Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Holidays, and a Very Happy New Year!


OK, I'm a bit late with the "Happy Holidays" part, as Christmas, Hannukah etc have already passed, but better late than never, as they say in the classics.

We put our Christmas lights up when the daylight savings time fall-back happened, and they will stay up till we spring-forward again in the Spring. I can't be bothered to put up lights for just a few days or weeks, so we leave them up all through the dark season, to give us cheer.




Indoor decorations, like the artificial Xmas tree and the Christmas Angel Wreath, will get taken down soon.




The problem with leaving indoor decorations up for too long is, they get dusty, and you'll choke on the dust when you have to take them down and dust them off. Just try leaving your tree up for a couple of months past Christmas; after the dust storm that's generated when you take it down, you'll be unlikely to do it again.


This time of year is dark, cold, damp and bleak; yet even in it's bleakness, I still see a bleak kind of beauty in our farm and it's cold landscape.






In the bleakness the earth rests, in hibernation and sleep, storing it's energy in preparation for rebirth and new life in the Spring. It speaks to me of hope.


It's in that hope for rebirth and renewal that we now enter a new year.


Best Wishes to All People of Goodwill for a
Happy, Healthy, Wealthy & Prosperous New Year for You and Yours!

Is the TTLB rating system worthless?

OK, I've not been blogging for the past two weeks, because I've had lots of other stuff to do. That happens sometimes, I'm no Michell Malkin or Instapundit.

I have a link to the TTLB at the bottom of my sidebar. I've watched my ranking with them fall from "Large Mammal" all the way down to "Insignificant Microbe".

To me, "Insignificant Microbe" should be for a blog that nobody reads. Yet, during the past two weeks while I have not been blogging, my blog has still been getting lots of visitors, many more hits per day then when I first started blogging. Yet I'm supposed to be just an "Insignificant Microbe" in the TTLB ecosystem, the lowest rating they have?

That doesn't make sense to me. I'm beginning to wonder if the TTLB rating system is actually meaningless, and if I should just delete it from my blog and be done with it. I really can't think of a reason why I SHOULDN'T delete it. Can you?

UPDATE 01-09-08:

It's gone back up to "Large Mammal". But if it keeps jumping around like that, I may just delete it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Brave New World is here sooner than you think

Can you imagine a world where everyone could talk to everyone, anywhere in the world? Not just adults, but children too?

What would happen if all the 9 year olds all over the planet were able to talk to each other? It's not a rhetorical question; it looks like we may actually find out, thanks to revolutionary new technology like the XO laptop, which is making it literally possible in the here-and-now.

Rory Cellan-Jones, in this article for the BBC News, writes about his experience with the XO laptop. He was given an XO laptop after a recent visit to Nigeria to see how the laptops were being implemented there.

Because the laptop is designed for children, he decided to give it to his 9 year old son to use. He thought the boy, Rufus, would quickly grow bored with it, but the opposite has happened. The kid not only quickly learned the software and capabilities of the computer; he ended up talking to other children with XO laptops around the world. And his dad doesn't quite understand how it is happening! A few excerpts here:

A child's view of the $100 laptop
[...] Enter Rufus Cellan-Jones. He is nine, has far more experience of games consoles than computers, and has strong views on most matters.

"Looks fun," was his only comment when I handed over the small, green and white laptop, explaining that he was the only child in Britain to have one.

But very quickly he was up and running.

All I did was give him the security code for our home wireless network so he could take the XO online.

[...]

But the real surprise came one evening, when Rufus asked me to explain what his friends were telling him on the laptop.

I thought those imaginary childhood friends from years back must have returned.

But I went and had a look - and it was true - he appeared to be chatting online.

So how had he managed that?

"You go on "neighbourhood", then you go to the chat thing.

You go on Nigeria and you chat to them."

But why, if he was online with the children at the Nigerian school I had visited, were they sending messages in Spanish?

I decided he must be linking up with one of the South American schools taking part in the OLPC project but we still aren't sure quite how that is happening.

Still, Rufus is widening his social circle. " I have three friends. It's nice to talk to them. They don't speak much English but I can understand them." The conversation is not exactly sparkling, but Rufus has learned to say "Hola". [...]


The XO laptop uses something called mesh networking, which makes it easy to connect to other computers on the mesh network... even children in other countries using the OX laptop, apparently.

The software is Linux, using a Graphical User Interface (GUI) called "Sugar". The Sugar GUI is designed to make learning the computer easy for children who have never used a computer before. Thus, it's not like a conventional computer desktop.

I considered downloading it to try it out, but as I read about it, I didn't find it appealing. In a story on OLPCnews.com, a man buy's an XO for his wife for Christmas. But as he tries using it himself, he thinks she won't like it; it's not made for adults (although there is potential for an adult version of the XO to be produced).

Below you can see a Youtube video of Rufus using his XO computer, demonstrating some of it's features, and showing how he finds other children around the world on it:



The video is less than 3 minutes long. I recommend reading the rest of the BBC article for more of Rufus's opinions, and details from his dad about how it all unfolded, and what he thinks now of the potential of the OLPC Project.

I'm still wondering about the unforeseen consequences. Some people are worried that child molesters could stalk the mesh network, and lure children into dangerous situations. But that at least is being foreseen, and steps are being taken to secure the network against child predators. What I mean by unforeseen is, what will a completely internet-connected world be like? Where all the 9 year olds on the planet, where just about EVERYONE, can talk to each other?

It's never happened before. But ready or not, it's coming. If the OLPC Project fails, someone else will pick up the ball and run with it. It's inevitable. Are you ready for it? Are any of us ready?

Oh, brave new world, with such people in it.


You can click here to see a page with this and all my other posts about the OLPC Project, and similar devices.
     

Friday, December 14, 2007

Is the OLPC project Pie in the Sky?

Having failed to attract many large orders form Government purchasers, the OLPC Project is now attempting other methods for sales revenue and distribution, such as the Give One Get One program.

That's fine, as some people will do it for charitable reasons, but I doubt it's a sustainable long term strategy. I think they need to just start selling it to schools in developed nations that already have the infrastructure to support it. Not at double the price, but at a smaller markup. The profit could be used to subsidize purchases for underdeveloped nations, and the increased sales would give them the production VOLUME they desperately need to get the price lowered to the $100 they originally envisioned, making it easier to sell to (and buy for) the poorer nations it was originally designed for.

In fact, just selling it to the general public in the same way, as a long term strategy, would also benefit the project in the same way. I'm hoping they'll do it.

Some people are predicting that the OLPC Project will fail, and question if it's even realistic in it's ambitions and intentions. John Dvorak recently addressed this in an article about the OLPC project:

One Laptop per Child Doesn't Change the World

While I can concede that Dvorak does make some valid points, overall I think he may be too cynical. Yet we do need to heed the dangers and pitfalls he speaks of.

I've noticed there are two views of the OLPC project that tend toward extremes. The first view is that the OLPC Project will somehow magically end world poverty (instead of just enabling a bunch of kids to download porn and "Access Hollywood"). The other view is that if it can't end world poverty, it must be worthless and a waste (If it won't help everyone, then it can't help anyone).

Both views are too extreme, and thereby flawed.

There are communities of impoverished people throughout the world, who barely have enough to eat. They may not be starving, but they are still poor; they are still struggling to improve their lives, and to educate their children. These communities may have schools, but not much in the way of resources. Textbooks are expensive for them, and become outdated and wear out quickly. An OLPC laptop, with internet access, could replace those textbooks, and offer so much more as well. Sure, there are problems with setting that up. But it's not impossible.

