Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nasa Director Michael Griffin:

"I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."

That won't be a popular position.
This is fine with me. I was never a fan of Doctor Who, either the original or the SciFi Channel remake. Maybe that'll free time to return Battlestar Galactica to Friday nights, where it belongs.

Although with the latter's increasingly dark and mystical bent, I'm not sure if I care about that so much anymore, either.
Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 5007 Diggs, is about a poor sap caught coming out of a strip club by Google Maps Street View. A little stroke of serendipity, if you've been following along today.

So far, Digg isn't demonstrating the ability to link to truly meaningful stories. It's looking more and more like it's populated mainly by Leftist, nerdy, pubescent, alcoholic dweebs. If it's a technology that's going to change the world, I'm not sure we'll like what it comes up with.

Update: A commenter provided an interesting link: a whole slew of Google Maps Street View sightings. Some are a bit funny, as well. Thanks for the link!
I suppose some people might find it interesting to watch Justine. I've tried it, and so far I'm not sure I get the attraction.

Just because the Internet makes something possible, doesn't mean it should be done, I think. A snoozer so far.

By the way, she needs some help with decorating. Her space is a little drab. And what's with the music? I can't quite recognize it, but it's depressing as hell. No wonder she looks so unhappy. And what's with all the...

Wait a minute. Maybe this is a little titillating, after all.
I'm not concerned about Google's Street View Maps. Anything you can see by just driving down the street seems fair game to me.
Via Cox and Forkum, an article by Robert Tracinski on Al Gore's book, An Assault on Reason. It's worth a read.

Tracinski, that is. Not Gore.
I thought Boing Boing was all for protecting privacy and such. I guess not. Unless, of course, it's protecting against government trying to find criminals and terrorists.
Actually, no, Boing Boing, this billboard does not appear to have anything to do with the idea that "Saddam Hussein was the mastermind behind 9/11." It merely illustrates the idea that Iraq is part of the larger war against Islamic terrorists. That the war started with 9/11 and is thus illustrated this way is unfortunate; it should have started much earlier, with the previous attack on the WTC, with the USS Cole, with the Beirut bombing, with the Iranian invasion of the US Embassy in 1979.

Welcoming home a solider from Iraq, and reminding him (and everyone else) that there's a wider battle being fought, is not something that should be exposed to such snide comments from Boing Boing. At least, they should try to avoid being outright misleading.

Remains to be seen, I think. No pun intended.
On a related note, here's a story about another music label that's signed a deal with YouTube. Unfortunately, I get the impression that such deals are signed because intellectual property holders believe they have no other way to protect their property. Better to get some revenues, they think, than none at all.

That might be true, but it's an unfortunate result of technology that makes protecting intellectual property nearly impossible.
I'm not sure that it really matters whether it's P2P sharing that's the largest source of illegal music copies, or some other source. Perhaps the music labels go after P2P because it's possible to do so, while, as the linked story states, it's virtually impossible to go after copying of borrowed CD's. If anything, it just goes to prove the tremendous negative impact that technology is having on the protection of intellectual property.
Is it government's responsibility to determine the causes of our actions, and to stop us from harming ourselves? Or, is it government's responsibility merely to create an environment wherein our actual actions, as they directly affect others, have consequences?

The former notion has created something of a slippery slope of late, as expected. It started with drugs (excluding alcohol, of course), more recently including cigarettes. Then, it was extended to opinions, in the case of "hate" crimes. Next was unhealthy foods, like the banning of trans fats. Now, it's being extended to video games.

As individuals, we're legally responsible for the results of our actions. Hating a racial group shouldn't be against the law; killing someone, regardless of their race, should be. A crime isn't made worse by virtue of one's racism, and it isn't made better if one loves the victim's race. And, killing someone because of the race isn't excused by one's racism, which is an implicit assumption behind hate crimes--that one is somehow compelled to commit a crime by virtue of one's racism.

The same with video games--even if they cause some people to commit a crime, that's not the same as committing the crime itself. And whether or not they're bad for children is for each child's parents to decide.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Celebrity Report: There really are celebrities able to make commitments and good decisions, and to live by some sort of values. Here's a quick story about a few celebrity marriages that are happy, long-lived, and without pathology. My favorite here is Will Smith. Great actor, funny, and seems like a genuinely good guy. Married to a hottie, as well.
Google is releasing a software component allowing its browser-based applications to run on a computer even when it's not connected to the Internet. I find this fascinating, if for no other reason than that it's a seeming admission that Internet-based applications are inherently deficient.

In addition, the component, called Google Gears, might create a significant problem for Google. No longer will its applications run solely on its own servers, over which the company has total control. Now, I assume, there will be the distinct potential that users will have applications with bugs that can only be resolved by connecting to the Internet for updates. This is, of course, a common problem to all client-based applications, and I wonder if it's something that Google is equipped to handle. Will they be that much better at writing stable code than the typical software vendor--code that's installed on millions of different systems with different software, specifications, and levels of user competence?

It'll be interesting to see how this works out. I've long believed that Google's business model was to eventually become just like Microsoft. I see this as a concrete step in that direction.
Hack Alert: Here's another extraneous use of the word "hack." The only difference is that this poster, following an apparent deluge of Diggers, at least had the wisdom to admit his error. I take my hat off to him, particularly in sympathy for the Digg effect.
Regarding Google and their apparent inability to come up with anything tasteful and appropriate for Memorial Day, Little Green Footballs has posted some good ideas.

I'm not an artist, but these don't seem all that difficult.
And I suppose there's something inherently wrong with American government efforts at "protecting American content businesses"? I think I'll copy Techdirt's postings and make them my own. I'm sure they won't complain.
The headline speaks for itself. One day, when I get the time, I'll really delve into why some people in the technology industry have such a hard time with basic philosophical principles.
This is promising: an electrical field treatment for brain cancer. Of course, it's made in Israel, and so I'm sure some people won't buy it.
Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at a remarkable 9921 Diggs, is--surprisingly--about a Microsoft product, the Microsoft Surface. Even more surprising is that the comments are actually generally positive, as far as I can tell. That's unusual for a highly-Dugg story about anything related to Microsoft.

Incidentally, the technology itself is fascinating. Reminds me of Minority Reports, among other things. Put this interface onto a flat panel and mount it in mid-air. As a desktop, it seems a little constrained, but still pretty cool.

Of course, it would look nice on my Tablet PC, although unfortunately mine doesn't have a touch screen (rather, only a pen-based digitizer). Funny, though, until seeing this, I didn't see any need for one.
If I were this lady, I'd be upset that my page was taken down, but ultimately relieved that MySpace is removing registered sex offenders from its service. It's not like a MySpace page requires all the much work, in any event.
Actually, nothing should force Apple to explain why it's putting purchasing information in "non-DRM" music tracks sold on iTunes Plus. If one doesn't like the information being put in there, one can always refrain from purchasing it. And, one should wonder why someone would have such a problem, rather than why Apple is putting the information in.
"Oh, it's just a harmless little *bunny*, isn't it?"...

Er, hamster.
I mentioned class warfare the other day. I didn't expect it to become so real, so fast.
I leave Indianapolis, and the Colts win a Superbowl. I come to LA, and the Lakers are falling apart. I just can't catch a break.
Hopefully this guy will be found soon, and executed.
Hasn't this kind of thing been tried before? Maybe Mark Cuban can make a go of it.
Boing Boing is still all over the map about the Venezualan "TV crisis" (read, on-going oppression by a crazy, brutal, Left-wing dictator).
Is this a joke? If not, could this have any purpose other than grabbing other people's wireless signals? If anyone can say why Boing Boing links to this without mentioning its obvious downside, please let me know. People should secure their networks, but then again people should lock their cars. The fact that they don't doesn't mean it's okay to break into them.

