Sunday, December 31, 2006

Spaniards Grow a Spine After Latest ETA Bombing

Looks like Spain is getting tired of their government's policy of appeasing terrorists, and are even asking for their Surrender Monkey PM Zapaterlain to resign.

Soccer Fan Gets Italian Soccer GM's Goat

Soccer Team Palermo general manager Rino Foschi got an offal he should've refused for Christmas.

Foschi doesn't believe the "prank" is mafia related:

"My wife was shocked when she opened the package, but I think it was a joke and I'm sleeping peacefully. Let's not make a film out of this."

At least he has a sense of humor about it.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Three Way Gone Bad? Malicious Castration in N.C.

Guys everywhere got a little queasy at the "50 stitches" part, I'm sure.

Dawson is accused of grabbing the man's genitals. Police said a weapon was not used. He declined to elaborate.

"I believe he needed more than 50 stitches to repair the damage, but he is back home at this point," police Cpl. Brad Stevens said. "All we can tell you is that the injury was done with her hands."

What the circumstances were, I can only speculate, because the police are treating the incident, um, gingerly.

Global Warmongering 2006 Roundup

Tim Blair links to a roundup of inconvenient events in 2006 that hampered the selling of anthropogenic global warming to the masses.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Enviros vs German Culture in Fight for Speed

German Enviros want to impose a speed limit on stretches of the Autobahn, to curb emissions. German car enthusiasts say that's akin to losing a part of German Identity:

The Financial Times Deutschland was clear in a commentary on its Web site: "Derestricted driving on the autobahn is to the Germans what pesto is to the Italians and the baguette is to the French. No one in Italy or in France would dare to try and ban the cultural characteristics of their country."

So, Kyoto carbon credits not doing the job?

Tips on Drinking and Hangovers Before New Year

MSNBC has tips on avoiding that hangover. Also, what to do after the fact.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Fragility of Global Internet Revealed

When the earthquakes off the coast of Taiwan hit earlier this week, aside from the damage caused to homes and infrastructure on land in the area, the big story was the disruption of the network of undersea data cables that have become the lifeblood of the globalization movement: instantaneous access to information and communication.

With tectonic plates shifting, and unstable fault lines on the sea bed in some regions of the globe, in the coming years ahead, I predict that a network of redundant satellites in orbit will take over the duties originally handled by these increasingly vulnerable data cables.

Mac Luser Whines About Lack of VB Support in Office 2007

I couldn't help chuckling out loud reading this guy's lament in MacWorld magazine on Microsoft's decision not to port Visual Basic into the Mac version of Office 2007. My first thought was, Why is someone actually using a Mac in a corporate environment? The only way IT managers are going to allow that is that they got browbeaten into submission by upper management because their "Diva of the Floor" needed it for something (which they can never articulate). Some other items to point out:

  • Microsoft stopped supporting Visual Basic 6.0 as a platform for development in 2005.
  • Microsoft will eventually end all support for VBA in all of its products, not just Mac versions, to push the use of XML and the .Net Framework.
  • It's not a secret that Microsoft wants the PC platform to pwn the corporate environment, and simply put (as this opinion piece points out) the decision not to support VB on Mac's Office 2007 seems to be a good (if ruthless) way to do just that.

If you really need a Mac in your office (only God and the "Doyenne of the Department" know why), Bootcamp and Parallels offer good solutions to the cross platform issue. Even so, this guy worries over Microsoft's possible lost sales to the Mac Universe:

If Office loses its cross-platform audience, Microsoft is going to lose sales. And if it loses sales, then it’s going to be less inclined to make improvements beyond key bug fixes and basic compatibility testing. That’ll mean a crippled version of Office for all Mac users—who will stop buying an app that will eventually see fewer and fewer substantive upgrades.

Personally, I don't think Microsoft is crying over potential lost sales to Mac corporate users. Most users of Microsoft Office on Mac don't care about macros (if they did, they'd have been smart enough to buy a PC by now). Not supporting VB on Mac sounds like a brilliant strategy to shed the last vestiges of this almost non-existent boutique platform in the corporate world.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Enviros Ask for a Military Solution: Cane Toads

"Help! Help! I'm being oppressed! See the violence inherent in the ecosystem!" Some enviros want the Australian Military to wage a ground war against Cane Toads, otherwise the little eco-terrorists win.

Maybe just an air assault with coordinated missile strikes will do the job. Others are still looking for a diplomatic solution, but how many U.N. resolutions does it take? Let's ask Kofi.

Scientists Feeling "Buyer's Remorse" on Global Warming

Add another "skeptic" to the list of scientists studying climate change asking that his community, you know, follow where the science leads them rather than get swept up in the political movement of Global Warmongering.

What I am starting to hear is internal backlash. Sure, science is messy and always full of tension between holders of competing positions, opinions and analyses. That has always been the nature of science, and of course extends to climate science. Tensions come out at meetings, on listservs, on letters pages, and in the press. But these tensions normally surround a particular paper, or a particular question. While much more broadly-based tensions have existed for years on the state of understanding on global warming, they haven't really been tensions internal to the climsci community, but tensions between the climsci community and interested outsiders.

What I am sensing now is something much broader and more diffuse, something that has less to do with particular components of the science in the field and is much more about how the field is composing itself.

Yes, by all means, let the scientists actually do their jobs and not worry about "The Spanish Inquisition" when they abandon positions they initially supported because the science says to do so! This is the whole point of science, to add more to our understanding of the physical world. There are still Flat Earthers out there, but should we accept their ideology just because they have political clout?

H/T Tim Blair

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dems Look to Target Big Oil Profits

That didn't take very long, did it? The Dems announcing schemes for a "wealth redistribution" against Big Oil sounds unsettlingly communistic. It's not Big Oil's fault that crude is trading above $60 a barrel. If they want to hurt Big Oil profits, Dems should set their sights on a real hegemonic monopoly: OPEC.

The Changing Face of Spam in 2006

If you've noticed a trend of higher volumes of spam lately, you're not alone. A new breed of spammers are responsible for the 67 to 80% increase since August 2006. The spam that reaches your inbox now is different and designed to elude spam filters that rely heavily on key words and a list of known spammer IP addresses:

The new spam evades traditional spam filters because it doesn't include any text--instead, it uses an image embedded in the body of an e-mail to deliver its message. This image includes text that displays the spammer's message. But to make it hard for spam filters that may use optical character recognition technology to scan and read the text in the images, spammers are getting sneakier. They're sending pictures with textured backgrounds or various colors to throw off the filters. They're also varying the font for each letter of the text. This way a spam filter can't tell an unsolicited stock tip from a holiday picture of the family.

Image spam currently accounts for up to 40 percent of incoming e-mail, according to McAfee Avert Labs.

Because the spam is mostly of the pump-and-dump variety pushing junk stock, the damage they cause is minimal to the end user, and mostly just annoying to IT types worried about network bandwidth and disk space on their mail servers.

Of course, the point of the spam is to make money off the dupes who actually buy stock. When the stock price is pumped sufficiently, the spammers dump their shares at a modest profit, leaving the dupes holding worthless stock.

The botnet armies that these new breed of spammers command are large and expanding. Even worse, these organized crime syndicates pay hackers to unleash viruses and worms for the specific purpose of finding more computers to add to their rolls of zombies in their botnet armies. This is why virus attacks are smaller now in nature, but more coordinated.

Look for this phenomenon to get worse in 2007 before it gets better.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Blogging Christmas

Merry Christmas from Joeschmo and Petrarchan Motif

Scary, isn't it?
Twin Blogging?

Cross posted at Joeschmo's.

Merry Christmas!

He's the reason for the season, fer Christ's sake.

James Brown Mourned


1933-2006

James Brown has passed away from complications related to pneumonia. He was 73. It took 15 years for the rumors to catch up with him. A lifetime ago, he was one of my major influences in my dance style and choreography. Words fail me.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Less Acid Rain Means More CO2?

