Friday, April 29, 2005

Prediction: 43 is Average

[A President] "resembles the commander of a ship at sea. He must have a helm to grasp, a course to steer, a port to seek."
-Henry Adams

I don't think George W. Bush will make it to the long list of the best U.S. Presidents, and by long, I mean the top 20. This may surprise some, since I've been such fan of his Presidency. Keep in mind, I am trying to look at him through the long lens of history, not comparing him to the alternatives available now (i.e. Kerry, Dean, etc...)

Let's run over his record. His handling of the crisis of 9/11 was stellar and his time in college as a cheerleader served him well. The country was incredible united, and steadfast during that time, but he has never shown great ability domestically. Ironically, this was purported to be his greatest strength by pundits going into his first term. In reality, he has shown more expertise, and knowledge in foreign policy, which again, was portended to be among his greatest weaknesses. Even critics of his decisions made on foreign policy must admit, at his expert execution of his agenda. When we look at his domestic record, we see Medicare/Medicaid reform, Education, Immigration, Social Security, and Energy. His planning and execution have lacked any real clout to solve these problems, although he has time, yet!

From time to time, historians have been asked to rank the best President. You can see more on these surveys here. How does President Bush rank for you?

Three criteria you may choose to use, from the article, are: Vision, political skill, and communication abilities.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

5 GHz worldwide? I'll settle for the U.S.

Do you remember when the Government opened up a huge spectrum of the 5 Ghz band in 2003? It was a huge deal for the private sector, opening the door to some new WiFi technologies, but has anything happened since? We have been waiting for a report due in January 2005 submitted to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Not to be confused with the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) that has recently been reconstituted according to the Whitehouse's new litmus test. Neither of these groups ought to be confused with the FCC, which is an independent group. The red tape is everywhere!

United States rules for the 5 GHz worldwide harmonized wireless LAN frequency band

Wired News: Your Money Under More Scrutiny

Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act will make some nervous about this story. 215 makes it possible for the government to seize the records of Banks. Banks are starting to protect themselves by implementing software that will not only catch Terrorist activities, but will also make it harder for the average Joe to cheat on his taxes.
"Even small transactions may be flagged as suspicious. Terror funds are
known to be small, as the withdrawals and deposits of 9/11 terrorists
showed. Being small does not mean being invisible."
Wired News: Your Money Under More Scrutiny

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


I would love to see Google Maps integrated with with online astronomy maps. It would be a perfect roadtrip tool-toy. Most rest-stops have very little light pollution, and if you could pinpoint where you are on the road, and then have an idea of the celestial bodies that can be seen from those coordinates it could be fun. Plus, the position of man-made satellites could also be identified, including the ones responsible for content available from If you knew you were under one of the Keyhole satellites, would you behave differently? What would you do? Everybody say cheese!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

McGuiver This

I was going to wait until I could try this myself, but I'll just post it now.
This is an elegant way to make fire with nothing but a soda can and a chocolate bar.
Fire: Can of Coke and chocolate

Monday, April 25, 2005 Any Kerry Supporters On The Line? -- May. 02, 2005

I can't wait to hear the outrage on this one. The Whitehouse has removed four of two-dozen delegates for supporting Kerry during last years Presidential Elections. This can scarcely be called a conspiracy, since the Whitehouse has been so transparent regarding it's motives. And, the President has every right to choose his representatives in this case.

"We wanted people who would represent the Administration positively, and--call us nutty--it seemed like those who wanted to kick this Administration out of town last November would have some difficulty doing that," says White House spokesman Trent Duffy. Any Kerry Supporters On The Line? -- May. 02, 2005

O'Reilly Network: Encouraging Engagement on the Web

O'Reilly has a fascinating viewpoint on how blogs can expand their impact from hours and days; into months and years. The authors have taken a Government document, broken it into sections, and posted it as a blog--open to comments, and contributions. Overall, this article raises more questions than it answers. But they are intriguing questions, nonetheless.