This device seems tailor made to break into more than one network at a time.
This is an odd device: the Palm Foleo. I have to agree with Ars Technica: this is a product looking for a market. Why would I spend $499 for a device that essentially just extends my Palm Treo smartphone?

More from Ahmadinejad. MEMRI is a great resource for this sort of thing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

If you're looking for a new notebook, and have any interest in a Tablet PC (which you should, because a convertible Tablet is just like a real notebook, only better), then this is a good, affordable option. Thanks to the folks at for sniffing this out.

I'm not a big fan of widescreen Tablets, because they tend to stretch the writing surface unnaturally. My Toshiba M400 has a smallish screen, but it's in the same general proportions as a sheet of paper--which is distinctively not widescreen. Also, note that many Tablets (as with many notebooks in general today) have very high-res screens, making fonts and other screen elements tiny. A lot more information fits on the screen, for sure, but if your eyes are getting older like mine, it gets a bit tiring.

It's amazing, though, how much notebook you can get for $899.99. From what I can see, this unit sacrifices little, and would excel at the typical Tablet functions. Maybe a little more RAM would be nice, but all in all, a good looking machine.
Hat tip to Instapundit, here's a nice bit of writing about, well, writing. I'll study it, because I fear I'm guilty.
Ayn Rand said that emotions result from our most basic (and subconsciously integrated) philosophical premises. I agree with this, and believe that this sort of research inverses cause and effect. In fact, I'd say it proves Rand correct, if one looks at it from this perspective:

Your subconscious is like a computer—more complex a computer than men can build—and its main function is the integration of your ideas. Who programs it? Your conscious mind. If you default, if you don't reach any firm convictions, your subconscious is programmed by chance—and you deliver yourself into the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted. But one way or the other, your computer gives you print-outs, daily and hourly, in the form of emotions—which are lightning-like estimates of the things around you, calculated according to your values. If you programmed your computer by conscious thinking, you know the nature of your values and emotions. If you didn't, you don't. - The Ayn Rand Letter Vol. III, No. 7, December 31, 1973.
Who ever said class warfare was over? Not me. In this plan, Obama must hope to sink both the economy and the healthcare system at the same time.
The devil we know...
This is interesting, but rejecting Kyoto was one of the only things I liked about Bush. I guess I was wrong, too.*

*Actually, that's not entirely true. I knew that Bush couldn't have immediately rejected the Kyoto Treaty, which was created in 1997. I've been under the impression, though, that Bush continues to reject it. That assumption is what I might really be wrong about.
Silly Boing Boint: music tracks without DRM sell for more than music tracks with DRM because there's a (I'd say, entirely valid) presumption that the non-DRM tracks will be pirated. Something must be done to mitigate the subsequent loss of revenues.

It's not, as you say here, because a track with DRM is somehow intrinsically less valuable. Yeesh.
Here, Daniel Pipes gives a fascinating account of a book detailing how the Soviets brought about Israel's "Six Day War" as an intended prelude to a Soviet attack. Titled Foxbats Over Dimona, this sounds like a fascinating story about how the Soviets were guilty of the sorts of geopolitical shenanigans that the Left likes to pin exclusively on the US.
Of all the arguments against intellectual property, the idea that they hamper "innovation" seems the most odd. Since patents and copyright protect original works, and innovation means to create something new, then it would seem that protecting intellectual property results in more new things, not less. After all, if one wants to avoid patent and copyright infringement, then one necessarily needs to create something original.

I hesitate to discuss this, because it might seem like I'm considering something other than a purely individual rights-based argument for protecting intellectual property. I'm not. Property of both a material and intellectual property should be protected because such property represents human effort, physical and intellectual, and every individual has the right to benefit from his efforts according to his own standards.

Other arguments, though, like the one referenced above, are social arguments that place the good of "society" above the individual. Because "society" is a nebulous term disconnected from any real entity, the supposed goods are also nebulous--applying to everyone and no one at the same time. In this case, it's "innovation," which as to be expected is a meaningless phrase that means the opposite of its intended definition.

It's not "innovation" that the argument refers to, in the sense of the on-going creation of new inventions and works, but rather the widespread adoption of them. Microsoft is wrong to assert its patents, the argument would go, not because the patents stop Linux developers from creating something "new." They don't, of course; the patents only stop developers from utilizing already patented technologies in their works--which thus requires new, truly innovate means to accomplish something.

Rather, according to the argument, Microsoft is wrong to assert its patents because doing so hampers the wider adoption of some technology. That's the crux of the argument, which is a variant of the idea that "information wants to be free." By limiting the adoption of a work to dissemination by a single entity, a patent presumably makes the work available to a smaller subset of the population--hence, its adoption is hampered.

However, it's not actually true that a patent makes a technology less available. Instead, it makes a technology only available from the patent holder. Even by the standard of "society," patents are harmless, unless one abandons the very notion of property. From a societal standpoint, certainly, an individual's possession of a piece of property necessarily limits its utility for everyone else. However, only in collectivist command economies is this a negative. In free societies, one doesn't expect to control someone else property--unless, of course, as in the "innovation" argument, one is speaking of intellectual property.

Microsoft has products for sale utilizing technologies that are covered under its patents. One has easy access to those technologies--one merely needs to purchase the relevant products. The only ones to complain at this arrangement are Linux and other developers who desire to use the technologies in their own products and consumers who want the technologies for free. Neither are legitimate concerns in a society that protects the rights of the individual.
As a Tablet PC user, I also find this quite interesting.
Fujitsu makes good stuff. Soon, we'll roll up our PC's and put them in our pockets.
Here's Cox and Forkum's take on Chavez and the Venezuelan TV station. As usual, they're right on target.
And anyone who believes the cost would be a mere $50 billion/year is 1) naive and 2) missing the more subtle point that, if the total cost of the "ravages of global warming" is a scant $50 billion, then it's hardly worth worrying about. Of course, were America to give in to this sort of extortion, which would be bad enough, we'd find the cost to be much higher--up to and including the eventual destruction of the American economy.

Which is, of course, the Left's ultimate objective.
Little Green Footballs provide some information on Google's response to the ongoing Memorial Day kerfuffle. Looks like it's the same response they've been giving for years, meaning that ultimately they really don't intend to do anything about it. The gist of their response, which is that they can't think of how to avoid their usual "lightheartedness" is disingenuous at best. I'm sure they could come up with something.
I mentioned in another post how politicized is the entire issue of global warming (science or the lack thereof aside). This should put the matter to rest.
Outside of the increasingly hackneyed "hack" moniker, this is a great story about how technology can overcome even physical afflictions.
I couldn't care less whether one or more of the Teletubbies are gay. It's the fact that they're incomprehensible--and sort of creepy--that matters to me.
Individuals are responsible for their actions. This includes being responsible for whatever might influence those actions, be it drugs, corruption, or video games. And so, the question of whether or not video games "cause" certain actions is irrelevant--it's not the video game's fault in any case, it's the individual's who chose to play the game.
I'm assuming that our military is doing the same sort of thing, and that we're protecting against such attacks. Cyberwarfare, for all of its cyberpunk sci fi connotations, is a very real threat, as demonstrated by Russia's attack against Estonia's Internet infrastructure.
China sentences corrupt FDA director to death. "Unusually harsh," the story says.
Once again, I have to ask: why does Russia assume the European missile shield is a defense against them? Maybe because they know it should be?
The one time I see Boing Boing publish something that's anti-Left (in this case, Chavez's closing of a Venezualan TV station), they recant and subsequently post 1o times as much material in support of the notion that it wasn't really a bad thing to do, after all.