Talk about your unintended consequences. Remember when the big bogey man for environmentalists in the '80s was Acid Rain? Ultimately, the Clean Air Act was passed in 1990, which led to a reduction in sulphur emissions in the air, resulting in less smoggy days.

Fast-forward to today's bogey man, Global Warming. Now some scientist are seeing a possible link to greater CO2 emissions because of all the clean air. Who's emitting all this planet-killing greenhouse gas? Mother Gaia, herself. Maybe we should get these microbes to pay for some carbon credits. That ought to reduce killer GHG emissions, right? Kyoto takes plastic, I think.

Stories like these really undercut just exactly what it is that anthropogenic global warming activists are trying to accomplish. Regardless of all the carbon emissions that humans are responsible for, there are still the greenhouse gases produced from natural processes. Should we interfere with Nature, and clash with other, contradictory, environmental efforts that fight to keep Mother Nature alone? My proposal: Let the environmentalists duke it out in a cage match. That's not much different than their lobbying efforts now.

Friday, December 22, 2006

PS3 Madness Continues

How morbidly bizarre is this story?

Remember the officer who shot a suspected mugger of PS3s? Well, he eventually got fired for not following the New Hanover County sheriff's procedures on use of force, and may face possible murder charges. That didn't sit well with some of his coworkers, and they wanted to help him and his family out financially by holding a raffle. The prize? A Playstation 3.

Um...wow, that's just all sorts of wrong, right there. The Sheriff's Department also thought so:

"I thought it was most inappropriate," Tom Parker, the chief deputy, said of the raffle. "It flies in the Strickland family's face, as it would any family who's lost a loved one."

The deputies eventually substituted the raffle prize with a big-screen tv. What a bunch of yutzes.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Future: Tricorders and Datapads

Some trends to follow on the path to an actual Star Trek Tricorder or Star Wars Datapad. The biggest obstacle is going to be the power source:

There’s one other challenge in the race to replace laptops: battery life...lithium ion battery technology — the state of the art — has just about reached its peak, and new approaches to battery technology are still a few years away.

That’s why there’s so much interest worldwide in replacing conventional batteries with tiny fuel cells. Fuel cells promise extended power delivery, and when they do run down, they can be recharged simply by adding a bit of methanol.

When it finally does arrive, I just hope we don't have to deal with the Tricorder's attorney.

A GM Crop that Europe Won't Object To?

Who knows? Maybe the Dutch will allow it within their borders. The UK public seems adamantly opposed to GM crops of any kind, however.

Dystopian Future Redux

So, earlier, I was concerned that Skynet might have been spawned from your Xbox 360 petulantly complaining about being ignored, and getting even with you by annihilating humanity with our own nuclear arsenal. That seems pretty alarming, and we have the three Terminator movies depicting just how it all went down.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one concerned about the progression of A.I. A research group in the UK invited forward-thinking scientist to imagine the state of robotics 50 years from now. One of the position papers was able to trump all others with a terrifying vision of robots unleashing a barrage, not of ICBMs, but of civil rights lawyers:

The next time you beat your keyboard in frustration, think of a day when it may be able to sue you for assault.

The horror! The ACLU would have a field day with this kid. With the state of jurisprudence today, the future is now.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dutch Men Get Another Reason to Smile

Dutch men, already the tallest in the world, now find that their women aren't just growing upward, either. H/T Ace.

China Moves to Restrict Foreign Adoption

Uh oh. Could the Hollywood Trendoid who came late to the "Adopt-a-Fashion-Statement" be aced out of the party? The rules are "barring applicants who are unmarried, obese, over 50 or who take antidepressants".

Oh well, there goes Rosie O'Donnell's bid. Darn. And she was all set to talk to the kid in her native language, too.

Bloggers Occupy a Grey Area?

Hmm. I didn't want to say out loud that I'm finding more and more bloggers seem to be of a certain age. Thank goodness I can let a news story take the flack.

If the boomers, the ultimate "me generation", take to blogging like this trend seems to be saying, how does that square with Gartner's prediction that blogging will peak in 2007? That prediction seems less likely in light of this news.

Mashterpato Rasslin'?

Heh. Talk about your hot potato.

Georgia School Board Slides on Evolution Sticker

Good. Here's what the sticker actually said:

This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.

Seems rather redundant to place a warning like this on a Science book. Hello? Shouldn't all scientific subjects "be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered"? That's kinda the point of empiricism, I thought. The school board and the parents who supported the sticker effort agreed to back down only because it was an expensive distraction to fight the ACLU. This time, I agree with the ACLU's stance.

I see this school board attempting to bring it up again in the future.

Monday, December 18, 2006

French Ensure "Pink Panther" Stays a Documentary

Great, just what we need, more Jacques Clouseaus running around. A French university is now offering a degree in private investigation. Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot's lee-tell gray cells notwithstanding, the French have a very low opinion of the Private Eye, and just like anything else they do, they suck the very spirit and joy out a profession:

The profession is now one of the most highly regulated in France, said Christian Borniche, vice-president of the Federal Union of Detectives and instructor at the Institute, "with draconian restrictions on those who practise it."

Still, being a private dick isn't as exciting as what you see on the TV procedurals. Less "Pierre Dupin" and more "Encyclopedia Brown."

Why Ace is Ace

It could have been just a "cool, neato" post about refractive surface technology, but in one sentence, Ace shows why people keep coming back to read his posts:

They've got a grant to research negative light refraction indexes, which could lead to stuff like seeing the stars more clearly with telescopes and gay shit like that, and, more importantly, cloaks of invisbility.[emphasis added]

I was laughing at that off-handed throw away line all day.

Upload Speeds Still Lag in the "Broadband Era"

Providing Content for the internet is still expensive because of the imbalance of plans available to the broadband consumer. Some of the problems are technical in nature, too. The broadband models that ISPs are building towards are geared towards downloading large files, like movies and music, not for the uploading of such files:

The souped-up phone lines were originally developed for video on demand. Most of the traffic goes from the service provider to the home. Users only need to send occasional commands to buy and start shows.

Some countries already already see internet service plans that allow for fast upload (all that Anime on YouTube.com had to come from somewhere):

Broadband options are already better in many countries outside the United States, thanks to better government incentives and fewer rural regions that are difficult to reach. There, residents have access to a wider range of symmetric services.

Gary Bachula, a vice president with the super-speedy, next-generation Internet2 network for government agencies and universities, said users in the United States might not even realize yet what they are missing. Service providers, he said, should be nudging customers toward data-intensive applications and realize they will pay more for value.

Look to see some ISPs differentiate themselves with new broadband plans that are competitive in price with the old model.

Last "Numa Numa" Viral Video, I Swear

That's it, no more "Numa Numa", no more "Crazy German Kid", and no more "Lightsaber Kid". At least for this year, I'm done with Viral Videos.

...well, at least until the next one comes along.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Numa Numa Gets Machinima'ed

If you're a fan of viral videos, you know about the "Numa Numa" kid. I found this machinima of it, Worlds of Warcraft Style.


Update: Just for my bro, there's a Numa Numa mashup with Full Metal Alchemist. Dude, I know. I'm bored, too.

East Germany at the Asian Games?

You don't see a failed gender test at an athletic competition a lot these days. The athlete in this case is an Indian woman.

Abbas' Office Attacked in Gaza

Is it a civil war now? Still waiting for Matt Lauer to weigh in.

"He sees you when you're Blogging"

Santa has been blogging for a while.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The "Debate" is Over on Melting Glaciers...

