Articles, Page 23 of 210
DISCLAIMER: I started writing this a long time ago and don’t anticipate ever finishing it. It’s possible I don’t even completely agree with myself anymore … but I might as well throw it out there for discussion, right?
I became very interested in Objectivism after reading The Fountainhead1 and Atlas Shrugged.2 After a few years of reflection, I still identify with the ideology set forth by the Russian novelist-philosopher, but I’ve begun to wonder if it is more semantics-based than philosophy-based. In other words, instead of creating her own philosophy, I think Rand might have just made a simple (yet important) point on perspective. The supposed conflict between objectivism and religion is as good an example as any.
If, like me, you were hoping that the Obama Administration would be able to break the grip of the US Jewish lobby, you will be disappointed by the news that the President is committed to blocking the bid of the Palestinians for UN recognition through its veto in the Security Council.
The argument seems to be that it would be better to have a prior agreement between Israel and Palestine on a two state solution before going to the UN.
Of course it would, but clearly that is not going to happen for many years, if ever. In the meantime, Israel can continue to settle the land that would have become Palestine, making the final outcome non viable for the Palestinians.
There are now half a million Jews living on the West bank with the number growing daily.
I’ve had countless discussions about the fabulous documentary Supersize Me, but there have always been lingering questions. Why does that one doctor say he is “pickling [his] liver?” Why did the guy who never ate fries not get fat? If you ate this way and exercised like mad, would you keep the weight off? I mean, I had some ideas on the subject – the liver filters toxins, fries were high calorie foods, and that calories in – calories out = weight gain, etc. – but I knew they were just ideas. I wanted some serious education on the subject.
China is currently backpedaling to mitigate an OPSEC snafu where a military documentary caught them performing a cyberattack and aired it on TV. Roughly 11 minutes into the documentary, six seconds of footage show the Chinese military demonstrating script-kiddie level operational tech as they click the “ATTACK” button against US IP address 18.104.22.168 in order to take down a Falun Gong website.
What is the future of Apple without Steve Jobs?
The company was struggling to survive before he came aboard and revolutionized the industry with Apple gadgets everywhere. His stewardship essentially vaulted the stock from it’s $10 value to a peak over $400 a share (still so pissed I had to sell at $33). Although the stock tumbled a bit [7%] following his resignation, it quickly rebounded though the future remains to be seen.
Every year, language purists must cringe at the new words added to the official English language. In previous years, words like “doh” from the Simpsons were given legimate status. This year, the Oxford English Dictionary has blessed off on roughly 400 new words to include video game parlance like “woot” (although many would claim it should be w00t spelled with zeroes).
Speaking of words, the University of Calgary in Canada performed a study on those rather keen to words – Scrabble players. Their experiment aimed to explore how the brain performs it’s pattern matching against words to determine whether they are real or not.
For those of you living under a rock that don’t know what a flash mob is, watch the embedded video that laughably makes the argument AT&T’s phone network is faster *cough* bullshit *cough*. Anyway, what seemed to have started as a social phenomena for amusement (see Improv Everywhere for example) has taken a turn for the worst. Borrowing on the youthful adage, “they can’t arrest all of us,” social forums are inspiring flash mobs to stir up riots, vandalism and theft. A recent flash mob in Maryland cleaned out a 7-Eleven in under a minute. Philadelphia imposed a 9:00pm curfew on teenagers in the wake of violence seemingly attached to flash mob behavior. What measures should authorities have to quell mob behavior?
The [R ]everse [E ]ngineers [D ]ream (RED) crew has released the source code to the SpyEye version 1.3.45 malware to the Internet masses. Normally known for created Warez cracks, RED obtained the code and patched it to eliminate the hardware matching logic used by the builder to tie the malware kit to a purchaser. Typically, a buyer paid $10K for a copy of the trojan but with this edition in the wild, many miscreants will be able to fork the malware’s techniques for their own nefarious purposes. The original SpyEye authors are already purported to have released version 1.3.48 with additional security measures. The malware is typically used for harvesting banking information and credentials for criminals to siphon money from victim’s accounts.
Generally speaking, large swaths of Americans believe the rich should be taxed more to make up for the government’s budget deficit. This is the general sentiment despite America’s rich already being in the highest income tax bracket owing 35% of their earnings to Uncle Sam. Interestingly, the rich tend not to actually pay nearly that much and often pay less [percentage] than the middle class. Warren Buffet recently weighed in on the matter wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times lambasting Congress for letting the rich get away with so much. He wrote that despite paying a seemingly astronomical $6,938,744 in taxes himself, that only equates to 17% – nearly 20% less than his bracket requires. Buffet goes on to out the true tax rates the super wealthy pay thanks to creative accounting and the ability to afford protective financial services.
The current retirement plan for active duty military is a pretty sweet deal with the ability to begin drawing a pension check as early as 37 years old for the rest of your life. If various congressmen have their way, however, that may soon change with a transition to a more corporate 401k type system. Proposals are in place to raise the number of years served required for vesting, requiring buy-in (401k~ish system), changing the minimum age to begin receiving payments, etc. These actions are being considered seriously primarily due to the pending $400 billion reduction to the defense budget. The proposed alteration is expected to reduce the defense budget by $254 billion over the next 20 years. Mitigations are also being planned to grandfather elements of the military into the old plan along with offering fractions of the older plan to those with enough years in their boots.
DARPA, the advanced research nerds of the military are set to push the envelope again with the second flight of their FALCON HTV-2. The first one flew in April of 2010 and while successful in many of its experiments, it did crash into the ocean after engaging its safety mechanisms due to a detected fault. The second flight, scheduled for 10 August 2011, features many improvements over the first and is expected to validate hypersonic technology flying at 13,000 miles per hour (roughly Mach 20).
In the dark hours on 6 August, an American CH-47 Chinook went down in the Wardak province of Afghanistan. The crash hails as the single largest loss of American life during offensive operations to date. All told, 30 passengers and crew died including Navy Seals, Aghan commandos, US Air Force personnel, a dog handler, a civilian interpreter and the crew. Confirmations have come from DoD that 17 of the Seals were from the famed Team 6 responsible for bin Laden’s death, though they weren’t necessarily the same Seals. Although the Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for downing the Chinook with an RPG, an official investigation is underway to determine if that was indeed the actual cause.
While the latest Christian flame war has been proceeding on ON I was contacted several times by the same scam group attempting to hack my computer. It was the usual heavy south Asian accent informing me that my computer was severely infested with viruses and was infecting many others in my vicinity. The transparency of this scam does not seem to have dawned on them yet, and they seem to have no way of crossing off a number after it has been called. It appears that everyone in the scam call center is going through the same list.
Two decades ago, the coolest thing you could do with a printer was make long banners. A decade later, printing photographs at home became easy. The current bleeding edge of printing involves 3D manufacturing and even electronics. University of Southampton engineers have taken 3D manufacturing printing to yet another level by printing a complete UAV that can be assembled in minutes and flown over 100mph. The method is called laser sintering where various pieces of nylon plastic can be cut and fused together through a laser printer. The end vehicle is over 2m in size and took only a week to design and “print”.