Update: This is causing some conflict among the Boing Boing faithful. I'm not sure they know what to think.
My question is, why would anyone invest in Russian enterprises? How confident can one be that an investment won't simply fund a Russian company's eventual nationalizaton? Ask Shell and British Petroleum how well their Russian investments are going.

*Note: The larger question of whether or not Western companies should be investing in potential enemies such as Russia and China is a larger question, and isn't discussed here.
I've always suspected there was a reason why I haven't been watching Lost. Edward Cline, author of the Sparrowhawk series, sums it up nicely, and echoes my thoughts while watching the first few episodes. Heroes isn't a perfect show, philosophically, but the first season did have a storyline that one was compelled to watch simply because one assumed (rightfully so, I think) that it was leading somewhere--and, one wanted to know where.
It looks like the Left has lost its darling, Cindy Sheehan. And it sounds like she's a little bitter.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Thanks to Cox and Forcum for pointing out that not only did the Administration meet with Iran on Memorial Day, but it chose such an auspicious occasion to end a diplomatic freeze that had lasted--justifiably--for almost 3o years.
I had a Grandma once who was the most amazing cook. I still remember how she made everything from scratch. My wife does largely the same, although the recipes are Russian while my Grandma was of German descent.

I knew there was reason I married my wife.*

*She doesn't necessarily keep up with this blog. But let me just say, in case she reads this: there are MANY reasons why I married my wife. Her cooking is just one of them.
Old Faithful!
It's not like this is Hitlerian, or anything. I have a fundamental problem with government studies, as such, because they're not a legitimate government function. But if such studies are going to be done, then I have no inherent problem with these. The only objection I can think of is that some patients will receive the lesser of the treatments to be studied--but then again, that's what the studies will identify.

The fact that they're done "without the patient' permission" is not terribly relevant, because the only other option is that the patient simply be allowed to die. And ultimately, particularly in trauma cases, doctors and nurses perform all sorts of treatments without our consent, by necessity--even were we fully conscious, we'd not often have a great deal to contribute to such decisions, and certainly not within the required timeframe.

Update: I forgot to mention. This post was prompted by a misleading Digg headline, which should come as no surprise.
The anti-intellectual property crowd likes to argue that making music available for free will increase the overall sale of music. They've had years to demonstrate this, given rampant piracy (i.e., music that's available for free).

However, so far, it doesn't seem to be working.
My hat's off to Medgadget for their Memorial Day's post. Short, but sweet.

The medical community in general, both civilian and medical, should certainly be honored on this day for their remarkable advances in trauma care. The fact that so many more American service members are injured rather than killed is a testament to their efforts, regardless of the politics involved.
This is truly pathetic, and makes a mockery of Memorial Day. American service members who have died as a result of Iran's war against America are turning in their graves.
I agree that body counts and arbitrary "milestones" (e.g., over 100 killed; why is 100 an important number? Why isn't 1?) show the media's anti-Administration stance. More important, though, it's yet another in a general pattern of attempts to create out-of-context emotional responses as a method to influence public policy. It's a tactic of both the Left and the Right (consider the anti-abortion movement, with its gruesome pictures of dead fetuses), but the Left gets the most traction in the press.
Hat tip to Instapundit: I'm going to start using a little more often. They're willing to recognize a purely American holiday.

Unlike Google, of course.

Update: Apparently, Microsoft is unwilling as well. That's disappointing.

Update squared: I'm probably not being fair to Microsoft in mentioning that also didn't recognize Memorial Day. Google stands out in this because it's their shtick to recognize holidays on their home page; they just don't recognize truly American holidays. Microsoft, on the other hand, never does so, to my knowledge, therefore making Memorial Day for them like any other day.
Lest anyone accuse me of being unfair, I'm linking here to Boing Boing, which in non-typical Leftist style is posting about Venezuala's Chavez and his on-going oppressions. I'd have to search Boing Boing, though, to discover how often Boing Boing has posted on Chavez's various efforts to destroy free enterprise in Venezuala. My guess: not so often.
I haven't posted on the Darfur situation because 1) I don't understand it, 2) I don't think I want to, and 3) I'm guessing it's just more of the same depressing African tribalism (maybe with a touch of jihad thrown in?) that perpetuates suffering in that part of the world and for which multiculturalism has no answer. But, it looks like the UN is getting serious: it wrote a letter!

Some choice clips:

"U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has put his personal diplomatic clout on the line to end the bloodshed in Darfur." I'm impressed. Any man who would put his personal diplomatic clout on the line is a man to be feared.

"Ban has asked the Security Council to hold off on sanctions to give President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir time to respond to an all-out diplomatic drive outlined for the first time in the confidential letter, which was delivered Friday." That sentence is surreal in its many evasions. What exactly is an "all-out diplomatic drive"? And is it really time for one? Surely that's a little harsh--someone might get their feelings hurt.

"The letter is also meant to signal a last chance for Bashir to stop attacks by Arab militias widely believed to be supported by the government." I just knew there was some jihad in there somewhere.

And receiving the prize for long and impossible-to-pronounce names: Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, Sudan's ambassador to the UN.

All in all, I think this story sums up everything I need to know about Darfur. If the West has any measurable interest in resolving this situation, it should bypass the UN completely and utterly destroy the perpetrators. As it stands, though, this appears to be the typical internecine squabble that has little bearing on the West.

The fact that Darfur is a darling of the Left merely demonstrates the Left's hypocrisy--why are the people being slaughtered in Darfur any more deserving of relief from their dictator than the Iraqis were from Saddam Hussein? Probably, it's simply because the UN, and not America, is running the show. And because it's letters, and not bullets, that are being sent over.
Here's a fascinating, if depressing, account of Mr. Putin. Earlier, I posted about Putin and his plan to "retain influence" in Russia's governance.

Iran, China, North Korea, Russia... It's all very sobering on a dreary (for Southern California) Memorial Day morning.
I see that, true to form, Google has declined to honor an American holiday and those men and women whose efforts have made their business possible. I'm sure that when International Footrest Day comes about, they'll be quick to put up their traditional cutesy artwork.
And so it's Memorial Day, a time to reflect on those American men and women service members who have lost their lives in conflicts around the world. Fighting and--if it turns out that way--dying for one's values is the greatest expression possible of one's rational self-interest, and so one must stand in awe of those with the courage to have done so.

Here's to all of those men and women.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Intellectual property is at a crossroads, and proposals like this one in Japan don't help matters. Paying someone doesn't excuse the misapropriation of their property.
Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 3167 Diggs, is a story about a man who is mistakenly attacked by a police dog and then by police officers as he struggled against all three. This is an unfortunate story, and does seem to indicate excessive force on the part of both the dog (who wouldn't know better) and the policemen (who should have).

Does it warrant such a high rating? Maybe, for those who pine for stories of police brutality.
On a related topic, I disagree with John Stossel on one point: poorer countries will not suffer more than richer countries from efforts to cut carbon emissions. First, they don't emit much carbon, because they're poor. Second, to the extent that they might actually suffer economically, they don't have as far to fall. And third, poorer economies tend to be far simpler, and thus don't suffer from economic upheaval the way that richer economies do with their incredibly intricate interconnectedness.

