Saturday, July 21, 2007

Canadian Researchers "Solve" Checkers

This is both a fascinating and slightly sad story: Canadian researchers have developed a program that can't lose in checkers, thereby "solving" the game, for all intents and purposes. It's silly, I know, because we slow humans can continue to play the game with each other, but there's something about a computer being invincible at it that takes something away from the fun.

It's like we're just amateurs the minute we pull out a board. I hope the same doesn't happen soon with chess.

Bush Passes Executive Order: No Hurting Anyone's Feelings

We publish "interrogation" rules like this, while al Qaeda publishes guides on how to out-horrify the next jihadi in torture technique.

We're civilized people. And civilizations have been know to be overrun by barbarians.

A Few Good Cox and Forkum Cartoons

A couple of typically outstanding Cox and Forkum entries for you:

On a distinct difference between Iran and the US.

On the Left's response to some very good news.

U of K Imposes Zero Tolerance for Illegal Downloads - Good for Them!

As someone who believes in intellectual property, and in protecting it, I applaud the University of Kansas for their new zero-tolerance policy regarding illegal downloads. And that's strong coming from me, because I used to despise the University for its basketball team back in my Indiana University days.

Feds Use Keylogger to Nab Criminal, IT Industry Doesn't Like It

Why is it that the IT industry seems to be so anti-law enforcement? Of course, no investigative method is foolproof, and some criminals will eventually find ways around it. And, some methods might offer the means for criminals to turn the table and use the technology for nefarious purposes (wiretapping is one example).

But as technology progresses, so too should law enforcement's use of it. Otherwise, I think it becomes obvious that committing crimes will become ever easier. Yet it seems like most (and by most, I mean, almost all) prominent tech blogs either pooh pooh the technology as useless or accuse it of some fictional invasion of privacy.

One might think that the industry would instead work closely with law enforcement to both develop new and effective methods of catching criminals and ensure that the technology is limited to law enforcement. But there doesn't seem to be much of that; instead, as in this story, they just suggest ways to avoid the technology that is developed.

Breaking News: OLPC Notebooks Access Porn

Just a quick example as to why the "One Laptop per Child (OLPC)" program is doomed to failure. Access to technology simply is no replacement for changing cultures that are primitive and oppressive at their roots.

Financial Times of India: Russia Third-Rate Country

Indian newspaper calls Russia a third-rate nation, not fit for the WTO, the G8, or to host the Olympics. Ouch.

This post has a link to the story, but it's not working at the moment. I like this site, so I'll take its word for it.

Putin Continues to Prepare for Upcoming "Elections"

A little bit about Russian "electoral" politics. Ours our nasty and brutish (but not short, so no Hobbes quotes here), but they usually don't involved trumped-up charges and incarceration. In Russia, that's not so much the case.

Seems like if you're not one of Putin's hand-picked choices, you don't really want to be putting your hat in the ring. And my prediction remains as it's always been: Putin will put a puppet in place, run him for the required number of years, and then get reelected. He'll placate the West, which is just terrified of offending an enemy or potential enemy, because everything will have been by "vote."

But Putin will remain the dictator that he is. So much for democracy, which continues to show itself to be the failure the American Founders knew it to be.

US Backs UK in Dispute with Russia - Duh!

As well we should back the UK. When I first read this headline, I was a bit dyslexic, and read it as if we'd be backing Russia in the dispute over extraditing the accused murderer Andrei Lugovoy.

So, an interesting story, but certainly not worth my first response to it.

Ahmadinejad: Just Hoping for War or Predicting It?

With all of what Iranian President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is, and I promise, the last post of the day on this guy) seems to be saying about a war this summer*, this rumor seems ominous. In a sort of "Friday the 13th" ominous, I mean.

*These are questionable sources. Very questionable. And I don't really believe them. I've read other references to Imajihadi's quote, but it sounds more like pure rhetoric to me. The Arabs would be crazy to attack Israel. And while they are crazy, they're not that crazy. I don't think.

