Saturday, February 09, 2008

Games with a purpose

Louis von Ahn talks about the ESP, Peekaboom and Verbosity games and a thing called human computing.

Von Ahn has developed ways to make use of human computing skills that computers have not yet been able to duplicate to do things like label every image on the web in no time flat.

Get a cupa coffee and settle back for about an hour ... it's absolutely fascinating and well worth the time.

or watch the video here.

Find and play the ESP Game here.

You can play Peekaboom here.

To Republicans: Conservatism Has Failed. Deal With It

by Hale "Bonddad" Stewart

I have a guilty pleasure to admit: I have been listening to right wing radio over the last few weeks with increasing pleasure. I am reminded of the phrase, "when in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging." However, it's doubtful they will take my advice. But in listening to Rush and Hannity and reading the likes of Powerline and RedState, I see them dance around the central issue without quite getting there. So let me offer my help to help them get to that ever important point of acceptance.

You guys controlled the While House and Congress for 6 years. The country saw what you want to accomplish and are experiencing the impact of your policies. And guess what? THEY THINK CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT STINKS.

The rest ... in detail ... after the click.

My comment:

Some sure signs that the public is catching on:

Voter participation: participation in the Democratic primaries and caucuses are running 2:1 versus participation in the Republican analogues.

Find Raising: Democratic fund raising has outstripped Republican fund raising at unprecedented levels. Even those corporate entities that used to generously fund the Republican election efforts (while throwing Democrats a bone as a way to hedge the bet) have switched their proportions, giving the Democrats the lion's share this time around ... in spite of some rather anti-corporate positions.

Look at who!: Out of a pack of seven or eight conservative alternatives, Republican voters have made a moderate, John McCain, the Republican front runner by an insurmountable margin. Even though McCain has an 85% conservative voting record index (so much for being a "maverick"), he's not enough to the right for the "movement"? Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh have both sworn to work for Hilary if McCain becomes the nominee? What's up with that? I guess ideological purity trumps party loyalty and even concern for the nation.

Simply amazing

I recently installed a button/gizmo on this blog that keeps track of the 100 most recent readers.

(You can find the button on this page if you scroll down far enough. If you're reading this in a news reader or getting the daily updates by e-mail, you'll have to click into the blog directly.)

I just checked the list this morning for the first time since I installed it several weeks ago. I'd actually forgotten all about it. Anyway, by eliminating the multiple references to my own log-ins to this blog and deleting duplicate entries of individuals who dropped by more than once, I put together a list of places from which this perpetual rant draws readers.

  • Alachua, Florida (United States)
  • Ashaway, Rhode Island (United States)
  • Austin, Texas (United States)
  • Barrie, Ontario (Canada)
  • Brooklyn, New York (United States)
  • Calgary, Alberta (Canada)
  • Caracas, Distrito Federal (Venezuela)
  • Chicago, Illinois (United States)
  • Cincinnati, Ohio (United States)
  • Columbia, Maryland (United States)
  • Corrales, New Mexico (United States)
  • Dallas, Texas (United States)
  • Detroit, Michigan (United States)
  • Dollard-Des-Ormeaux, Quebec (Canada)
  • Eden Prairie, Arizona (United States)
  • Evanston, Illinois (United States)
  • Findlay, Ohio (United States)
  • Ft. Collins, Colorado (United States)
  • Glasgow, Scotland (United Kingdom)
  • Granada Hills, California (United States)
  • High Springs, Florida (United States)
  • Huntington Beach, California (United States)
  • Kingston, Pennsylvania (United States)
  • Lees Summit, Missouri (United States)
  • Lombard, Illinois (United States)
  • Metuchen, New York (United States)
  • Montreal, Quebec (Canada)
  • Nashville, Tennessee (United States)
  • New Haven, Connecticut (United States)
  • New Orleans, Louisiana (United States)
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (United States)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (United States)
  • Plano, Texas (United States)
  • Princeton, New Jersey (United States)
  • Reading, Pennsylvania (United States)
  • Reston, Virginia (United States)
  • Rio Rancho, New Mexico (United States)
  • Round Rock, Texas (United States)
  • Saginaw, Michigan (United States)
  • San Francisco, California (United States)
  • San Francisco, Texas (United States)
  • San Jose, California (United States)
  • Sandy Hook, Connecticut (United States)
  • Santa Cruz, California (United States)
  • Seattle, Washington (United States)
  • Springfield, Missouri (United States)
  • St. Louis, Missouri (United States)
  • Sydney, New South Wales (Australia)
  • Taunton, Massachusetts (United States)
  • Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
  • Tyler, Texas (United States)
  • United Kingdom
  • Washington, District Of Columbia (United States)
  • West Palm Beach, Florida (United States)
  • Wichita, Kansas (United States)
  • Wiesbaden, Rheinland-Pfalz (Germany)
  • Wyandanch, New York (United States)
  • Yakima, Washington (United States)

