Saturday, July 30, 2005

Tech Note: Gizmo vs Skype

A few weeks back I recommended that you try Skype, a VOIP “softphone” that enables you to make free long distance telephone calls to anyone else who has the program. Now that I’ve tried Gizmo, another similar free product, I’m afraid I’m going to have to change my recommendation.

Gizmo is better than Skype. Gizmo seems to be second generation. The interface is smoother, the feature set is larger (includes built in recorder), and, best of all, the quality of the phone call itself is better. Check it out at

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Tech Note:"We are the Web" - Wired Magazine

I bought my first computer in 1979, and having come from 10 years of study of and research in how the human brain works, I’ve been dreaming of the global computer brain. In my fantasy, one day in the future all of our screens would report that a singularity had occurred and that our global brain had started thinking. Maybe it already has...

article is the best I’ve read that examines these concepts.

"Today, the Machine acts like a very large computer with top-level functions that operate at approximately the clock speed of an early PC. It processes 1 million emails each second, which essentially means network email runs at 1 megahertz. Same with Web searches. Instant messaging runs at 100 kilohertz, SMS at 1 kilohertz. The Machine's total external RAM is about 200 terabytes. In any one second, 10 terabits can be coursing through its backbone, and each year it generates nearly 20 exabytes of data. Its distributed "chip" spans 1 billion active PCs, which is approximately the number of transistors in one PC.

This planet-sized computer is comparable in complexity to a human brain. Both the brain and the Web have hundreds of billions of neurons (or Web pages). Each biological neuron sprouts synaptic links to thousands of other neurons, while each Web page branches into dozens of hyperlinks. That adds up to a trillion "synapses" between the static pages on the Web. The human brain has about 100 times that number - but brains are not doubling in size every few years. The Machine is.

Since each of its "transistors" is itself a personal computer with a billion transistors running lower functions, the Machine is fractal. In total, it harnesses a quintillion transistors, expanding its complexity beyond that of a biological brain. It has already surpassed the 20-petahertz threshold for potential intelligence as calculated by Ray Kurzweil. For this reason some researchers pursuing artificial intelligence have switched their bets to the Net as the computer most likely to think first. Danny Hillis, a computer scientist who once claimed he wanted to make an AI "that would be proud of me," has invented massively parallel supercomputers in part to advance us in that direction. He now believes the first real AI will emerge not in a stand-alone supercomputer like IBM's proposed 23-teraflop Blue Brain, but in the vast digital tangle of the global Machine.

In 10 years, the system will contain hundreds of millions of miles of fiber-optic neurons linking the billions of ant-smart chips embedded into manufactured products, buried in environmental sensors, staring out from satellite cameras, guiding cars, and saturating our world with enough complexity to begin to learn. We will live inside this thing."

Religion itself is the fount of most evil

"Everyone is being blamed, from the obvious villainous duo of George W Bush and Tony Blair, to the inaction of Muslim “communities”. But it has never been clearer that there is only one place to lay the blame and it has ever been thus. The cause of all this misery, mayhem, violence, terror and ignorance is of course religion itself, and if it seems ludicrous to have to state such an obvious reality, the fact is that the government and the media are doing a pretty good job of pretending that it isn’t so.

Bush’s fundamentalist Christian insanity seems temporarily forgotten, and there is much talk of moderate Islam as if this is a jolly good thing, when in fact, in tandem with all other world religions, very much including Bush’s, it is a Dark Ages nonsense that should, of course, be tolerated and its adherents protected and permitted to practice it peacefully, but falls a very long way from meriting respect. The age of enlightenment freed reasoning humans from the shackles of crudely hewn anthropomorphic gods, leaving these man-made deities to serve those who wished to keep them alive for the purposes of comforting self-delusion, social control – particularly the control of women – and the validation of power, violence and aggression."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Let the Reframing Begin

Remember when you first heard the phrase “weapons of mass destruction”, and then WMD? I can’t remember exactly when it was either, but when I first heard it I felt it was a clever “framing” which would eventually lead to deception. What followed was a series of lies relating to these WMD which were used to rationalize an elective war.

When the phrase “War on Terror” got started, I thought it was just another American “War on X”. Poverty, Drugs, etc. Everyone should have known you can’t have a war on a tactic. But Bush insisted. And now the reframing has begun. I wonder why?

