Current Events


 

  •  Wars are much more expensive than expected (Rumsfield Principle)
  • Wars will take much longer than expected (McClellan Principle)
  • If you remove a despot, there WILL be a civil war
  • Cleaning the mess will take much longer, and cost much more than the war.
  • After you leave, there will be many people who hate you.
  • The folks you put in power will be corrupt and/or inept.
  • The war will empower and enrich profiteers
  • When a despot is replaced with democracy, people you don’t like will attain power.
  • Things will not go as planned.
  • Don’t make war in Afghanistan, it will be trouble.

How many dollars does it take....?

How many dollars does it take....?

Continuing on the theme of my recent post on the difficulty of understanding scope of large numbers, a friend of mine published a compelling demonstration of the size of a Trillion Dollars:

  • With the latest round of Washington bailout money approaching a trillion dollars, here’s a way to visualize large sums of money assuming that the average dollar bill is 4 mils (0.004 inches) thick:
  • One million dollars is one million $1 bills. Lay them edge-to-edge and they would cover 2.57 acres of land.
  • One billion dollars would be the same as above but with a 4-inch tall stacks of dollar bills replacing each individual dollar bill.
  • One trillion dollars: Use the same 2.57 acres of land, but the stacks of one dollar bills would now be 333-feet tall.

This illustration is courtesy of the CGC Communicator
published by Robert F. Gonsett for California Broadcasters

The End of America:  Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot

Naomi Wolf is an outstanding pamphleteer. She makes the case that all ten steps to fascism are in play in America. Her arguments are clear, convincing and persuasive that an an organized plot is afoot to strip us of our freedoms and institute an American fascist state.

The ten steps to fascism, as outlined by Ms. Wolf:

  1. Invoke an internal and an external threat
  2. Establish secret prisons
  3. Develop a paramilitary force
  4. Surveil ordinary citizens
  5. Infiltrate citizens groups
  6. Arbitrarily detain and release citizens
  7. Target key individuals
  8. Restrict the press
  9. Cast criticism as “Espionage” and dissent as “Treason”
  10. Subvert the rule of law

Unfortunately, she made her case in the first half of each chapter, then filled the chapter out to make book length. This would have been a great 50 or 75 page pamphlet. There is just too much fluff to be Thomas Paine.

(more…)

A new variation of poetry, with constraints similar to haiku has cropped up – Fibonacci poetry. The number of syllables in each line follows the Fibonacci sequence – where each number is the sum of the preceding two numbers 0-1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21-34….

My contribution to this art is:Fibonacci Spiral

I

Think

Yes, Think

Really Think

I Am Self Aware

Hal – A Sentient Computer

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do, I’m half Cray

Ray Kurzweil says I’m alive and free; Dave Bowman was frightened by Me, He killed Me.

Cray I Supercomputer—————————–

Cray I Supercomputer

“Lets make English America’s Official Language” is the clarion call for many activists resisting America’s apparent polyglot tendencies. My recent post on what makes America special as a country showed how it is important that each generation of immigrants succeed and also speak English. Over the years politicians and guardians of American heritage have bemoaned that immigrants are not fluent in English. President Teddy Roosevelt said, “Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or leave the country.”

Well, a recent study by Douglas Massey at Princeton University and Ruben Rumbaut along with Frank Bean at the University of California, Irvine have found that this goal may take care of itself! In Southern California, their study shows that the children of Mexican Immigrants have lower Spanish fluency and better English, and their grandchildren mostly speak English as their first language. (more…)

Remember the story about the Siberian breeder who bred tame Silver Foxes? Over just a few generations Dmitri Belyaev selected only the most tame foxes to breed, and ended up with a dog-like fox – as tame as you please, thank you. The foxes also had a number of other characteristics that came along with the tameness – similar to the changes between dogs and wolves – droopy ears, and patchy color, etc.

rat A - Photo by Socar MylesWell, this same fellow also did a similar experiment with rats! He developed two colonies; one about as friendly as you can imagine, and the other colony a clan of uber-rodents that are more vicious than those in Willard. The New York Times reported that Frank Albert of the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionalry Anthropology has convinced Dr. Belyaev to loan him a few rats from each of his strains to look for the genetic differences between the two closely bred colonies. (more…)

Svante PaaboDecoding genomes is getting cheaper. Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology is busy decoding the genome for the Neanderthal. Decoding the genetic makeup of Neanderthals will allow us to see just where this human relative falls in our family tree. By comparing the makeup of this genome with that of the varous races of modern humans, and with bonobos and chimpanzees we can see a little more clearly where they fall. (more…)


blocked
Originally uploaded by dario.agosta.

National governments have chosen to block internet content using tools blunt and sophisticated. China has been working with Google and other companies to restrict access to content that it does not like. The UAE has blocked flickr.com and other general interest sites as well as all VOIP services such as Skype. India has blocked *.blogspot.com, *.typepad.com and geocities.com/* . This action caused a storm of protest among Indian internet users. Will this protest be blocked?
The United States government, “the land of the free”,has collected international phone records of millions of Americans. Will snooping and control of our internet use follow?
All this is done in the name of fighting terrorism. There is no protection from bombers in blocking access to websites. Anyone wanting to send secret terrorist messages would use encryption or steganography. Web based communications is used to reach the masses – to put together demonstrations or strikes. These are not the tools of terrorists – these are the tools of legitimate political participation. (more…)

Creative commons from http://www.flickr.com/photos/coulsey/181979168/ The United States is facing a big economic problem, along with Europe, who has it worse. The problem is simply that as the [tag]population[/tag] grows older there are fewer young people to work and support the economy. There are two separate causes: Americans now have few children, just equal to the replacement rate, and [tag]life expectancy[/tag] for Americans has increased – to 77.6 years up from 66.2 years in 1950. A third factor is the “baby boom” after World War II whose members are reaching retirement age.

This economic problem is substantially one of policy and the expectations of Americans. The policies established in the ’50s assumed that one would retire at 60 or 65 years and have 5 or ten years of retirement. We now have an average life expectancy of 11.6 years after a 65 year retirement instead of the 1.2 year expectancy in 1950. (more…)

I have written on the nature of nations in a previous post. True nations are brought together by a commonality of the peoples’ goals. The United States began as a white protestant nation of European exiles. From the beginning they had their differences, but due to the work of an extraordinary group of founders they practiced the art of compromise.

The country went through a civil war when the economic interests of the North and the South diverged. It was held together through the force of arms and eventually the wounds were healed by the export of the North’s industry to the South.

Immigration has caused alarm over waves of immigration, the Irish, the Chinese, the Jews, the Poles, the Italians, East Asians and more. Lady Liberty’s open arms welcomed many to the shores of the United States. Each has brought their own culture and religions, but each came in search of the “American Dream” and found assimulation into the secular culture of the United States is the key to reaching that dream. (more…)

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