Each of us has an impact far beyond what we imagine.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you all again.

Thought for the day

"I do not know which makes a man more conservative — to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past."

-- John Maynard Keynes

My comment:

My experience suggests it is a knowledge of the present in the absence of a knowledge of the past that is the key factor. The history taught in school is at best superficial and at worst distorted. Knowledge of the past filtered through the rosy glow of contemporary high school history texts warps opinions. My friends who are most conservative seem to have the least real knowledge of the past ... though, in their opinion, their knowledge in that area is superior. After all, they tested well in high school history.

As a demonstration, if you think you know something about history, give "Lies My Teacher Told Me" by James W. Loewen (Touchstone) a read. (1, 2, 3) The title may be a little off putting (I found it so*) but the content is what counts. The book represents a critical analysis of 12 American history text books used commonly across the United States in the teaching of high school history - a survey of their strengths (there are few) and their weaknesses (there are many).

Which brings us to a lovely quote from Winston Churchill:

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened."

* The title implies that teachers are liars. I don't believe it. Here's why. If a teacher is taught from a text book that doesn't have the story straight, then goes on to teach the text book, the teacher may not be teaching the truth ... but it is not the teacher who is the liar.

We are the ones we've been waiting for ...

"We have been waiting for so long for the time when we could finally expect more from our politics, when we could give more of ourselves and feel truly invested in something bigger than a candidate or cause. This is it: We are the ones we've been waiting for, we are the ones that we seek"

-- Barack Obama

Friday, February 08, 2008

Getting away with it ...

or watch the video here ...

The Bush Library

Here's what the draft plans for the George W. Bush Library now call for:

The Alberto Gonzales Room - Where you can't remember any of the exhibits.

The Hurricane Katrina Room - It's still under construction.

The Texas Air National Guard Room - Where you don't have to even show up.

The Walter Reed Hospital Room - Where they don't let you in.

The Guantanamo Bay Room - Where they don't let you out.

The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room - Nobody has been able to find it.

The War in Iraq Room - After you complete your first tour, they force you to go back for your second and third and fourth and fifth tours.

The K-Street Project Gift Shop - Where you can buy an election, or, if no one cares, steal one.

The Men's Room - Where you could meet a Republican Senator (or two).

To be fair, the President has done some good things, and so the museum will have an electron microscope to help you locate them.

When asked, President Bush said that he didn't care so much about the individual exhibits as long as his museum was better than his father's.

40 Years Ago Today

Robert F. Kennedy's Most Important Speech on the Vietnam War

by Joseph A. Palermo

Concluding his February 8 address, Kennedy reiterated his call for disengagement, and expressed a deep empathy with the American troops: "the best way to save our most precious stake in Vietnam -- the lives of our soldiers -- is to stop the enlargement of the war," and "the best way to end casualties is to end the war. This is a great nation and a strong people," he said, "[a]ny who seek to comfort rather than speak plainly, reassure rather than instruct, promise satisfaction rather than reveal frustration -- they deny that greatness and drain that strength. For today as it was in the beginning, it is the truth that makes us free." With that, Kennedy finished his remarks and members of the press and his Democratic colleagues broke into sustained applause. Those present sensed that a burden had been lifted from Kennedy's shoulders; he had crossed the Rubicon with his denunciation of Johnson's war.

Read about that speech after the click. The parallels with today's circumstances will take your breath away.

Cruel eye test for old geezers

Forwarded by a younger friend who has no idea what it's like ... yet.

Yelling Doesn't Make Stuff True!

