certain things, and like any good entitlement culture, that list of "things" only grows and grows. Suddenly, the people of Greece believe that they are owed a comfortable life by their government, even if they are not willing to work for it.

In Greece the average government worker retires at 58 years-of-age with 80% of their final basic salary. The Greek government can't even tell you how many government employees there are. Some estimate that figure to be one out of three Greek workers. Unions run the show and the government marches to the demands of union leaders. In this regard Greek government officials are much like our own. Unlike the private sector, when government officials are met with unreasonable union demands for wages and job security they don't have to crunch the numbers to see if the demands can be met with any degree of fiscal responsibility. After all .. they can just raise taxes. You start weighing the effect of unions working against your reelection to the mindless voters remembering a tax increase a year later when they go to the polls and ... well, it's not hard to figure out.

Over the years, Greek salaries and pensions have risen 30% above Greek productivity ... in other words, they were getting paid more than they were worth. Not only that, but they felt ENTITLED to this payment and only sought to gain more and more while doing less and less. We are talking about a culture where being a hairdresser is considered a "hazardous job" ... a hazardous job that makes you eligible to retire with a full pension (funded by the government) at the age of 50. But it's not just hairdressers, there are 580 other job categories that have managed to convince the government that there job is so hazardous that they are worthy of an early retirement - 50 for women and 55 for men. Radio and TV presenters - I guess that would include yours truly - can take early retirement because they are thought to be at risk from bacteria on their microphones. Musicians who play wind instruments .. they can retire at age 50 because they have to deal with gastric reflux from all the puffing and blowing.

No, I am not making this stuff up. This is what happens when you have a country that believes they are owed everything and a government that is willing to give it to them because that gives them (the politicians) more power. In the meantime, paying for this mentality mattered not ... until now.

Are we now watching the final chapter in Greece? The EU and the IMF are ready to bail out Greece with over $150 billion dollars, but there are strings. Wages are going to have to be cut. Government employees are going to lose jobs ... and, as you can see if you peel your eyes away from Inside Edition this evening ... the Greeks don't like it. They're rioting. They're attacking their own police officers. They're destroying property. Greece is virtually paralyzed by violence .. people reacting to the reality that their cushy ride might be coming to an end. You're seeing what happens when a parasite is separated from the host ... when the protected and coddled face the prospect of having to develop a bit of self-reliance.

Could this happen in America? Can someone please tell me why it could not?

The situation in Greece has become unsustainable. Government unions are the biggest culprit.

Unions thrive only when they have a healthy host to feed off of. But too often they see their host as an enemy to be destroyed. If they succeed in weakening or destroying their host, they also weaken and destroy themselves.

Some Unions in the private sector understand this, and work with their capitalist host to ensure the company remains profitable; the relationship is more symbiotic than parasitic. Ford Motor Company comes to mind. They are unionized, but didn't need a bail-out like GM. Ford and the Union maintained a balance, so they could both survive and prosper.

Such enlightened self-interest is not practiced by government unions, which tend to see their host as having unlimited deep pockets. When permitted to grow unchecked, the Greece Crisis is the inevitable result.

As the unionized portion of our own government continues to grow rapidly under the current administration, we would be wise to learn from the mistakes of Greece, so as not to repeat them.


Also see: Beware of Greeks bearing Red Flags

     

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British Voter's Voice Their Doubts

Voters' verdicts: Doubts all round
A cross-section of the electorate have their say on polling day

Follow the link for a sampling of comments.

Also see: The British election is tomorrow [Today, now]
     

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

GOP reaches out, goes high tech with an online portal to write it's "Commitment to America"

GOP about to go online with 'Commitment to America'
Washington (CNN) -- Remember the 1994 "Contract with America" that propelled Republicans back into the majority of the House of Representatives with its author Newt Gingrich as their speaker?

Well, 16 years later, it's back to the future -- the GOP is again drafting a blueprint designed to take back control of Congress. But this time, it is looking for authors everywhere, and if you want help write the 2010 GOP "Commitment to America," you can take out your iPhone or BlackBerry and point your browser to a new GOP website coming soon.

[...]