But, I don't mean to pick nits. Stossel is one of the few good mainstream reporters.
As well we should. The US has more to lose from these proposals than anyone else, not least because we'd likely be the only ones to stick to them. To be clear, the Daily Topic's position is that the issue is entirely politicized, anti-capitalist, and merely another in a long line of environmentalist attacks on mankind. It doesn't hurt to recognize, though, that as the world's most developed economy, America would suffer a far higher cost from such provisions than would less-developed countries (which would be the rest of the world).

Some might suppose that this is precisely the goal.
If you want to feel like you're constantly being baited (and, you are), then check out The Dilbert Blog, of course by Scott Adams.

For masochists only.
Here's a fairly in-depth, reasonable comparison between Windows Vista and Ubuntu Linux, if you're into that sort of thing. For me, Linux will only become a viable option when fixing something doesn't require dropping to the command line and when one can reasonably expect that all hardware components in a given machine will be supported.

So far, in my experimentation with Ubuntu 7.04, that's not yet the case. In fact, it's pretty far from it. Granted, I have some uncommon components in my Toshiba M400, the only machine I've yet tried with Ubuntu. However, I'm not talking about relative exotica like the digitizer, but rather relatively mundane things like dual-monitor support. And, don't get me started with wireless networking, where everything I could find about how to fix my issues with connecting to two different WAPs involved typing obscure commands at a command prompt.

Could I make Ubuntu work? Sure I could, if I wanted to spend the time learning those sorts of intricasies. And that's the point: I don't.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

And an untold number of cures for human diseases were left undiscovered.
Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at a light 2588 Diggs, is a story about a Google search with an odd result. Huh.
Angelina Jolie as Dagny Taggart? Brad Pitt as John Galt? There have to be better options. But, I don't personally think Atlas Shrugged should be made yet. The culture's not ready for it. Maybe in a few years, when the Ayn Rand Institute, Founders College, the VanDamme Academy, and other (explicit or implicit) Objectivist efforts have more effect.

It looks like it probably won't happen, in any event.
And, as munipalities fail in their very highly-touted efforts to roll out "free" WiFi access, purely commercial ventues are necessarily stalled. Better that, though, than if municipal WiFi access were successful, thus rendering commercial efforts entirely moot. Particularly given quotes like this:

"Prices dropped and quality of service went up," [Mark McKibben, Lompoc's former wireless consultant] said. "That's the way a lot of cities look at it. They don't look at business profits and losses. They see it as a driver for quality of life."

Case closed: force rules.
Tron was definitely ahead of its time, and got me started on the whole PC kick. It's hard to believe, though, that it's been 25 years.

Makes me feel old.
I think Jericho was a decent show, starting and (so far) ending well, with a bit of a lull in the middle. That's what probably killed the show--a few episodes were long in relationship-building and short on the suspense and intrigue that set such an entertaining tone in the beginning.

This campaign to bring the show back, though, is surprising. I wouldn't have expected such a groundswell. This is looking to be even bigger, or at least more effective, than the Firefly Browncoats. And Firefly was a much, much better show.

I wouldn't mind another few episodes to see things through, however. There are certainly some interesting questions that remain unanswered.
A reminder: Ayn Rand audio recordings are available for free at It's all very wholesome and refreshing, after a diet heavy in contemporary politicians, journalists, and academics.
I thought Apples were immune to attack. Apparently not. Will Mac admit this to PC? In public?

I doubt it.
Parts of this story seem to contradict the story linked in an earlier post, about China's military buildup. And yet, both stories are based on the same Pentagon report. Seems that people interpret such intelligence estimates differently.

"We don't want a one-sided truce." That's funny. Israel has settled for nothing but one-sided truces since its creation. On a positive note, it's good to see Israel defending itself.
Of course Iran is suddenly identifying American "spy rings." It's not like our efforts at espionage are a secret, or anything.
Are the Chinese smart enough to be using economics, with the ancillary military benefit derived from infusions of American cash, to prepare for a future conflict with the United States? I don't know, but I think it's possible. If so, then our only hope (given the ineptitude of our current leadership) is that the Chinese people will come to recognize the benefits of a free society the more China interacts economically with the West.

It that's possible, then destroying free trade won't be the answer. Which is why it's precisely what our leaders are most likely to do.
I don't know if people appreciate this sort of thing as much as they should. I mean, these are pictures from another planet. And that, in less than a century since such things were merely science fiction.
Here's a story about a home-schooled girl winning a national competition. Statistically, it's meaningless--she might simply be a very, very smart young lady. And, I'm not one to home school my kids--I'd make a horrible teacher. My wife, on the other hand, is a great teacher, and so if she decided to educate either of our children, then I certainly wouldn't complain.

That would be the deeper point here, of course. The quality of education comes down to the teachers and the methods, both of which can be quite variable from one school (and system) to another.

Public, i.e., government-controlled, schools are necessarily run from a political perspective, as opposed to responding to competitive pressures. Parents have no real say in how their children are educated in public schools; the idea that "all politics are local" breaks down when schools must meet State- and Federal-mandated standards that are completely divorced from the local community. And, public schools are funded regardless of how well or poorly they educate their students, and in fact there seems to be an inverse relationship--the worse the school, the more money it receives, as if money itself is the sole determinant of educational quality.

Contrast this with a private school, which competes against both public and other private schools for funds, which are paid directly by a student's parents. Certainly, factors other than educational quality influence the success of a private school--religious, ethical, social, and other factors also weigh in. However, there can be no doubt that a private school that provided poor educational outcome wouldn't last long.

To bring things back to the story linked above, home schooling is no guarantee of success--again, I would be a terrible, if well-intentioned, home school teacher. Rather, it's the underlying philosophy and methods of teaching that matters. Removing education from the public sphere is the only way to ensure that competition, and not political expediency, determines how well our students are educated.
It would seem that the only culture Leftists are comfortable ridiculing is Christian culture. I'm not fond of Christianity either, but I find that compulsion quite telling.
What's next? Is Boing Boing going to publicize methods for bribing police officers to look the other way when one wants to commit a robbery? Or, how to avoid DNA tests when committing a rape?

This particular "HOWTO" is innocuous and, likely, stupid, but Boing Boing's predilection for publishing tips on breaking the law is disturbing.
Celebrity Alert: It's unfortunate that Bruce Willis has been associated (hopefully, unwillingly) with the conspiracy movement. I do remember him saying something about JFK, but hell, that assassination probably WAS a conspiracy of some sort. The only question is, whose? My bet would be on Castro. Whatever, though; at this point, it's not a question I'm too interested in.

But, back to Bruce. Is he on the road to whackiness? I hope not; my Celebrity Reports have been pretty thin lately.
I've long believed that Bill Clinton's real crime wasn't his shenanigans with Monica Lewinsky, but rather his providing missile technology to China. Given the issue of Chinese campaign contributions at around the same time, one has reason to suspect that the Lewinsky affair was merely a smokescreen to obscure the real controversy.

Now, consider this story about a recent Pentagon report, "Is China Developing a Preemptive Strategy?" This is a frightening report in the context of a still-Communist nation with very real concerns about access to energy and material resources. Granted, it should likely be more frightening to Russia, a more historically important enemy of China, than America, with which China has such strong economic ties.

Even then, though, China's military build out is a serious concern, because such a conflict couldn't help but have repercussions for America. And while China may never directly confront the US, it might certainly seek global advantages that impact on our interests. Technology such as that provided by the Clinton Administration can only benefit China in any geopolitical struggle.