Craig Ferguson comments on Faux Noise. Watch the video here.

Low Comedy

A woman walks into a curio shop in San Francisco. Looking around at the exotica, she notices a very life-like, life-sized bronze statue of a rat. It has no price tag, but is so striking she decides she must have it. She takes it to the owner:

"How much for the bronze rat?"

"12 dollars for the rat, a hundred dollars for the story," says the owner.

The woman gives the shop-owner 12 dollars.

"I'll just take the rat, you can keep the story."

As she walks down the street carrying the bronze rat, she notices that a few real rats have crawled out of alleys and sewers, and begun following her down the street. This is a bit disconcerting, so she begins walking a little faster. Within a couple blocks, the group of rats behind her grows to over a hundred, and they begin squealing. She starts to trot toward the Bay.

She takes a nervous look around and sees that the rats now number in the thousands -- maybe millions -- and they are all squealing and coming toward her faster and faster. Terrified, she runs to the edge of the Bay, and throws the bronze rat as far out into the Bay as she can.

Amazingly, the millions of rats all jump into the Bay after it, and are all drowned.

The woman walks back to the curio shop.

"Ah ha," says the owner, "I'll bet you have come back for the story?"

"No," said the woman, "I came back to see if you have a bronze Republican."

My comment:

Well, yes ... that would be $1,49 ... no tax. Or you can borrow it.

Sprinting down the evolutionary highway

Lynda Hurst / Feature Writer
TheStar (Toronto)

Far from having stopped, the pace of 'advantageous mutation' is moving much faster than we thought, a new study discovers

Think that we humans are a fait accompli, a done deal that hasn't changed over the eons?

Think again.

Evidence is accumulating that the species is still evolving, and doing so at an unprecedented rate.

A major new study says that in the past 5,000 years, natural selection – gene mutations that spread because they're beneficial – has occurred 100 times faster than at any other period in human history.

American researchers have found evidence of recent mutations on about 1,800 genes, or 7 per cent of the human genome; traits such as lighter skin and blue eyes in northern Europeans and partial resistance to certain diseases in areas of Africa.

"We are more different genetically from people living 5,000 years ago than they were different from Neanderthals," said one of the study's co-authors, anthropologist John Hawks, at a presentation recently.

More after the click ...

My comment:

Somebody, quick, call Huckabee!!! I think you'll find him in the shallow end of the gene pool ...

Dusty Clues: Study suggests no dearth of Earths

Ron Cowen / Science News OnLine

Supposedly, there's no place like home. But a new study suggests that earthlike planets orbit or are forming around many, if not most, nearby sunlike stars, providing places where life might have gained a foothold.

That conclusion comes from an infrared survey of some 300 stars similar in mass to the sun and ranging in age from a youthful 3 million years to a middle-aged 3 billion. Using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, Mike Meyer of the University of Arizona in Tucson and his colleagues surveyed those stars and their surroundings at an infrared wavelength of 24 ┬Ám. In many cases more radiation was emitted than the stars themselves could have produced, indicating the presence of dust. That may in turn be a sign of possible terrestrial planet formation, Meyer and his colleagues, including Lynne Hillenbrand and John Carpenter of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, argue in the Feb. 1 Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The rest after the click ...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The view across the road

At sunset.

The sun, just teetering on the horizon to the west ... looking north east. No room to build any more homes. The last one went in down the road last fall about a tenth of a mile to the east of here.

You half expect to see the silhouette of a cowboy on his horse up on the ridge, leg over the horn, hand rolling a cigarette and enjoying the sunset.

Investment advice

1) Markets tend to return to the mean over time.

2) Excesses in one direction will lead to an opposite excess in the other direction.

3) There are no new eras -- excesses are never permanent.

4) Exponential rapidly rising or falling markets usually go further than you think, but they do not correct by going sideways.

5) The public buys the most at the top and the least at the bottom.

6) Fear and greed are stronger than long-term resolve.

7) Markets are strongest when they are broad and weakest when they narrow to a handful of blue chip names.

8) Bear markets have three stages -- sharp down, reflexive rebound, and a drawn-out fundamental downtrend.

9) When all the experts and forecasts agree -- something else is going to happen.

10) Bull markets are more fun than bear markets.

The rest after the click ...