...or is it? The funniest thing about this AP article is that you could tell the reporter kept wanting to get the perfect "Global Warming Kills Glaciers and Puppies" quote out of these scientists, but instead, he kept getting what real scientists usually say about ecological systems as complex as climate and glaciers:

Stefan Hastenrath of the University of Wisconsin, who has climbed, poked, photographed and measured east Africa's glaciers for four decades, says what's happening is complex and needs more study. But on a continent where climatologists say temperatures have risen an average 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century, global warming plays a role, he says.

"The onset of glacier recession in east Africa has causes different from other equatorial regions. It's a complicated sort of affair," he said by telephone from Madison. But "that is not something to be taken as an argument against the global warming notions."

In Kampala, Uganda's capital, veteran meteorologist Abushen Majugu agreed. "There's generally been a constant rise in temperatures. To some degree the reduction of the glaciers must be connected to warming," he said.

"To some degree" is all he got. He must have been so disappointed that they wouldn't play ball. Luckily, he could count on an "environmentalist" to inject the money quote he needed:

"The repercussions on people living down the slopes [of melting glaciers] will be terrible," said Kenyan environmentalist Grace Akumu.

Whew! Banging the dreambeat of scary global warming, check! Almost didn't get that story published until he got that quote, I bet.

Climate Modeling Shows Trees Contribute To Global Warming

Planet-Killing Trees are in the news again! Enviro-Prop simplistically posits that trees are supposed to be good for Mother Gaia by offsetting carbon emissions, right? But new research shows that trees, the further they are from the equator, can have deleterious, even disastrous *gasp* effects. This time, a global climate model predicted that if you plant trees in the latitude and elevation that most of American and Western Europe exist, the net effect is that they warm the planet by trapping heat near the ground:

"Our study shows that tropical forests are very beneficial to the climate because they take up carbon and increase cloudiness, which in turn helps cool the planet," explained Dr Bala.

The further you move from the equator, though, these gains are eroded; and the team's modelling predicts that planting more trees in mid- and high-latitude locations could lead to a net warming of a few degrees by the year 2100.

"The darkening of the surface by new forest canopies in the high-latitude boreal regions allows absorption of more sunlight that helps to warm the surface," Dr Bala said.

"In fact, planting more trees in high latitudes could be counterproductive from a climate perspective."

Good luck spinning talking points out of this study, Sierra Club.

So much for the "consensus" on climate science. Aren't all these climate modeling scientists supposed to be agreeing with each other? I love stories like this, because it shows what science is about, not consensus, but messy debate-inducing research. More on planet-killing trees here.

Update: I forget about this post on a proposal to reseed the earth with a billion Gaia-murdering trees.

H/T Tim Blair

Update II: Climate Science has more on this published study.

Brit Woman Undergoes Treatment for Thinking She's French

The woman apparently suffers from Susac's syndrome. Still no treatment, unfortunately, for the 61 million people who are actually afflicted with being born French.

H/T Ace

"If I Did It" Publisher Slashed

HarperCollins fired Judith Regan, the publish that spear-headed the ill-fated O.J. Simpson project. I love how the press release was deliberately vague about the reason behind the firing:

Word of Regan's dismissal from the News Corp (Charts).-owned publishing house came in a terse press release headlined "HarperCollins Terminates Judith Regan." The statement said her termination was effective immediately. No explanation was given.

I suppose the reason is obvious.

Friday, December 15, 2006

More Gingerbread in the News

Seriously, a Nazi Gingerbread Man? What was this guy thinking? Perhaps he should have moved into a Gingerbread House in Sweden.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Superheroes Registered to Vote?

Kind of an old post, but it seemed a propos, with news that the creator of the Green Lantern died today.

What about their secret identities? Well, since they don't have to show a picture ID to pull the lever, why not? The best one:

THE HULK – LIBERTARIAN

“Hulk just want to be left alone.”

H/T Ace

Sorry about the light blogging, but I just wasn't that into the news today. Let the blogging heavyweights comment on the utter irony of "Leaky" Leahy guarding the public's secrets. Heck, I wasn't even that enthused about the rocky flying squirrel, er, fossilized gliding squirrel-like mammal (no moose fossils found in the vicinity, though).

I'll try to do better tomorrow.

Big Brass Ones

Do not ever piss John Bolton off. Imagine Clint Eastwood's voice:

Bolton: Ahmadinejad, you like conventions about genocide, do you? How about this one I heard about in 1948.

See you at The Hague.

Or something like that. It's really too bad that he'll never get confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. I'm going to miss stories like this.

H/T Jawa Report

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

You Will Never Find a More Wretched Hive...

...of scum and villainy. Cool! Tatooine...Road trip!

H/T Jawa Report

Global Warmening Claims Confectionary Dwellings

Gingerbread Houses are now under assault from Global Warming in Sweden.

Is raising the specter of Global Warming tongue in cheek, or gallows humor in the face of a perceived disastrous inevitability?

Hypocrisy Not "Left Behind": Game Boycott

Liberal groups are calling for a boycott on a video game based on the popular Christian "Left Behind" book series. It's worth noting that the one of the supposed Christian groups urging that Wal-Mart pull the game from its shelves, "Christian Alliance for Progress", was formed "to counter the influence of the religious right."

The only voice that matters should be the consumer's. What do actual gamers think of the game?

Other online reviewers — writing for hardcore gamers — have been less impressed.

“Don’t mock ’Left Behind: Eternal Forces’ because it’s a Christian game. Mock it because it’s a very bad game,” wrote GameSpot reviewer Brett Todd.

If it's a bad game, then the market will ensure that stores don't carry it if it can't justify using up shelf-space.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Expected, Unexpected

A Daley running for re-election in Chicago? That's like predicting Lake-Effect snow.

Kucinich running again for President? Not so much.

Congress Learning How to Work Like Normal Americans

Earlier we had learned how some in Congress whined about a five day work week, and then they're told they can no longer light up while prowling the halls or in committee. What's next? Having to show I.D. to get into a secure workplace? Or acting as if sexual harassment laws are for the protection of all employees, and not to be ignored, and then only used for political gain?

Certainly, members of Congress have never seen such scrutiny before in how they conduct the American people's business. And that's a good thing.

Global Warming Said to Affect Space Debris

You can now add the danger of space debris to the long list of catastrophes directly or indirectly caused by global warming, at least their orbits, anyway. According to the study, global warming cools the outer atmosphere where space debris can be found, making it less dense:

[Stanley] Solomon is the co-author of a study presented on Monday that found man's burning of fossil fuels and increase of carbon dioxide emissions will make the Earth's outer atmosphere above 62 miles 3 percent less dense by 2017. The study found a decrease of about 5 percent between 1970 and 2000...As this outermost region becomes less dense, it produces less drag on satellites, space craft and tens of thousands of pieces of discarded space debris from previous missions orbiting at about 250 miles from Earth's surface.

On the upside, it will require less fuel to keep space vehicles we want in orbit to stay aloft.

The study makes no claims on how dense the atmosphere was before 1970, as instrumentation didn't exist before then to measure it. Was this a trend before anthropogenic sources of CO2 could be claimed to add to global warming? The study certainly can't answer that question, one way or the other.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

As if Quebecers Needed Another Reason...

...to feed their isolationist fantasies. Now we can add a "Master Race" complex. A little more disturbing was the whiff of eugenics running throughout this article. I'm just waiting for "Quebec Youth" marches to pop up spontaneously.

This is Tech Purport...

My supervisor keeps having to have "talks" with me, too, about my "tone" with customers. I wonder why?

&#169 Scott Adams

Ultimate Frisbee, the Ultimate 'Green Sport'?

Apparently, so, according to George Monbiot (H/T Tim Blair).

I played a lot of Ultimate Frisbee at the lefty college I ultimately did not graduate from, (and by a lot, I mean close to 5 hours a day, even in the snow...study, wha?). That doesn't include all the hours I spent just practicing my "trick" throws, that may (or may not) have been handy in windy conditions.