Should this go badly for us, we'll have Bill Clinton to thank, at least in part. The Republican Party will also be culpable, given their asinine pursuit of impeachment around Clinton's diddling of Monica Lewinsky. Ultimately, one is left to wonder whether the Republicans simply chose the lesser of two evils over which to pursue impeachment--and why.

Friday, May 25, 2007

This story about Chinese brutality in enforcing family planning laws reminds me of this quote from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (it's Hank Reardon, if you're curious): "If it is now the belief of my fellow men, who call themselves the public, that their good requires victims, then I say: The public good be damned, I will have no part of it!"
I can't wait for this: the Golden Dragon eCigarette. There are 400 million smokers in China (!), an so it's no surprise that they've come up with this.

I'll swap out my nicotine gum in a heartbeat.
This is purty: the Intel Mobile Metro Notebook. Thin is in.

I wonder how comfortable it is for high-speed typing, though. I need a good keyboard more than I need a sliver of a notebook. Could this thing be lost in a stack of papers?
Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 5272 Diggs, is... well... a #1 Digg. Not much to say, except that one could probably write a doctoral thesis on the collective pathology that is Digg. Or, about how trivial is that little "digg it" button and therefore how meaningless Digg really is as a general indication of even base popularity.
Boing Boing so wants this to be true. And, it might be, for all I know. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I hate politics and politicians. They're all crooks, as far as I'm concerned (or, maybe, just most of them), on both sides of the aisle.

What I would like to see is a single site that pulls together all of the shenanigans of the last few elections. I'll bet there's plenty of blame to go around. And all of it, because our government has usurped powers over the economy and our private lives that were never intended.
South Korea might be okay with this, but I doubt that Japan's very keen on it. At some point, Japan is going to act, I think. They're the only nation on the planet that's ever experienced atomic weapons first-hand, and I doubt that they're in a hurry for another taste.
One couldn't ask for a more congruous subhead than this one: "Al-Sadr delivers fiery anti-U.S. sermon; deaths of 6 U.S. soldiers announced."
As part of the Iraq spending bill (WTF?!?), Congress has passed the "Entry-Level Jobs Reduction Plan."

More here. Have I mentioned that I hate politics?
As usual, Cox and Forkum are right on.
Sometimes, I'm amazed that companies manage to do business at all in today's regulatory environment. There's literally no aspect of business that isn't regulated, often in contradictory terms (both within and between government agencies). Ayn Rand's position that such regulation is meant to create criminals out of everyone is becoming ever more obviously true.
Why is the cost to purchase Windows a "tax," as in this Ars Technica story? Does Ars Technical really consider Microsoft's market position equivalent to government power?

Apparently so. Sigh.
This is how the loonies* at the Daily Kos treat their own.


*Except, they're not simply loonies. They subscribe to a philosophy where such behavior is not only acceptable, it's expected. It's the worst sort of mob rule; one can easily imagine these people working themselves into a collective frenzy and tearing someone apart. They're violent both on-line and in person, as evidenced by any Leftist rally. Ideas mean nothing to them, ultimately; they'll talk only up until they fail to get what they want. Then, it's time to pull out the rifles and make things happen.
Aliens taking core samples, maybe?
If we don't need to build a missile shield in Europe, then why are the Russians talking about creating a "sword" that can pierce it? I'm not privy to high-level strategy, of course, and so I don't know whether it's true that the shield is being built to defend against rogue states like Iran and North Korea. I'm guessing that given today's technology, it probably is true. A shield to protect against a handful of medium-range missiles is one thing; a shield to protect against hundreds or thousands of ICBM's is another.

Nevertheless, it's difficult to tell whether this is merely typical Russian bellicosity, or if it should be taken at face value. If the latter, then it's a very thinly veiled threat, and indicates that Russia dislikes the missile shield precisly because it limits some future option that they'd like to retain.

Overall, to me, it sounds a lot like a return to the days of Soviet expansionism.
A great resource from the Ayn Rand Institute: a fair number of audiorecordings of Ayn Rand's lectures, interviews, etc. One doesn't very often hear someone speak with such philosophical precision.

This link will get you there, but you'll need to register first. Very much worth a visit.
As usual, a very nice piece from Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute. This one is about recent "say on pay" legislation, which seeks to subvert free market corporate governance.

Worth a read.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 3735 Diggs, is a story about a creationist winning a science fair. As an atheist, I too find this ridiculous. I wonder, though, how many Diggs were just Left vs. Right.
Any lingering doubts I might have had that large (or at least influential) swatches of the IT industry are Left-leaning are erased by this story: "Apple's Jobs urges Gore to run for President."

The money quote: "We have dug ourselves into a 20-foot hole, and we need somebody who knows how to build a ladder."
A condition of Japan's surrender in WWII was that they reject the Emperor as divine ruler. We should require the same in Iraq. So long as Iraq remains governed by religious factions (and, by proxy, by Iran), it will be just as much of a threat to American interests as was Hussein's Iraq.

Maybe even worse.
Our new ally, the French. No, seriously. It's better than nothing.

Then again, maybe it's not: "diplomatic efforts," sanctions, and anything but direct removal of the Iranian government--which has committed enough acts of war against us to have warranted destruction many times over--simply gives Iran more time to implement its strategy.
I remember getting into a discussion with an Indiana University American lit professor about Ayn Rand, and being insulted in the process. She was a Leftist, of course, who, in addition to hating Ayn Rand, believed that American business was evil for failing to produce the same lines of shoes for her freakishly small feet.* My grade, which prior to this discussion had been a high A, suddenly dropped to a low C. Without a single paper having been submitted. Something about an "entire body of work."

That was 20 years ago. I can only imagine what the environment is like today, after eight years of Clinton and almost eight years of Bush. If you want to know more, sign up for a local screening here. I did.

Edit: I forgot to mention: this is a link to Indoctrinate U., which looks like a fascinating documentary on the topic of higher education anti-dissent.

*They really were freakishly small. I'd say she was probably somewhere in the top one percentile of people with very small feet, meaning that any shoe company that tooled their factories to make a full line of shoes for her would soon go out of business. Such crass business concerns were beneath her, though, because she was talking about her right to whatever shoes she wanted!
I disagree. Los Angeleans are pretty bad, as well.
"Oil for Food" money, maybe?

I hate to pick on the French, since they've since elected someone who's at least pro-American, but this, in the context of the war in Iraq, is interesting.
A single American life lost for any reason other than an individual's decision to fight for his values is one too many. This post by Gateway Pundit makes an important point, but only in a purely political context--more American military servicemembers lost their lives under Clinton than so far under Bush--but from an ethical perspective, the point is moot.

Both Clinton and Bush ignored the real enemy, Iran, and have spent American blood in altruistic orgies of self-effacing sacrifice. In those terms, both are equally evil, whether one sent 7500 Americans to their deaths or "only" 3824.
One can only hope that this isn't an isolated trend: "Europeans back plan to profile mosques."

This is like finding needles in a haystack, but only if one ignores that needles have a nature. Treating them like hay means failing to apply tools like metal detectors to the task.

One example [U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff] cited is the case in June 2003 of an agent at Chicago's O'Hare airport who, unsatisfied with a foreign traveler's responses, refused entry and sent him back to where he had come from _ first taking his fingerprints.

Those fingerprints, according to Chertoff, turned up later on the steering wheel of a suicide truck bomb detonated in Iraq.