WASHINGTON, July 25 - The Bush administration is retooling its slogan for the fight against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, pushing the idea that the long-term struggle is as much an ideological battle as a military mission, senior administration and military officials said Monday.

In recent speeches and news conferences, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the nation's senior military officer have spoken of "a global struggle against violent extremism" rather than "the global war on terror," which had been the catchphrase of choice.

Administration officials say that phrase may have outlived its usefulness, because it focused attention solely, and incorrectly, on the military campaign.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the National Press Club on Monday that he had "objected to the use of the term 'war on terrorism' before, because if you call it a war, then you think of people in uniform as being the solution." He said the threat instead should be defined as violent extremists, with the recognition that "terror is the method they use."

Although the military is heavily engaged in the mission now, he said, future efforts require "all instruments of our national power, all instruments of the international communities' national power." The solution is "more diplomatic, more economic, more political than it is military," he concluded.

Administration and Pentagon officials say the revamped campaign has grown out of meetings of President Bush's senior national security advisers that began in January, and it reflects the evolution in Mr. Bush's own thinking nearly four years after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mr. Rumsfeld spoke in the new terms on Friday when he addressed an audience in Annapolis, Md., for the retirement ceremony of Adm. Vern Clark as chief of naval operations. Mr. Rumsfeld described America's efforts as it "wages the global struggle against the enemies of freedom, the enemies of civilization."

The shifting language is one of the most public changes in the administration's strategy to battle Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and it tracks closely with Mr. Bush's recent speeches emphasizing freedom, democracy and the worldwide clash of ideas.

"It is more than just a military war on terror," Steven J. Hadley, the national security adviser, said in a telephone interview. "It's broader than that. It's a global struggle against extremism. We need to dispute both the gloomy vision and offer a positive alternative."

Could it be because you can lose a war? but a "struggle" goes on and on....

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Pants on Fire

From the Ironic Times


Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Crookeder Crook

Nixon was a small-minded man with a complex of problems that lead him to criminal behavior and his downfall. Nixon was a crook.

Bush is a small-minded man with a complex of problems that lead him to self-destructive behavior, but he wants to bring us along with him. Bush is a sociopath, and much more dangerous.

As usual, the Daily Kos nails it.

"There is no ethic, law, decency or national interest that trumps the political fortunes and powers of the GOP in Rove World. Indeed, in that sense, this is the most corrupt Administration since Nixon. Unfortunately, unlike the Nixon Administration, it appears that there is and was not one competent official involved in GOVERNING rather than politics in the Bush Administration. This combination of incompetence and lack of respect for law, ethic, truth and decency has proven a disastrous combination, leading to the worst administration in American history. And I say this without hyperbole."

Bush is going down! (or am I dreaming?)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Leave Rove Alone

Many are calling for the resignation or firing of Karl Rove. I say we leave him alone as he is one of the keystones of the Bush administration and will bring the whole sordid mess down when he is indicted. Fitzpatrick, the Special Prosecutor, is carefully building a case much larger the Valerie Plame outing. His findings will reveal the entire story of how we were lied to in order to convince us that the war in Iraq was necessary. As Andrea Mitchell said this morning on the Imus show, “how do you spell impeachment?”

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Whose Last Throes?

Allawi: this is the start of civil war

Hala Jaber, Amman

IRAQ’S former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi has warned that his country is facing civil war and has predicted dire consequences for Europe and America as well as the Middle East if the crisis is not resolved.

“The problem is that the Americans have no vision and no clear policy on how to go about in Iraq,” said Allawi, a long-time ally of Washington.

In an interview with The Sunday Times last week as he visited Amman, the Jordanian capital, he said: “The policy should be of building national unity in Iraq. Without this we will most certainly slip into a civil war. We are practically in stage one of a civil war as we speak.”

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Updated: 8:38 p.m. ET July 9, 2005
Associated Press

New York and Washington. Bali, Riyadh, Istanbul, Madrid. And now London.
When will it end? Where will it all lead?

The experts aren’t encouraged. One prominent terrorism researcher sees the prospect of “endless” war. Adds the man who tracked Osama bin Laden for the CIA, “I don’t think it’s even started yet.”

An Associated Press survey of longtime students of international terrorism finds them ever more convinced, in the aftermath of London’s bloody Thursday, that the world has entered a long siege in a new kind of war. They believe that al-Qaida is mutating into a global insurgency, a possible prototype for other 21st-century movements, technologically astute, almost leaderless. And the way out is far from clear.