It always helps to dehumanize the opposition

"There's a new rule at the Republican National Committee. Refer to the two leading Democratic presidential candidates simply as "Barack" and "Hillary" and you'll be fined $10. The reason: Using first names makes the candidates sound more likable but calling them "Senator Obama" and "Senator Clinton" makes them sound more distant and bureaucratic. "I don't think people are actually being fined," says one insider. But everyone is being "encouraged" to follow the rule."

Sourced here.

My comment:

Stick to what you're good at.

Check out "Kids with Guns"

A kids with guns primer

"Although I applaud the Pentagon's release of photos showing childislamunistofascists undergoing military training--anything that increases our disgust and hatred of Mesopotamians is a good thing--I'm concerned that these photos might confuse some of you. That's why I've created this visual primer."

Get the visual on Jesus' General after the click ...

Another day, another thought ... or two

"When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion."

-- C. P. Snow

"A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what's going on."

-- William S. Burroughs

Where in the world is Osama bin Laden?

... or catch the video here.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

One day of war

or watch the video here ...

Thought for the day

"Dance like it hurts,/ Love like you need money,/ Work when people are watching."

-- Scott Adams, author of "Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe"

Bush Budget Adds to Military, Cuts Prevention

Miriam Pemberton and Anita Dancs / Foreign Policy Focus

Voters--Republicans and Democrats alike--are telling pollsters they want, not a modest course correction, not a turned page, but a whole new book. The security budget President Bush proposed today is anything but.

Every year since 2004, according to analysis by the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget for the United States, published by the Institute for Policy Studies, nearly 90% of security spending, excluding the supplemental appropriations for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, has been devoted to achieving security by military force. Spending on prevention tools, including diplomacy, nonproliferation, foreign aid, contributions to international organizations and homeland security put together accounts for only 10% of the security budget. This year is no exception.

This year military spending even excluding expenditures on the wars we are actually fighting will be higher than at any time since World War II. It will exceed the military spending of all other nations combined. If President George W. Bush gets the budget he has requested, we will spend in the 2009 fiscal year 18 times the money engaging the rest of the world through the military as by any other means.

Read the rest after the click ...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Just an observation

Happy Birthday, Charlie!

Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England on February 12, 1809.

The Origin of Species

Natural Selection

Thought for the day

"The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable."

-- John Kenneth Galbraith

Monday, February 04, 2008

Get your war on!

From Wikipedia:

Get Your War On is a series of satirical comic strips by David Rees about political topics — originally the effects of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City but quickly switching focus to more recent ones, in particular the "War on Terrorism". The series achieved a cult following on the Internet, and in particular on discussion forums and blogs, very soon after debuting on October 9, 2001.

From a technical standpoint the strips are very crude, being assembled from about a dozen simple clip art pictures of office workers (with a few exceptions, most notably Voltron) that recur continually, often in the same strip. Almost all are in red on a white background. Owing to a heavy emphasis on dialogue there is almost no action. Highly disillusioned and cynical, it is heavily laden with expletives.

Get Your War On has been published in book form, with the author's royalties (as well as part of the publisher's income for the first book) donated to landmine clearing efforts. It has also been published regularly in Rolling Stone and some alternative newspapers.

The whole thing so far ... after the click ...

Sunday, February 03, 2008

December 21, 2012 or 122112 (how binary almost)

Earth aligns with the our Milky Way galaxy center.

Several years ago I tripped some documentation indicating that the Mayan calendar ends on December 21, 2012. Some time later I stumbled upon some information suggesting that December 21, 2012 would mark the date at which the solar system aligned with the center of the galaxy. Still other sources talk about a shift in the poles of the planet earth.

Over time, I've tripped over more and more information and everyone writing about 2012 is pretty convinced that we're in for the end of the world or the universe as we know it or the end of time.

Here are some references. You're on your own ... but there sure are some interesting theories.

Posts that contain 2012 Mayan per day for the last 30 days.
Technorati Chart
Get your own chart!

December 21,

What is the Galactic Alignment in 2012.

Pole Shift before 2012?

I wonder if there shouldn't be a ceremony like mariners hold for people who cross our planet's equator ... the Court of Neptune Rex? But who would oversee the heavens? I suggest Orion.