Better that he blow himself up over there than over here.
I hate politics. I really do:

Similarly, the Democrats’ vow to end the “culture of corruption” in Congress has proven to be empty campaign rhetoric. Only two Democrats joined 187 Republicans on Wednesday in supporting an unsuccessful motion to discipline Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., for violating an ethics rules approved by the House in January. Murtha crossed the line when he threatened to bar spending sought by two Republicans who questioned earmarks in his home district.

What will the Left do now?
Unless they're committing fraud or using force, Google can't be "evil." That is, unless your premise is that Google exists for your benefit and not their own. Only then can you suppose that by acting toward their own self-interest, by building businesses that make them money, they're somehow committing an evil act.

Furthermore, it should be no surprise to anyone that Google maintains data on our searching habits. That's obvious: search is their core business, and they (and many others) make a great deal of money by serving up ads based on search criteria, Web site content, and even "personal" data (e.g., what sites we tend to visit, which pages we tend to view, etc.). Indeed, many of us rely on such data to make our Internet usage more efficient and effective.

It seems as if it's only when a company start overtly commercializing such things do people react negatively. This seems nowhere more true than in the IT industry, for reasons that I've not yet fully identified (other than the industry's geography, which is centered smack in the middle of one of the many hearts of Leftist America).

Update (via Instapundit): Exactly.
Dell will soon be selling some tailor-made systems at Wal-Mart. What is the world coming to?

Actually, I think too much is being made of Dell's decision to expand into the retail space. Although the company built itself on direct sales, there's no law (political or economic) against its changing directions. I wouldn't buy a Dell system at Wal-Mart, but then I tend to build my own desktops and source notebooks from other vendors. And, I don't really like Wal-Mart, although only because I find their customer service to be lacking--certainly, not because they're big and influential.

I think that's a good thing.
It's this kind of insane rhetoric that makes Iran's efforts to develop nuclear weapons different from Irael's (or any Western nation's) nuclear deterrent. One wonders whether Ahmadinejad says these things because he truly believes them, because he knows he can get away with them, and/or because he desires to show "strength" to other Middle Eastern leaders. Whatever.

The point remains that in supposing that Iran has a "right" to develop nuclear weapons because other nations possess them, the Left is as usual creating a moral equivalence between Western nations that act to defend themselves and rogue states that desire to destroy us. To say that Israel will be "uprooted," in whatever context, is tantamount to a declaration of war.

The only question is, when will we start listening?
Boing Boing bills itself as a "Directory of Wonderful Things." I disagree with that billing on general principle: Boing Boing is less often "wonderful" than it is bizarre, disdainful, irreverent, and always tending toward the loony Left.

A Boing Boing post yesterday, though, goes beyond even their typical irrational leanings to border on the treasonous. By reposting the ABC News Blog (The Blotter) post about alleged CIA "black operatons" efforts against Iran, Boing Boing is helping to put American strategy and personnel in jeopardy. The site is so hysterically anti-Bush that it does so in support of a nation that has violated every agreement it has entered into, has threatened the West with destruction, and is currently developing technologies that only make sense in the context of nuclear weapons.

I won't link to the post. If you want to find it, you'll have to search for yourself. I'm picking on Boing Boing here primarily because 1) it's a very, very popular IT site and 2) it's not overtly political. Pointing out the Daily Kos's linking to the ABC News Blog post (and I'm sure they linked to it) would be extraneous and unnecessary--one expects the Daily Kos to publish such information, because their sole purpose for existing is to bring down the current Administration.

As a "Directory for Wonderful Things," though, Boing Boing should explain where a story like this fits.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A prelude to war? One can only hope.

This story includes a picture that's worth a visit. The US Navy is an impressive organization. If Iran's not worried, then they're even more irrational than they're given credit for.
This story outlines an IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program:

The brevity of the four-page report indirectly reflected the lack of progress agency inspectors had made clearing up unresolved issues, among them; Iran’s possession of diagrams showing how to form uranium into warhead form; unexplained uranium contamination at a research facility; information on high explosives experiments that could be linked to a nuclear program and the design of a missile re-entry vehicle.

"...form uranium into warhead form"? " of a missile re-entry vehicle"?

I'm left without words. Seriously.
I believe this is true, as a general statement: "the average high school student is an incompetent writer." I believe it, because as a father of two kids I've experienced the "quality" of the American public school system firsthand. I've also noticed a marked decrease in quality since moving to California from Illinois--the latter isn't great in this respect, but it's certainly better than the former.

Schools like the VanDamme Academy in Irvine, California are priceless. I only wish it weren't so far away.
I'm not usually into "Top X" lists, finding them often banal and unineresting. This one is no exception. Why is Google Apps Premier Edition the #1 technology of 2007 (particularly when 2007 still has a few months to go)?

You'll have to read the article to find out.
Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 3721 Diggs, is a bit ironic (poor capitalization aside), "IRONY: Anti-Cellphone Senator Crashes while talking on CELLPHONE." Personally, I use either a Bluetooth headset or a Bluetooth handsfree connection between my Sprint Treo 650 and G35, and so such legislation doesn't really impact me personally. And in the overall scheme of government intervention into private matters, it's a fairly insignificant example.

But, it's today's #1 Digg, so have at it.
I'm not sure why it's "bleak" that the EU-Russian forum ended in conflict over human rights issues. In fact, I think it's extremely encouraging. The West and Russia should be in conflict, or else the West has abandoned the little of its principles that it currently retains.
I dislike essays about how high income earners are good for the economy because they pay taxes. When they quote Ayn Rand in this context, I like them even less. This article redeems itself somewhat by pointing out that overall economic activity would be reduced if the productive (although he uses the term "innovator," which is a non-essential) were to quit producing. But, it still focuses too much on income tax payments, which is an evil in and of itself.
I don't think that Bernard Lewis was saying this at all in his recent WSJ op-ed. The point is not that "all Muslims" are violent butchers bent on destroying the West. At no time has any group been completely single-minded in its pursuit of another group's destruction (except perhaps the Nazis, but even they were "only" one aspect of a larger militaristic German culture); there are always those who buck the trend.

Rather, the point is that today, the principal threat to Western civilization comes from within the Muslim population and from certain aspects of Islamic philosophy. The real straw man is the idea that all Muslims are the problem, and it's typically raised precisely in response to one's pointing out that, in the current milieu of atrocities being conducted around the world, Muslims of one flavor or another are at the center of most of them. Articles such as the one linked above focus on knocking down the straw man to obfuscate the reality of contemporary Muslim crimes.

The fact is, there are those Muslims, such as bin Laden, who wish to rip down the Western world and replace it with an Islamic caliphate of their creation. It matters little whether this is due to religious determinism, revenge for past geopolitical events, or pure nihilistic disdain for the modern world. The dead victim of a suicide bomber remains just as dead.

Consider current events in Iraq, in particular the attacks against Iraqi citizens that are essentially worthless militarily. If the "insurgency" were a typical one, it would be just as concerned with protecting Iraqi lives as driving out the occupying American forces. Instead, the "insurgents" target either completely random civilian victims, to create as horrendous and newsworthy an event as possible, or they target other religious sects in what must be either a smokescreen to hide their true intentions or a demonstration of their underlying religious collectivism. Few of their attacks against military targets achieve anything but to bleed American support for the war. In all cases, the ultimate goal has nothing to do with Iraq, but is to drive America out of Iraq solely to claim a victory against the Great Satan (and/or, peripherally, to give one religious sect ascendancy over the other).

