Monday, January 31, 2011

For fun...

Random charts

Source: Methods for Remote Determination of CO2 Emissions

From Twitter 01-30-2011

17:16:07: RT @NatGeoSociety: Ancient Treasures Looted, Destroyed in Egypt's Chaos - #Egypt #Jan25

17:21:01: RT @JohnFugelsang: OMG if America had known that Mubarak was this corrupt we'd have outsourced our torture to a totally different dictator.

17:25:02: RT @Reuters ElBaradei joins protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square Note the "joins" ElB a 'johnny-come-lately" here

18:14:58: CTBTO Tests Nuke Explosion Monitoring Technology (in the Negev)

20:49:29: Will protests in Albania (vs. Sali Berisha) go "Egyptian"?

21:46:32: A Bagdad, un lieu sacré des sikhs n'est plus qu'un souvenir

21:49:03: Ugh! Un violent fait divers expose le trafic de pétrole en Inde

21:50:47: Ha, ha! Pas tres efficace... La France a formé la police égyptienne de Moubarak

21:52:14: L’EG a demandé à la FR de lui faire part de son expérience en matière de gestion des foules et des grands événements

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

In the wild - III

In the wild - II - Jan 2nd, 2011
In the wild - Dec 28th, 2010

Ordered a pizza from Domino's and when it was delivered found it had a QR code printed on the box... Unfortunately a label had been applied partially over the code. Peeling it back left behind a code that turned out to be unreadable (trying five different programs - Barcode Assistant, ScanLife, QR Code Scanner Pro, i-Nigma, and mobiletag). So, not sure exactly what the QR code would have resolved to...

A number of wineries are now using QR codes to provide additional information about them and their wines, e.g. see below...

Random charts

Misc update (caste)

Previous entries related to caste:
Education emancipates? - Jun 26th, 2010
Misc update (caste) - Aug 29, 2009
Updates - #3 - Aug 25th, 2008
Frame of Reference - June 27th 2008
Caste - May 26th 2008

Previous blog entries decried the pernicious and corrosive practice that is casteism in India... The article, 'Caste, Hinduism, and Human Rights', references 'Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste' by the Hindu American Foundation and argues that caste-based discrimination is not an intrinsic feature of the Hindu religion...

"In "Hinduism: Not Cast in Caste," HAF acknowledges that while caste-based discrimination represents a failure of Hindu society to live up to the essential spiritual teachings of the tradition, the solution, in part, lies in the proper practice of these teachings (and on better enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws in India). It also recognizes that while caste arose in Hindu society, and that some Hindu texts and traditions justify a birth-based hierarchy and caste-bias, many Hindu scriptures and Hindu religious and spiritual figures, throughout history, have vehemently opposed caste-based discrimination and a birth-based hierarchy. And lastly, it explains that caste discrimination and caste-based violence affect all of India's religious communities and is today driven significantly by political and economic factors.

But the single most important point to take home from this pivotal report, I believe, is that even though caste-based discrimination may have arisen in Hindu society, it is not intrinsic to Hinduism. Contrary to the wide academic and media conflation of caste and Hinduism, the practice of caste-based discrimination is in direct contradiction to the quintessential Hindu teaching that each individual is equally divine and has the potential to realize God based on his or her own effort."

This may be entirely correct... However, given the multiple caveats in the report, this blogger is not entirely convinced, and this may be a distinction without much meaning...

From Twitter 01-29-2011

00:39:24: RT @daily_briefing: Also today: 2010 hospital mass layoffs were down 9.8% from 2009 |

01:09:19: RT @laki03 Muslims blamed for 'saffron terror' want justice Typical IN justice= "4+ yrs p/incident, trial yet to begin"

10:22:28: RT @HOSPITALSM_atts: Cleaning for a Reason

11:33:18: RT @anamariecox RT @jeffjarvis: Why do I find this bothersome? Davos participants dress up as refugees |Silliness!

11:56:48: World's first artificial hip for German tiger

11:58:05: No hydropower from Iraq's Mosul dam: official (water level too low)

12:00:28: Just proves ppl easy to manipulate: 'Is it hot in here? Or is the climate changing?'

12:16:21: Uprising in EG. Meanwhile, from an alternative universe: XXL Toys for the Super Rich: Yacht Building Business Booms

14:38:43: If Mubarak removed or not, protesters destined for a major "post-high" crash...

17:54:35: The Mechanic. OK, but none of the humor generally in Jason Statham movies...

18:17:04: ... and after the movie, a stop at P.F.Chang's...

