May 2007 Archives

Population Majority Now Urban

According to a press release from North Carolina State University, global population crossed the 50% urban threshold on May 23rd, 2007. The UN had previously estimated that this would occur by 2010, but based on the research cited, it has in fact occurred sooner. This shift underscores a couple key factors, such as a move to a more service-oriented economy globally, a reduction in the agricultural workforce required to feed the populace (well, arguable capable of feeding people), and a likely increase in problems related to people living in close proximity, such as pluralistic ignorance.

So, if you thought something seemed different in town today, you were probably right. Somebody else just moved in out of the country, and that means at least one more car on the road...

Back From Holiday...

Just a quick note -- I'm back from the long holiday weekend (Memorial Day). The in-laws were in town, we went out to the beach (Ocean City, MD) for a couple days. All-in-all uneventful. I'm sure I'll have things to post later this week (such as on the recent flip in urban/rural population distribution). The next few weeks will be busy as I support the wife through her "hell month" juggling full-time teaching with a full-time grad class load over Summer session (4 nights/wk), plus the trip to India at the end of the month. Cheers!

Heading to India!

| 1 Comment

I received the news yesterday that I was up for traveling to India, if I was up for it, to deliver some security awareness training. Initially the thought was to leave as early as next week, but that has been mercifully been pushed back a couple weeks. So, this should be a new adventure! I'll be traveling with a couple colleagues, splitting the presentation time, as well as trying to make contact with dev and ops groups over there as possible. Onward and upward! :)

Well, our favorite executive branch thugs, under the direction of the ever-so-popular AG Gonzales, have decided to reward dying industry groups like RIAA, MPAA, and Disney (well, ok, Disney isn't dying, just deluded) with a new law that practically amounts to thought crime.

For the full story, please visit EFF. They have a full draft of the proposal, an overview, and a form letter that can be submitted to your Senators and Representative. Fight for your right for fair use!

Some Folks Just Don't Get It

Well, the RIAA is at it again. I've blogged before about their antics, but this new one really takes the cake. According to a story up on slashdot, the RIAA is now seeking to enforce royalties on traditional radio stations. Apparently CD sales are continuing in a downward trend (unsurprising, really -- do they add in iTunes and related sales as part of these numbers? I'd guess not. and what about non-major labels? there's tremendous fragmentation in the music industry these days). They of course blame this on pirating, and thus think the solution is to extract every last penny they can from law-abiding citizens and corporations.

Basically, what''s happening here is that the RIAA has failed to comprehend the changing dynamics of the Internet age, as laid out in The Long Tail. They're a failing organization, and they can't stand it. The head of the tail is shrinking (even as the tail thickens), and they're just not willing to accept the realities of the situation.

My advice to Congress, and any other power entity considering interfering is this: remove the barriers to free enterprise in the marketplace, roll back copyright protections to the original 14 year standard, and let the economy shake itself out. If you quick tinkering, you might be surprised, and then Adam Smith might be able to stop spinning in his grave. :)

The White House is Irrelevant

It seems only fair to turn the tables on these daft bastards. Aside from their actually having power that is being mishandled in historically inappropriate ways, I find this whole exchange comical. What does it say about your administration when 2 of 3 living ex-presidents say your a bunch of idiots? Makes me wonder what the original Pres Bush thinks of the mess his arrogant, self-righteous, out-of-touch son has done with the place.
CNN.com coverage
BBC News coverage

Oh, and former VP Al Gore has a new book out called The Assault on Reason that is also critical of the abominable job that this administration has done.

People, rise up! Make use of the political system! Throw these corrupt war-mongers out of office! Call for impeachment now!

Schneier on Overreactions

Bruce Schneier has an excellent blog post today on why people overreact to events that are particularly rare (e.g., fear of plane crashes vs car crashes). It's well worth the time to read it, and is also worth checking out some of the included links.

More Evidence Climate Models Wrong

CNN.com is reporting on a new study has found CO2 absorption in the Southern Ocean is maxing out already, well ahead of the models predict. As I was just saying, a few things are clear, such as that scientists really don't have any clue about what's up with global climate change.

