Articles, Page 16 of 211

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23 Jul 12

Professional Athletes in the Olympics

In the beginning of the modern Olympic games, athletes were required to be amateurs. That requirement extended beyond the sport they competed in and included any form of payment for athletic performance. Jim Thorpe’s performance in the 1912 Olympics exemplified this rule. However, as time went on, nations began suspecting one another of seeding the games with state professionals or other less-than-amateur entries. The United States truly bit the professional athlete bullet with the 1992 Dream Team that effectively changed the face of Olympic basketball. Now, nearly every athlete of dominance has some form of professional affiliation or monetary sponsorship and the games are inundated with advertisements and endorsements.

20 Jul 12

Concealed Carry - What If?

By now, it’s likely that you already know about the Aurora, CO shootings during the Batman: Dark Knight Rises premier. One crazed gunman managed to kill 12 and injure 59 using an AR-15, shotgun and dual .40 handguns. The weapons were purchased legally as Colorado is not one of the difficult states for acquiring firearms (for law-abiding citizens that is).

Already, people are questioning whether or not stricter gun control is the answer or whether more citizens with privately concealed firearms could have defended themselves. With regards to self defense, a concealed carry permit is relatively easy to obtain in Colorado and the state supports both Castle Doctrine and stand-your-ground. Only days ago in Florida, a senior citizen with a concealed firearm shot two thugs holding up an Internet cafe at gunpoint adding credence that a trained and armed society can often take care of itself [see the security footage embedded below]. Naturally, there are two sides to the coin and many admit that in the crowded, dark and smoky theater, it would have been difficult for a person to defend themselves without injuring others in the process.

18 Jul 12

2013 Diesel Jeep Cherokee

Awhile back, American Jeep enthusiasts were underwhelmed when only the Liberty was given a 2.8L diesel. The engine was short lived because the 2007 restrictions on diesel fuel took effect that most engines where incapable of meeting. Needless to say, excitement for a diesel engine in a Jeep (that people actually wanted) has never faded away and the auto industry’s tumble in 2009 crippled the crate diesel engine swap for the Wrangler TJ series.

It looks like the wait may finally be over as Chrysler has announced the 2013 Grand Cherokee will have a 3.0L diesel as an option. Production of the diesel for the Cherokee (along with the Durango and the rebirth of the Viper) is expected to also create more than 1000 jobs in the Detroit factories. The overseas markets have long enjoyed diesel options; 90% of Cherokees in Europe are diesel powered. If the overseas market engines perform similarly in the United States (after meeting the 2007 requirements), the Cherokees are expected to get more than 33mpg.

12 Jul 12

Functional Song Ratings

I’ve used various song rating systems over the years, usually trying to find a meaningful definition for each of the six available ratings (not rated, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). The ratings were there, so I should use them … right?

Well, no, actually. I realized after years of rating and playing that I really only need to classify songs I own in three ways:

  • Songs I want to hear on the large playlist I listen to in the car and at work
  • Songs I don’t want on that playlist, but I do want to hear when listening to an album straight through
  • Songs I don’t want to hear unless I double-click on them
12 Jul 12

UN Arms Treaty Possibly Affecting US Gun Owners

Not long after President Obama was elected, many Americans began a mad scramble to purchase firearms and ammunition with the expectation he was going to crack down hard on the gun control. Thus far, that particular lane of legislation has remained relatively quiet from the White House. An interesting political twist in the foreign policy arena may finally bring that flag to bear. The United Nations is hammering away at the Arms Trade Treaty, a measure designed on its face to control the availability of weapons to crime syndicates and terrorists. However, the small arms covered by the treaty and the notion of a global firearm registry extend bureaucratic implications towards private gun ownership in the United States (if ratified). There are further large scale implications as well in ratifying the treaty such that nation states would be in violation for providing arms and defenses to other countries or factions (such as Taiwan) faced with less than nobly intended foreign neighbors. But by and large, as the world’s preeminent clearinghouse for private firearm ownership, Americans are concerned with how foreign pressure may impact their present legal right to own – especially when Iran is given an important role in policing the practical application of the treaty.

09 Jul 12

God Particle Discovered

Physicists have been messing around with the standard model since the 1970s by slamming particles into one another to discern the basic building blocks of the universe. While the model described the particles quite well, there was no evidence beyond theoretical prediction about the bosons that influenced the forces between them. The Higgs Boson in particular was of interest to physicists and is often referred to as the God Particle for its theorized purpose in providing mass. This property is, of course, critical for allowing atoms to form and ultimately for “us” to exist, hence the name. The Higgs Boson was actually found in December of 2011 but to avoid an embarrassing declaration of science (faster than light neutrinos?), researchers held onto the news until a definitive five-sigma level of confidence was attained. The discovery was made possible by smashing particles repeatedly in the CERN supercollider revealing evidence of the Higgs Boson with a mass equaling 125 gigaelectron volts (GeV) — about 125 times the mass of a proton. Be prepared for the resurgence of the physics nerd as they steal the cash, chicks and cocaine from the more mainstream geeks and rappers, as according to Princeton physicists – “It’s a triumphant day for fundamental physics. Now some fun begins.”