I could never quite figure out the fascination that the crunchy set has with Ultimate Frisbee. The guys (and that included "wymyn") I played with were just as jockish and competitive as athletes in any other sport, but then again, I played to win, not just "enjoy nature" by playing a couple of points and then sitting out the rest of the game to cheer on the serious folk. There's a lot of carbon debt that goes into cheering lustily, too, you know. Plus, we played with cleats on, so we were just as bad at ripping up the grass as American Football (I do have some Aussie and UK readers), Soccer (regular football), Rugby, and even, yes, Cricket. Plus, if you were on the club squad, you had to travel to other colleges to play their clubs, and that meant air travel, bus travel, all with CO2 emitting internal combustion engines. Again, more carbon debt.

The myth of Ultimate Frisbee as the "Liberal" or "Environmental" sport just won't die, especially when propogated from the very same enviro-crowd that never played it as a competitive sport. As with any myth the enviro-crowd won't let go of, this one dies hard.

Update:

from Tim Blair's commenters:

Frisbees are made of plastic, you planet-raping monster.

Explain that carbon debt, George.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

When Grammar and Coffee Snobbery Collide

Mispronouncing 'espresso' is one of my pet peeves, too:

&#169 Jef Mallett

The End of the Desktop Era?

As I read this story on my laptop, I can recognize firsthand the downward trend of desktop sales. When I bought my laptop, desktops weren't even on the list for my consumer research.

Think of the desktop market as gamers and grandmas. PC gamers remain a lucrative market segment, buying expensive computers to better blast aliens in head-to-head online competition. The elderly and all others who simply want to read e-mail and hit the occasional Web site are generally content with low-cost, limited-function desktops.

"Gamers and Grandmas", heh. I don't know, laptops are making headway with the gamer crowd.

We'll see what Microsoft's Vista does for the desktop market next year, though. It does seem that the desktop is going the way of the dinosaur, however.

Offshore Drilling in the Gulf Passes

This bill's passage, granting access to an estimated 1.26 billion barrels of oil and 5.8 trillion barrels of natural gas, should provide the U.S. with some much needed leverage against OPEC, and Iran in particular. I predict re-elected Hugo Chavez to make even more bizarre sabre rattling comments, too, when these petroleum supplies finally make it to market.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sorry for the light posting...

Late hours at the office combined with phone service (DSL included!) outage equals lack of blogging. Hopefully service will be restored by the end of the day.

I gotta have me my Naruto downloads, or this whole week is down the drain!

Update: This is what AT&T says is the status of my phone service:

We are experiencing a service outage in your area.
Your Estimated Service Restoral Time is Between now and 6 PM Sunday, December 10.**
The outage may be causing any or all of the following telephone problems:
No Dial Tone
Can’t Call Out
Can’t Be Called

Great. I'm guessing that I'll have service back closer to December 10 than to Now.

Update II:

I saw an SBC utility truck outside my building and took that as a good omen, and when I picked up my handset, teh Yay!™, a dial tone. And DSL is up and running, too. I can breathe a sigh of relief.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Roar! Wii Smash!!!

Nintendo's having a pretty successful launch of Wii, but the Wii Console isn't the only thing that's been launching, with reports of gamepads flying around and smashing the competition, and by competition, I mean, other media products in the general vicinity. Take a visit to the website mentioned in the Reuters report, http://wiihaveaproblem.com/. Those "Nintendomaniacs" sure are an enthusiastic bunch.

Step 1, Get a Nice Joojoo Bag...

Heh. I've got a few customers I'd like to put a hex on.

&#169 Joe Martin

Apple in the News, But Not in the Way They'd Like

Okay, computer manufacturers, line up. All computer manufacturers who are doing everything they can to be enviro-conscious, take one step forward. Apple, not so fast.

That's okay Apple, even if you're not environmentally friendly, you're still young and hep, right? Now wait a minute, that can't be right, can it?

You'll show them, Apple. Let's play some video games on your cool OS X to take your mind off the bad news...Oooh...not till 2007.

Hmmm...well, we could always watch one of your cool ads on TV. Huh? Not the right one? Sorry Apple, that's all the time I can spend with you today. Maybe next time, okay?

Study Finds Flaw in 2005 Hurricane Season Link to Global Warming

World Climate Report comments on a recent article published in Geophysical Research Letters by a team of scientists from National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton, UK and the School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Sciences at the University of Plymouth, UK. The data collected from the Argo float network show that the part of the Atlantic Ocean responsible for generating hurricanes was actually cooler on average for the period from 1999 through 2005 than its average during the previous 100 years. Note, "negative value of the AHC" translates as lower than the historical average temperature:

The researchers go on to state “The southern and mid North Atlantic subdomains between 10°N and 50°N contributed mainly to the total negative value of the AHC.” Last we checked it is the lower latitude ocean conditions that control such things as hurricanes, and it is there that the negative AHC values dominate.

The study does show that in the northern latitudes of the Atlantic the AHC is trending upward, which makes sense since there is observable melting of the Arctic ice sheets. What's important to note is that the study, while not meaning to, pokes a big hole in the theory that global warming was responsible for the hyperactive hurricane season of 2005. The team of hurricane scientists from N.C. State could have told you that.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Real Life "Slow Donnie" Caught in the Act

Remember the character of "Slow Donnie" on the middling sitcom Just Shoot Me, portrayed by actor David Cross, who went onto another whacky character on Arrested Development?

It looks like prosecutors in Tacoma, WA have found themselves a real-life one, caught on tape, no less, first acting retarded, then arguing quite persuasively against a traffic ticket. What's so bad about faking retardation? When your mother uses it to receive Social Security checks, of course. "Donnie want kiss like on Showtime!"

Update: My brother had posted on a similar, though creepier, story here.

Still No Jooos Die in Protest Marches

First there was the Judaism Cartoon Contest that resulted in zero deaths. Now comes Iranian President Ahmadinejad's conference on evidence for the Holocaust, a thinly veiled summit on Holocaust Denial. A sister conference in Germany will also reportedly be held, in solidarity. What a lovely gesture of outreach.

My prediction, also zero deaths in protests. Yes, Judaism that religion of hate and violence.

Business Schools Tackle Bureaucratese

It's about time business schools took the written word seriously. At the very least, students will graduate knowing how to write a readable cover letter for their resumes. Best example in the story:

Dianna Booher, a communication training consultant for Fortune 500 clients, submits the following example from a company manager: “It is my job to ensure proper process deployment activities take place to support process institutionalization and sustainment. Business process management is the core deliverable of my role, which requires that I identify process competency gaps and fill those gaps.”

Translation: I’m the training director.

Wouldn't that look good on the Curriculum Vitae.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Most Powerful Twins in the World Make News Again

I've posted earlier on Poland's President and Prime Minister, Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and expected more high jinks out of them. They're in the news again, but this time, it's a German newspaper that is causing trouble at their expense. Apparently, it's taboo to refer to Poles as potatoes (akin to calling them rubes or country bumpkins), and this paper had done it before when Lech, after winning his election for President, appointed his twin brother Jaroslaw as Prime Minister.

The "jibe" (as Reuters called it) allegedly led to the postponing of three-party talks between France, Germany, and Poland, though Lech said he was just ill at the time. He could have sent his brother, I suppose, like he did in October for an EU summit. No word yet on which of the two actually attended the summit. I love these twins in the news.

PS3 Now Officially the Game Console To Die For

That's just sad, and so unnecessary. Police shot the dog, too. I'm sure Glenn Reynolds will add it to his fast amassing stories of "no-knock" warrant posts.

An Inconvenient Sea Level Study

The myth of the scary rising sea levels as a consequence of anthropogenic CO2 emissions just won't go away, as popularized in fictional and a little less fictional depictions. This, even after the IPCC's 2001 report said that the average sea level rose only 1 inch in the latter 20th Century. Details, details.