Perhaps my favorite quote from the article:

"We thought we would be able to detect these only the second half of this century, say 2050 or so," she said. But data from 1981 through 2004 show the sink is already full of carbon dioxide. "So I find this really quite alarming."

I'm still sticking by my 2010 gut instinct on a major cold weather trend settling in over both hemispheres of the planet. No, this will not be like in the movies, but it will, I think, happen much quicker than mainstream scientists seem willing to admit. Time to buy some new mukluks! ;)

According to CNN.com, a "breakthrough" bill has been built by a bipartisan group of Senators. Personally, I'm torn by this whole situation, because we're talking about generally honest, hard-working, law-breaking, non-citizens. Oh, yeah, who happen to be performing a large amount of work at an extremely low price. These people likely impact multiple aspects of our economy, and represent a nice movie plot threat to national security. Allow me to expand on these thoughts...

Well, folks, I know you're all as confused about this whole "global warming" thing, so let's get edumacated together, umm, k? Heh. Yeah, right. First a quote, courtesy Shawn:

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then." --Thomas Jefferson

In keeping with the themes of "hey, we have no idea, but we know how to sound like we do" and "JUST IGNORE THE DATA AND LISTEN TO US SCREAM!!!!", New Scientist has published Climate change: A guide for the perplexed. In it, they attempt to debunk all the so-called myths about global climate change (or is it global warming? I get confused and they mix-n-match). There are a few problems, of course...

Reaching a Tipping Point

I'm increasingly incensed by the actions of the Bush Administration. The amount of impropriety is staggering. A friend recently asked How many felonies does it take... to impeach a president?, and, frankly, I'm starting to wonder that, too. As such, I've just sent off email to my US Rep (Tom Davis) and my US Senators (Webb and Warner) outlining my concerns with the direction this Administration seems intent on taking us.

Lost Email == Dirty Politics

Get ready for your stomach to churn. Former US Attorney David Iglesias, in New Mexico, is interviewed by Democracy Now! to uncover the truth about certain politically-motivated White House firings. He speaks about direct pressure from local and national politicians to start political cases that would sway elections, among other things. Really, the whole thing is sickening.

Folks! Our political leaders and system have become terribly corrupt! We need to do something about it! Throw the bums out when you vote and demand impeachment and prosecution of these criminals! If we lose the rule of law, then we lose the standard set of guidance that defines a civilized society. We the people control that, whether we know or accept that notion. Don't be lemmings, don't give in to fear from FUD, don't believe the lies of politicians who believe that they're in office to support corporate interests rather than yours. Take America back!

Hat tip to Slashdot for pointing out this article.

Welcome New Postage Rates/Rules!

Ok, so, tomorrow (Monday 5/14) new postage rates and rules go into effect. First class mail increases from 39 cents to 41 cents. Annoying, but probably no biggie for the average person. USPS is also introducing the new "forever stamp" -- a stamp that will continue to be good regardless of future rate increases. Kind of clever, don't you think?

But wait, there's more! Apparently a bunch of rate rules are also changing, such as about the size and shape and thickness of envelopes. Is this a good thing? If this CNN.com article is any indication, then I would say "yes, it is a good thing!".

Iraq Casualty Hits Closer to Home

yrib15.gifReceived an email from a friend of mine this morning. He's currently serving in a civilian capacity in Afghanistan and was supposed to be flying "home" to Colorado this weekend for some R&R. Instead, he'll be going home to Montana for the funeral of his brother, killed by an IED in Iraq. I don't know that I ever had the chance to meet his brother, but I'm saddened by this nonetheless. How much more senseless killing must occur before this Administration wakes up and realizes that they've not, in fact, made anything better, but have actually made life worse -- especially for the families of those who have men and women serving abroad.

Please read this nice, detailed write-up on Spc. Michael Frank.

Learn From the Pygmies

Here is a somewhat sparse article from the BBC that talks about the "first international forum for indigenous peoples in the Congo basin". It's actually an interesting read, though a bit short on details. What I found most interesting was the closing thought that there are things we can learn from them.

Just finished my weekend mostly-lower-body workout and am happy to report 3 new personal records -- w00t! :) This was also my last trainer-assisted workout until September, while I redirect the monies to another target (namely, our vacation to Europe).