The online portal will allow anyone to log on and create a personal "profile," similar to Facebook. Users will be able to vote up or down on other people's submissions -- similar to the "like it" thumbs-up feature on Facebook. Proposals can be sorted by how popular they are, or how many "votes" they receive.

Visitors to the site will be anonymous and those setting up profiles can choose their own names, but the site's managers will verify e-mail addresses and postal codes. There will be a filter to weed out offensive language.

California Rep. Kevin McCarthy is leading the effort and he said if Republicans want to connect with voters, they have to prove that their policy proposals aren't cooked up by a group of insiders in Washington.

House GOP Leader John Boehner of Ohio tapped McCarthy, 45, to craft the 2010 equivalent of the 1994 "Contract with America." But McCarthy said he doesn't want his effort to be compared with Gingrich's '94 playbook and said he's using the "Commitment to America" as a temporary name that's likely to change after the public weighs in.

That's where the new technology comes into play. To connect to other popular social media sites, the GOP's website will also have Twitter and Facebook components. Like those sites, users can participate in the ongoing political debate from their laptops or from mobile devices like iPhones and BlackBerrys.

To encourage people to come back and be part of an online community, users will accumulate "points" every time they submit an idea or engage in a debate. McCarthy compared this to getting frequent flyer miles or points with an airline.

But users won't get prizes or free flights, just the bragging rights that they are helping the GOP write its agenda.

The site will include a few major topics like "jobs," and "the economy," but won't have any specific proposals laid out by GOP lawmakers. McCarthy said the goal is for "the public to take ownership."

The site will allow a continuing debate about the merits of the party's policy priorities. Once it goes live, Republican House members will have a widget posted on their Congressional web pages that will link to the main GOP "commitment" site on a real-time basis.

Although the software to do all these things is already available to the public -- NASA uses a similar web portal -- Republicans pointed out that no other political organization has yet used it this way.

McCarthy described the effort to come up with the party's policy priorities as a three-phase project. [...]

Hmmm. It sounds... interesting? I tend to think of anything to do with "social networking" as shallow crap, but then I don't use most of that stuff either. The article goes into some detail as to how it should work. It is pretty cutting edge. I suppose we shall have to wait and see what results from it, before we know it's merits. I think it's a good move for the GOP, and if they can make it work, it could be a great move. We shall see.
     

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

3D movies and TV; the next Big Thing

I got link in my email from Amazon.com. Seems they are promoting 3D technology in a big way:



3D 101--Educate Yourself About 3D Technology

It seems like a great resource to find out just about anything regarding 3D technology. 3D Glasses, 3D HDTVs, 3D Blu-ray Players, 3D Movies, 3D Video Games, 3D Accessories, and 3D Laptops. If you have a question about 3D technology, this would be a good place to start.

The movie "Avatar" seems to have launched 3D in a big way. I don't know why it's caught on now, but it has.
     

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They're here: new Intel Core Processors for 2010


Intel’s New 2010 Intel Core Processors and Features
Intel Corporation introduced its all new 2010 Intel Core family of processors at the International Consumer Electronics show, Las Vegas, USA. The chips deliver unprecedented integration and smart performance, including Intel Turbo Boost Technology for laptops, desktops and embedded devices. [press release]

Intel unveiled several platform products, including more than 25 processors, wireless adapters and chipsets, including new Intel Core i7, i5 and i3 processors, Intel 5 Series Chipsets, and Intel Centrino Wi-Fi and WiMAX adapters that include new Intel My WiFi features. More than 400 laptop and desktop PC platform designs are expected from computer makers based on these products, with another 200 expected for embedded devices.

The introduction of new Intel Core i7, i5 and i3 chips coincides with the arrival of Intel’s New 2010 Intel Core processors are manufactured on the company’s 32 nanometer process, which includes Intel’s second-generation high-k metal gate transistors. This technique, along with other advances, helps increase a computer’s speed while decreasing energy consumption.

groundbreaking new 32nm manufacturing process will be used to immediately produce and deliver processors and features at a variety of price points, and integrate high-definition graphics inside the processor. [...]