19:30:29: Millions face water shortage in China

19:33:20: Goodbye Lenin? Russians consider burying former Soviet leader's corpse (finally)

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Misc update (climate)

Picture credit: NASA

Previous blog entries related to climate:
Climate denial - Jun 5th, 2010
More on climate - Jan 31st, 2010
Climate change and doubt - Jan 24th, 2010
Meet Dr. Rajendra Pachuri - Jan 23rd, 2010
We wuz wrong - Jan 23rd, 2010
Saving the day... - Dec 20th, 2009
Skimmed milk masquerades as cream - Dec 17, 2009

Earlier blog entries argued that shoddy reporting combined with the complexity of the science made it difficult, nay, make that quasi impossible, for an informed and discerning layperson to have an independent understanding of climate science. Also that occasional reporting of additional theories and or data sometimes seemingly at odds with the consensus position, can and do muddy the waters... One such example is the role of solar activity...

For example, from an earlier blog entry we had : "Another example would be from this finding, Sunshine speeded 1940s Swiss glacier melt: scientists, which seems to indicate that in this specific case solar radiation at one point might have been a better explanation for melting of the glaciers in the Alps than temperature... Note: this disagrees with the thrust of the consensus position that it is carbon dioxide levels (worsened by human activity) and the associated higher temperatures that are the main reason for the loss of glaciers rather than solar radiation (natural i.e. no human intervention)."

Now, an article, 'Cosmic rays contribute 40 p.c. to global warming: study', reports that a scientific paper released by the Indian Environment Ministry says that solar activity has a much larger effect than previously thought.... "A key belief of climate science theology — that a reduction in carbon emissions will take care of the bulk of global warming — has been questioned in a scientific paper released by the Environment Ministry on Monday. Physicist and the former ISRO chairman, U.R. Rao, has calculated that cosmic rays — which, unlike carbon emissions, cannot be controlled by human activity — have a much larger impact on climate change than The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims. In fact, the contribution of decreasing cosmic ray activity to climate change is almost 40 per cent, argues Dr. Rao in a paper which has been accepted for publication in Current Science, the preeminent Indian science journal. The IPCC model, on the other hand, says that the contribution of carbon emissions is over 90 per cent"

So, what is one to believe? Is the IPCC focus on greenhouse gasses greatly overstated? Or is this new study too "convenient" for the Indian government ("... the “unidimensional focus” on carbon emissions by most Western countries put additional pressure on countries like India in international climate negotiations ..." and "... If human activity cannot influence such a significant cause of climate change as cosmic rays, it could change the kind of pressure put on countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions ...")?

From Twitter 01-28-2011

13:17:40: RT @aheram: We must remember Egypt the next time an American politician suggests a "kill switch" for the internet.

13:21:59: Erekat says he wants ex-Brit spy, US journo, French national to appear before inquiry (into leak of Palestinain papers)

13:31:05: Too little justice in Lebanon

13:34:26: Post Istanbul (2): One step closer to a US war against Iran

13:42:01: RT @tamarabraham Photo of Pres discussing EG w/natsec team ¶ How come in most "briefing" photos, Pres is speaking?

16:20:17: Today the 25th anniversary of Challenger (space shuttle) accident

16:22:44: RT @declanm: Egyptian regime's political fixers: Podesta Associates (John Podesta, Obama transition chair, B. Clinton chief of staff)

16:22:49: RT @declanm: Egyptian regime's paid political fixers in DC: PLM Group (former Republican congressman Bob Livingston)

16:38:55: China Central Television news suspected to have stolen fighter jet scenes from Top Gun

16:42:19: Chilean judge has opened the first official investigation into the death of former President Salvador Allende

18:08:00: RT @big_picture Challenger remembered -

21:00:03: RT @themoornextdoor: RT @ysalahi: USA has spoken: Egyptians have fundamental human right to use Twitter & Mubarak has fundamental human right to be President.

21:01:08: Obama's know-nothings discuss Egypt

21:06:06: “As I said, we will be out of Afghanistan by the end of this year,” Obama said,

21:14:22: RT @BobBrigham: Why can't Egyptian protesters realize Obama is totally owning this game of 11 dimensional chess?

21:34:21: No doubt Mubarak deploying the "Après moi le déluge" defense...

21:47:45: PMW Bulletin: Abbas gives $2000 to family of terrorist killed this month trying to murder Israelis

21:48:55: Heh, priceless... Hizbullah Media Relations Condemns Attacks on Media, Calls for Pursuing Assailants

21:57:35: Clinton: "prescient" vs "undermine U.S. diplo tradition of human rights advocacy"? Closer to latter

22:20:29: RT @Ibishblog: Pres. Obama no doubt feels trapped by decades of US policy, contradiction here between our interests and values. May have to revise soon.