O'Reilly Network: Encouraging Engagement on the Web

Sunday, April 24, 2005

PhysOrg: University of Chicago to study connections between religious beliefs and health

Researchers have hypothesised that religious belief is a contributer to longevity, and good health. They have recieved $1.8 million from the John Templeton Foundation to study the concept. They will also have $7.5 million from the National Institute on Aging of the Department of Health to study the effects of loneliness on health which they plan to incorporate into the same study.

PhysOrg: University of Chicago to study connections between religious beliefs and health

Friday, April 22, 2005

Superlens breakthrough (April 2005) - News - PhysicsWeb

Scientists have just overcome of the diffraction limit problem in optics. For years, the diffraction limit has dictated the maximum resolution that can be achieved. This not only has application in microscopy, but in optical lithography, electronics, fiber optics, etc.
"In 2003, Zhang's group showed that optical evanescent waves could
indeed be enhanced as they passed through a silver superlens. Now they
have taken this work one step further and have imaged objects as small
as 40-nm across with their superlens, which is just 35-nm thick (see
figure). In contrast, current optical microscopes can only resolve
objects down to around 400-nm, which is about one tenth the diameter of
a red blood cell."
Superlens breakthrough (April 2005) - News - PhysicsWeb

Myths of Education

In the United States, much has been said to argue that a Private Education is better than a Public one. Most of the arguments for this have all implied that the quality of the information is more pure, or the knowledge gained is superior. In reality, the problem with Public Education is not that it has failed to educate, but rather, that it is not able to fail, or conversely, succeed. No matter how poor, or great the education is, money will continue to flow into Public Schools. Free Enterprise has a way of weeding out weak institutions, and promoting good ones. In such a setting, a Private School may appear to succeed, or fail in a spectacular way. Parents may choose which schools will be promoted above the rest based on their own criteria. So, to phrase it another way, the real problem with Public Education is that it will forever remain out of scope for any metrics. It cannot be allowed to fail lest the founding instution be forever crippled, and it cannot succeed unless the threat of failure is real. It is also an usurper, in that the State assumes a parental role deciding which school is best-usually determined by geographical considerations only. The term "Motherland" comes to mind in considering this Socialistic system.

In the previous paragraph, I implied that a Private School only appears to succeed. I say this because knowledge cannot really be marketed, or sold. Education today is like the wild grapevine discovered by a lone traveler along the road. Charging tuition, or exacting taxes for education is like the traveler setting up fruit stands on either end of the vine that is, otherwise, freely available. I am not suggesting in this analogy that institutions of education that require money need be abolished, but rather, that responsibility for aquiring knowledge rests with the individual.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

PATRIOT: Material Support

Yesterday, Congress heard testimony regarding Section 805 which is about Material Support.
"The original definition of "material support or resources" in the AEDPA included providing tangible support such as money, goods, and materials and also less concrete support, such as "personnel" and "training." Section 805 of the PATRIOT Act expanded the definition to include "expert advice or assistance." Some courts have found the terms "personnel," "training," and "expert advice or assistance" to be unconstitutionally vague. The courts have reasoned that enforcement of these provisions has the potential to criminalize First Amendment-protected speech."
Therefore, the challenge to this section will likely be the fear of mistaken prosecution, where it has been justly applied the majority of the time. This concept is called the Overbreadth Doctrine as coined by the Supreme Court. I would concede that some abuse of prosecutorial powers could occur, but such an event would be rare, and should not prevent this laws rightful execution.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Chu-Hu: Termite guts and the spontaneous ignition discovery at ORNL.