Education, used wisely, can help people become more productive and improve their living conditions. The OLPC is not quick fix pill, but used judiciously, it has the potential to help a lot of people worldwide. Remember the old saying: feed a man a fish and you've fed him for a day; teach him how to fish, and you have fed him for the rest of his life. Knowledge can do that, and that can be what a project like OLPC can potentially do.

Much of the criticism that's been aimed at the project can actually be helpful, if it ultimately helps the project to succeed. But expectations have to be kept realistic and not extreme. It won't end world poverty, but it may be able to be developed as a useful tool to promote education, and it's resulting prosperity.
     

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Can Windows XP fit on the OLPC Laptop?

It would be like a fat lady trying to fit into a dress that's two sizes too small. Yet the increasing popularity of inexpensive low-end laptops and internet devices (with small resources) seems to be making a fat lady out of Microsoft, as Linux moves with ease into this market, and Microsoft tries to follow.

From DesktopLinux.com:

Linux is about to take over the low end of PCs

[...] Four trends: user-friendly Linux desktops, useful under-$500 laptops and desktops, near-universal broadband, and business-ready Internet office applications. Put them together and you have a revolution.

For the last two decades, we've been buying expensive desktop operating systems on business PCs running from $1,000 to $2,000. On those systems, we've been putting pricey desktop-centric office suites like Microsoft Office. That's a lot of money, and the convergence of the above trends is about to knock it for a loop.

[...]

Linux desktops run just dandy on low-end, under-$500 PCs. Vista Basic, which comes the closest to being able to run on these systems, is unacceptable since it doesn't support business networking. Office 2007 also won't run worth a darn on these systems. And somehow, I can't see Microsoft optimizing its applications to work with Google Apps instead of Exchange and SharePoint.

Put it all together, and here's what I see happening. In the next few quarters, low-end Linux-based PCs are going to quickly take over the bottom rung of computing. Then, as businesses continue to get comfortable with SAAS (software as a service) and open-source software, the price benefits will start leading them toward switching to the new Linux/SAAS office model.

You'll see this really kick into gear once Vista Service Pack 1 appears and business customers start seriously looking at what it will cost to migrate to Vista. That Tiffany-level price tag will make all but the most Microsoft-centric businesses start considering the Linux/SAAS alternative. [...]

I read in another article that MS is trying desperately to get WinXP to work on the OLPC XO laptop. But they can't, unless the units have double the memory they have now. As a result, they are trying to get the OLPC Project to build in and extra port to add up to double the memory the device currently uses.

Microsoft has wanted to dump XP and promote Vista instead. But now it finds it wants to compete in the low-end market with Linux, and Vista can't go there. It would seem that XP is going to be sticking around for a while, in some form or another, although it may have to go on a crash diet.


But will XP even be good enough (or small enough) to compete effectively with Linux in this arena? Here are some more articles that look at that, links about XP on the OLPC's XO:

A Good Thing About Windows XP on XO: Contrast

No Microsoft Windows XP on OLPC XO

Put GPL Code Windows XP on XO

I think that if MS does somehow manage to SQUEEZE WinXP onto the XO, Linux is still going to look like the better alternative. It will require more memory, which will drive up costs, and it may not be as fast as a Linux alternative on the same hardware. Linux also does not have licensing fees. It will be interesting to see what happens.
     

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

From Thomas Sowell:

Income Confusion
Anyone who follows the media has probably heard many times that the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and incomes of the population in general are stagnating. Moreover, those who say such things can produce many statistics, including data from the Census Bureau, which seem to indicate that.

On the other hand, income tax data recently released by the Internal Revenue Service seem to show the exact opposite: People in the bottom fifth of income-tax filers in 1996 had their incomes increase by 91 percent by 2005.

The top one percent -- "the rich" who are supposed to be monopolizing the money, according to the left -- saw their incomes decline by a whopping 26 percent.

Meanwhile, the average taxpayers' real income increased by 24 percent between 1996 and 2005.

How can all this be? How can official statistics from different agencies of the same government -- the Census Bureau and the IRS -- lead to such radically different conclusions?

There are wild cards in such data that need to be kept in mind when you hear income statistics thrown around -- especially when they are thrown around by people who are trying to prove something for political purposes. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) Thomas goes on to explain to us just how these statistics are manipulated and taken out of context, and used to support false and misleading conclusions.

The truth is very different from what the MSM is feeding us. With elections coming up, it's more important than ever to have a firm grasp of the FACTS as they really are. Thomas Sowell, as always, explains it clearly and straightens it out for us in short order. A short article, and well worth your time to read.
     

Open Source Software for Linux & Windows

From CNET:
Open-source software rated: Ten alternatives you need
Open source products comprise the work of many collaborators -- sometimes thousands of them, and often separated by oceans. Each person works on small portions of a project, and anyone is welcome to contribute. The finished product will be available freely for anyone to download and, in most cases, modify.

All very touchy-feely, carey-sharey, but why should you care about open source? You should care because the vast majority of common applications, even complex commercial stuff such as Adobe Photoshop, Windows Media Player and Microsoft Office, have free, open-source alternatives. And this point is worth reiterating: open-source software is free. No cost. Zero. Zilch. [...]

This Cnet site in the UK provides an overview of ten free open-source applications that are available for Linux and Windows. Follow the link to the intro, and you'll find they devote a page to each application. You can check them out and see what they do, and if any of them are right for you.
     

Saturday, December 01, 2007

How rare in human history our blessings are

And Mark Steyn reminds us, one of the greatest blessings Americans have is our constitution.

Mark Steyn: World should give thanks for America
[...] The New World is one of the oldest settled constitutional democracies on Earth, to a degree the Old World can barely comprehend. Where it counts, Americans are traditionalists.

We know Eastern Europe was a totalitarian prison until the Nineties, but we forget that Mediterranean Europe (Greece, Spain, Portugal) has democratic roots going all the way back until, oh, the mid-Seventies; France and Germany's constitutions date back barely half a century, Italy's only to the 1940s, and Belgium's goes back about 20 minutes, and currently it's not clear whether even that latest rewrite remains operative. The U.S. Constitution is not only older than France's, Germany's, Italy's or Spain's constitution, it's older than all of them put together.

Americans think of Europe as Goethe and Mozart and 12th century castles and 6th century churches, but the Continent's governing mechanisms are no more ancient than the Partridge Family. Aside from the Anglophone democracies, most of the nation-states in the West have been conspicuous failures at sustaining peaceful political evolution from one generation to the next, which is why they're so susceptible to the siren song of Big Ideas – communism, fascism, European Union.

[...]

So Americans should be thankful they have one of the last functioning nation-states. Europeans, because they've been so inept at exercising it, no longer believe in national sovereignty, whereas it would never occur to Americans not to. This profoundly different attitude to the nation-state underpins, in turn, Euro-American attitudes to transnational institutions such as the United Nations. [...]

(bold emphasis mine)We have an enduring constitution that actually means something, even if too many of us now seem willing to throw it away. It's a blessing, and worth protecting and cherishing. There's much more, it's an excellent article. I wanted to post about it on Thanksgiving, but I was too busy with other stuff. Even today, I haven;t much time, there's a storm coming in tomorrow, so I've got a busy day ahead of me.

Pat also did some good excerpts on his blog.


Related Link:

From Soeren Kern at the Brussels Journal:
America Wake Up! Europe Wants to Be a Superpower
[...] So why do Europeans continue to assail American “hard power” as bad for the world, when their own “soft power” consistently fails to make the grade?