22:55:58: Big Time Dems Join GOPers In Support Of Iranian Terror Group (MEK = PMOI)

23:41:47: Medvedev signs New START ratification

23:43:01: Kenneth Feinberg: have received more than 7,000 potentially fraudulent claims (BP spill)

23:53:28: RT @NYUProf Is this for real? RT @CSGV 1,720 Americans have been shot/killed since Tucson | Yup, & 92x20=1,840 died in traffic accidents

23:54:37: Not saying any correlation, just both big numbers of fatalities...

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Active listening?

Hmm, in most of the pictures I've seen labeled as the President receiving briefings (e.g. see here, here, or here... including his daily briefings, economic briefings, etc.), the President is usually speaking while all the others are paying rapt attention...

To be fair, this is not always the case, occasionally we get a "briefing" picture in which the President is actually listening to someone else...

One wonders if this is just an artifact of the official photographers consciously or subconsciously wanting to portraying "the big guy" as being 'in charge' and 'leading'? Others, however, have accused the President of liking to listen to himself...

Look at Lebanon

My January 25th comment to the 'Day of Hypocrisy' article at Qifa Nabki | a Lebanese Political Blog... on the situation in Lebanon. Many thoughts and much commentary from those straining to read the tea leaves and prognosticate, generally a fool's errand when done with respect to the Lebanese!

"Your scenarios assume that HA (and M8) actually want a government in place… My thought is that after pulling the plug they ‘leaned’ on enough folks (Jumblatt) to deny M14 a majority and the ability to get their PM and govt. This means that M8 has a majority, and they put forward a PM candidate to prove it, but will NOT form a govt. They will spend the next several weeks and months talking a lot about a unity government, but making it as difficult for Hariri as possible, and counting on him to not go along with it. However, they will refrain from setting up a M8-only version.

Essentially, the name of the game *right now* is to temporize and buy time, pending the STL indictments being made public (and then seeing how it pans out). Rather than a M14 govt backing the STL, or a M8 govt against the STL (but not credible), best for them right now would be NO government. Clearly this is not tenable for the long haul, but HA is in a tough spot and buying time is the best they can do *right now*…

Who knows what will happen next? Possibly pressure builds to “resolve the crisis” as this ‘no government’ drags on and others try and “mediate” a compromise… Possibly someone slips up badly… Possibly…. Bottom line, who knows? However, they have shown that they are more ‘nimble’ than M14, so counting on that plus intervening circumstance!

P.S. Of course this could be nonsense, no one really knows. However, in this scenario Hariri is doing exactly what they want."

Some previous blog entries referencing Lebanon:

Random picture - Jan 25th, 2011
Random chart - Jan 20th, 2011
Great quotes - Dec 11th, 2010
Great quotes - Nov 27th, 2010
Coming to a head - Nov 27th, 2010
Great quotes - Oct 10th, 2010
Random charts - Sep 23rd, 2010
Random picture - Aug 4th, 2010
Great quotes - Jan 10th, 2010
Great quotes - Jul 29th, 2010
Such concern - Jul 24th, 2009
Lebanese elections II - Jun 9th, 2009
Lebanese elections - Jun 8th, 2009
Four years on... - February 16th, 2009
Quotes - Jan 21st, 2009
UNIIIC progress (?!) - December 18th, 2008
Great quotes... - December 10th, 2008
Damned if you do... - November 18th, 2008
Lebanon - good grief - November 11th, 2008
Taking it back - October 28th, 2008
Profile - Oct 20th, 2008
Litmus test quiz - September 2nd, 2008
Everything takes more time... - August 12th, 2008
At Last (Lebanon)! - July 11th, 2008
Self-examination - profound & shallow - July 7th, 2008
Some poll indicators - June 21st, 2008
Make that President Sleiman - May 25th, 2008
Le Sursis - May 21st, 2008
Lebanon - Doha noise - May 20th, 2008
Bad omen... good omen... - May 11th, 2008
Needed in Lebanon III - May 6th, 2008
Headed back down the toilet? - May 6th, 2008
Needed in Lebanon II - May 2nd, 2008
Needed in Lebanon - April 16th, 2008
Misc updates #3 - April 4th, 2008
Rogue's Gallery II - March 26th, 2008
A Rogue's Gallery - March 2nd, 2008
Benazir Bhutto follow-up... - Feb 9th, 2008

From Twitter 01-27-2011

00:00:22: 'Facebook Photoshop' by the Lebanese Forces & Phalangists ...