I've read that these processors are a must if you deal with editing HD video. Follow the link for further details. Also visit Intel's website:

Meet the members of the all new 2010 Intel® Core™ Processor Family
     

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Solar Activity and Human Behavior: a link?


In response to an earlier post I did about Solar Flares and GPS disruption, someone commented about the affects that solar activity can have on human behavior.

Having read more about it since then, it seems that there are some interesting correlations. Here are some links I found on the subject:

Sunspots and Human Behavior
This article was published in the year 2000, just after the last Solar Maximum:
The recent Solar Maximum gives us a wonderful opportunity to observe the Sun in action. Borderland Sciences has been investigating the relationship of the Sun and human behaviour for many years, and we are quite confident that we can predict behaviours based on sunspot fluctuations over very short and long durations within the Solar Cycle of 11 years. Historically, research has been conducted to link the 11 year cycle of the sun to changes in human behavior and society. The most famous research had been done by professor A.L. Tchijevsky, a Russian scientist, who presented a paper to the American Meteorological Society at Philadelphia in the late 19th century. He prepared a study of the history of mass human movement compared to the solar cycle, beginning with the division of the Solar cycle into four parts: 1) Minimum sunspot activity; 2) increasing sunspot activity; 3) maximum sunspot activity; 4) Decreasing sunspot activity. He then divided up the agitation of mass human movements into five phases:

1) provoking influence of leaders upon masses

2) the “exciting” effect of emphasized ideas upon the masses

3) the velocity of incitability due to the presence of a single psychic center

4) the extensive areas covered by mass movements

5) Integration and individualization of the masses

By these comparisons he constructed an “Index of Mass Human Excitability” covering each year from 500 B.C. to 1922 A.D. He investigated the histories of 72 countries in that period, noting signs of human unrest such as wars, revolutions, riots, expeditions and migrations, plus the number of humans involved. Tchijevsky found that fully 80% of the most significant events occurred during the years of maximum sunspot activity. He maintained that the “exciting” period may be explained by an acute change in the nervous and psychic character of humanity, which takes place at sunspot maxima.

Tchijevsky discovered that the solar minimum is the lag period when repression is tolerated by the masses, as if they lacked the vital energy to make the needed changes. He found that during the sunspot maximum, the movement of humans is also at its peak. Tchijevsky’s study is the foundation of sunspot theory on human behavior, and as Harlan True Stetson, in his book Sunspots and Their Effects (available from BSRF), stated, “Until, however, someone can arrive at a more convincing excitability quotient for mass movements than professor Tchijevsky appears yet to have done, scientists will be reluctant to subscribe to all the conclusions which he sets forth.” Stetson did acknowledge that the mechanism by which ultraviolet radiation is absorbed was still a puzzle biologists had to solve. [...]

It's interesting, but I want more proof. Which leads to the next website, which goes into specific examples:

The Evidence: Historical Events During Sunspot Cycle Heights (1750-2000)


1905-08 German miners, Hottentots, Turks, Indians, Honduras, Russians revolt

1916-18 World War I, Irish and Indian revolts, Russian Revolution

1927-31 Mussolini and Hitler build power on economic unrest; revolts in Vienna, China; formation of Red Army; Spanish Republic formed; mass civil disobedience in India

1937-40 US steel strike, Spanish Civil War, Germany and Japan start World War II, mass civil disobedience in India

1947-51 Greek Civil War, First Israeli-Arab War, Indian-Pakistani riots, Red Army conquers China, Vietnam revolts, Korean War

1957-60 Israel invades Sinai, Hungarian uprising, Cuban revolution, civil rights movement in US, French-Algerian war, MauMau revolt, Iraq revolt, numerous African nations gain independence [...]

The website is maintained by Carol Moore, who gives many more examples like this, with graphs, which appear to support professor A.L. Tchijevsky's research and theory. She gives examples from 1770 up until 2009. Also on her site:

A. L. Tchijevsky’s Theory of Sunspot Activity and Human Activity
[...] Tchijevsky did not believe solar disturbances caused discontent as much as they acted as detonators that set off the smoldering discontent of the masses--discontent often channeled into war by their rulers. Nor did he deny that even during minimum solar activity some people would rebel against intolerable conditions or that nations would seek advantage through war and conquest. Some have since noted that the number of sunspots during any period may not be as significant as whether there is a rapid increase in the numbers, triggering unexpected passions. [...]