Anyway, the PRs:
- Squats: 10 x 325 lbs (could have done more)
- Bench Press: 4 x 185 lbs
- Leg Press: 8-10 x 700 lbs (had minor assistance on the last 2 reps)



UN Warning on Biofuels

The United Nations (UN) has issued a report warning about use of biofuels and their impact on economics, deforestation, food supply, and so on. According to a BBC report yesterday, there's also evidence that the biggest bang for the buck on biofuels is as a replacement for heating and power generation, not for transportation. Guess somebody had better tell GM quick that their E89 cars are bad for the planet now...

For those keeping score at home, common sense is losing, and badly. I ran across a couple articles today that should make you wonder "how out of touch are people with reality?". The first target is organized religion in the United States and their apparent lack of cluefulness when it comes to keeping out of politics. The second pertains to Disney -- the owner of the non-expiring, lobby-dominated copyright for that quirky mouse -- making a deal with a cable provider to disable fast forwarding through embedded commercials in on-demand shows!

We're a strange people. I'm unsure if this is an Americanism, or just a human trait, but it's kind of weird, and definitely rates high on the selfishness scale. A raid was conducted yesterday against a terror cell in New Jersey planning an attack on Ft. Dix. The raid was the result of good old fashioned police work, complete with a paid snitch and all the leg-work you would expect. Notice there were no restrictions on liquids or gels involved in this bust.

What I found annoying in local coverage, however, was that the media immediately jumped into super-hyped panic mode. "What if this were to happen here?!?!?", they'd say. Well, I hope that the investigators here are just as smart as the investigators in NJ, meaning they would take the tip and run with it, too. Hopefully people here would be just as cognizant of aberrant behavior and would report it accordingly.

Blogging and the Law

I ran across an excellent blog entry last week on Blog Law titled 12 Important U.S. Laws Every Blogger Needs to Know. I highly recommend it for anyone who runs their own blog or even those who participate through adding comments. Very interesting things to take into consideration.

This is perhaps one of more amusing failure of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) intelligence in recent times. Couldn't find the link, but within the last year or so an intelligence report was put out warning against fake Canadian coins containing radio frequency (RF) transmitters for the purpose of espionage or surveillance. Well, it turns out those reports were grossly overstated. According to CNN.com, a special series of "poppy" quarters were released in 2004 by the Royal Canadian Mint to commemorate those lost to war. Apparently the DoD didn't get the memo.

What is perhaps most egregious here is the failure of the DoD to apply a mote of common sense, such as in applying Occam's Razor. According to the CNN.com article, the defense contractors who "discovered" these "suspicious" coins performed a very detailed analysis of the pieces. Unfortunately, they came to conclusions that were, well, rather far-fetched. Maybe they had been reading spy novels and let their imaginations run away with them. I just find it sad that the level of analysis described could occur with the end-result being issuance of a warning about spy coins that had no basis in the facts determined. Talk about a major disconnect between reality and imagination.

If you follow my blog at all, you know that I find this whole "global warming" and "save the planet" and "go green to stop bad things" movement to be quite ridiculous. If not, as a pointer, I've written about it here, here, and here.

So, the interesting news this week is two-fold. First, it seems they've underestimated the rate of melting in Arctic. Which means that, oops, we don't have quite as long until the end of the world as we know it (if you believe the media hype -- if you believe me, it's until the next major ice age starts).

Don't Get Down on America

Matt Frei at the BBC has an excellent diary post today pointing out the positives of America and providing us reasons not to despair so much, despite the Bush regime, Iraq, and so on. He does a good job of differentiating between the idiot leaders who drag us unwillingly into wars on false premises.

One great quote to get you started:

It is very easy to find Americans who disagree with its current direction. But you'll be hard pressed to come across those who regret its very existence in a fit of collective self-annihilation.

He's right in underscoring the significance of America in history and the world. While there is much to be annoyed about with the current leadership, and much cause for concern over the dumbing down of Americans, there is still cause to believe that the democracy will continue to survive.

My Other Pages

Support Me

Support EFF


Bloggers' Rights at EFF

Creative Commons License
This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by Movable Type 5.2.10