In fact, says Michael Scheuer, the ex-CIA analyst, rather than move toward solutions, the United States took a big step backward by invading Iraq.

Monday, July 04, 2005

The Mogambo Guru

You've got to read this guy for straight up analysis presented in a humorous style. Go Mogambo!

The Puke Point
by The Mogambo Guru
June 28, 2005

-I am in full lock-down mode here at the Mogambo Bunker, and I gotta tell ya that I look pretty sharp in my camouflage Speedo and these bandoliers of ammo across my chest. The reason that I am so frantic is that the growth in Total Fed Credit has gone to zero for over a month now. This is, for me, the ultimate in bad news.

The lack of growth in Fed Credit is bad news because, as Peter Zihlmann of P. Zihlmann Investments explains, "The present expansion is the longest running expansion on record. It has surpassed all other economic expansions before it. The driving force behind it is the rapid growth of the money supply and the explosion of credit that has accompanied it." Many people are saying that the money supply is anemic, too, but that is not exactly true. In fact, M3 has accelerated over the last month above its trend for the last few years, although the monetary base has pretty much leveled off.

And later…

And if that wasn't enough, in the last week foreigners have suddenly stopped buying our debt through their accounts at the Fed. And the banks have suddenly divested themselves of $74 billion in government debt. In one week! One! And the banks got rid of another $11.5 billion in "other securities", to boot!

And further on…

And so the people are upset? Hahahaha! The state has debased and destroyed their money, but they are not upset about that. The state has grown itself to be, literally, half the entire economy, but they are not upset about that. The state has now installed so many taxes on so many things that they have driven up prices, but they are not upset about that. The state has indebted every citizen alive, and citizens who are not even born yet, so heavily that the debt cannot ever be paid back, but they are not upset about that. The state has encouraged that all the retirement accounts of everyone be put into the stock and bond markets, and they have lost money for years, but they are not upset about that. The state has gradually eaten away at every liberty, piece by piece by piece, but they are not upset about that. They have allowed the Constitution to be gutted, bit by bit by bit, but they are not upset about that. But maybe force them to move out of their houses, and they are, all of a sudden, upset about that! Hahahaha!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Tech Note: Google Earth

You've got to try this out. Download the software and fly over your house.

"A 3D interface to the planet

Google Earth – Explore, Search and Discover

Want to know more about a specific location? Dive right in -- Google Earth combines satellite imagery, maps and the power of Google Search to put the world's geographic information at your fingertips.

Fly from space to your neighborhood. Type in an address and zoom right in. "

Another Peek at Peak Oil

I was getting ready to write an article about how I consistently make the mistake of being too early in my projections ( I thought the peak in the Denver real estate market was 2000 ). Then I ran across this article.

Oil 'will hit $100 by winter' Worst-ever crisis looms, says analyst

Surging demand to keep prices high
Heather Stewart, economics correspondent
Sunday July 3, 2005
The Observer

Oil prices could rocket to $100 within six months, plunging the world into an unprecedented fuel crisis, controversial Texan oil analyst Matt Simmons has warned.

After crude surged through $60 a barrel last week, nervous investors were pinning their hopes on a build-up in US oil-stocks to depress prices in the coming months.

But Simmons believes surging demand will keep prices bubbling well above $50. 'We could be at $100 by this winter. We have the biggest risk we have ever had of demand exceeding supply. We are now just about to face up to the biggest crisis we have ever had,' he said.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Please don't execute me for treason. It was only a little leak.

It's About Time

Some of us have been wondering when and if the Valerie Plame “outing” scandal was going to break. It looks like it is now beginning. Could Karl “Doughboy” Rove be the traitor, as we long suspected?

"Now that Time Inc. has turned over documents to federal court, revealing who its reporter, Matt Cooper, identified as his source in the Valerie Plame/CIA case, speculation runs rampant on the name of that source. Lawrence O'Donnell, senior MSNBC political analyst, now claims that at least two sources have confirmed that the name is--top White House mastermind Karl Rove.

What we're going to go to now in the next stage, when Matt Cooper's e-mails, within Time Magazine, are handed over to the grand jury--the ultimate revelation, probably within the week of who his source is.

"I know I'm going to get pulled into the grand jury for saying this but the source of...for Matt Cooper was Karl Rove, and that will be revealed in this document dump that Time magazine's going to do with the grand jury."