More pesky meddling, like, you know, scientific research, keeps getting in the way of Al Gore's Power Point presentation. Global Climate Modelers have tried to show a correlation between the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and a rising rate of sea level change. World Climate has found another peer-reviewed study, this time two scientists writing for the Journal of Coastal Research, that shows that the rate of sea level rise actually slowed to about 2.6mm/year after the early 1900s, after a rapid rise around 1750 AD. That observation hardly fits into the theory:

In conclusion, Larsen and Clark note that “there is no discernible divergence in the rate of sea-level rise over the past two centuries to suggest a connection with the documented increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration.” This conclusion is reinforced with the comment that over 1,000s of years “the rate of sea-level rise has been linear over this time period and shows no indication of the pronounced mid-20th-century increase” with any increase in global temperature. And for even more interesting evidence, they write “Worthy of note is the apparent opposite direction of the sea-level trends for the past few decades, which show rise in North America and fall in the Baltic, thus arguing against recent acceleration in sea-level rise.” They wrap up their interesting article stating “One of the conclusions of our study is that there has been a tendency to splice together rates of sea-level rise with little regard to the suitability of scale and to derive curves that show steadily increasing rates of sea-level rise.”

I guess the "consensus" forgot to ask the coastlines first.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Leakey vs Pentacostal Kenyans

Well, we've seen these kind of efforts in the U.S. recently, but Creationists in Kenya are flexing their God begotten muscles against a museum where several of Richard Leakey's fossils are on display. Richard Leakey is the son of the famed Paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey, the discoverer of "Lucy", and is famous in his own right for his scientific endeavors.

A bishop of one of the Pentacostal Churches in Kenya is calling for a boycott of the museum. My only reaction is, since when do Christian Fundamentalists go to Science Museums? It doesn't sound like it will hurt the museum all that much, really.

But Will Klingonese Be on the Ballot in PA?

Heh.

H/T Instapundit.

Ayn Rand Fans Still Have Positive Attitude

I'm positive that Ayn Rand is still relevant to today's motivated youth:

&#169Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman

"Good Will Hunting" Meets "Rounders"

I guess it was only a matter of time that the Geek community would warm up to the Poker craze. Of course, they had to do it with their own rules, with a Matt Damon mashup.

&#169Bill Amend

Saturday, December 02, 2006

All Your Email Are Belong To Us: E-Discovery Ruling

Because of recent court rulings that have clarified what exactly is the scope of retention required for transparency in the discovery process when a company gets sued, your emails and IMs at work will now be part of the materials that need to be easily provided.

While this story from the AP is on the software companies that will see increased earnings by providing solutions for retention, I'd like so some comments from employees who might not be aware that all their work email could be under close scrutiny. Potentially embarassing email of a personal nature will be preserved for all to see. The facial reactions would be priceless.

Global Warmenizers' Vanity?

My brother recently posted on a couple geologists' perspective on humanity's ability to affect global climate changes, or rather our inability to do so.

Tim Blair injects his own perspective on anthropogenic sources of CO2 emissions:

Think on this awhile: if a vengeful Gaia were to smite both Canada AND Australia out of existence, that would reduce by only 3.4 per cent of these warming gases some believe are killing the planet.
We're talking about a combined total of 53 million people, millions of houses, millions of cars, millions of factories and dams and computers and televisions and everything else that makes for modern, affluent, civilised nations.

Completely removing them would make next to no difference at all, global-warming wise. So imagine how little effect a council recycling scheme has, for example. Or how pointless would be the purchase of a hybrid electric car.

The zealotry we see in the environmentalists for global warming due to vanity? Based on the number of Hollywood Stars who have embraced it, I would have to agree.

Update: Welcome, Tim Blair readers! Feel free to take a look around.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hey, Mr. Peterson!

This is how you know your favorite bar doesn't mind seeing your ugly mug around the confines. That's a shot of how they opened my tab:

No jiggety

Yes...it's been a long day.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Neverending Toil of an IT Dude

Slow news day, or maybe the news wasn't blogworthy. RealClimate has an interesting post on a new theory on the mechanism for the "Little Ice Age" (the Maunder Minimum, to climate geeks, a cool period that spanned the late 18th century into the near mid-19th century) that involves the Gulf Stream. Remember, this site is for global climate modelers, but this post is refreshingly devoid of anthropogenic causation. Take a read if you're so inclined.

Otherwise, this hoody describes my mood right now after the day I've had at work:

Meh

Fix your own damn computer and leave me alone! Google™ is your friend, m'kay.

Update!: This looks like it might be a necessity pretty soon:

Drink, irresponsibly

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More Red Wine Health News

My brother has posted on more than one occasion on the health benefits of red wine (see here and here for stories on those red wine guzzling mice). But I guess he must have missed this story. While resveratrol has figured in previous studies as a catalyst in producing enzymes that can fight against free radical damage and speed up metabolism, not enough of it is in red wine to explain the benefits received from drinking only 2 glasses of wine a day, which has been dubbed the "French Paradox." A group of scientists in Britain have identified oligomeric procyanidins as the more likely ingredient in red wine's polyphenols to account for french longevity despite a diet traditionally rich in bad cholesterol:

People living in Nuoro province, Sardinia, and southwest France have higher than normal average longevity. And wines from those regions, Corder and colleagues found, had a 2- to 4-fold higher inhibitory effect on endothelin-1 and significantly higher oligomeric procyanidin levels than wines from Australia, Europe, South America, the US, and Sardinia.

Corder and his associates maintain that traditional wine-making methods and use of the flavonoid-rich grape Tannat commonly grown in southwest France result in high levels of oligomeric procyanidins in the local wine.

The scientists found that procyanidins suppress production of an enzyme responsible for constricting blood vessels. In layman's terms, it prevents heart disease. Meanwhile, companies hawking resveratrol products are seeing huge spikes in sales. Talk about forecasting a rose picture. I'll drink to that.

Activist Judge Much?

Is it just me, or did activist judges suddenly make a comeback after laying low for awhile? Yeesh. One judge thinks the President doesn't have the authority to label groups as "terrorist" because it may infringe on the First Amendment right to Free Assembly. And another thinks that the U.S. Treasury needs to redesign paper money so that blind people can distinguish the different denominations, ostensibly to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Talk about over-reaching. Whatever happened to Judicial Restraint?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

French Parliament Ditches Microsoft Desktops for less productivity

Heh. Bon Chance with that migration.

So the French Parliament believes it can save money by switching to open source desktop software "despite the near-term costs of switching from Microsoft systems and retraining all employees.(emphasis added)" Did the French suddenly forget about their 35 hour work week? Not known for its fast-paced decision making, it will be interesting to see how this change will affect France's massive socialist bureaucracy in the years ahead.

Maybe we'll see more than just the price of baguettes begin to rise, although maybe the politicians might be able to communicate more effectively without email flame wars (OpenOffice doesn't have an email client that competes with Microsoft Outlook...D'oh!).

Scientists Swear They've Done This Study Before

Didn't I read this somewhere...Interesting. Anecdotal evidence of deja vu experiences involving senses other than sight have been around a long time, but this is the first study published in a peer reviewed journal that shows proof. The scientists conducting the study have a theory that the feeling of deja vu is caused by a disruption in an area of the brain that deals with familiarity.

No word on whether they could disrupt the breeding of contempt from the same region. BDS sufferers will just have to tough it out.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Anecdotal Evidence That Tall Hot Chicks Find Short Guys Attractive

Last week, I posted on a personal peeve of mine. I've been given to understand that my tone was perhaps a little bitter. Of course, I could have played off the story from Reuters for laughs, like Tom Elia (H/T Instapundit), but I wasn't feeling so charitable at the time.