Given the long-term effect on their cause, namely that a group such as al Qaida can't get away with indiscriminate killing forever before even the radical imam must denounce them eventually, there must be a reason for such behavior. The only reason that makes sense is that the al Qaida leadership believes that America is too weak in character to take the necessary steps to crush them. Our ability to crush them militarily has already been demonstrated.

And so, one must conclude that Lewis is correct in his assertion that radical Islamists understand only strength, and respond to weakness precisely as in Iraq and elsewhere. Were we to have shown true strength at the very beginning of the conflict, then perhaps Iraq and the rest of the Middle East would be at least marginally more peaceful than it is today.
Of all the episodes, Monday night's Heroes season finale seemed the most steeped in altruist dogma. That was disappointing. Otherwise (and no spoilers, other than philosophically, for those four people who haven't yet watched the episode), but it was still good television. It was surprising, emotionally charged, and action-packed. It tied up some loose ends, provided some foreshadowing for next season, and in general satisfied, while leaving plenty of good material for another season (at least).

In philosophical terms, Heroes is a mixed bag. It's good vs. evil, as it should be, but it's an odd mix of true heroes and anti-heroes. While all of the good characters "mean well," some of them are fairly Milquetoaste-esqe, in particularly Peter, who's also the most powerful character. Of course, the entire show is based on a fantasy premise, and in that sense is inherently rational, but even allowing for that it's still all over the map philosophically.

On that basis, Firefly was much better (although the followup movie, Serenity, wasn't quite up to the same standards). But, I can't say that Firefly was that much better than Heroes, as far as pure entertainment goes. Both are outstanding examples of how television can be of high quality, although Heroes certainly enjoyed a far larger following.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of Heroes, though, that separates it from most other shows is its Internet tie-ins. To fully understand the story, one must keep up with the comic book on the NBC Web site, as well as subscribe to the various text messages, phone calls, etc., that provide background information that supplements the show itself.

In this respect, Heroes might be a model for future entertainment, which will engage us on a number of levels via a variety of mediums. Whether this is a good thing remains to be seen. Entertainment is often a form of escapism for many people, and many won't embrace a show in so many different (and often time-consuming) ways. So far, the Heroes writers and producers have walked this fine line rather effectively, in that although one can enjoy a richer experience via the Internet, the show itself is good enough on its own.

In short, I'm very much looking forward to next season, which is testimony enough for me.
And so, I'm assuming from this story that Putin will "retain influence" over whatever puppet he puts in place, because he can always return to power later. He will maintain the illusion of stepping down, constitutionally, but in reality will remain in control. If that's not the definition of a true dictator, I'm not sure what is.

Good luck, America. With our current and foreseeable leadership, we're going to need it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

American businesses just can't catch a break. Consider this story about pharmaceutical companies data-mining physician prescribing practices. As usual, the typical bugaboo of patient privacy rights is used to attack drug company efforts to better understand their market--in spite of the fact that patient privacy is clearly and carefully being protected.

If government or a Leftist non-profit were to perform such research to show evil-doing on the part of drug companies, nothing would be said. Much would be made, though, of the value of such information in understanding the cost and efficacy of the heathcare industry.

Not so much, however, when private enterprise does it.
English asks, and Russia refuses. I'm glad to see that Litvinenko's death remains a priority for someone. It's doubtful that his murderer (cough, Putin?, cough) will ever be brought to justice, but it's important that Russia's slide (back) into dictatorship remains in the news.
In this Gallup Poll, Ron Paul registers a solid zero. Nada. Zilch. The opposite of something.

And so, it suggests that Internet movements are less a barometer of society's politics and more an indication of how a small handful of very vocal people can make hay. This is particularly true at sites like Technorati and Digg, where Ron Paulism is particularly virulent.
Anyone who lets politics determine their diet is a fool. Someone who let politics determine their infant's diet is an evil fool. Here's an article on why a vegan diet isn't good for anyone, let alone for developing children.

It might make sense, from a health perspective, to reduce the intake of red meat and increase the intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole wheat. Naturally, increasing the "nutritional density" of the food one eats makes sense, and veggies are very dense. But, one makes such decisions based on biology and physiology, not on politics.

These "parents" found out the hard way. As the father said, "We're vegetarians; we are against animal cruelty, so why would I be cruel to my son?" How's that for asserting moral equivalence between animals and humans?

Monday, May 21, 2007

This is pretty cool: water on Mars!
The Iranian regime doesn't need rewards to halt its nuclear ambitions. It needs to be removed from power. This op ed in the New York Times first states the obvious, that Iran is a threat, but then asserts that there's "no military solution" and that we need to offer "a clear offer of full diplomatic relations and security guarantees should Iran agree to verifiably contain its nuclear ambitions."

Is this guy channeling Jimmy Carter?
Celebrity Alert: A nice piece from Dennis Miller. Although, since he only does political stuff nowadays, for the most part, I'm not sure if it's appropriate to include him in a Report. Nevertheless, decent stuff.
Fighting proxy wars against the Soviets was one thing. The alternative was, perhaps, total destruction, on both sides. But fighting a proxy war with Iran?

This is getting embarassing. I blame the Left, of course, in part, but Bush and the Republican party are just as culpable.

If we finished things with Iran and Syria, the problem in Iraq would go away. And both the Democrats and the Republicans know this. Hell, they can't not know it. Not if they're at all competent. Either way, a curse on both of them.
As usual, Cox and Forkum are right on the money. This time, it's about Jimmy Carter and his ludicrous assertions (and his subsequent backpedaling is embarrassing).
If you're interested in smart, timely discussions on a variety of technology (and other) topics, visit Jerry Pournelle's site. A long-time contributor at Byte (both in print and on-line), a prolific science fiction writer, and someone long involved in the aerospace industries, he provides a unique and interesting perspective. I don't always agree with him, but he's truly well-informed and intelligent, and that counts for something.

Give a visit. I doubt that you'll be disappointed.
Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 7384 Diggs: it's back! Yes, the same story about the cancer cure that "Big Pharma" won't touch is again highly Digged. Same comments, too.
Normally I find to be a largely uncontroversial site for general technology news. Or, at least, I've never noticed them being particularly so. But, this piece bothered me, in two ways. First, I'm not sure af the story's point; is it in favor of MySpace giving up the sex offender information (not sure how one can be against it), ambivalent about it, or is it saying that such an attempt is merely worthless?

Ultimately, what left me with a bad taste was the "hehe" at the end. Really, I don't find the issue of sex offenders and their access to ever minors a laughing matter.
As I write this, I'm enjoying a freshly brewed cup of French Roast, made in my Keurig coffemaker. It's relatively expensive (compared to regular coffee, but not to Starbucks), but it's tasty and convenient.

I bought my maker at Costco, my favorite store. As usual, they have a great price on the unit I bought, which includes a good supply of coffee (thus making their price even more impressive). Note that Costco changes their inventory quite often, and so that link might not work forever.