Because the American military magnifies the preponderance of US power and influence on the world stage, thereby exposing the fiction behind Europe’s superpower pretensions. Because the United States has set the standard for what it means to be a superpower, European elites seek to de-legitimize one of the main pillars of American might, namely its military hard power. Europeans know they will never achieve hard power parity with America, so they want to change the rules of the international game to make soft power the only acceptable superpower standard.

This is why Americans should care about further European integration: The EU is trying to ensconce a system of international law (based on its own image and on that of the United Nations) that it hopes will make it prohibitively costly in the realm of international public opinion for the United States to use its military in the future. For Europeans, multilateralism is all about neutering American hard power, not about solving international problems. It is about Lilliputians tying down Gulliver.

By bending over backwards to appease European sensibilities on Iran, for example, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has dragged the United States headfirst into a multilateral trap that has been set by pacifist Europeans. Their main desire is to prevent America from acting against Iran, even if it means that Islamic radicals in Tehran end up with a nuclear bomb.

Many Europeans are hoping the next American president will adopt a more postmodern relativist perception of reality. All the more reason, therefore, why Americans should examine if the leading presidential contenders are committed to the “hard power” that plays such a vital role in securing American interests and ideals around the world. Europeans may understand even better than do many Americans just how much is at stake in the upcoming US presidential election.

European elites are pushing the EU in a direction that should be deeply disconcerting to Americans concerned about international security and stability. The Reform Treaty will make Europe more centralized and far less democratic than it already is. In practice, this means that many foreign policy decisions that directly affect the United States, ranging from economics and trade to transatlantic cooperation on Islamic counter-terrorism, increasingly will be made by unelected anti-American bureaucrats in Brussels rather than by national governments. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) The weak don't deserve to survive. That's not my opinion; it's an impartial law of nature. It's reality, the way things are. If the Europeans wish to flout that law at their own peril, they are free to do so, but it seems to me quite obvious that their's is not a model we should try to emulate.

It was difficult to pick just an excerpt from this article, I recommend reading the whole thing.


Here's another good link, from Pat's blog:

The (reluctant) American Empire
This is the definitive answer to all those who whine endlessly about supposed "American Imperialism". Very informative, with many embedded links, too.
     

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Farm, Winter, and Political Posts


For the past month or so, I've been sticking mostly with "easy" posts, with not too much politics. I'm not trying to avoid politics, it's just that such posts need more time and care than I've been able to give lately. I've been really busy getting the farm ready for Winter. We've got a lot of projects to finish before the really cold weather and heavy rain kicks in full-force.

One of the political topics I've wanted to post about is the candidacy of Fred Thompson for President. While I've not had the time to do it, I'm happy to say that Pat's postings about it have been far better than anything I could have done anyway. If you haven't had a look at them, I highly recommend them:

Pat's Posts about Fred Thompson

His commentary on this is spot-on, and well worth your time to read.
     

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Linux competes with Vista for laptop market

Penguin Power; coming with your next low cost laptop?

Market trends have been moving towards people replacing their desktop computers with laptop computers, especially as prices of laptops continue to get cheaper, and wireless access becomes increasingly common.

Steven Vaughan-Nichols at eWEEK has a look at what this means for Windows Vista, and why there is an opening for Desktop Linux to best Vista in this market:

Cheap Laptops Bad for Vista, Good for Linux
Opinion: As laptops get cheaper, Linux and Windows XP are both making better business sense than Vista.

The good news for everyone is that you can get a good, solid laptop for under a grand these days. The bad news for Vista users is that many of those laptops, even though they're sold with Vista, have nothing like enough resources to run Vista decently.

This year, from everything I've seen, has lived up to the Merrill Lynch prediction that 2007 would be the year that notebooks overtook desktops to become the bigger revenue generator for PC makers. For some companies, like Hewlett-Packard, laptops have become the single most important revenue source.

There are a couple of reasons for this and they're closely tied together. First, a PC vendor can make more profit on an under-$1,000 laptop than it would on a PC at the same price. At the same time, with Wi-Fi being available essentially everywhere and laptop prices falling below the magic $1,000 mark, more and more customers, both consumer and business, are turning to laptops.

There's only one little problem with this if your company name is Microsoft. Those under-$1,000 laptops can't run Vista worth a darn. In addition, Vista has become a bigger and bigger part of a laptop's cost. So, if you're a PC vendor, you could either upgrade your hardware—and there goes your sweet price point; put Vista Home Basic on the system—which even Vista lovers admit is trash; or continue to sell Windows XP and give adventurous customers a Linux option.

What's happened is that people aren't upgrading their basic laptops. Computer price margins are razor-thin. If people want top-of-the-line laptop, vendors are happy to provide them at an appropriate price point. But Dell, HP, Acer, et al. know darn well that they sell more of their cheaper systems than premium ones.

When you see a cheap laptop, you're seeing one that almost certainly has a gigabyte or less RAM and some kind of embedded graphics chip like an Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 with 8MB to 64MB dynamically allocated shared graphics memory. Vista really requires 2GB before it becomes usable, and there's no point in even trying to run Vista's Aero interface with that low level of graphical horsepower, or perhaps I should say ponypower.[...]

See the rest of the article for more particulars, and embedded links.

There are big changes occurring in the desktop computer market, and a whole slew of low cost laptops and micro computers that will be coming onto the market soon, and Windows Vista is not capable of running on many of them. Linux is, and as a result, we may see it coming into use more widely. Lets hope so.
     

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Global Temperatures, Sun Spots & Cosmic Rays


Too much of the hysteria surrounding global warming has involved cooking the figures by leaving out data. This article from Meridian Magazine show us many of the ways this is done:

All in a Good Cause
[...] If you pay close attention, you'll find that Global Warming alarmists are not actually saying "Global Warming" lately. No, nowadays it's "Climate Change." Do you know why?

Because for the past three years, global temperatures have been falling.

Oops.

The thing is, we've had twenty years since the Alarmists first raised the banner of Global Warming. They told us that "If This Goes On" by 2010 or 2020, sea levels will be rising so high that coastal cities will be flooded, famines will cover the earth, and ...

Oh, you know the list. They're still making the same predictions — they just move the dates farther back.

It's like those millennarian religious cults in the 1800s. Religious leaders would arise who would predict the Second Coming of Christ in 1838. When Christ didn't oblige them by showing up, they went back to their visions or scripture calculations or whatever they claimed and report that they miscalculated, now it was going to be 1843. Or whatever.

Here's the raw truth:

All the computer models are wrong. They have not only failed to predict the future, they can't even predict that past.

That is, when you run their software with the data from, say, the 1970s or 1980s, and project what should happen in the 1990s or 2000s, they project results that have absolutely nothing to do with the known climate data for those decades.

In other words, the models don't work. The only way to make them "work" is to take the known results and then fiddle with the software until it finally produces them. That's not how honest science is done.

Why are so many scientists so wrong? [...]

Bold emphasis mine. Read the whole thing, there is so much more. Real science needs to be talked about, examined and discussed rationally, not religiously.


So how about some REAL and HONEST science? See what these two Danish researchers discovered:

The sun moves climate change
[...] For more than a decade, Henrik Svensmark of the Danish National Space Center has been pursuing an explanation for why Earth cools and warms. His findings -- published in October in the Proceedings of the Royal Society -- the mathematical, physical sciences and engineering journal of the Royal Society of London -- are now in, and they don't point to us. The sun and the stars could explain most if not all of the warming this century, and he has laboratory results to demonstrate it. Dr. Svensmark's study had its origins in 1996, when he and a colleague presented findings at a scientific conference indicating that changes in the sun's magnetic field -- quite apart from greenhouse gases -- could be related to the recent rise in global temperatures.