Nature has proven to be much more efficient at converting chemicals into energy than our most advanced technologies. See my earlier post on Termite guts. Do not confuse the Termite guy, named Chu, with another scientist, named Hu. Hu is doing what Chu is just proposing. Hu seems to be on track to improve our energy consumption methods, and in his spare time through some novel experiments. All that is required is "... nanometer-sized particles of platinum stuck to fibers of glass wool in a small jar with methanol and air – with no source of external ignition." By varying the fuel mixture, he can achieve tempatures of "...600 degrees Celsius and low temperatures of just a few tenths of a degree above room temperature." The low temperatures closely approximate the metabolism of a living organism.

PhysOrg: Spontaneous ignition discovery has ORNL researcher fired up

Steven Chu is the Nobel laureate 'Termite guy', and Director of the Lawrence Berkeley Labs.
Zhiyu Hu is another physicist at the Life Sciences Division of the Department of Energy's ORNL who managed to do his research without funding.

PhysOrg: Rising carbon dioxide levels increase risks to satellites

Here is an interesting problem, I think, few have considered. Increasing carbon dioxide levels have the opposite effect on the upper-atmosphere as they do on the the atmosphere we all breath. Low-orbit satellites my have to deal with colder, thinner atmosphere leading to more space debris, and a slower descent from orbit.

"According to the research team’s initial predictions a process known as ‘collision cascading’ – where the number of collisions in orbit increases exponentially – could occur much more quickly in the region of space between 200 km and 2,000 km above the Earth in response to rising CO2 levels. Simulations of a ‘business as usual’ scenario, where satellites are launched and destroyed at the rate they are now, show a 17 per cent increase in the number of collisions and a 30 per cent increase in the number of objects larger than 1 cm by the end of the 21st century."

PhysOrg: Rising carbon dioxide levels increase risks to satellites Science, Technology Blog

This story is incredibly fascinating from a ethical standpoint. A Russian Astrologer is suing to prevent NASA from launching a mission to destroy a comet because doing so would harm her "system of spiritual values".


Congress to review Patriot Act on Tuesday | | CNET

Because my blog does not have a large readership, I am not terribly disappointed to have received no comments to my post regarding the PATRIOT Act Sunset. I did, however, receive one email, but it did not supply me with a specific thesis on which to base any relevant discussion. I tried to give the opportunity to frame the debate to those who would dislike the legislation, but I digress... You may remember that I asked one question of the opponents of the PATRIOT Act. It was essentially, which sections of the Act offend you? I don't believe this to be an improper, or illogical question to ask. The Act has been in effect for three and one-half years. Plenty of time to ferret out the major controversies. I simply want to carry the discussion beyond slogans. As has been stated elsewhere, sixteen provisions are set to expire at the end of this year unless Congress acts to renew these. Today, 203(b) and 203(d) will be considered by Congress. These sections allow for information sharing between Intelligence Organizations with the U.S. and Criminal Authorities. Ironically, "...were section 203(b) allowed to expire, United States law enforcement
officers would be allowed to share certain foreign intelligence information collected
through criminal investigative wiretaps with foreign intelligence services, such as MI-5,
see 18 U.S.C. § 2517(7), but would arguably not be allowed to share that same
information with the CIA."(PDF)
The major opponent to have weighed in on these two sections is the ACLU. See below for the CNET post on today's event.
Congress to review Patriot Act on Tuesday | | CNET

Friday, April 15, 2005

Mitigating identity theft | Perspectives | CNET

I've been saying recently that most people don't really want their privacy protected, nearly as much as they want security. In fact, most discussions about privacy usually turn into discussions about security before long anyway. That is why the Op-ed piece by security expert Bruce Schneier is so relevant. He clarifies the terms that we should when talking about fraud, impersonation, and privacy, and proposes that the solution ought to be with institutions, rather than individuals. Individuals have proven to be much too liberal with regard to their own information anyway. Plus, as Schneier points out, " Fraudulent transactions have nothing to do with the legitimate account holders." I've encountered this myself, when some personal checks were stolen. None of the offending institutions ever checked for ID. Luckily, I caught the fraud before it became my problem (Federal Law dictates that if caught within 24 hours, the transactions do not need to be honored by the Financial institution), although I had to fend off the creditors, and monitor my credit. When Institutions are held accountable for their transactions, then the number of fraudulent transactions will decrease.