Thanks to my seatmate on the flight back to Chicago yesterday, I was handed a fresh bouquet of perspective. You often hear about the tall, gorgeous women who date the short men, but personally I have never had an opportunity to talk to one for any amount of time in real life. I finally got my chance. My leggy 5 foot 9 MD/PhD candidate fellow traveler is in a long-term relationship with a 5 foot 3 Bangladeshi man, a classmate of hers. After the initial letdown of hearing the words "my boyfriend" falling from her lips, I perked up when she related his height and ethnicity. I was instantly flattered when she was sincerely surprised that I wasn't dating anyone, at least from her perspective. Obviously, a smart, articulate, attractive, brown, short man should be dating supermodels, in her eyes. I couldn't help chuckling at that. So there's hope out there.

Of course, I should point out a few things. My seatmate, though insanely beautiful, described herself as an über-nerd (working towards a PhD in neurological radiology would tend to back that up). She's also, like me, a transplant from Southern California, so her taste in men is far more diverse than the natives around here. She had never been impressed with tall guys, either, having grown up with brothers who are 6'7" and 6'5". Lastly, she and her boyfriend started out as friends. This confirms for me that whatever happens at this point, I should definitely not have high expectations of bars, speed-dating venues, or any other arenas where it would be easy to be dismissed at a glance. All things I knew, but hearing it first-hand from a beautiful woman reinforces acquired knowledge.

Her last bit of advice? "I think you should hang around more med students." Hyper-educated women who are just happy to have any free time at all to see a guy? I can't argue with that logic.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Holiday Travel...Wasn't So Bad

I didn't have a chance to do any live-blogging while traveling to and fro for the Thanksgiving Holiday, mostly due to a lack of motivation, but it's such a gimmick, anyway, so instead, you'll get cogent, thoughtful, and well-crafted analysis piece. Well, okay, you'll get my blogpost about Holiday Travel, but if you pretend, I'll pretend, deal?

I'm pretty lucky that my airport travails include O'Hare and LAX, so by extension, you're pretty lucky that you get to hear about how these two massive airports handled the holiday crush. I flew on what are supposed to be the two busiest travel days, Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I have to say that even though the flights there and back were 100% full, they both left on time and arrived on time. You can thank the good weather for that. Coming into O'Hare was a breeze on Wednesday (I had a morning flight), and was checked in and through security inside of 10 minutes. The longest wait I had that day was at the Starbucks™ Counter. I should note that since I had a direct flight, I decided to check in my large carry-on bag. This single decision is what speeded me through all the security. I didn't need to declare my "fluids" *shudder* while going through security because my toiletry kit was in my checked luggage. I also didn't try to bring any food with me through security, which just invites scrutiny. Furthermore, I remembered to throw all my keys and change into my book bag. And lastly, I wore slip on moccasins, so I could pop them on and off conveniently and quickly. And, for no reason that I can fathom, the line at 8am was very light on Wednesday. I didn't see any delays or hassles at all. Plus, my seatmates were all middle-aged men, traveling by themselves, polite, but not chatty. The flight into LAX was completely uneventful, and no one was short-tempered.

Leaving on Sunday from LAX, I had a similar experience. Driving into LAX, the traffic was light. Once there, the only terminal that looked like it was going to be a travel nightmare was the Southwest Airlines terminal. It's an ongoing black eye for LAX that this terminal is so small and disorganized that you almost always see the queue for check-in going out the automatic doors and doubling back on itself with queue ropes on the curb. Good thing I don't fly no frills carriers (although, at this point, what's the real difference these days?). Traffic around the ring picked up once I got past that mess. Anyway, the terminal for American Airlines is known for being architecturally challenged when it comes to meeting the requirements of the TSA. There's room for only one of those massive X-Ray machines, and they handle the overflow by carting some bags over to the International Terminal next door to use their X-Ray machine. I've had issues with this terminals pedestrian flow ever since 9/11, but this day, despite it being the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the crowds were light. I didn't have to wait to check in my luggage, and the line for security was also light. I was checked in and through security in 10 minutes. The longest line I experienced, again, was at the trademarked caffeine pusher...er...Starbucks™. The flight was at 100% capacity and yet we still left on time and even arrived early at O'Hare. I've had way worse travel experience on non-peak days. This time around, my seatmate was a very attractive and companionable MD/PhD student, so the flight seemed to be over a lot sooner than I expected (or wanted). There'll be a post about her later, since our conversation touched on many topics that I've blogged about recently (and no, she has a boyfriend, so think sociable encounter, not social encounter). Anyway, the flight was wholly uneventful, and I was able to collect my bag and be home without any delays.

So you actually want to hear about my trip out there, and if JoePet 50/50 (as my older brother and I have been dubbed by the online community that we frequent) got up to any shenanigans? Well, maybe our snooze fest of high jinks will be good material for a later post.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Day Traveling

Due to travel plans, I won't be posting any new content unless I can somehow pry the laptop away from my bro (not bloody likely! Ha!)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Short Men's Dating Woes Played for Laughs: Reuters

Sigh. So, apparently the only way I'm going to get a date at one of these Speed-Dating venues is to hope that I'm not the shortest guy there. "Ha Ha, yeah, let's all laugh at the poor short men who can't get dates, glad I'm not that short." Thanks for the healthy dose of multi-cultural sensitivity, Reuters reporter. Now, if I were a Palestinian short man...

I was reminded of a similar story that John Stossel reported on ABC's 20/20, and related in his book Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity (2006, p. 45)

Height matters to women too. 20/20 once put short and tall men in lineups behind a two-way mirror, and then invited groups of women to choose a date. They always chose the taller guys.

Listening to their comments made me cringe. We told them that one man, who stood just five foot three, was a doctor, a best-selling author, and a champion skier who'd just built his own ski house. "He's still too short!" said the women.

Another man was only five feet tall. He was handsome and well dressed. But the women weren't interested. We said he was a millionaire. He still got turned down. I asked the women what it would take to make them want to to date him. "Maybe the only thing you could say is the others are murderers," was the response.

Great. That instills a lot of hope. My younger brother's monastery is sounding pretty good right about now.

Advocates for the obese call weightism the last acceptible form of bigotry. They're wrong, of course. Heightism beats weightism's butt up and down the street. And let's be clear, I'm not referring to dwarfism here. I'm talking about people that are below average height.

Theoretically, a fat person could lose the weight, and hey, no longer fat. Short people, however, have no such avenue for self-"improvement", especially now that China has effectively banned the rack as way to increase one's height. Furthermore, several studies show that short men have fewer dating opportunities, have fewer children, and earn less, and are aced out of more job promotions than their non-height-challenged peers. Support groups, like the previous link and this one are increasing in number.

It's gotten to the point that even the medical community is weighing in on whether or not human growth hormone treatments should be covered by insurance, or if they're even necessary. Short children's parents certainly don't agree with the assessment that "research is pretty clear that it doesn't translate into distress or dysfunction." Ever been the short kid on a playground? Bullies act out their "dysfunction" on the short kids and cause a lot of "distress."

HGH is no longer an option for adults. So what's left? I guess being pointed at and taunted by moral relativistic Reuters reporters. Now, how do I go about getting dual citizenship with the Palestinian Authority...

Monday, November 20, 2006

More Anti-U.S. Bias in the News

This article is another good example of anti-U.S. bias from, who else, Reuters. All the usual slight-of-slant is in effect, let's count them down, shall we? Meme of Americans as rude, check. Only one point of view presented (and it's certainly not a pro-U.S. P.O.V.), check. Blaming the results of the poll on America's War on Terror, check. What's the funniest part of the story? Having to be in bed with the corporate shill agency that conducted the poll, just to get out another story that bashes Americans. Unbelievably, the story doesn't mention even once the security measures that were put in place because, duh, we're in the middle of a war. Here's a couple quotes that had me slapping my forehead while audibly groaning:

More than half of the travelers surveyed said U.S. immigration officials were rude and two-thirds said they feared they would be detained on arriving in the United States for a simple mistake in their paperwork or for saying the wrong thing to an immigration official.

