Articles, Page 23 of 206

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01 May 11

Justice denied us

I am sure that none of us here are going to cry over the death of Ossama bin Laden, but there may be something else to be sorry about here.

We gave him a death in battle, along with his comrades, when they were trapped by a superior force. That is a situation any soldier can find himself in and it is an honorable way to die. I don’t think he deserved that.

The USA did not bring him to justice. We don’t administer justice using machine guns and missiles from helicopters. We presumed him guilty, judged him without a trial and then gave him a death in battle. By so doing we lost any hope of ever bringing him to justice.

28 Apr 11

Hotel Motivations: Environment, Economics, or e-Facade?

If you’ve stayed in a hotel in the past year or two, you’ve likely noticed some new signage in your room – a placard next to the bed or posted in the bathroom asking you to join the hotel in their efforts to save water by washing your sheets or towels only as needed, instead of everyday.

My first reaction to these was twofold: First, this is a great idea! It presents me with an opportunity to give up something about which I care little (not having my towels and sheets washed everyday) for something about which I care deeply (minimizing waste). Second, I was sure the hotel cared less about the environment than they did about saving money.

25 Apr 11

Music Purchase Log: 2011 Q1

Music I bought in the first quarter of 2011. (And you thought I’d given this up…)

  • Anberlin – New Surrender – I’ve been one step away from getting one of Anberlin’s records for a while. I’m glad I finally pulled the trigger.
  • Bayside – Killing Time – Another consistently catchy emo album. (Er… Am I not supposed to say “emo” anymore?)
  • Bear Hands – Burning Bush Supper Club – Crime Pays is insanely catchy, and I like track 9. I could do without the rest.
  • Blackout Pact, The – Hello Sailor – Oldschool emo ala Hot Water Music … with a little Promise Ring sprinkled in.
  • Decemberists, The – The King is Dead – I could have gone for another (or ten) Hazards of Love, but it this is still a solid album. Be warned: It’s on the country side of things.
18 Apr 11

Amateurs Watch X-37b

Amateurs are already pretty good at finding small objects in space. They’ve gotten to the point where they’re regularly finding the government’s über secret space projects as well. Nearly everything is cataloged and tracked through public databases feeding from government data feeds and amateur sleuthing to the point that nearly anyone with the right equipment can catch glimpses of satellites and other vehicles, to include the X-37b during operational flights. For those that don’t remember, the X-37b began as a NASA project to be a lifeboat for the ISS but was later consumed by the DoD as an autonomous spacecraft.

15 Apr 11

Autotune And The Music Industry

Sometimes one wonders whether many of today’s pop stars are really talented at all or whether they’re just successful creations of promoters, record labels and computer technology. After all, in many cases artists don’t even write their own songs but are chosen by a label to cover something created by legions of songwriters. Modern technology has provided algorithms for fingerprinting music such that attributes and metrics can predict the popularity of a song. Regular folks use that technology in the form of Pandora Internet Radio and Shazaam. But another piece of technology that is often overlooked is Auto-Tune by Antares. The software was designed to fix pitch imperfections and correct other nuances of vocal performances – it’s essentially the singer’s equivalent of models getting airbrushed to perfection. It’s also been used to deliberately add warble and electronic tone to voices as used intentionally by Cher’s Believe … but also seems to be used endlessly by modern pop artists like Britney Spears. Ever wonder why live performances either sound horrible or feature obvious lip-syncing? So all record producers have to do now is tap from their supply of song-writers, practically synthesize the appropriate beats to match an algorithm’s fingerprint, hopefully get a pretty face and auto-tune her voice. Is it any wonder we get subjected to horrible music like Rebecca Black’s Friday with such fixed rhythms and blatant autotuning?

14 Apr 11

CNN ... Useful or Useless?

CNN established its bona fides as a go-to news agency two decades ago with coverage Operation Desert Storm. The station was everywhere, inundating Americans with news in airports, hotel lobbies, miniature screens on elevators, you name it. But lately, the content delivered by CNN’s coverage really begs one to ask how their priority queues are set up. Simply looking at their website, nearly every story now comes as a result of iReports or Twitter feeds instead of journalists on assignment. Even when they provided real coverage of imminent news like the Japanese tsunami or the last minute budget dealings of Congress, CNN quickly fell back on crowd-sourcing for information.

14 Apr 11

Good Riddance Beck

Finally – Glenn Beck will be off the air and cease his fear mongering, at least on TV that is. Opinions go back and forth as to whether he was fired or left the scene gracefully. Some argue that he’s been let go because his ratings were faltering, though they still showed a larger than normal audience for his time block. Others indicate a Jewish conspiracy thanks to a conglomerate of rabbis getting advertisers to pull their ads during his show following accusations of anti-Semitic comemntary. Others simply see that with less economic desperation, people aren’t falling for his finger pointing and end-of-the-world situation blaming.