Mitigating identity theft | Perspectives | CNET

Social Security Reform

My co-worker has posted a well reasoned critique of Bush's Social Security proposal. More proof that "Right-wing Nutjobs" can, and do, think for themselves.

Massive Paper

PhysOrg: The chemistry of popcorn: It's all about 'pop-ability'

...and I've been so worried about unpopped popcorn...

PhysOrg: The chemistry of popcorn: It's all about 'pop-ability'

Thursday, April 14, 2005

PhysOrg: Smart plastics change shape with light

Scientists have created plastics that "can be deformed and temporarily fixed in a second, new shape by illumination with light having certain wavelengths. These programmed materials will only switch back to their original shape when exposed to light of specific different wavelengths. "

Does anyone want to comment on possible applications for this technology?

PhysOrg: Smart plastics change shape with light

Blog censorship gains support | CNET

I'm officially accepting comments from anyone willing to post the names and addresses of celebrities.

Blog censorship gains support | CNET

Google Video (Beta) - Video Upload Program

I signed up yesterday to upload video with Google. The videographer can even set a price for the download. I can't imagine what video I have that has value to anyone-except the sentimental kind?
Google Video (Beta) - Video Upload Program

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

PhysOrg: 'Termite guts can save the planet', says Nobel laureate

You may have heard earlier about the revolutionary technology allowing for the extraction of crude oil from Turkey guts. Now, on a slightly different track, Termite guts may help us understand how to reduce pollutants, while extracting fuel, at the same time. My gut says 'go for it'.

PhysOrg: 'Termite guts can save the planet', says Nobel laureate

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Bolton to be confirmed despite problem with 'little people'

Much to the chagrin of many Bush naysayers the President will have his way and John Bolton will be confirmed as the Ambassador to the U.N.
"Carl Ford, who ran the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, said Bolton cast a chill over the State Department's intelligence personnel by abusing an analyst who held up his speech because it overstated information on Cuba's weapons."

He didn't? A Chill? My question: Should intelligence personnel be in an environment where they are comfortable, or should they be pushed to give greater effort?
"I've never met anyone like him in terms of the way he abuses his power and authority over little people," Ford said."
'little people'? Oh-wait... I guess that is the Politically correct term...


Google maps: LDS Temples

All the Temples in the U.S. and Canada can be seen via Satellite on my co-workers blog.

Some fun with Google maps and satellites.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Urban Myths - List of urban myths about Google

Who doesn't want a better pagerank? Well, I actually know one person who claims to not care. If you do want to up your pagerank, read this article first.

Urban Myths - List of urban myths about Google, written by Chris Beasley

Google Sightseeing

If you've ever wanted an excuse to never go on another road trip, here it is.
Google Sightseeing

p.s. The site has gone down. No word on if/when it will come back up again. So, this is kind of a unpost.

Friday, April 08, 2005

yahoo! vs. google: synergy

This tool runs a comparison of Google, and Yahoo searches so you can see which searches return which pages, and in what order they rank. You'll have to look at it to understand it.

yahoo! vs. google: synergy

Gonna go back in Time...

The article below informs us that the whole 'Stem Cell Debate' may one day be rendered moot by a bizarre ability of cells to revert back to a 'stem cell' called dedifferentiation. In other words, no embryo's/blastocycst need be destroyed to harvest the most elastic of stem cells. Note: Adult stem cells can be harvested now; they don't, however, have the resilience of the embrionic version.