All in all, highly recommended.*

*In case anyone's wondering, I don't work for and am not compensated by either company. But, if they want to sponsor this site, I'll be happy to put up some ads. I'll never take money to lie about a product, but if it's something I like, I'm game.
This corroberates my earlier post about Fair Use. Thanks to Ars Technica.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Fujitsu FMV-U8240 UMPC looks nice. This does away with one of my concerns with the UMPC, which is the typicall smallish or non-existent physical keyboard. I'm sure I could type on this one. Now, I'm only left with the sure-to-blind-me screen--1024X600 on a 5.6" LCD would likely give me migraines. Still, it would be nice for taking written (and perhaps voice) memos while on the run.
And here's a story that show's Russia's predilection toward dictatorship and mayhem won't necessarily end with the deaths of the last Soviet-era leadership. An entirely new generation of oppression is being created right under our very noses, and I fear it won't end well.
I continue to believe that Russia is the greater threat to long-term American security, and this story about Russian spies makes me feel no better.
The oil economy won't last forever. Dubai should remember this. I mean, these are some crazy cool skyscrapers, but how will they pay for such things when the oil money runs out?
More Starcraft II info, specifically some nifty-looking in-game videos. I can't wait for this thing. Of course, I probably don't have a system that will play it like this (my fastest system is an Acer 8204 with an ATI X1600 Mobility GPU, which I'm sure will be inadequate), and so I better start saving up.
Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 4118 Diggs, is anti-Bush. My own anecdotal information would show that the #1 Digg isn't often of a political nature, at least not recently (or since I started this blog). And so, I can't make that particular claim.

This one's pretty bad, though. The story linked is an opinion piece that doesn't make sense in the context of the presidential directive it references. The piece even quotes the directive, as follows:

"Enduring Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers among the branches, to preserve the constitutional framework under which the Nation is governed and the capability of all three branches of government to execute constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession, appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and support of the National Essential Functions during a catastrophic emergency;

And also:

The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government.

I'm no constitutional scholar, but I highly doubt that offering up the Executive Branch as the "leader" of the government (during catastrophies or otherwise) would be considered unconstitutional. In fact, I'm pretty sure that this is the definition of the Executive Branch (i.e., the branch that executes the law). In fact, if this directive is guilty of anything, it would appear to be redundancy.

My question is: did the 4118 Digg readers who Dugg this story actually read it and think about it? Or was their Digg just a knee-jerk reaction to an inflammatory anti-Bush headline?
When Israel defends herself, sometimes innocent people are killed. This is unavoidable in war, and if Israel should be faulted for anything it's for being too careful. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict would probably be over by now, with both sides living in peace, had Israel been allowed to simply win the war and get it over with.

When Hamas sends rockets into Israel, however, it is indiscriminate, and the killing of civilians vs. military is the rule rather than the exception. Here's a report on what it feels like to be on the other end of a Hamas Kassam rocket.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, China is in trouble. If this sort of thing continues, to cost of doing business with China will become unbearable. It's a net loss for everyone, but I imagine that the Chinese people will suffer most.
A fascinating story on the domestic oil industry, in the New York Times. What I find most interesting is that oil exploration seems to be down. If so, then how can anyone predict a decrease in available reserves (and by"available," I don't mean just known reserves)?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I recognize that I seem to post most often about intellectual property, and my Google ads attest to this fact. They are as of this posting, for example, both ads placed by IP lawyers. Nothing wrong with that, unless I have aspirations to make a little money from this blog.

Nevertheless, this is an interesting op ed by Mark Helprin. In it, he argues that copyright law should be extended, not limited. He's a writer, and so he doesn't touch at all on the issue of "digital rights." Unless a book has been specifically digitized into an eBook format, it's not very likely to suffer from the widespread infringement "enjoyed" by music and video.

I don't agree with Mr. Helprin, of course. Again, he's not arguing for copyright, per se, but rather assumes that copyright is valid (a legitimate assumption) and argues instead that it should last forever--or, something close to it. As Ayn Rand wrote, however:

Material property represents a static amount of wealth already produced. It can be left to heirs, but it cannot remain in their effortless possession in perpetuity: the heirs can consume it or must earn its continued possession by their own productive work. The greater the value of the property, the greater the effort demanded of the heir. In a free, competitive society, no one could long retain the ownership of a factory or of a tract of land without exercising a commensurate effort.

But intellectual property cannot be consumed. If it were held in perpetuity, it would lead to the opposite of the very principle on which it is based: it would lead, not to the earned reward of achievement, but to the unearned support of parasitism. It would become a cumulative lien on the production of unborn generations, which would ultimately paralyze them. Consider what would happen if, in producing an automobile, we had to pay royalties to the descendants of all the inventors involved, starting with the inventor of the wheel and on up. Apart from the impossibility of keeping such records, consider the accidental status of such descendants and the unreality of their unearned claims. - Capitalism: The Unknown Idea, Ayn Rand, 1966.

The power of her argument here is how it highlights the vital importance of the individual in creating intellectual property. Mr. Helprin focuses on the long-term economic value of the property itself without recognizing its connection to the individual who created it. Those who argue against intellectual property in general, who like to say that "ideas want to be free," are making the same essential mistake.
"Carter: Bush’s foreign policy is ‘worst in history’": wow, what a headline. It's surreal, even. The subhead is even better: "39th president says 43rd has done severe damage to U.S. reputation abroad." This, from Jimmy Carter, whose principle contribution to America's "reputation" is to have shown our great nation as morose, emasculated, and ineffective. His most recent escapades have been just as disconcerting.

For a President who nearly destroyed the United States through sheer micromanaging incompetence, Carter has some nerve attacking Bush. Of course, Bush makes for an easy target.
Producers can say anything, and often do. Michael Moore is a manipulative, disgusting, vile specimen, and hardly deserves comment. But, I'll believe that the US government is planning to "seize" his movie when I see it.
I'm not sure I like the looks of the 2008 Audi R8, but I certainly like the specs. At $134K fully loaded, it's even more "affordable" than some.
Digg Report: Today's #1 Digg, at 6189 Diggs (including mine), is about the upcoming release of Blizzard's Starcraft II, the sequel to immensely popular and quite fun Starcraft. I'm looking forward to it, even if the trailer does depict a criminal released from prison as a "Marine."
I think that telecommuting is a great idea, and of course I'm not surprised at its growing popularity. Personally, I enjoy working at home. In my previous job, I drove 25 miles each way through the admittedly beautiful Malibu Canyon Road and Pacific Coast Highway. But, it took me an hour each way, and with gas prices the way they are, close to $75/week in gas expense alone. I'm happy to have both back.

I just don't understand why Congress sees a need to get involved. If telecommuting makes sense for a particular company and employee, then they'll do it. If not, then they won't. As with all things economic, injecting government force into the equation 1) is fundamentally wrong and 2) creates the sort of artificial incentives that will ruin the concept.

Really, though, I was being facetious: I do understand why Congress will get involved. They can't help it. But that's a discussion for another post.
And, once our military commanders in Iraq are sure enough that these are the men who abducted three American soldiers, they should be summarily executed unless they are willing to provide demonstrably credible information on the "insurgency."

Should their information lead to Iran, all the better.
The issue of immigration is so complicated that I haven't yet spent the time to fully digest all of it. Perhaps the new immigration bill is good, maybe it's bad. But, I don't think that American immigration policy should give a rat's a** whether Mexicans are "wary of" it.

I welcome anyone who comes here peacefully and is willing to pay for their own existence. For a free society, infusions of productive, law-abiding people can't be a bad thing.

But, the idea that Mexicans (or anyone else) are somehow entitled to come here and work is erroneous and offensive. The fact that they can make more here than in Mexico doesn't create on their part a claim on America. Ultimately, they should be happy with whatever they get.
I'm all for modern medicine's ability to cure disease and improve our health, but this can't be healthy. I'm not a woman, but the women I know aren't really in a huge hurry to stop their periods. I'm not sure exactly what this is trying to accomplish.
I've been remiss in not yet saying to all of our military men and women around the world:

Happy Armed Forces Day!

I only wish I could do more to honor your efforts in upholding your values.