07:27:17: RT @maafa: alanauthor: 'Demolition of Palestinian homes in West Bank's Area C tripled in 2010'

12:17:35: RT @publici Internal emails suggest doctoring of oil spill info by WH to suit PR agenda: (via @POGOblog) no smoking gun

14:18:33: RT @2FP: "The arms race is a thing of the past. The disarmament race is taking its place" | That's a hell of a leap

20:27:13: Flying north (and home), dusk

22:32:33: RT @maxstrasser Tear gas used on Egypt protestors made in the USA (via @AngryArabNews) And they say we have no manuf

22:50:31: Eh? WTH? Sleeper Cells in the USA

23:15:45: Is reading...

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Random chart

Source: When Yellowstone Explodes (NatGeo)

Three years!

Three years ago this blogger started this blog and posted a January 27th, 2008 entry related to the death of Benazir Bhutto... After three years what can one say? Traffic hasn't been that great, just a handful of visitors each day, not many of them 'repeats.' No doubt there are not that many folks who are particularly interested in this specific mix of blog entries - politics, security, gadgets, health care, etc. However, it is fun to note that in this interconnected age, there have been visits from most continents... Hopefully those who have visited have felt it was worth their while...

From Twitter 01-26-2011

00:06:07: U.S. Military Police Internment/Resettlement Operations Manual - Field Manual (FM) 3-19.40

09:39:28: Off to MKE...

09:49:45: RT @ACLU: Why does Obama admin want to expand NSL statute to allow FBI to get even more electronic records w/o court order?

09:50:43: RT @wdunlop87: #Saudi Arabia, a key backer of outgoing Lebanese PM #Hariri, warns against travel to #Lebanon until "stability" returns

09:54:56: STL "expected to find members of Hezbollah guilty of the assassination" No trial necessary? ;)

19:42:03: RT @nalshaikh: From 1976 to 2006, Saudi foreign aid amounted to US$49 billion - 2nd only to the US. Yet Jeddah remains without a decent ...

19:46:27: RT @bungdan: pj crowley just called egypt a "pillar of stability in the middle east" on AJE. Oh dear. | Ass

19:49:02: What is going on in Albania?

19:50:26: Silly: Russian TV report links bombing to U.S. video game

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Random charts

Source: The President’s State of the Union Address: Tradition, Function, and Policy Implications

Random picture

Source: AJE web site

Random picture

Source: Detroitism

From Twitter 01-25-2011

07:17:44: Why should a President's approval ratings (presumably based on his record) move based on a speech (Tucson, SOTU), no matter how good?

07:38:35: Android 'smartphone satellite' aims for space

07:40:40: Study: Americans sitting on $30 billion in unused gift cards

14:52:22: RT @MideastChannel: re: #SOTU, Obama is guaranteed to say "middle class" more times than "middle east"....

15:09:15: Insurers are scouring social media for evidence of fraud

18:14:30: RT @pourmecoffee: Preparations for SOTU beginning now in House chamber with the placing of Oprah's gift under seats.

18:19:10: RT @MideastChannel What's Mubarak's threshold for unleashing IR-style violence? Could Tahrir Sq be next Tianaman? ¶ That would be CN-style!

20:55:11: .@1913Intel You out of your mind? Re "I view this episode as another reason to prepare for war with China" This episode??

22:17:50: RT @thegarance: RT @theUSpresident #SOTU: The theme of tonight's State of the Union address is "Winning the Future," or WTF. (via @votol ...

22:50:34: Contractor misconduct database to be open to public (after 04/15)

22:51:19: RT @TPCarney: Democrats can pretend the 1099 atrocity is an accident, but it was intentional, and part of what made the bill budget "pos ...

23:09:24: RT @JimmySky: Anybody else have the impression there are about 200 congressmen looking up where Tunisia is right now?

23:15:39: The Problems with the 'Gorgon Stare' Surveillance System (by the estimable Winslow T. Wheeler)

23:18:05: Curious how 'estimable' and 'inestimable' both very positive when applied to a person...

23:22:10: The President’s State of the Union Address: Tradition, Function, and Policy Implications (17-pg CRS PDF)

23:22:29: RT @AfghanistanDocu: NOT WORTH IT: While President Obama was speaking tonight, the U.S. spent another $13,764,244 on the Afghanistan War ...

23:24:13: Indeed: RT @mikeythecat US economy is 3x that of China's #SOTU

23:25:27: RT @AfghanistanDocu NOT WORTH IT: While Pres Obama was speaking, U.S. spent another $13,764,244 on Afghanistan War

23:59:56: Nasrallah: "Let us be killed by gunshots pointed at our chest, not our backs"

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hu... huh?