02 Jul 12

Music Purchase Log: 2012 Q2

Music I purchased in the second quarter of 2012:

  • Bear Vs Shark – Right Now, You’re in the Best of Hands
  • Beecher – Breaking the Fourth Wall
  • Bled, The – Heat Fetish
  • Bullets and Octane – In the Mouth of the Young – Some good tunes, but not enough of them. It’s almost like they’re forcing it to work.
  • Bush – Sea of Memories – Nice to see they’re back in action, but this is one I probably won’t return to often. Not that I regret getting it; my tastes have just moved on.
30 Jun 12

Dumbing down our education

Remember your grandparents saying ’He only had an 8th grade education"?

Well, this is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina, Kansas, USA. It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina, and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS – 1895
Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of ‘lie,’‘play,’ and ‘run.’

23 Jun 12

Nerd Feast

Ideas Worth Spreading

Perhaps you-all have known about this for a long time, but I have just discovered a rich vein of stories that make you think, and help you with how to think.
It is an archive of presentations by academics on their research know as Ted Talks
I am constantly amazed by how entertaining and informative these highly intelligent people can be when discussing a subject that they love and have usually devoted many years to understanding.

There are now more than 1000 of these presentations in the Archive and my sampling indicates that they are all great. I particularly enjoy the way these presentations lack political or social bias in presenting subjects that are often highly controversial and divisive when discussed by us ordinary lay, non academics. Perhaps I perceive no bias because I already think in the same way as these people. I hope that is true, but I suspect not. I find it truly humbling to see highly articulate and educated men and women of all ages and racial groups offering such profound insight into things that are popular subjects in more mundane discussions with my friends. Collectively I think these talks are a great tribute to scientific method and the academic approach, and I wish that our national public policy debates could be conducted in this way.

20 Jun 12

Hacker Interacts with AntiVirus Researchers

The stereotypical hacker tends to lurk solo in the dark like a dirty mushroom. But a Chinese malware author broke the mold recently by interacting with AVG researchers. As the anti-virus reverse engineers were investigating a suspected piece of malware within a virtual machine, a window popped up on their system from the hacker. In Chinese, he basically interrogated them asking why they were poking around in his program – which of course was designed to steal screenshots and keystrokes of its victims playing Diablo III in hopes of hijacking their accounts.

20 Jun 12

Torvalds Calls Out Nvidia

Perhaps saying he “called out” Nvidia is being too nice as his exact quote was, NVIDIA, FUCK YOU. Apparently, Linus has been criticizing Nvidia and AMD lately for their poor support the open source development community. The entire matter apparently came to a head during a Q&A session [YouTube] where he proclaimed them the single worst company Linux developers ever had to deal with and concluded with his … less than positive salutation.

12 Jun 12

Advanced Crypto Present in Flame

Everybody in the security world these days is talking about Flame, the monstrously fat piece of malware found all throughout the Middle East (centered around the remarkably uninfected Israel). For those unaware, Flame weighs in at over 20 megabytes and is composed of numerous functional modules giving it all sorts of capabilities like listening through microphones, activating video, bluesnarfing, etc. None of that was particularly impressive and its sheer size and presence of human readable strings screamed of amateurish development. What did pique researcher’s interest was a unique adaptation of cryptographic hash collisions in order to fool Windows operating systems into trusting a fraudulent windows update server. Researchers are claiming Flame was clearly associated with world class mathematicians in order to rapidly produce MD5 collisions for use. The malware itself is already beginning to shutdown across the world but the code is already under scrutiny. Too bad the White House leaked they were behind Stuxnet and Duqu because reverse engineers are already finding shared code from zero-day exploits within Flame found only in those tools.

04 Jun 12

US Admits to Cyber Attack Against Iran

As per usual, “anonymous” officials have made public particularly damning statements about the United States’ and Israel’s involvement in the cyber attacks against the Iranian nuclear program . Reverse engineers around the globe have speculated about the involvement of the two nations in both Stuxnet and Duqu, but there has never been any proof positive towards either other than coincidental political goals. New York Times’ article Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran basically lays out an affirmation the program began under the Bush Administration but was continued and ramped up under the Obama Administration as an alternative solution to derailing the Iranian nuclear weapons program in lieu of a pre-emptive military strike by the Israelis. Considering the stance America recently took on what it considers acts of war in the cyber domain, it’s particularly disturbing the officials would admit to performing those very acts against an adversary. Naturally, the “anonymous” officials won’t face a lifetime in prison for such a breach of national security, a punishment reserved for everyone else (such as Bradley Manning).

28 May 12

Zombie Attack

Zombie attacks don’t really happen, right? Well, in Florida just the other day a policeman shot to death a naked man eating the face off his victim on an offramp. As if that weren’t odd enough, he actually had to shoot the naked man several times because he kept feeding despite the gunshot wounds.

25 May 12

Failing Government

I note that there is a poll coming up in the pipeline asking who can save the USA. So there is an assumption that the country is failing to hold itself together.
There are many signs that something serious is wrong, but is it a fair assessment that a saviour is needed?
It may be informative to look at another place where the system is really failing and there is no one to save it.

I wonder how informed the nerds are of major events happening in an inconsequential little nation a long way from the USA.

Is anyone here aware of the Constitutional Crisis currently under way in Papua New Guinea? At present the country has two prime ministers and two Police Chiefs, all fighting each other, and the Chief Justice was arrested yesterday.

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