Wired News: Cells That Go Back in Time

Thursday, April 07, 2005

AnandTech News: Sony aims to beam sights, sounds into brain

AnandTech News: Sony aims to beam sights, sounds into brain:

"The U.S. patent, granted to Sony researcher Thomas Dawson, describes a
technique for aiming ultrasonic pulses at specific areas of the brain
to induce 'sensory experiences' such as smells, sounds and images."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Ethics in the Workplace

An article by Crispin Sartwell in the LA Times attempts, briefly, to answer some interesting ethical questions. When ones job becomes distasteful, morally, should one be required to do it? His thesis follows.
"I personally am no opponent of birth control of any sort or, for that matter, of abortion rights. But people whose jobs require them to violate their own deeply held convictions ought to refuse to do the job, and any politician who upholds freedom or dignity must uphold their right to do so."
Even more interesting to me than Sartwell's perspective is a response to it posted on Lean Left. (You can guess the specific political leaning of this blog.) Lean Left presumes that a Pharmacist who refuses birth control to a Patron is doing so because he disapproves"...[of the Patrons] sexual behavior..." This may be the case, but it could also be that the Pharmacist has discovered something wrong with the drug (i.e. tampering, contamination, etc). Perhaps the Pharmacist is made aware of other drugs prescribed to the Patron that would make for a lethal cocktail. Therefore, the question of motive, in this case, is moot. If a Physician is given the right to refuse treatment of a Patient that has not followed her council--an ethical question. Then any individual, under any circumstance that ethics touch, should be afforded the right to refuse service.
Lean Left exaggerated the issue, stating,
"What’s remarkable in this piece is that there is not, in its entire length, a single mention of the interests of the people who are harmed by being unilaterally denied access to healthcare."

There is nothing 'unilateral' about the refusal. It is simply a refusal. We need not patronize every Pharmacist, Grocer, or Gas Station we encounter. But, these institutions, and those who are employed by them, ought to be able to refuse service to anyone.

Update: I support the APhA Conscience Clause below.
"American Pharmaceutical Association
Conscience Clause

APhA recognizes the individual pharmacist's right to exercise conscientious refusal and supports the establishment of systems to ensure patient access to legally prescribed therapy without compromising the pharmacist's right of conscientious refusal.

APhA shall appoint a council to serve as a resource for the profession in addressing and understanding ethical issues."

Another Update:

I cannot resist updating you one more time. On April 7th, The Abrams Report featured this issue, and in interviewing a Pharmacist that supports the right to refuse, Dan Abrams severely undercut his own arguments to the contrary. See the link for the complete transcript, or below for the pertinent section of the dialog.

"DUPLANTIS: Well that‘s absolutely absurd because we are trying to respond. We‘re trying to warn women about this terrible, dangerous drug...


DUPLANTIS: ... that has killed more women...

ABRAMS: Mr. Duplantis...


DUPLANTIS: ... than any other chemical there is on the market.

ABRAMS: ... here‘s the problem. I don‘t even know-I‘m not convinced you believe that. I think and let me tell you and I‘ll let you respond...

DUPLANTIS: You‘re not a chemist. You‘re not a scientist either.

ABRAMS: All right. That‘s fine. I am not. I am not, but I‘ll tell you that I haven‘t seen anything medically that supports anything you are saying, but I‘ll let you respond.[Emphasis added]

DUPLANTIS: Well you‘re not reading the right literature...

ABRAMS: All right. All right...

DUPLANTIS: ... because it‘s everywhere...

ABRAMS: Well that‘s the question.

DUPLANTIS: ... in all of the medical journals.

ABRAMS: That‘s the-yes, OK. All right...[Emphasis added]

DUPLANTIS: All the medical journals support what I‘m saying.

ABRAMS: Yes. All right. No they don‘t...[Emphasis added]

DUPLANTIS: All the medical...


DUPLANTIS: ... information.

ABRAMS: Come on, that‘s just silliness...

DUPLANTIS: The birth control packets...

ABRAMS: Why don‘t you just admit...

DUPLANTIS: ... on the prescription.

ABRAMS: Mr. Duplantis, just admit this is about religion. Just admit it...