[...]

Svensmark and his colleague had arrived at their theory after examining data that showed a surprisingly strong correlation between cosmic rays --highspeed atomic particles originating in exploded stars in the Milky Way -- and low-altitude clouds. Earth's cloud cover increased when the intensity of cosmic rays grew and decreased when the intensity declined.

Low-altitude clouds are significant because they especially shield the Earth from the sun to keep us cool. Low cloud cover can vary by 2% in five years, affecting the Earth's surface by as much as 1.2 watts per square metre during that same period. "That figure can be compared with about 1.4 watts per square metre estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the greenhouse effect of all the increase in carbon dioxide in the air since the Industrial Revolution," Dr. Svensmark explained.

The Danish scientists put together several well-established scientific phenomena to arrive at their novel 1996 theory. The sun's magnetic field deflects some of the cosmic rays that penetrate the Earth's atmosphere, and in so doing it also limits the immense amounts of ions and free electrons that the cosmic rays produce. But something had changed in the 20th century: The sun's magnetic field more than doubled in strength, deflecting an extraordinary number of rays. Could the diminution of cosmic rays this century have limited the formation of clouds, making the Earth warmer? [...]

Read on to see how these men proceeded to go about proving this theory. And why the global warming alarmists don't want you to hear about it.


Here is more on the cosmic ray connection in this article by Richard Black, for the BBC News:

Sun and global warming: A cosmic connection?
[...] Over the course of the Earth's history, the main factor driving changes in its climate has been that the amount of energy from the Sun varies, either because of wobbles in the Earth's orbit or because the Sun's power output changes.

Most noticeably, it changes with the 11-year solar cycle, first identified in the mid-1800s by astronomers who noticed periodic variations in the number of sunspots.

If it varied enough, it could change the Earth's surface temperature markedly. So is it?

[...]

Henrik Svensmark and his collaborators at the Danish National Space Center (DNSC) believe the missing link between small solar variations and large temperature changes on Earth are cosmic rays.

"I think the Sun is the major driver of climate change," he says, "and the reason I'm saying that is that if you look at historical temperature data and then solar activity and cosmic ray activity, it actually fits very beautifully.

"If CO2 is a very important climate driver then you would expect to see its effect on all timescales; and for example when you look at the last 500 million years, or the last 10,000 years, the correlation between changes in CO2 and climate are very poor."

When hugely energetic galactic cosmic rays - actually particles - crash into the top of the atmosphere, they set in train a sequence of events which leads to the production of ions in the lower atmosphere.

The theory is that this encourages the growth of tiny aerosol particles around which water vapour can condense, eventually aiding the formation of clouds.

And the link to the Sun? It is because cosmic rays are partially deflected by the solar wind, the stream of charged particles rushing away from the Sun, and the magnetic field it carries. A weaker solar wind means more cosmic rays penetrating the atmosphere, hence more clouds and a cooler Earth. [...]

Read more to see what calm, rational, logical and provable science looks like. The cosmic ray theory is not new, and it has been studied continuously and expanced on since the 1950's. Many tenets of this theory are now provable through lab testing, and the historical data collected fits together to support it, in the complete and WHOLE picture. It's demonstratably correct, and makes more sense than incomplete data manipulated with software.
     

Sunday, November 18, 2007

gOS operating system; Linux for the masses?


Benjamin Koe gives us a detailed look at the gOS Linux desktop:

Review: Is gOS the future of desktop computing for the masses?
gOS 1.01, the unofficial Google OS launched last week, is Ubuntu 7.10 with an idealistic twist. This lightweight ready-to-go operating system was built to be a desktop for the masses--something you could load onto an old machine for grandma and grandpa to surf the web and send email. According to the guys who assembled the distro, the purpose of their creation is to be a "simple, user friendly, beautiful desktop for normal people".

Unlike the complete distribution of its base OS, gOS doesn't come with many of the pre-loaded applications such as OpenOffice.org, The GIMP, or even Mozilla Thunderbird. Why? Because gOS's creators have gone in favour of web-based apps. Google apps to be precise. Which is obviously where its (unofficial) name comes from. [...]

The review goes on to examine the OS in more detail. While he feels it has potential, it seems there are still some areas that need improvement.

I downloaded a copy and installed it. I doesn't work with my wireless card, so it's hard for me to give an accurate assessment, because many of it's features depend on access to the internet. It also crash a few times, though it was able to recover without rebooting.

All in all, I think it's still a bit raw, and needs more polish. I wonder how well it works pre-installed on Walmart's computer offering? I'm sure we will hear more as time goes on.

UPDATE: 11-26-07
Here's another review, by someone who bought the Walmart machine for his daughter:

Review of the Everex TC2502 Green gPC
He said the hardware was good, but he was not impressed with gOS software, saying it had too many rough edges; he replaced it with a standard Gnome Ubuntu desktop. Speedwise, it seemed to work just as well as gOS did.


Related Links:

gOS
The gOS website, where you can download the OS as a live CD and try it out.

Gosh, gOS is good
Susan Linton tries out gOS and mostly likes what she sees.

Is a PC Price War Afoot?
Some reason's why we might be seeing some very competitive prices in the PC market soon.

SymphonyOS.com
Here is another Ubuntu based OS with a simple to use desktop, that looks very promising.
     

Is Microsoft preparing to challenge Open Source?

I think MS is prepared to try any number of things to stay on top of the game. Could it be, that one of the things they are doing, is trying to position themselves to challenge Open Source Software by attempting to redefine what Open Source means? Consider this from the Linux Journal:

Is Microsoft Hijacking Open Source?

[...] What really worries me is what looks like an emerging pattern in Microsoft's behaviour. The EU agreement is perhaps the first fruit of this, but I predict it will not be the last. What is happening is that Microsoft is effectively being allowed to define the meaning of “open source” as it wishes, not as everyone else understands the term. For example, in the pledge quoted above, an open source project is “not commercially distributed by its participants” - and this is a distinction also made by Kroes and her FAQ.

In this context, the recent approval of two Microsoft licences as officially “open source” is only going to make things worse. Although I felt this was the right decision – to have ad hoc rules just because it's Microsoft would damage the open source process - I also believe it's going to prove a problem. After all, it means that Microsoft can rightfully point to its OSI-approved licences as proof that open source and Microsoft no longer stand in opposition to each other. This alone is likely to perplex people who thought they understood what open source meant.

Nor is this the only way in which Microsoft is carefully draining away the original power of openness. As many have pointed out, Microsoft's attempt to have its OOXML document format declared an ISO standard will devalue the whole point of having open standards. Moreover, the way in which Microsoft has gone about this – by encouraging friendly parties to join the ISO voting bodies – has damaged the open standards process well beyond this particular case. As Andy Updegrove points out, we are already seeing the knock-on consequences of this, as real open standards are stuck in a kind of administrative limbo thanks to Microsoft's corporate hacking of the ISO machinery.

What we are seeing here are a series of major assaults on different but related fields – open source, open file formats and open standards. All are directed to one goal: the hijacking of the very concept of openness. [...]