Hello?! War? Keeping terrorists from gaining access? Ring a bell?

The problem is that since September 11, this country has viewed visitors more as a threat than an opportunity...The entry process has created a climate of fear and frustration that is keeping foreign visitors away.

Yuh think?! Wow, corporate shill, thanks for playing.

So, being an upper crusty super elite news agency, you'd think they'd ask the TSA or the Department of Homeland Security for at least a "no comment." Nope. Nice job, unnamed Reuters journalist.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Did I Scoop the MSM by 10 Days on Hurricane Season?

Here's my post on how the hurricane forecaster heavies all got it wrong except for the team from NC State. And here's the first story I've seen from the MSM on the dud of a hurricane season nearing its end that even mentions Lian Xie's team. (Note: this link from the Chicago Tribune will disappear in a week) I'm just another lucky blogger, I guess.

Update: According to a Google news search as of 11/19/2006 1:24PM CST, I did scoop everybody! Woo Hoo!

Is this what dating in the Internet Age has come to?

It has occurred to me that almost everything I'm interested in blogging about, like religion, politics, and technology, don't seem to translate well in the dating environment. I've had my share of first dates like this. They usually don't lead to second dates.

&#169 Scott Adams

Now that I think about it, I have seen blogs about hair...hmmm.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Venice Beach Besieged by Rampaging Racoons

Pretty aggressive little buggers. What's sad about this story is that the Los Angeles Animal Services seems to have been invaded themselves, by the policies of human-hating PETA, equating the "rights" of these racoons to traditionally under-represented minorities:

Oh my God. I don't think I've ever been more insulted as a woman to be compared to a voiceless raccoon," said Hartnack, owner of Charlie the Dalmatian. She said the agency "seems more concerned with making a political statement than protecting people."

Sounds like more than just racoons are running amok in L.A.

Rap as Folk Music?

I had no idea.

&#169 Bill Amend

Friday, November 17, 2006

When Science and Grammar Collide

My brother posted a while back on the return of grammar to high school. As one of those supposedly soft humanities majors, I've puzzled over the arbitrary rules of grammar in several different languages, including English, and the sometimes shrill arbiters of these rules. This debate seems awfully familiar to other topics taught in school, no? Frazz might have a suggestion.

&#169 Jef Mallett

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dumb People the Reason for Spam Success: Report

Duh. In my line of work, I've noticed that the same people have to get someone (like me!) to rebuild their computers over and over again (usually because of a virus or malware damage), while others never have any issues at all. This report seems to back up my cynical misanthropic belief that some people are just too stupid to be around computers (or at least read their email) without strict supervision.

While OS and browser software is more secure, users still remain the prime vector for attacks, according to Allan Paller, the director of the institute that conducted the study:

"The average user is significantly less secure," he said. "And it isn't because the vendors have gotten worse at all; it's because the number of bad guys has exploded."

Paller is trying to be diplomatic, of course. Maybe some people just shouldn't read email without a minder.

Scientist Warn to Act Now on Nanotechnology: Commentary

My brother had previously written on hazard signs we might need in the future. In a bit of prescience, it looks like these particular signs might come in handy after this story came out today.

The experts said instruments to assess environmental exposure to nanomaterials must be developed in the next three to 10 years and that methods are needed within the next 15 years to evaluate the toxicity of nanomaterials.

They also stressed the need to develop models within a decade to predict the potential impact of new nanomaterials on health and the environment and strategic programs for risk-focused research over the next 12 months.

While Michael Crichton's novel Prey might have presented a worse case scenario of runaway nanotechnology, it's good to see that some scientists are thinking ahead.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Short Work Week Blamed for Baguette Price Rise

Oh, those wacky French socialists. If it isn't their journalists striking because they wanted in on the shorter work week, or their truck-drivers who wanted the shorter work week, it's the bakers who now have to stand up to ridicule for the 35-hour work week. No wonder the French economy is in the tank and the malaise is palpable in the country. They make it just too easy.

Trade unions and opposition Socialists say the shorter work week has helped to create jobs.

Sure it has. Sure it has.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monckton's Response to his Critics

Monckton responds to critics of his published article from last week. Wow. Read the whole thing.

H/T Tim Blair

More Bad News for Sony: PS3 Problems with PS2 Games

In what looks like a case of Sony overreaching on trying to bring too much new technology to market too fast (Betamax, anyone?), there are reports that a large percentage of PS2 games are having issues playing on the PS3. The loyal gamer community is going to go into total flame mode in the months ahead as they find themselves shelling out big bucks to replace a large library of PS2 games just to play them on what might be the most expensive doorstop in console gaming history. After a year of delays on the next gen Blu-Ray format of Hi-Def DVD players, and the rolling scandal of the laptop battery recalls, this year is shaping up to be Sony's worst single year in 3 decades.

With a first release of only 2 million units worldwide (and only 100,000 units in its Japan launch), and the next batch not expected until March of next year, look for Microsoft's XBox 360 and Nintendo's Wii to make gains in market share as Sony helplessly stands by.

11/17/2006 Update: Sony will be releasing 2 million units worldwide in the initial shipment, and only 400,000 to the U.S.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Happy Pre-Birthday for the Brothers Three

Private post for the brothers three. I got the most unexpected call today from Br. Placid (your name in the blogosphere would be brplacid3of3). Since he'll be on retreat and unavailable on the actual day of our birth, he called me up today for a pre-birthday chat. With everything that's going on at the monastery, he still had some time to call me. Love ya, Bro. Looking forward to seeing you in January.

Update: Br. Placid and I also talked about which movie the monks wanted to see for Thanksgiving, and he really wanted to see "Pirates of the Carribean." Since they've already seen ultra-violent movies like "Saving Private Ryan" and "Road to Perdition", this movie would be acceptible to them. Plus, they seem to be in the mood for something light and fun, not talky. I said it's a great choice for that. Thanks for all the suggestions from the Gerbil Nation.

Muslim Cleric Needed to Convince Muslims to Receive Polio Vaccinations

Although this story is written as an upbeat, feel-good story, I find it disturbing and disappointing for the future of the state of the world.

In the past, banners and posters were put up in villages warning Muslims against allowing health workers into their homes. Propaganda spread that polio vaccines were a form of sterilization and a Western ploy to reduce the Muslim birth rate.

On Sunday, clerics and community leaders appeared on local television channels, urging Muslim families to vaccinate their children.

If it takes a muslim cleric to convince illiterate muslims to receive medical aid from the infidels, maybe it just isn't worth it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Climate Change: Reason Devastates Political Distortion

What a point by point Fisking. The scientific reasoning in this article utterly annihilates the Chicken Little Hysteria that the Stern Report attempted to foment. Christopher Monckton, in his own words:

Why haven't air or sea temperatures turned out as the UN's models predicted? Because the science is bad, the "consensus" is wrong, and Herr Professor Ludwig Boltzmann, FRS, was as right about energy-to-temperature as he was about atoms.

Read the whole thing. H/T Ace of Spades

Friday, November 10, 2006

Waiting to Rake in the Dough with Overtime Pay!

I had quite the interesting day at work today, and that's probably the first time I've used the word "interesting" in relation to work and didn't mean it in a perjorative sense. All the software analysts at the company, i.e. Help Desk folks, and...well...me, really (I have mentioned I'm the only Installer for the company, right?) were herded into the conference room to discuss a new HR policy, along with our managers, the Controller (HR/Payroll/Accountant Lady), and the CEO. You may remember that federal law that was enacted a couple of years ago that redefined Exempt and Non-exempt employers. A lot of hand-wringing over pretty much nothing, if I recall. Anyway, at my company, our job duties were reexamined and were found to fall into the Non-Exempt category. The upshot? Time and a half for overtime! While I still will be salaried, starting Monday, I will also be paid overtime for every hour I work over the allotted 40 hour work week. The calculation for overtime pay for a salaried worker is a little more complicated than just straight time and half, but it will still definitely be extra money.