DUPLANTIS: It‘s absolutely...

ABRAMS: Come clean. Come clean.

DUPLANTIS: ... the only thing religious about this is the fact that because I have a moral conscience I want to help women and we want to call or question that saying that just like Vioxx and Seldane and Redux, all these drugs, and the fact that estrogen and this cardiologist knows that DVDs (ph) and the cardiovascular episodes that estrogen causes...

ABRAMS: All right."


Here is an interesting Chimera-like beast. Someone decided to mix Yahoo search with Google. See below for more examples of a Chimera.

John Kerry
Hillary Clinton
Pick a random liberal

U.S. blogger thwarts Canadian gag order | CNET

Below is a story about a resident of Minneapolis that is posting a story, that if he lived in Canada, would put him in jail.

U.S. blogger thwarts Canadian gag order | CNET
"Canada's attorney general is investigating the legality of the U.S. blog posting. Government lawyers may charge Canadian Web publishers with contempt of court if they reproduce some of the Adscam testimony or perhaps even link to Morrissey's blog, the Toronto Sun reported."
It sounds like they want to extradite this blogger. Call me crazy, but we have Constitutional rights that protect us against getting prosecuted by another country, as long as we don't reside there. Oh Canada...

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Google aims high and wide | CNET

There have been a lot of articles on Google lately-They've been busy! So, the link below gives you a plethora of articles.
Google aims high and wide | CNET

Patriot Act's secret searches used 108 times | CNET

Patriot Act's secret searches used 108 times | CNET
"'Delayed-notification search warrants are used in a wide spectrum of criminal investigations,
including those involving terrorism and drugs,' the Justice Department
said in a statement. 'Like any other search warrant,
delayed-notification warrants under Section 213 may only be issued
after showing probable cause and obtaining the express approval of a

Also see my post yesterday.

Google introduces Satellite to it's Map service!

I can see my house from--well, anywhere now. I think I'll put a message on my roof to see if I can read it from space.


Monday, April 04, 2005

Gmail will test anti-phishing and video storage

It's time again to acknowledge google for it's out-of-the-box thinking. They seem unafraid of making changes, and quickly. Not only have they added useful features to Gmail, but now they are venturing into video storage and sharing tools.

Gmail tries out antiphishing tools | CNET

Google queues up Video | CNET

Google will build a Video sharing network

The next chapter in the Patriot Act

This is for those of you who opposed the Patriot Act when it was implemented. There is a chance, soon, that some of the provisions will not be renewed. For a summary of the upcoming events see CNET NEWS. I am not, at the first gasp, opposed to the Patriot Act, and all that it implies. My stance is turning out to be very unpopular. But, before you condemn me for my naivete, answer me this. To which section(s) are you opposed, and why? (Don't say all of it, and don't ask me to read it for reasons why!) See the link below for the best arguments for and against the most controversial aspects of the legislation.
Patriot Debates

Friday, April 01, 2005

Those April Fools!

I took the day off work for my wifes birthday--no joke. I have to say that navigating the world on this day is both dangerous, and thrilling. I took a drive this morning down the wrong side of the road (I'm not speaking allegorically), and it's felt surreal ever since. We saw the 'Phantom' in the theaters today, and there were only three other people there besides my wife and me. I was so close to telling her I'd rented the whole theater just for us. Now that I've logged onto the Interweb, I can't understand anything I see. New technologies that have never existed have surfaced, my Gmail account is climbing towards a two multi-Gigabyte limit shangrila, and my Anti-virus software is telling me that it expires today (that's true). Tommorow, I'm taking the red pill before I leave home--or is it the blue one? I leave you with some of the headlines that just shouldn't be.

Apple sells iPod socks

USB Fundue set
PC Virus makes Humans feverish
Get a free U2 Album--(Oh wait, let me look into that one.)
Microsoft expands Windows Piracy Check (They aren't joking. I just said it shouldn't be)