Articles, Page 23 of 204
Is it all hype and hysteria or is there real merit behind the warnings of a cyber apocalypse to the United States?
President Obama is proposing huge increases in cyber research and defense spending, with nearly $500 million of the pot allocated for commercial industry investment to develop tools and capabilities. This is notable in that the government wants private industry to share in its own defenses as the American infrastructure is predominately a mesh of privately owned, commercial networks. The overall Pentagon request reaches upwards of $2.3 billion for computer related R&D. The impetus behind such spending are advisories from the CIA and NSA directors. Leon Panetta warns the United States is looking a digital Pearl Harbor in the eye while Keith Alexander testified on education requirements in math and science to breed the next generation of computer warriors.1
Dutch researchers from the University of Twente have recently concluded people make better decisions when their bladders are full. That particular finding was a side-effect of how they conducted their study on personal self-control. They created situations where people had to exert self-control in other areas in order to determine if there was a correlation in exhibiting increased self-control elsewhere as a result. Filling up the subject’s bladders with water and making them have to “hold it in” forced the self-control matter whereupon observations confirmed the subjects made more logical choices under self-control duress.
I support causes on Change.org on a fairly regular basis. Their political ideals (in general) aren’t the same as mine, but sometimes they stand up for the right thing in the right way and I’m more than happy to e-sign a petition.
Occasionally, however, a cause rolls into my inbox that I wish I could vote against – and I received just this kind of email last month concerning Senate Bill 1353 in Idaho. According to the email, “[t]he law was intended to allow pharmacists the option to deny women access to emergency contraception, even if the woman in question was raped. … This isn’t a law that protects pharmacists – it’s a law that endangers women. … The women of Idaho deserve better than this.”
The regular nerds will be familiar with Murphy’s Law; Godwin’s Law, and Poe’s Law, but how many of us have heard of the other laws for winning debates on the internet?
Expressed as “any post correcting an error in another post will contain at least one error itself” or “the likelihood of an error in a post is directly proportional to the embarrassment it will cause the poster.”
States: “In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to as a credible source loses the argument immediately, and gets you laughed out of the room.”
The National Anthem has been mangled at numerous public events in the past, but it’s most recent trouncing came at the hands of Christina Aguilera at the 2011 SuperBowl. It seemed that being asked to sing the National Anthem at a major event was once the honor in itself, but nowadays these singers seem to want to use the opportunity as free-publicity of vocal range, etc. A random e-mail came through my inbox today that summed it up quite nicely:
“So, with all the kindness I can muster, I give this one piece of advice to the next pop star who is asked to sing the national anthem at a sporting event: save the vocal gymnastics and the physical gyrations for your concerts. Just sing this song the way you were taught to sing it in kindergarten â€” straight up, no styling. Sing it with the constant awareness that there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines watching you from bases and outposts all over the world. Don’t make them cringe with your self-centered ego gratification. Sing it as if you are standing before a row of 86-year-old WWII vets wearing their Purple Hearts, Silver Stars and flag pins on their cardigans and you want them to be proud of you for honoring them and the country they love â€” not because you want them to think you are a superstar musician. They could see that from the costumes, the makeup and the entourages. Sing “The Star Spangled Banner” with the courtesy and humility that tells the audience that it is about America, not you.”
Columbia University is one of many Ivy League institutions that does not support an ROTC program and has not done so in over 40 years. The decision was made in 1969 due to the Vietnam war and student protests. While that event fades into history, Columbia’s most recent argument used against supporting ROTC was the DADT policy violates their own anti-discrimination policy. DADT’s recent repeal has brought the subject of bringing back ROTC once again. The decision might have gone completely unnoticed had it not been for the recent heckling of war veteran on campus. Former SSG Anthony Maschek, a disabled, wheelchair bound veteran (having been shot 11 times), spoke in an open forum in support of bringing ROTC back to Columbia. As Maschek spoke, “It doesn’t matter how you feel about the war. It doesn’t matter how you feel about fighting. There are bad men out there plotting to kill you,” to which he was booed, mocked and even called a racist by members of the student body.
In light of the recent uprisings around the Mediterranean and Middle East, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appealed for the governments to listen to their people. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, Ahmadinejad, “urged those leaders of regional countries who respond to the demands of their nations and their revolutionary uprisings with hot bullets to join their peoples’ movements instead of creating blood baths.” Such a statement is, of course, contrary to the practices already demonstrated by Ahmadinejad’s government during the 2009 elections. In addition for calling out the Iranians on having killed their demonstrators, Hillary Clinton commented, “Off the streets, the regime’s leaders have targeted human rights defenders and political activists, and authorities have recently rounded up ex-government officials and their families; former members of parliament; clerics and their children; student leaders and their professors; as well as journalists and bloggers.”