After going through the specifics of how we'll be tracking our time, implementing the overtime pay procedure, etc., the meeting wrapped up. It was at this point that the CEO (the same guy who got me my comp day back) made a funny allusion to how the time I've spent with the Klingon Corporation that has sapped my spirit and ground me down to a nub of a man over the past year is going to finally start paying off. Everybody in the room was laughing over that, but secretly envious because I really am going to be getting a lot of overtime pay because of that evil corporation. All in all, a pretty good way to head into the weekend.

YMMV Becomes a Shorter Trip in Vegas

What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but a judge has ruled that not as much of it will be going on, as least with exotic dancers.

Darn.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Cooking Basics" Challenges Nation's Top Nerds

Heh.

I've never been one of those culinarily-challenged geeks, luckily. Read the whole thing.

2006 Hurricane Season Over, in case you missed it

Apparently, some more important event was happening on November 7, so I missed this story on the end of the quietest hurricane season in a decade. After outrageous predictions of 13 to 16 named storms from National Hurricane Center earlier this year, so far only 9 named storms have formed, of which only 5 became hurricanes. According to the story, that's probably it for the year.

What you probably didn't know was that back in April, a smaller group of researchers out of North Carolina State University at Raleigh presented their prediction that much more closely matched what actually happened. As the article relates:

Looking at the same 100-year data used by most forecasters - sea temperatures, winds and cycles between El Nino and La Nina - Lian and his team noticed a pattern.

The intensity and number of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean seemed to hinge on the difference in water temperatures between the north Atlantic and south Atlantic.

When tropical water was warmer than normal in the north and cooler than normal in the south, hurricane activity increased off the eastern U.S. coastline, as did the chances that the storms would make landfall.

That's what happened last year, when Lian and his team predicted that five to six hurricanes would form and two or three would make landfall along the eastern seaboard.

Seven hurricanes ended up forming and two made landfall on the East Coast.

This year, when the opposite occurred - cooler tropical water temperatures in the North Atlantic and warmer than normal water temperatures in the south - hurricane activity and the likelihood of storms making landfall decreased.

So their hurricane forecast didn't quite match up with the dire predictions of the Global Warmenizers. At least some scientists are still actually, you know, using the scientific method.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Are You A Big Enough Multi-Tool?

I've been a fan of the Swiss Army Knife since I was a Cub Scout. But when I joined the ranks of geekdom, I've been looking for a Swiss Army Knife that meets the needs of my lifestyle. The CyberTool41 looked like the way to go:

Well, it looks like a good start, but I didn't want to feel like I forgot something. Then I found the SwissChamp XLT:

Now we're making progress. From 41 tools to 50! Still, a nagging thought in the back of my head told me that the XLT was getting there, but it wasn't quite the tool for me. Finally, I lucked out with what is officially entitled the Giant Swiss Army Knife:

This now, this is a knife for the Über-Geek. With 85 individual tools for any kind of situation...I would definitely establish my alpha-geekness of the pride. Too unwieldy? Nah, that's what the key ring is for, silly.

As soon as I save up enough geek-dollars, this bad boy is soooo pwned.

Kenyan Nobel Winner Proposes to Act like an Enviro-bat

Perhaps you'd think that after this study came out, warning against environmental policies based on emotional pleas, and especially after this study that shows that forests don't act like the carbon scrubbers that gaia worshippers believe them to be, that a Nobel Laureate enviromentalist would hesitate just a little before proposing an initiative to plant a billion trees worldwide. Maybe you aren't aware of what motivates enviros. If 35 countries would sign onto the Kyoto Protocol just because of its "symbolism", why not this proposal?

"The Billion Tree Campaign is but an acorn, but it can also be practically and symbolically a significant expression of our common determination to make a difference in developing and developed countries alike," [UNEP chief Achim Steiner] said.

Just for fun, I compared the AFP and AP versions of the news item. Guess which News Service did more legwork on their background? Here's the thorough and up-to-date scientific research of the AP writer, Elizabeth A. Kennedy:

Planting trees can offset climate change in part because they absorb carbon dioxide.

Oh really? Apparently, she didn't bother finding out if any new scientific studies have come out to challenge the "census" view. In contrast, the AFP writer Otto Bakano writes as if he might have heard of these new studies. In addition to referring to their CO2 inhaling capabilities, he also mentions a trait of trees' that might be more important to the African continent:

Although trees may not be able to absorb all of the world's emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for raising global temperatures, they can also restore lost water catchment areas and reduce erosion, officials say.

That sounds a little bit more nuanced, doesn't it? Perhaps Maathi's proposal should have touted this aspect instead of going for the emotional, and loud, siren song of Global Warming.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Update: UN Convention Releases More 'Hot Air'

Today's dispatch from the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change...well, that's just awe-inspiring. Seems like all the UNFCCC is good for is the production of "statements."

As the forum entered a second day in Kenya's capital, participants expressed optimism at statements made in initial talks but acknowledged plenty of hard work ahead as they seek ways to cooperate and collaborate to reduce threats.

"It was a very good start," said Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the 12th UN Framework Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC), noting numerous positive statements from some of the 189 nations taking part.

No status on when the delegates might produce "actions."

Election Day! Voter Qualifications?!

I voted today, and you can insert your favorite Chicago voting joke at any time, now. When I went to my polling place at 7am, there was no line, maybe 2 people in other booths ahead of me, and no one wanted to use the e-voting machine. The Election Officials weren't exactly cheerleaders for it, either.

With a smattering of voter disenfranchisement stories coming out around the country (Ohio, I'm looking in your direction...), maybe we should be happy that voters' experiences aren't this blatant:

&#169 Darby Conley
"Help! Help! See the violence inherent in the system!"

Monday, November 06, 2006

Real Science Catches Up with Enviro-Science: Forests Aren't Carbon Sinks

Green Peace came out with a statement blasting Brazil for not doing more to protect its rain forests at the start of the UN's annual Framework Convention on Climate Change. Unfortunately, on the heels of this international "calling out", a study out of Canada has put another nail in the coffin for the premise that large forests act as carbon sinks.

They Kyoto Protocol, as part of the carbon credit scheme, gave more carbon credits to those countries that had large swaths of forests. This recent study is just one more than finds that forests are largely carbon neutral, meaning they emit just about as much CO2 as they take in. This particular study measured Canada's Black Spruce. A previous study, written by Bill Schlesinger of Duke University (hardly a bastion of climate change skepticism), had measured American forests comprised of Beech, Aspen, Oak, Maple, and Pine, and found pretty much the same phenomenon:

"...you can't really count on them as a big sink," he said.

Yes, he acknowledges, many people do make the claim that forests will counteract our car-driving, coal-burning ways.

"Oil and coal companies love to say that. So do various forest services," he said. "It sort of gives them a raison d'etre.

"But the idea that they're going to combat the rise of CO2 in the atmosphere has, I think, probably been overstated. If you disturb them, "by cutting them down or burning them," then they may exacerbate the rise of carbon dioxide.

Ouch. Enviros and Big Oil lumped together, using the same unsupported theories to promote their agendas? Never heard of such a thing. The piece delivers an understated point about Canada's reliance on its forests for those lucrative carbon credits:

This could be disappointing news for many of Canada's political leaders, who have been counting on credits under the Kyoto Protocol for Canada's forest "sinks."

Indeed. This whole conservation business is a lot harder than it used to be.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bloggers, Cynics Question Timing of the Hussein Verdict

Well, it did't take long for lefty cynics, bloggers, and the MSM to come up with their own "I question the timing" stories about the announcement of Saddam Hussein's guilty verdict.

I expect a few more of these sentiments before Tuesday.

Saturday, November 04, 2006