President Hu Jintao of China made an official state visit to the U.S. recently. He was welcomed to the White House, and later took part in an official state dinner. Remembering that the Chinese felt that they had been snubbed on their last visit when President Bush had eschewed an official state dinner, President Obama was at pains to make this a memorable occasion.

"... Michelle and Barack Obama welcomed a mix of Hollywood A-listers, big business types and prominent Chinese-Americans to the White House as they threw a "quintessentially American" state dinner Wednesday for the president of China, complete with apple pie and ice cream, and jazz music for the entertainment.... The dinner's all-star jazz lineup included trumpeter Chris Botti, two-time Grammy Award-winning vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, jazz icon Herbie Hancock, rising pianist Lang Lang and four-time Grammy-winning vocalist Dianne Reeves...." (see here).

Well, one of the pieces pianist Lang Lang played was a song called 'My Motherland.' Although he subsequently insisted that he chose the piece uniquely because it was a beautiful piece, it turned out that the song "... was written for a Chinese movie about the Korean War from 1956..." and that the movie (the Battle on Shangganling Mountain) "... portrays the war as a triumph over U.S. imperialism and has been used as anti-American propaganda..."

Seeing this, Chinese bloggers went crazy and engaged is some juvenile triumphalism. This then was noticed by U.S. bloggers who went crazy themselves, complaining that this was a slap in the U.S.' face,;that the Commies and Hu had deliberately insulted President Obama and the U.S.; etc. (see below for some sample links). A frenzy ensued, and one even went so far as to say: "I view this episode as another reason to prepare for war with China. It’s coming within a few years."


OK, so even if you stipulate that the song is virulently anti-American, how exactly are the Chinese and Hu responsible for this, and how have they crossed the line? After all, this was a U.S. state dinner, provided by and meticulously choreographed by us (the U.S.) and not the Chinese guests! At the very worst, they might have been informed of the entire program in advance, and not said anything. And yet, apparently something that is so beyond the pale that it is "another reason to prepare for war with China."

Well, the NYT apparently was prescient (see Diplomatic Dangers Lurk in the State Dinner)!

My Motherland

A great river flows,its waves are wide and calm
The wind blows through the rice flowers,bearing fragrance to either shore
My home is right there by the water
I am used to hearing the punters' whistle
and seeing the white sails on the boats

This is my beautiful motherland
The place where I grew up
In this expansive stretch of land
Wonderful landscape can be seen everywhere

Young ladies's beauty are like flowers

Young men's hearts are big and determined

In order to usher in a new era

They've woken the sleeping mountains

And changed the face of the river

This is my heroic motherland

The place where I grew up

In this stretch of ancient land
There is youthful vigour found everywhere

Great mountains,great rivers and an amazing land

Every road is broad and wide

When the friends come,fine drink is offered

But if the wolves come
What greets them are the hunting rifles

This is my strong motherland
The place where I grew up
On this stretch of warm and friendly land

The sunshine of peace is everywhere

A musical insult
A Song and an Obscenity
Chinese Communists Deliberately Insult President Obama
Did Pianist Lang Lang Intend To Snub The U.S.?
Chinese Pianist Plays Propaganda Tune at White House (Video)
Subhead: US humiliated in eyes of Chinese by song used to inspire anti-Americanism
Chinese Pianist Lang Lang Pleads Innocence; Hu Jintao Silent
A Jazzy State Dinner For Chinese President Hu Jintao
Photos: Obama's State Dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao
Before White House state dinner, Obama presses Hu on rights (VIDEO)

Random picture

Source: Don’t hate Jumblatt, hate the game

BB & 1-D Sccope

Sccope is a "personal shopping assistant" program...

From the BB AppWorld: "Sccope is the BEST shopping application on the BlackBerry®! It provides a wealth of features including browsing by category, searching by barcode (where available) or by using your keypad! You can set a price alert so when the price drops on that product you get a notification which means you can make a decision whether you want to buy – how cool? Make the best purchase decisions by comparing prices while you are shopping online or in the store. Our users are consistently AMAZED at the price differences between major stores."

I downloaded the program to a Torch (BB9800), and tried it out. The screen shots below show the results when scanning a variety of items - a book, music CD, some consumer products (wine, peanut butter), and an electronic item (Note: this blog entry does not look at the other capabilities e.g. shopping by category, price alerts, etc.)

The bottom line? An excellent program, that might just save you some money on items you are buying!

Sccope on
Sccope Blog
Sccope Company Site
Sccope on Twitter
Sccope on Facebook
Sccope demo on YouTube
Sccope also available for your iPhone

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