The International Space Station (ISS) has been aloft for more than a decade and is estimated to be the most expensive object ever constructed. It regularly appears on chopping blocks with analysts pondering it’s future, especially as it approaches its operational life expectency in 2015. One new proposal is the Nautilus-X which would modify the ISS to leave low earth orbit and permit the craft to move about the solar system as a staging area. Despite a projected $4 billion price tag, designers believe modifying the existing ISS to handle such a mission would be significantly cheaper than building a new space station.
So I saw a post on Slashdot today asking whether people were comfortable with talking to computers. It was written in the context of IBM’s Watson communicating on Jeopardy besides Ken and Brad.1 Is the classic Star Trek portrayal of Uhura interfacing with the computer really going to become the modus operandi for us to get used to?
Back in 2005 in Baghdad, the company commanders were complaining because they didn’t have telephones at their company TOCs from which to talk back to BN HQ. There was simply a lack of hardware VoIP phones (we had made the transition off POTs gear). I ended up installing a Ventrilo server and putting clients on all of their laptops allowing them to have clear voice communications with anybody on our FOB (or outside so long as the relays didn’t drop). It was amusing because for all their bitching about having to use SINCGARS radios instead of phones … they continued to use the SINCGARS even after the Ventrilo proved to be amazingly clear because, as one infantry commander put it, “I feel like a dork talking to my laptop.”
The Military Leadership Diversity Commission, composed of military officers, businessmen and academics, is expected to recommend that women be allowed to serve in combat units. The matter is being addressed due to a number of criteria ranging from the modern lack of “frontline combat” to the ban creating a barrier to promotion. Admiral Mike Mullen commented last November, “I’d be hard pressed to say that any woman who serves in Afghanistan today, or who served in Iraq over the last few years, did so without facing the risks of their male counterparts.” A PDF draft of the recommendation can be read at the MLDC’s website.
Nearly everyone has heard of the Anarchist Cookbook in some form or fashion as they were growing up. It was released forty years ago and subsequently circulated throughout the underground teaching folks how to build homemade explosives or subvert telecommunications systems. It’s original author, William Powell, once rallied against government but after seeing the sorts of people he empowered and the deeds they used his teachings for, even he advocated the removal of the Anarchist Cookbook from circulation. As an interesting twist on the book’s history, the nearly 200 page FBI file (pdf) on the Anarchist Cookbook has been released to the public via the Freedom of Information Act.
After four years, 29 teams from around the world have been officially enrolled in the final roster for the Google Lunar X-Prize. The competition requires a private team to send a robot to the moon, travel 500 meters and transmit video, images and data back to the Earth. Success earns not only bragging rights but also a $30 million pot. It is anticipated that a winner will be declared by 2015. According to the Manager of Google Space Initiatives, “from the Wright brothers’ first flight to the Lewis and Clark expedition, the most successful and revolutionary discoveries often come from small, entrepreneurial teams.” The X-Prize foundation has been responsible for several contests including the first private space flight by Scaled Composites for SpaceShipOne.
We’ve been waiting for the Jeopardy Deathmatch between humans Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter against IBM’s Watson for awhile now. The past three days of Jeopardy revealed a glimpse of the coming human enslavement during the machine apocalypse. IBM’s Watson soundly beat humanity by a $50K margin with the previous champions Jennings and Rutter coming in at $24K and $21K respectively. Watson’s performance was interesting to watch, the interface allowed viewers to see its three answers deemed most likely along with a scoring threshold upon which it decided which was best and whether to click in. The system was not without its glitches as it answered a question incorrectly using the same wrong answer that Jennings had provided just seconds before. Glitches like this lead to cataclysmic events like the Great Purge.
Some of OmniNerd’s more observant readers may have noticed the new feature on the frontpage dashboard in the past weeks. Found above the Discussion Threads in the left column, the Looking Glass is a small object designed to look back and rehash some of OmniNerd’s past content. The Looking Glass will peek at a time window 1, 3 and 5 years backward while automatically refreshing itself periodically. So when you’re not cough submitting new content cough, let the Looking Glass remind you of some of the past discussions and hot topics.