These deals with Linux companies agreeing to buy IP lawsuit protection may somehow later be used to try to establish some sort of precedent... I can't see exactly where it's all going; there are so many parties involved, and much depends on what others do or don't do, not just on what Microsoft does. But it is evident that Microsoft's increasingly active involvement with open source is also giving it power to shape it's growth and direction. It's a situation that needs to be closely watched.
     

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Eat Sh*t and Dine (or just pretend to)

Pretend to eat Sh*t, or pretend to dine? What a question. But one you might well ask, if you were to go to one if these restaurants in Taiwan:

Flushed with success
A chain of 12 restaurants with a toilet theme has opened in Taiwan.


Seats in the Modern Toilet restaurants are toilet-shaped and napkins are dispensed from toilet rolls on tables.

Food containers are also toilet or wash-basin shaped, and much of the food is made to look like human waste, reports China Photo Base.

The owner claims the edgy nature of the restaurants is attracting younger diners.

"Every detail tells you it's a bathroom, not a restaurant. But it's fun to eat here," said one diner at a Taipei city outlet.

(bold emphasis mine) Barf! What IS the appeal? Apparently, the theme is based on a comic strip character who puts crap on crackers:

Toilet Restaurant, TAIWAN
[...] The restaurants use ceramic toilet bowls/dishes to serve a range of meals. Apparently he was inspired by a comic book character who would put crap on crackers. No joke! This comic is popular with the young kids in Taiwan!

The creator has now patented the idea and opened up several more branches around Taiwan. So if you ever thought the world was going down the toilet, now you have proof! The restaurants attract a range of customers but it is especially popular with young people and families with kids. Apparently it's not all just about novelty value and the restaurant gets many repeat guests. As a result it has introduced a loyalty program so you can collect credit on multiple visits and then receive a big toilet shaped bowl. These are also sold separately so you can take home a ceramic toilet bowl with you!

Food is either served in a flat bowl that resembles a male urinal; larger main meals are served in a toilet bowl. Noodles or rice are served in a bathtub shaped bowl. Some of the most popular meals are curry noodles or rice because of their resemblance to....well....you know! Chocolate ice-cream is popular for the same reason. [...]


Bleech! I guess I'm too old, or just no fun. Or maybe my idea of fun while dining out would just be something more... uh ... appetizing?

The second article also has a link to a 3 minute video review in English (Australian?) about the restaurant chain, which seems quite successful.
     

Friday, November 16, 2007

Walmart $200 Linux PC already sold out!

They have sold out on-line; some may still be available in stores. They had 10,000 in stock. More are promised to be on the way.



Wal-Mart's $200 Linux PCs sell out
Right after Halloween, Wal-Mart introduced Everex's Ubuntu Linux-powered TC2502 gPC for a list price of $198. Two weeks later, they're sold out. Everex tells DesktopLinux that more will be coming though.

Wal-Mart only bought an initial run of approximately 10,000 units. For once, Wal-Mart's vaunted supply chain management system failed to predict just how popular an item would be. Wal-Mart offers a similar Everex model with more base memory and Windows Vista Home Basic called the Everex Impact GC3502 Desktop, for $100 more. Wal-Mart still has plenty of those.

Customers want the Everex TC2502 Green gPC and they want it badly. While there are a few units still available in Wal-Mart stores, you'll need a lot of luck finding one. A search in your editor's area, Asheville, NC, found there wasn't a single one within a hundred miles.

But, there are more TC2502s coming. According to Paul Kim, Everex's director of marketing, while "there are only a few units left on the Wal-Mart shelves we've noticed customers are having difficulty finding them since they're so spread out. Walmart.com sold out within 48 hours and is trying to restock now." [...]

I also did an on-line search on Walmart's website, for stores in my area that still have some. There were none within a 100 mile radius. Not that I'm planning on buying one. I'll wait and see what happens to other people first.

While this green PC is an excellent concept, I don't know much about the hardware involved. For years, I've been a sucker for all sorts of bargin PCs. Too often, I've found that they work fine for a year or two, then start having problems. For my past few PC purchases, I've stuck with HP, because I've found them to be a reliable brand, making computers that perform well for many years.

Still, I watch this story with interest. Is it the begining of Linux being successfully marketed to the masses? It looks that way.

Google employee Matt Cutts has photographed the unboxing of his new gOS PC on his blog, so we can see what you get when you buy one:



Unboxing the Everex $200 Linux Computer
[...] Why should you be interested? Well, instead of Windows, it comes installed with gOS, which is a version of Ubuntu that is customized to work well with web-based tools from Google, Flickr Facebook, and Skype. When I heard that, I had to order one of these PCs to check it out for myself. [...]

Visit his blog for more photos of the unpacking. It looks like a nice easy-to-learn system at a great price.

The success of the system has taken many by surprise. Here's a few more articles:

The little desktop Linux that came out of the blue

More on the Wal-mart/Everex $200 Linux PC

$200 Linux PC selling out is another reason Wal-Mart is good for America
     

Thursday, November 08, 2007

School textbooks: no more dead trees versions?

School textbooks could be going the way of the dinosaurs, as technology makes other options possible:

Free Online Materials Could Save Schools Billions
By Greg Toppo
USA Today
11/07/07 11:37 AM PT

Could Free-Reading offer a glimpse of the future, when big, bulky -- and expensive -- textbooks go the way of the film strip? Adam Newman of Eduventures, an education research and consulting firm in Boston, thinks so. "This is a shot across the bow for a lot of people," he says.

Since March, Dixon Deutsch and his students have been quietly experimenting with a little Web site that could one day rock the foundation of how schools do business.

A K-2 teacher at Achievement First Bushwick Elementary Charter School in Brooklyn, N.Y., Deutsch, 28, has been using Free-Reading.net, a reading instruction program that allows him to download, copy and share lessons with colleagues.

He can visit the Web site and comment on what works and what doesn't. He can modify lessons to suit his students' needs and post the modifications online: Think of a cross between a first-grade reading workbook and Wikipedia Latest News about Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia written and edited by users.
More Teacher-Friendly

If Deutsch wants to see a lesson taught by someone who already has mastered it, he clicks on a YouTube Latest News about YouTube video linked to the site and sees a short demo. "I find it's more teacher-friendly than a textbook," he says.

Oh, and it's free. [...]


The article goes on to give some examples where this is being implemented, and what it could mean for the education industry.


Related Link:

www.eduventures.com

Would you buy a $50 eBook Reader?
     

Monday, November 05, 2007

Racism & Nazis, Americans & Europeans

There has been a row going on between the "Little Green Footballs" blog and the "Brussels Journal" blog. In short, it seems the former has questioned the latter's affiliation with certain political groups in Europe, and now there are accusations of racism and Nazi affiliation being hurled about, regarding the latter's positions on Islamic immigration in Europe.

I'm not going to jump into the fray, or summarize it here. It looks to me like a falling out between secular and religious conservatives, who agree on many things but also disagree on many others. Now that insults have been hurled, both sides seem to be overreacting, and in their defensiveness each is perhaps tending to oversimplify the views of the other side?

I've often enjoyed Fjordman's articles at the Brussels Journal. He's often written about the abuse of political correctness and Multiculturalism in Europe, and how they are too often used by the political Left as weapons to stifle debate and silence opposition.