Ms. Moore has a lot more on her site. If the subject interests you, be sure to visit her webpage, she has a lot of source material for you to consider.

So the correlations make the theory more interesting, but what do we actually know, scientifically, about the affects of the sun's magnetic field on human beings? This site looks into that question:



Could Cycles of War or Peace Be Tied to Cycles of the Sun?
[...] Like weather patterns found on Earth, solar wind patterns can change rapidly. Luckily, our planet's magnetosphere quickly responds to the threat and absorbs the impact, wiggling and jiggling in the process. Geophysicists call this reaction a geomagnetic storm, but because of how it disrupts the Earth's magnetic field, it could also be called electromagnetic pollution.

These storms, although minute, affect brain waves and hormone levels, causing a number of different reactions, predominately in males. While a few women may also experience changes during these storms, they generally seem less affected by the Sun's behavior.

[...]

Reacting to changing hormone levels, some men may become increasingly irritable and aggressive, while others may instead become more creative. An increase in solar activity is found to increase psychotic episodes in individuals who already suffer from unstable psychological states. While we might relate such behavior to a full moon, in 1963, Dr. Robert Becker and his colleague, Dr. Freedman, demonstrated that solar changes also lead to a noticeable increase in psychotic activity.

Yet these reactions are not simply isolated to a few particularly sensitive or unlucky individuals. Evidence indicates that wars and international conflicts most often break out when sunspots are rapidly forming or rapidly decaying, as these are times when there are more intense geomagnetic storms. [...]

So do I believe it? I don't know. I can't verify all these claims. And I would like to see it investigated with a more solidly scientific method. But how does one "prove" that 80% concurrence of wars and solar storms is not a random coincidence? I'm not discounting it as a theory, but I think as a theory it has yet to be proven. For me it remains... interesting!
     

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Beware of Greeks bearing Red Flags


Greeks protest austerity cuts at May Day rally
Athens, Greece (CNN) -- Greek protesters clashed with police who fired tear gas during the annual May Day rally on Saturday in Athens, where thousands of people gathering for the event seethed over government belt-tightening plans to deal with the country's debt problems.

Waving red flags, the crowd at times surged toward the line of police, who wore helmets and carried riot shields. The police pushed them back each time.

[...]

About 12,000 people were protesting in Athens, and rallies were also taking place in the northern city of Thessaloniki, the spokesman said. Protesters there smashed two ATMs, the glass frontage of a bank, and a car, but no one was arrested or being questioned, the spokesman said.

The annual May Day rally has taken on an angry tone this year as the Greek government prepares to enact austerity measures to cap its large deficit and massive debt.

The package of measures was expected to be revealed Sunday. It is likely to include cuts in civil servants' salaries, pay freezes, reductions in pension payments, changes to tax rates, and increases in the value-added tax consumers pay on purchases, Ilias Iliopoulos, the general secretary of the public sector union ADEDY said Thursday.

The International Monetary Fund and the European Union are discussing a bailout for Greece, whose economic problems threaten the stability of the common European currency, the euro.

The amount of the aid package being negotiated was not clear, but the IMF and EU are likely to demand the austerity measures as a price for a bailout.

Greece's national debt of 300 billion euros ($394 billion) is bigger than the country's economy, and some estimates predict it will reach 120 percent of gross domestic product in 2010. [...]

It seems like everyone is wanting someone else to bail them out, instead of learning to live within their means. We will be looking at similar "austerity measures" here in the USA, if we keep pursuing the course of unsustainable spending and borrowing. Follow the link for more info, photos and video.


Here are some photo's from their other protests over the last few years:



It's no accident that the "flag poles" are so sturdy; they double as weapons:



But the Reds also use petrol bombs too:



I can see why the German's don't want to bail Greece out. Do it for them once, and they would then expect it, again and again, endlessly. The Red Flag folks would demand it.


Also see:

Greece bailout drama: It's only just begun

Let Greece Have Its Default
     

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