Ahmadinejad and Assad: Joined at the Hip

More on Iranian President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is) and his meeting with Syrian President Assad. The following quote sums things up pretty nicely, I think:

"The enemies of the region should abandon plans to attack the interests of this region, or they would be burned by the wrath of the region's peoples," Ahmadinejad said at a joint press conference with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

And, I should point out, the two people most responsible for the instability in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East were meeting together, in the same location. Personally, I call that a wasted opportunity.

Ahmadinejad Speaks Nonsense to Hezbollah Chief

Iranian President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is) met with Hezbollah chief terrorist Hassan Nesrallah in Syria, and had this to say:

"Today, the inner calm in Lebanese society is something that gives hope while the Zionist regime is becoming weaker every day," Ahmadinejad was quoted as telling Nasrallah.

Huh? Even for Imajihadi, that makes no sense. "...inner calm in Lebanese society..."? Um, okay.

Ahmadinejad: Islam's Global Capital will be in Qom

Here's a fascinating look at the intermingling of politics and religion in Islam. Iran's President Imajihadi (or whatever his name is) believes that when Islam rules the world, it's center will be at a place called Qom. Seems this doesn't sit well with all Muslims, Shia or Sunni. Or, at least, exactly what the world will look like once that happens is a point of controversy.

It's an interesting read, if only to get a glimpse into the impossible complexity of the whole thing. And, it provides more insight into why Islam remains a threat to the West--and it one want's to be politically correct, the most one could say is "why large sects within Islam remain a threat to the West."

Israel Speaks Truth to Power

Israel seems to be the only country with the will to say what needs to be said, when it needs saying. In this story, Israel's envoy to the US says it like it is about Iran. Here's a choice quote:

"It's 1938 all over again," said Hagee. "Iran is Germany, Ahmadinejad is Hitler and he is talking about killing the Jews. The only way to prevent a nuclear war is to make certain it never starts."

It's worth a quick read.

Pentagon Official Gives it to Clinton

I rarely link to the Daily Kos, because I get nauseous every time I visit the site, but this post warrants mentioning. It's about a Pentagon official who responded to Hillary Clinton's question about how we plan to withdraw from Iraq with a completely reasonable--and important--answer:

"Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia," [Undersecretary of Defense Eric] Edelman wrote.

He added that "such talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks." Original text from this AP story.

The Daily Kos, of course, just considers this response outrageous! How dare a military official respond openly and honestly to a question that during wartime is at least wreckless and irresponsible. The only other possible answer to Clinton's question would be, "We plan to withdraw after we've achieved our goals." And that's a reasonable answer only if we ever plan to withdraw, since I believe we should leave behind major military installation or two.

Will Smith and Tom Cruise - Together?!?

Celebrity Report: It's been awhile since the last Report, but it appears that Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkette-Smith, will co-host a welcoming party for David Beckham with none other than Scientologists Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. That's actually quite disappointing for me--I'd not have thought that Smith and Cruise would be on such terms, since Smith seems so genuine while Cruise seems... well... so like Tom Cruise.

And so it goes.

Something Unfathomable About Intellectual Property

I hardly think that China can be cited as at all important in validating the concept of intellectual property since, as communists, the concept of private property is one that they don't really support.

I'm only linking to this post to make the above point, becuase in general I'm not really sure what its point it, other than that sometimes stealing intellectual property from one country can cause innovation in another country. Which is true, but flies in the face of the very notion of intellectual property itself.

China Not Really Making Food with Cardboard

It seems that China food vendors really weren't putting cardboard in their products. At least, the Chinese journalist who first reported the story has recanted, claiming it was all done for ratings. Big mistake--he's now being held by Chinese authorities. And lately, the Chinese government has made no bones about how seriously it takes such things.

North Korea Continues Making Promises

We've heard all of this before. We give North Korea money, food, and fuel, they promise to halt their nuclear activities, and once that load of goods runs out they start things up again (or, simply admit to having already done so). They're playing us like fiddles, which seems to be a common theme lately.

Perhaps when a North Korean-supplied nuke goes off in an American city, our "leadership" will finally understand that appeasement doesn't work. Not that there haven't already been plenty of examples, but it seems that it really is impossible to teach old dogs new tricks.