Fjordman has written a post about the tiff between the two blogs. If you want to read about it, he has links to LGF too. He also makes some interesting observations about political correctness and racism in the USA. An excerpt:

Little Green Footballs and Racism in the United States

[...] It is a disturbing testimony to the fact that hating whites, still the majority in the USA, is OK, indeed encouraged, in American colleges. In the Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t, Robert Spencer quotes “Rachel,” a white American student, who spoke these words to American Indian professor Dr. David Yeagley in 2001: “Look, Dr. Yeagley, I don’t see anything about my culture to be proud of. It’s all nothing. My race is just nothing.... Look at your culture. Look at American Indian tradition. Now I think that’s really great. You have something to be proud of. My culture is nothing.”

As Yeagley observed, “The Cheyenne people have a saying: A nation is never conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground… When Rachel denounced her people, she did it with the serene self-confidence of a High Priestess reciting a liturgy. She said it without fear of criticism or censure. And she received none. The other students listened in silence, their eyes moving timidly back and forth between me and Rachel, as if unsure which of us constituted a higher authority… Who had conquered Rachel’s people? What had led her to disrespect them? Why did she behave like a woman of a defeated tribe?”

Well, my answer to that would be: Americans have been bombarded with accusations of racism, almost exclusively against the European-derived majority, for decades. If I may be so bold as to say so, that’s what I really see when I look at the hysterical overreaction on part of Little Green Footballs regarding “white racism” in Europe, despite the fact that people of European descent are probably among the least racist people on the planet right now.

LGFers base their world-view on the existence of a moderate Islam, which doesn’t exist, and on the existence of a large and rabid network of neo-Nazis in Europe, which also doesn’t exist. Neo-Nazi groups are generally quite marginal, for the very simple reason that people don’t like them. I agree that they should be watched, but they are far down the list of enemies of freedom right now, behind Muslims, Leftists and the European Union. The only theoretical reason why even a fraction of Europeans would embrace real extremist groups would be if they have their backs against the wall and everybody else has abandoned them, which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid. [...]

There's more on his discussion with Charles, and there are lots of links embedded links too. I think it's fine that Charles at LGF asks questions about European political groups; Europe does have an actual Nazi history after all. But how about less political correctness, and more honest discussion about the FACTS?

At any rate I'd like to see this row stop. It's needlessly attracting the attention of groups like CAIR, who are using it to advance their own agendas.


Related Links:

Dr. David Yeagley's website:
www.badeagle.com

And comming to a school near you: the latest edicts from the Thought Police:
There goes the neighborhood

     

Friday, November 02, 2007

It's Here at last: the Eee PC Laptop


Linux-powered Asus Eee PC mini-laptop arrives
The Xandros Linux-powered "ultra-mobile PC" (UMPC) has finally arrived. One of the most eagerly awaited laptops in some time, the tiny Asus Eee PC 4G, is now available from online retailers that include Newegg and Directon.

When the news first broke that Taiwanese computer manufacturer Asus was coming out with a less than two pounds mini-laptop for under $200 that would be running Linux, both gadget and Linux desktop fans were thrilled. Now that it's here, the Eee PC 4G's price has doubled, but early reviewers are still finding this Xandros-Linux powered laptop to be worth the price. [...]

Is it worth the price? I would say that depends...


Reviewer Eees and ahhs over $400 Linux mini-laptop
An ultra-low-cost Linux-based mini-laptop has received four stars and an Editor's Choice award in a recent Laptop Magazine review. The Asus Eee PC (3EPC) 701 ultra-mobile PC (UMPC) was praised for its clutter-free desktop, fast start-up, and -- considering the price -- generous features.

Earlier reports pegged the Eee PC's price at $190, and then at $250. However, the first shipping model in the 3EPC line barely squeezes in under $400.

Still, reviewer Mark Spoonauer says the laptop compares well to other UMPCs, some of which cost even more.

Standard features include a 900MHz Intel Celeron processor, 512MB RAM, and a 4GB solid-state hard drive, expandable via an SD card slot. I/O interfaces include built-in 802.11b/g WiFi, three USB ports, a VGA port for external displays, and wired Ethernet and modem jacks. There are also headphone and mic jacks. [...]

All things considered, I'm not as enthused about this product as I was when I first heard about it. It announced initially that the price would be around $200. Now the price is double that. Sure, they've added more flash memory, and that's driven the price up. But for a bit more than $400, you can buy a REAL laptop with a hard drive, full size screen and keyboard, and other standard features.

I find the Eee interesting technically, and I will be watching the reviews to see how it does. But I doubt I will be buying one anytime soon.

With any luck, the time may not be far off when I'll be able to buy an HP laptop with Ubuntu pre-installed. Here's to hoping!

     

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Linux on the Desktop; a Viable Alternative

Even the NYT's is taking notice:


The Next Leap for Linux
[...] Until recently, major PC makers shied away from Linux. Now the industry is watching as Dell is selling two Linux-equipped desktop models ($549 and $870, including a monitor) and a $774 notebook PC. (Hewlett-Packard offers Linux systems to businesses, and Lenovo, the Chinese company that bought I.B.M.’s PC division, sells Linux machines in China and says it will soon offer Linux-based computers in the United States.)

The Ubuntu version of Linux runs the Dell computers. Because Dell does not have to pay a licensing fee for the operating system, the computers are $80 cheaper than PCs with Windows Vista Home Premium or $50 cheaper than the stripped-down Vista Basic edition.

Ubuntu is generally regarded as one of the more consumer-friendly versions of Linux, so the Linux PC experience is similar to what you would get with a Windows-equipped Dell. When you start the machine, the screen looks familiar; preinstalled applications can easily be found and run from an Applications menu at the top left of the screen. A “Places” menu lets you search for files, and a System menu is there for setting preferences and finding help.

And there is a lot more than just an operating system. Ubuntu, like some other Linux distributions, comes with a lot of free software, including OpenOffice, an alternative to the Microsoft Office suite with a full-featured word processor, spreadsheet, database and presentation program. It also comes with the popular Firefox Web browser as well as an e-mail program, an instant messaging program, a graphic image editor, music player and a photo manager. [...]


Since Dell began shipping Ubuntu Linux pre-installed, others are considering doing the same. HP has begun to do so in Australia, and is considering offering the same in the USA. Computers with Linux pre-installed are even showing up at Walmart:


Everex launches $198 Ubuntu Linux gPC at Wal-Mart
[...] "There has been a latent demand for a consumer-friendly Linux operating system, generating countless inquires from customers seeking an alternative PC experience," said John Lin, general manager of Everex. "The vision behind gPC was to provide mainstream users with all their favorite applications wrapped in a no-compromise, low-cost, consumer-friendly product. We're simply giving the people what they want. Everex enlisted the collective intelligence of users throughout the world. Customers love Google products, so we added them. Hackers want administrative privileges, so we provided it. The ultimate potential of a mainstream, open-source PC is tremendous."

At the heart of the gPC TC2502 is an energy-efficient 1.5GHz, VIA C7-D processor. This CPU draws less than 2W on average (with a maximum of 20W). Operating at a mere 28dB, the gPC also ranks as the quietest Everex desktop computer ever produced. It also includes 512MB of system memory, 80GB hard disk drive and DVD-ROM/CD-RW optical drive. The system also comes with six USB 2.0 ports; an RJ45 Ethernet port; an RJ11 port; and a serial and parallel port. [...]




The operating system is based on Ubuntu, but uses a simpler window manager. See the rest of the article for more info and details.

I know the Linux desktop isn't suddenly becoming popular or grabbing a lot of market share, but it IS making headway, and starting to become recognized as a viable choice for many people. More choice is what the desktop market needs, IMO. It's none too late, and most welcome.