14 Apr 11

Assisted Suicide

A recent video interview with Sir Terry Pratchett puts the case for assisted suicide much better than I have ever heard before.

This made me think of the abortion debate because the arguments against it are motivated by much the same sentiment – Christians cold-heartedly imposing their religious views on others who don’t share them and who are in a very desperate and deeply personal situation.

The difference here is that instead of a helpless fetus we have a very articulate man who is currently experiencing all these feelings.

05 Apr 11

Small Backyard - Meat, Eggs and Vegetables.

October last year I decided to start a small ranch\farm in my very small backyard in spite of my HOA rules against livestock I have pet rabbits and exotic birds.

Rabbits were chosen for meet.
Coturnix Quail were chosen for eggs.
4 Square foot garden sections were purchased and filled.

It’s not been easy. Dogs got into the garden and ripped things up. I had a buck rabbit die from my kids leaving the pen open then the dogs killed it that put me back, and have lost baby rabbits due to an inexperienced mother. Garden is starting to bear fruit though. The Quail are almost 4 weeks old and will start laying eggs at 8 weeks.

04 Apr 11

2010 Census Results

As various tabulations are performed, 2010 census data is slowly revealing itself. As always, most of the interest lies with congressional redistricting and immigration statistics but there were plenty of other concerns. New York City, for instance, believes the stats are wildly incorrect and indicate an undercount for they show virtually zero growth in Brooklyn and Queens. Furthermore, the data suggests a large number of vacancies which most New Yorkers would laugh at. According to Mayor Bloomberg, “Everything we know about these neighborhoods tells a different story … People who have tried to find apartments in these neighborhoods can confirm there just isn’t an abundance of vacancies.” Another discovery is that Hispanics represent the largest minority group with nearly 16% of the overall population. It goes without saying that 16% segment of the population was willing to be found and counted. The Census Bureau provides a quick, concise look at the data in a 12 page pdf showing the distribution changes since the 2000 census.

04 Apr 11

Proposed 2011 Budget

The US Government’s 2011 budget approval process has proven to be an abysmal mess. Although a government shutdown has been averted several times already with extensions, a final shutdown is expected on Friday if the current budget is not approved. According to reports, Democrats and Republicans spent the weekend working negotiating $33 billion worth of cuts. One might ask whether $33 billion amounts to anything while looking at a $1.27 trillion spending deficit. The President recently weighed in on the approval process, commenting that it would be the “height of irresponsibility” to continue the spending battle.

03 Apr 11

Burning of the Koran

Well, in spite of pleading from all quarters, he did it -burned the Koran.

Pastor Terry Jones had every right to do it, and Muslims everywhere had every right to be offended. In the West, they had no rights at all to not be offended, but it was still an incredibly reckless thing for Jones to do.

My problem with this is not about offending Muslims. I care as much about their beliefs as they care about mine. No: what irks me is that any fool could see that this act would place the lives of other people at great risk. Muslims have demonstrated time after time that in their numbers are many who believe that they do have rights to not be offended by the kind of insults to their religion that other religions in our country must tolerate quite frequently.

31 Mar 11

Goldman Sachs Keeps Employees in Japan

In the wake of Japan’s nuclear disaster, what should big business do with any employees it has in the vicinity? In the case of the investment giant Goldman Sachs, the word on the street is that executives held a meeting with in Tokyo whereby they ordered employees to remain in place in order to project an image that business would go on as usual to allay business fears. Attendees described the vibe as very clear, “No one is to leave. If you do leave, you can’t come back and expect to still work for Goldman.” This all transpired during the turbulent period when reports on radiation levels and safe distances were being disputed between Japanese officials, plant works and American nuclear experts. Is it right for a business to potentially endanger its employees for the sake of protecting a perception?

25 Mar 11

SSL Snafu by Comodo

SSL is a pretty simple solution enabling trust and authentication between Internet users by using public key cryptography. However, that trust all hinges upon trusting the certificate authorities to operate their businesses appropriately. Comodo, one of the big three certificate authorities (the others being GoDaddy and VeriSign), recently admitted to have issued certificates to an Iranian actor for such major sites as Google, Skype and Yahoo. Using a few other simple techniques, a digital miscreant could redirect your browser to their own “fake” site and present you with their ill-gotten, but “trusted” certificate upon which you login giving them your credentials. This has called into question once again the validity of the centralized trusted agent, especially when there appear to be little in the way of oversight on the matter.

25 Mar 11

Music Industry's $75 Trillion Lawsuit

The recording industry was slapped in the face when they submitted their lawsuit against LimeWire based on Section 504©(1) of the Copyright Act allowing for damages based on every single infraction. Using some mathematics, they determined they’ve been wrongfully denied about $75 trillion dollars due to P2P downloading. The New York judge found the claim incredulous and commented, “As defendants note, plaintiffs are suggesting an award that is ‘more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877.’”

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