     

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Today's "Modern" Muslim fashions

Turkish President Abdullah Gul (a member of the conservative Muslim AKP ruling party) holds his daughter's hand at her wedding at the Istanbul convention center, an event attended by thousands:


Here is a picture of the wedding party. Notice the shapeless fitting clothes worn by the older women. All the women have their heads covered in the conservative Muslim Fashion. Except maybe that women to the right in the photo below, wearing the red blouse. And is she wearing pants, too?


How did that whore get in there? I guess that's what happens when Sharia Law isn't enforced by the state. Turkey is special in that regard, and I hope it continues to be, despite changes the AKP is attempting to make to Turkey's constitution.

The bride looks happy enough, even if she is wrapped up like a 1950's nun.



Wedding of The Year In Turkey; President Gul’s Daughter Tied The Knot
Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s daughter Kubra married Mehmet Sarimermer, son of a businessman, in a ceremony that was held yesterday at the Istanbul convention center, and was attended by thousands of guests.

Istanbul’s Mayor Kadir Topbas officiated the ceremony and PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former parliamentary speaker Bulent Arinc and current Speaker Koksal Toptan were the bride’s witnesses.

Source: All Turkish dailies, October 15, 2007






I suppose they do look like a happy wedding couple, even if her dress has a touch of that "Mother Superior" look. Women look more human when you can see their ears, neck and a bit of hair, in my opinion.

Now on to another continent...



Are you ready for the "burkini"? It seems the Muslim women of Australia are:


Burqa at the beach
[...]Developed for Muslim women looking for modest swimwear, the long-sleeve polyester tunic with long pants and a stretchy hood -- the name is a melding of bikini and burqa -- lets women hit the waves without fear of either revealing too much skin or drowning in yards of drenched clothing.

The loose-fitting suit, which has won the Australian Islamic Council's approval and is being bought by women across the world "is not just a swimsuit. It's a complete lifestyle change for the better," said Aheda Zanetti, its Lebanese-born Australian designer.

The swimsuit -- a remarkable mix of Victorian fashion and high-tech modernity -- also offers an option for modest-dressing bathers with no ties to Islam; swimmers worried about skin cancer and stinging jellyfish; and more than a few women eager to display a little less of their flabby thighs and sagging breasts in public. [...]




Are they having fun yet? Lets hope so!



This young Muslim lady actually has a job as a life guard. The "burkini" actually makes that possible for her.

I've been tempted to make some snarky comments about the burkini, but I can't. As strange as it is, I have to admit, with the bright colors and patterns, they actually look cheerful. And there's no denying that it's offering many Muslim women a freedom they have not had before. And while it may not seem daring and modern by Western standards, in some Muslim countries, it would be considered actually criminal:


Here's proof of just how revolutionary the Burkini really is. Here is Laura Bush meeting with breast cancer survivors in United Arab Emirates. Some burkini's for these ladies would be a great improvement, IMO.

The idea that a woman has to cover herself completely implies that men don't (or aren't expected to) have any self-control. What about the concept of a man cultivating himself to be a "gentleman"?

And it's not just that I hate it when you can't even see a woman's face; there are also real health reasons to consider. Many Muslim women suffer from vitiman D deficiency, because their skin is not exposed to sunlight enough. Lack of sun exposure can even contribute to breast cancer (Sunshine helps in the fight against breast cancer).

I can understand Muslims valuing a woman's modesty; why they don't want their wives or daughters emulating Britney Spears or other Hollywood celebutramps. But surely, there has to be a happy medium somewhere between the thong and the burka, that's still modest but just more comfortable, human and healthy, too.


UPDATE 08-12-09: This post has generated a lot more traffic and interest than I thought it would. I'm adding a link to the following article, because I think it adds some insights into the subject:

Muslim women uncover myths about the hijab
[...] The surprising history behind the hijab

Some women say the hijab makes them feel like they're locked in a cage. But others say it leads to personal freedom.

Sarah Hekmati first wore the hijab at age 15 growing up in Detroit, Michigan. She is the daughter of Iranian parents who left Iran in 1979 during the Islamic revolution.

Hekmati says the hijab liberated her from some teenage angst: Does my hair look good? Am I cute enough? Should I lose weight?

"It gave me a sense of identity," she says. "I really liked the purpose behind the hijab -- a woman covering herself so that a man should know her for her mind, not her body."

That purpose can be traced back to the Quran, Islam's holy text, which encourages women to dress modestly, says Faegheh Shirazi, author of "The Veil Unveiled."

Some Muslims take the Quran's advice as a command for women to wear the hijab, while others disagree, she says.

"The Quran is very ambiguous about whether you have to wear the veil or not," Shirazi says.

The hijab, however, actually predates Islam, Shirazi explains. The first known reference to veiling (Shirazi uses the term hijab and veil interchangeably) was made in an Assyrian legal text in the 13th century B.C., Shirazi says.

In the Assyrian, and later, the Roman and Byzantine empires, the veil was a symbol of prestige and status, she says. By the 12th century, the veil had been imposed on women in the Muslim world to exclude them from public life, Shirazi says.

"A sign of distinction had been transformed into a sign of exclusion," she writes in her book.

People are still debating the meaning of the hijab today. [...]

Read the whole thing for more about the "culture clash". I've expressed my opinions here already. Mostly, I just want women to have a choice. I see the Burkini as basically a good idea, because it gives women more choices. It's a rather clever and smart-looking design, too.

As for the rest, well, no doubt the debate will continue.



Related Links:

Rima Fakih Crowned Miss USA!

TIME magazine cover shows Taliban atrocity

Iranian Fashion Police Publicly Bludgeon Women

Slaves to Fashion or Fascism?

muslimsdebate.com
     

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Save Snowball from the O.D.F.W.


Here is a story of government interfering busy-bodies that should really make you mad:

Bambi vs the bureaucrats

It's bad enough what they have done to Snowball, but what they've done to her offspring, Bucky, has pretty much guaranteed his death. GGGGRRR!

This is yet just one more story showing how our state government is completely out of control, and needs a major SMACK DOWN. They exist at OUR pleasure, not vice versa.
     

Monday, October 22, 2007

Stossel- GMAB - Al Gore Global Warming Myth



The Dems really seem to be going all out with the children-as-props thing. I guess it saves them from having to talk about FACTS. Emotional appeals are so much better, you don't need to think, just react.

Are Democrats "Emotional Thinkers"?

Global Warming Hysteria;
separating the facts from the fiction

     

Monday, October 08, 2007

Lowering Health Care Costs for Everyone

From In order to bring health care costs down, it's important to understand what makes them so artificially high. John Stossel at Real Clear Politics sheds some light on this important issue:

Control Your Own Health Care
Candidates for president have plans to get more people health insurance. Some would compel us to buy it; others would use the tax code to encourage that. Regardless, insurance is the magic that will solve our health-care problems.

But contrary to conventional wisdom, it's not those without health insurance who are the problem, but rather those with it. They make medical care more expensive for everyone.

We'd each be better off if we paid all but the biggest medical bills out of pocket and saved insurance for catastrophic events. Truly needy people would rely on charity, not government, because once government gets involved, unintended bad consequences abound.

If people paid their own bills, they would likely buy high-deductible insurance (roughly $1,000 for individuals, $2,100 for families) because on average, the premium is $1,300 cheaper. But people are so conditioned to expect others to pay their medical bills that they hate high deductibles: They feel ripped off if they must pay a thousand dollars before the insurance company starts paying.

But high deductibles may be the key to lowering costs and putting you in charge of your health care.

Five years ago, the Whole Foods grocery chain switched to a high-deductible plan. If an employee has a sore throat or a sprained ankle, he pays. But if he gets cancer or heart disease, his insurance covers it.

Whole Foods puts around $1,500 a year into an account for each employee. It's not charity but part of the employee's compensation. It's money Whole Foods would have otherwise spent on more-expensive insurance. Here's the good part for employees: If they don't spend the money on medical care this year, they keep it, and the company adds more next year.

It's called a health savings account, or HSA.

CEO John Mackey told me that when he went to the new system, "Our costs went way down." [...]


(bold emphasis mine) The article goes on to describe the many ways this plan has worked out to benefit both the employer and the employees. I have high deductible health insurance, and a Health Savings Account. All my deductible medical expenses can be paid out of that account; Dentist, Optometrist, Doctor, Chiropractor, even Acupuncture if I want it. With insurance, I'd have to have separate Dental insurance. Eyeglasses or contacts are not always covered. Alternative medicine like Chiropractic and Acupuncture are often not covered by insurance. The HSA account allows ME to choose the kind of care I want, and how much I want to spend on it.

Last year I had a severe gall bladder attack; before the year was over, I had surgery to have it removed.

I used up all the money in my HSA account, but not long after that, my high deductible insurance kicked in, so I didn't end up spending a lot out of pocket. But I was also in charge; I wasn't sure I wanted the surgery, and was able to explore options and have addition tests, because I was paying for them, not the insurance company. That experience has made me a BIG believer in HSA accounts.

Read the rest of Stossel's article to see the affect this freedom has had on Whole Foods Employees. The freedom to choose works out best for everyone.


Related Link:

The Democrats corrupt use of children; lying to promote government sponsored health care:

Graeme Frost and the perils of Democrat poster child abuse
I feel sorry for the kids; it's not their fault that their parents couldn't be bothered to buy health insurance, but spent their money instead on things like business real estate and private school tuition for their kids, among other thingsWhat a sham. It would seem the parents feel entitled to spend their money on luxuries, while the rest of us pay for their insurance.

This isn't the first time Democrats have used children falsely to promote government health care. Remember what Hillary Clinton did in 1994:

Hillary's poisoned poster child

The Media was there while Hillary was using this child as a prop, but where were they when the real sordid story broke out?
     

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Linux Rescue CD's can also repair Windows

Repairing Windows PCs the Linux way
Do you want to know the basics of repairing Windows systems with Knoppix Linux?

You should. It's incredibly useful information to have, since with Knoppix, or other live CD-based Linuxes, you can do life-saving surgery on near-dead Windows systems.

I've done it several times myself and I've meant to get around to writing an introductory how-to on the subject. So much for that idea! Scott Granneman has beaten me to it with his excellent story, Fixing Windows with Knoppix, in our sister publication, Extreme Tech.

In this tale, Granneman goes over some of the repairs you're most likely to want to do on a Windows system with the Debian-based Knoppix Linux. These include: working on the Windows machine's hard drive partitions; repairing broken boot.ini files; editing the system registry file; and recovering data from dead systems to USB drives, writeable CD or DVD, network drives, or even an email account. [...]

Or how about SystemRescueCD, designed specifically as a rescue CD:

The best Linux system repair distribution gets better
[...] The new 0.4 version of SystemRescueCd was released on Oct. 4. This new edition focuses on disk partitioning, Vista support, and data rescue tasks. In the past, we've found SystemRescueCD to be the best of the best when it comes to repairing troubled systems. We see every reason to believe that this version will be even better.

[...]

If you're a Windows user, don't let the fact that this is a Linux-based repair tool keep you away. SystemRescueCD has long excelled at repairing Windows systems. With new support for the Vista “Offline NT Password & Registry Editor” and improved support for NTFS drives, SystemRescueCD is better than ever for what ails your Windows PCs. [...]

These can be downloaded for free. And if nothing else, a live Linux CD can easily help you rescue your data from an otherwise inaccessible hard drive. Every computer user should have a Linux live CD handy.

Friday, October 05, 2007

"The Geese Police" - A Success Story


Geese Police: It's a Geese of a Home Business!
[...] About fourteen years ago, David Marcks never thought that chasing geese as a way to keep his hyperactive dog busy could become a lucrative business.

David, then 23 years old, was working as a golf course superintendent in Greenwich, Connecticut. As he recalls, "I had a problem with 600 geese residing on the golf course." They tried several options: goose-repellent chemicals that don't always work, to streamers or other "goose-frightening" props that altered the appearance of the golf course. Killing or injuring the birds was out of the question.

At the same time, he got his first Border collie. After trying various approaches unsuccessfully, he stumbled on the idea that he could perhaps train his dog to drive off the geese. "I contacted the American Border Collie Association, told them about what I want to train the dog to do and they thought I was a lunatic."

It worked! As David proudly recalls, "Once I had my dog for 6-8 weeks, I didn't have any geese on my golf course. Of course my neighboring golf courses suffered greatly because all the geese went someplace else."

With the geese gone, however, a new problem popped up. David had a new problem: what will he do with the dog?

"What nobody told me when I got my dog was that border collies make lousy pets. Now we had this highly intelligent working breed dog with nothing to do. She was driving me crazy. She was chasing squirrels, rabbits, golf balls, etc. Once I had a little irrigation break on a green, and she was being difficult, more so that particular day, so I put her in my office. I left for 20 minutes, and went down to the golf course and checked on the problem. When I came back, she ate my office - I mean literally -- my desk, the chair, the garbage can, and three sets of computer cables."

While some may have gotten rid of the dog, David thought otherwise. "I know she was a great dog; but she just needed to be kept busy."

What David did next laid the ground for Geese Police. He offered the services of his dog to herd away the geese in neighboring golf courses, with no charge for the service. After all, it was simply a way to keep his dog busy.

"I asked the neighboring golf course if they had any problems with geese. So I brought my dog and introduced her, and asked if I could possibly stop by every morning before work, during lunch and after work to herd the geese off the golf course. They agreed. So that's what I did. Everyday, I dropped by before going to work, then came back during lunch break and after work and herd the geese off another golf course."

Four to six weeks later, the neighboring golf course didn't have any geese on their property. So David was back to square one. His dog had again nothing to do. "She was being a menace and I have to look around for something for her to do."

Word about David and his dog started to spread among golf course operators in Connecticut. Another superintendent was playing in the neighboring golf course that David and his dog serviced. With the noticeable absence of geese, he asked the superintendent whatever happened to the geese. The superintendent replied, as David recalls, "Oh you've got to see it. This kid comes down and he has this dog. They come down here and drive away the geese."

The guy called up David and said, "I'd pay you to chase the geese off my golf course."

That started Geese Police.

While Geese Police started in the golf course sector, David says that, "Golf courses are now just about 5% of my business. The majority of my business now, about 90%, are corporate parks and playgrounds - corporate and township properties." [...]

Read the whole thing, to see how what started out as just a way to exercise his dog, has grown across state lines and evolved into a multi-million dollar business that supports over 40 families.

Geese Police Inc.

[...] Geese Police, Inc. now has over 35 specially-trained dogs, services clients throughout New Jersey and Rockland and Richmond counties in New York, and franchised its business concept throughout the country from 1998 to March 2003 when it sold to GPI, LLC. the right to use the Geese Police System and marks. GPI, LLC currently offers franchises.


Here's a video from You Tube, featuring David Marcks, who talks about the business he started and the dogs he works with: