David Kirkpatrick

March 31, 2008

An arguement for impeachment from the right

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:13 pm

Sure it’s easy to cruise around the blogoshpere and find calls for the impeachment of both Bush and Cheney on all manner of sites on the left. It’s not so often to come across a long and reasoned call for Bush’s impeachment from the right

At Taki’s Magazine Kevin R. C. Gutzman does just that basing the impeachment arguement on “taking back the Constitution.” The last straw for Gutzman is the Bush 43 regime stance on torture.

From the link:

On Saturday, March 8, 2008, President George W. Bush vetoed a congressional bill that would have explicitly banned interrogation techniques like waterboarding. In doing so, Bush cemented his worthiness of impeachment.

The impeachment power allows Congress to keep the other two branches from grasping at powers that the Constitution gives to the Legislative Branch. Congress is described in Article I of the Constitution, and its structure was the chief issue in the Philadelphia Convention. Why? Because in a republic, it is to be the most important branch.

People commonly repeat the idea today that the federal government features three equal branches. This is an error. Congress is to be the most important branch. The Founders generally feared the power of the executive and assigned the traditional royal powers in foreign policy to Congress instead of the president. The courts were to be even weaker, the “least dangerous” branch.

Yet, over time, the three have come to be more equal. This is the result of Congress’s supine attitude toward the other branches’ overreaching. When federal courts legislate, Congress does nothing. When presidents and their subordinates—generals, cabinet officials, and others—ignore statutory law, refuse to comply with congressional demands for information, or flat-out lie to Congress, Congress does nothing.

Each instance of the other branches’ grabbing at congressional power is later cited by that branch as a precedent justifying additional arrogations. Over time, the sum of these usurpations has been to reduce Congress’s stature within the federal government, and to make the federal government more unaccountable.

Clinton’s Bosnian flap goes on

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:10 pm

Clinton’s “misstatement” about coming under sniper fire in Bosnia was a pretty stupid statement. She’s been rightly pilloried by the YouTube parodies and the MSM, but now it’s just a pile on. Even the little girl who she protected from sniper fire read poetry to her is in on the act

From the Daily Kos link:

First it was the 3am little girl, now grown, speaking out for Barack Obama.  Now it’s the little girl in the Bosnia video!

“It is an ugly thing for a politician to tell lies,’ she said. “We had problems for years, and I don’t like when someone lies about them. It makes us look bad.”

Story at the NY Post.

Tiny projectors and space elevators

From KurzweilAI.net today — tiny digital projectors for cell phones and other portable media devices, and outlining a potential problem with the space elevator concept.

Coming Soon, to Any Flat Surface Near You
New York Times, Mar. 30, 2008Tiny digital projectors for cellphones and portable media players are in the works, able to project video on any smooth surface.

The microprojectors, still in prototype, use light-emitting diodes, lasers or a combination of the two to cast a display of up to 50 or 60 inches, or perhaps even wider, in darkened spaces and 7 to 20 inches or so when there is ambient light.

Later, the projector modules will be directly embedded in cellphones and other devices.
Read Original Article>>

Space elevators face wobble problem
New Scientist news service, Mar. 28, 2008A Czech Academy of Sciences study suggests that building and maintaining a space elevator would be an bigger challenge than previously thought, because it would need to include built-in thrusters to stabilize itself against dangerous vibrations.
Read Original Article>>

Obama’s lead is up to 10 points

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:07 am

The gap widens

And according to this Wall Street Journal article, leading Democrats are beginning to line up behind Obama to further pressure Clinton to end her quixotic quest. Upcoming endorsements expected for Obama include Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and all seven of North Carolina’s House members before that election.

(Update on North Carolina: Maybe not on that group endorsement.)

From the first link:

PRINCETON, NJ — Barack Obama has extended his lead over Hillary Clinton among Democrats nationally to 52% to 42%, the third consecutive Gallup Poll Daily trackingreport in which he has held a statistically significant lead, and Obama’s largest lead of the year so far.

New FASB rule on derivatives

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:31 am

Little heard about before recently, and still pretty arcane, derivatives reporting must now meet a Financial Accounting Standards Board disclosure rule.

From the CFO.com link:

Under the new rule, issuers must disclose the fair values of derivatives they use, as well as their gains and losses from the instruments, in tables accompanying their financial statements. Perhaps with a nod to the current credit crunch — FASB was in the last stages of hatching the standard as the subprime crisis deepened — the standard requires companies to reveal features of their derivatives that are related to credit risk.

To be sure, the standard changes nothing about the accounting for derivatives. But it does make the often-cloudy reporting of them much more transparent to the users of financial statements, Mulford thinks. “With these tables, derivatives can’t be hidden from view in a way they were on, say, Enron’s balance sheet and income statement,” he told CFO.com. “Investors will be better able to assess the contribution of derivatives to earnings and financial risk, and in the process, they’ll be better able to judge earnings sustainability.”

The new standard requires employers to reveal where they put the results of their derivatives investments on their financial statements and spell out how much they are; how derivatives are accounted for; and how derivatives affect their balance sheet, income statement, and future cash flows. (While 161 requires companies to disclose where they report derivatives’ effects on their income statements and balance sheets, it doesn’t require such reporting in cash-flow statements. FASB plans to address disclosures of derivatives’ location on cash-flow statements in the context of its ongoing project on financial-statement presentation.)

March 30, 2008

Clinton thinks she’s playing basketball

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:18 pm

The teaser on this NYT story was something along the lines of, “Game’s not over, Clinton supporters agree.”

I guess they’re leaving out the fact it’s quite late in the fourth, she’s down by double-digits, has no fouls to give and worse, is in serious foul trouble herself. So yes, it’s not “over.” But she’s losing the game barring some magic officiating.

Hey, maybe Clinton knows she’s paid the refs off for this game and is still waiting for the bribe to go into effect …

From the link:

In the height of basketball season, here in the heart of basketball country, it was perhaps inevitable that the state of the Democratic presidential race would be boiled down in championship terminology.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York stood in center court, with basketball hoops on all sides, as she offered up a sporting metaphor.

“You know, we are in the fourth quarter and it is a close contest. We are running up and down. We are taking shots,” Mrs. Clinton said, speaking over a crescendo of applause. “And in the next months, we’re going to have 10 more contests, from Indiana to Pennsylvania — all the way to Puerto Rico! Millions of people will have a chance to have their voices heard and their votes counted.”

The point? This game is not over.

March 29, 2008

Sully, Bush and war crimes

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:14 pm

Andrew Sullivan opines about the Bush 43 regime and war crimes. What has occurred under the auspices of the US government over the last six and half years is a national tragedy. I’ve written many times on my stance about our execution of the “war on terror.” 

Anyone hoping for war crime charges against any administration official ought not hold their breath. Of course some of these officials may find their travel options a bit limited as more evidence comes to light.

From the Daily Dish link (in first graf, first sentence):

I posted about Philip Gourevitch’s and Erroll Morris’s superb and disturbing recent piece on Abu Ghraib here. What it shows once again is how Abu Ghraib was never, ever an exception. It was permitted, enabled, authorized and pre-meditated by Bush, Cheney, Yoo, Rumsfeld, Miller, and Addington, among many others. The techniques testified to correspond with chilling accuracy to techniques authorized by the president, for which we now have overwhelming evidence. Scott Horton reminds us what exactly some of the techniques were:

Will carbon nanotubes replace copper wiring?

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:09 pm

I received email yesterday on a nanotech development. Nanocomp Technologies has been given an Air Force contract to develop electrically conductive wire and other materials from carbon nanotubes.

The major aspect of this contract is an effort to replace copper wiring and its attendant limitations — weighty, physically breaks down, etc. If Nanocomp Technologies is successful the entire aerospace industry will be one of the first beneficiaries of this development.

The release:

Nanocomp Technologies Awarded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
Contract from United States Air Force

Project to Assess Carbon Nanotube Wiring for Improved Electrical Power
Generation and Alternatives to Traditional Copper Applications

CONCORD, N.H.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nanocomp Technologies, Inc.
(www.nanocomptech.com), a developer of energy-saving performance
materials and component products, today announced it has been awarded a
Phase One contract by the United States Air Force under the Department
of Defense’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The
intent of this SBIR project is to develop a new generation of very
lightweight, electrically conductive wires, cables and materials made
from carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Under Phase One, Nanocomp Technologies
will expand upon its current processing and manufacturing methods for
producing CNT sheets and spun conductors, composed of long-length CNTs,
to surpass established electrical performance standards required by
aerospace to replace traditional copper wiring.

Copper wiring is used in electronic harnesses because of its proven
history and excellent electrical conductivity. However, in modern
aerospace systems, wiring deficiencies are becoming more apparent as
functional demands increase. For example, today’s large satellites
weighing 15 tons or more derive one-third of their weight from copper
wiring harnesses. Similarly in commercial aircraft, a Boeing 747 uses as
much as 135 miles of copper wire and weighs more than 4000 lbs. Copper
wires also oxidize and corrode, are susceptible to vibration fatigue and
create premature electronics failures due to overheating conditions.

Nanocomp Technologies’ carbon nanotubes are already distinguished by
their long length-up to one millimeter. As a result, the company’s
products are significantly more conductive in end applications as
compared to short, powder-like nanotubes appearing in today’s market.
In early 2008, Nanocomp began producing large CNT sheets that not only
demonstrate value for a number of aerospace and electronics
applications, but also will integrate directly into existing
manufacturing processes in those industries.

“We are thrilled to have received this important program award from
the USAF,” said Peter Antoinette, president and CEO of Nanocomp
Technologies. “It is generally overlooked that modern satellites and
aircraft rely upon an invention from the 1800s – copper-based electrical
wires and cables. Our work can result in a true 21st century change in
the game, creating electrically optimized carbon nanotube wires and
cables, comparable to copper in terms of electrical conductivity but up
to 80 percent lighter and more robust. The result will be increased
mission capability for the Air Force and dramatic fuel savings for the
entire aerospace industry. The project demonstrates the U.S.
government’s commitment to enabling innovations in materials
science, and speaks to their confidence in our cutting edge efforts to
develop performance products that save energy.”

The SBIR program is funded by 12 federal agencies from their Research
and Development budgets. It is designed to simultaneously stimulate
technological innovation among private sector small businesses such as
Nanocomp Technologies and increase the commercialization of new
technology through federal R&D.

About Nanocomp Technologies, Inc.

Nanocomp Technologies, Inc. was formed in 2004 to leverage its
proprietary and fundamental advancements in the production of long
carbon nanotubes as well as a unique ability to fabricate them into
physically strong, lightweight and electro-thermally conductive yarns
and nonwoven sheets. The company’s objective is to develop products
with revolutionary performance benefits that would create a new
generation of advanced structural materials and electro-thermal devices.
It has 16 patents pending. The company is headquartered in Concord, N.H.
For additional information, please visit http://www.nanocomptech.com/.

Nanocomp and the Nanocomp logo are trademarks of Nanocomp Technologies,
Inc. All other marks are trademarks or registered trademarks of their
respective holders.

*************************

Saturday video fun — Barry and Lavon from “The State”

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:09 am

Barry, Lavon and $240 worth of pudding. Ahhhh yeah!

Hit this Amazon link for The State: The Complete Series.

March 28, 2008

Nano, solar and other KurzweilAI.net news

Different format today for the KurzweilAI.net newsletter highlights. There is so much good stuff I’m dropping bits directly from the newsletter. Today features solar, stretchy silicon, quantum computing news, self assembly, electricity producing nanotubes, and a possible successor to silicon — graphene.

Do follow the links.

From the newsletter:

*************************
More-Powerful Solar Cells
Technology Review Mar. 27, 2008
*************************
An MIT researcher has found a way
to improve the efficiency of
multicrystalline silicon solar cells
by 27 percent without raising costs,
making them as efficient as the more
expensive single-crystal cells. The
first cells incorporating the new
technology are predicted to cost
$1.65 per watt, compared to $2.10
per watt today….
http://www.kurzweilai.net/email/newsRedirect.html?newsID=8278&m=39667

*************************
Stretchy circuits promise elastic
gadgets
NewScientist.com news service Mar. 27, 2008
*************************
University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign researchers have
made stretchable and flexible
silicon and plastic integrated
circuits that are just one
crystal–1.5 microns–thick. The
circuits are designed so that the
plastic, not the silicon, absorbs
most of the stress when the chips
are bent. Until now, integrated
circuits have been limited by…
http://www.kurzweilai.net/email/newsRedirect.html?newsID=8277&m=39667

*************************
Silicon chips for optical quantum
technologies
KurzweilAI.net Mar. 28, 2008
*************************
Bristol University researchers have
demonstrated the world’s smallest
optical controlled NOT gate–the
building block of a quantum
computer–fabricated from silica
wave-guides on a silicon chip. The
team generated pairs of photons,
each encoding a quantum bit or qubit
of information. They coupled these
photons into and out of the…
http://www.kurzweilai.net/email/newsRedirect.html?newsID=8276&m=39667

*************************
Nanomaterial turns radiation
directly into electricity
NewScientist.com news service Mar. 27, 2008
*************************
Two researchers–a former Los
Alamos National Laboratory engineer
and an Alabama A&M University
researcher–have developed highly
efficient nanotube-based tile
materials that can convert
radiation, not heat, from nuclear
materials into electricity. The
tiles are made of carbon nanotubes
packed with gold and surrounded by
lithium hydride….
http://www.kurzweilai.net/email/newsRedirect.html?newsID=8275&m=39667

*************************
Self-Assembled Materials Form Mini
Stem Cell Lab
KurzweilAI.net Mar. 28, 2008
*************************
Northwestern University researchers
have built self-assembling thin-film
sacs able to hold human stem cells
for four weeks in culture, keeping
the cells separated while allowing
proteins to cross the membrane. This
new mode of self-assembly from a mix
of peptide amphiphiles and
biopolymers also can produce thin
films whose size and shape can be…
http://www.kurzweilai.net/email/newsRedirect.html?newsID=8273&m=39667

*************************
Is Graphene the New Silicon?
KurzweilAI.net Mar. 28, 2008
*************************
University of Maryland physicists
have found that graphene conducts
electricity at room temperature with
less intrinsic resistance than any
other known material. Graphene, a
new material that combines aspects
of semiconductors and metals, is one
of the materials being considered as
a potential replacement for silicon
for future computing. The…
http://www.kurzweilai.net/email/newsRedirect.html?newsID=8271&m=39667

Bob Casey endorses Obama

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:09 pm

Bob Casey, a senator from Pennsylvania, has endorsed Obama. Clinton is expected to win Pennsylvania by a very wide (read — around 20%) margin, and her beyond slim hopes rest on that outcome.

If Obama keeps that victory within single digits she’s done. If he were to win Penn, she would pretty much have to drop out of the race. At this point I’m not sure she’d do it, but either scenario is ballgame for Obama. Clinton’s Bosnia “misstatement” has caused her much more damage than it seemed at first blush.

In related news, the kitchen sink/toilet bowl strategy is not working in the least. According to Gallup’s national poll, on March 23 they were basically in a statistical dead heat at around 47%. Obama’s been steadily trending upwards since then and leads 50-42 in the latest poll. (Hit this link for a Daily Dish post and the rolling poll.)

From the first link:

In a surprise move, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania has endorsed Senator Barack Obama in advance of the April 22 Democratic primary. Mr. Casey had said he would remain neutral in the race in part because he wanted to help broker a reconciliation between Mr. Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton afterward.

“I believe in my heart that there is one person who’s uniquely qualified to lead us in that new direction and that is Barack Obama.” Mr. Casey said during a rally in Pittsburgh Friday.

“I really believe that in a time of danger around the world and in division here at home, Barack Obama can lead us, he can heal us, he can help rebuild America,” he said.

Mr. Casey is going against the grain in his state, where polls show Mrs. Clinton ahead by at least 12 percentage points and where she has the endorsement of most of the state’s major Democratic figures.

Pipe smoking, an appreciation

Filed under: et.al. — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:19 am

For all you pipe smokers out there, here’s a cool article from the American Spectator written by Lawrence Henry.

From the link:

I bought my first pipe when I was 16, in a downtown tobacco shop in Minneapolis, the kind of store that almost does not exist any more. A kindly old fellow with gray hair combed straight back on his head helped me select a flat-bowled shape called an apple, relatively small, in a light straight-grained briar.

“It looks good with your face,” he said. He did not patronize me or treat my shopping in his store as anything but a serious and enjoyable encounter.

I do not have that pipe any more, but I have another very much like it that I have owned for about 30 years. In 1988, I took my own picture with that pipe in my mouth. I wore a button-down shirt from Land’s End, my tie was pulled half loose over an unbuttoned collar, and my arms were braced on my knees: Tough reporter on the job.

I used it at the head of more than one column over the years.

Clinton supporters threaten Pelosi

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:53 am

I agree with Matt Yglesias here:

I have to say that I doubt threatening Nancy Pelosi to take their toys and go home if she doesn’t urge superdelegates to do what they want is really the smartest way for Hillary Clinton supporters to try to win this election. It sort of re-enforces the case that the Clintons and their close allies are selfish people willing and ready to destroy the party in order to maintain control over it.

Update: Another take on the same topic, this time from Noam Scheiber at the New Republic blog, “The Plank.”

From the link:

Via Avi Zenilman, the crew over at First Read makes a great point about that heavy-handed letter from Hillary’s rich donors to Nancy Pelosi:

Shakedown: Why didn’t the Clinton campaign get superdelegates to sign on to that letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi rather than donors? Doesn’t this letter coming only from major donors make it look like a threat or a shakedown? Wouldn’t this letter coming from fellow superdelegates have had more impact? One Dem operative who doesn’t have a horse in this fight reminds us: “Members of Congress — who are superdelegates — make up the DCCC. Threatening the DCCC is essentially threatening the very superdelegates HRC’s trying to court. The HRC donor letter will just push undeclared superdelegates in Congress leaning toward Obama to endorse him sooner. It also reinforces the notion that the Clintons will destroy the party to win the WH. I just don’t get it.”

I don’t get it either. The obvious answer is that Hillary couldn’t find any superdelegates to sign on to such a letter. But maybe the campaign had something in mind that we’re just not seeing.

March 27, 2008

Finance exec predicts long and deep recession

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:22 pm

More bad omens for the US economy.

Jerry York, a man with strong finance credentials in the business world, is predicting a “very ugly recession.” He adds it will be lengthy and deep. In a speech he specifically mentions the derivatives market, the problems private equity firms are enduring because of lack of leverage, and says more bank failures are not, “off the chart at all, especially for smaller banks.”

From the CFO.com link:

Speaking at the CFO Rising conference in Orlando, former IBM and Chrysler Corp. finance chief Jerry York predicted a lengthy and deep recession for the American economy.

Addressing the topic of what boards are demanding from CFOs, York said if he had only five minutes to give his speech, he would tell finance chiefs that: “CEOs and boards are just going to expect you to get these companies through the mess,” emphasizing that, “I think this is going to be a very ugly recession, I think it is going to be lengthy, I think it is going to be deep.”

York, who is currently CEO of Harwinton Capital, a private equity firm he founded in 2000, is also a corporate director at Tyco International and Apple Inc. During the conference, which has run annually for the last 15 years, York told CFO.com: “It’s going to be a very bad recession, perhaps the worst I’ve seen in the 46 years I’ve been working.”

He described a “perfect storm” of economic calamity, including rising energy prices, rising commodity prices, credit markets in turmoil, credit losses in which “no one knows where the bottom is,” and a housing market in crisis. “We have too many sectors going south all at once, he told the website. What’s more, York can’t find a silver lining: “I frankly don’t see many positive signs right now, we are looking at a really nasty economic situation.”

Atomic property of carbon nanotubes affects quantum computing

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:10 pm

Electrons in carbon nanotubes have intertwined spins and orbits and this information has an effect on quantum computing.

From KurzweilAI.net:

Electron spin and orbits in carbon nanotubes are coupled
PhysOrg.com, Mar. 26, 2008Cornell physicists have found that the spin of an electron in a carbonnanotube is coupled — that is, interacts with — the electron‘s orbit.

The finding means researchers will have to change the way they read out or change spin in using nanotubes in quantum computing, but offers a new way to manipulate the spin, by manipulating the orbit.

Until now, physicists believed that the four possible states of an electron in a carbonnanotube–spin up or down, and orbit clockwise or counterclockwise–must be equivalent.
Read Original Article>>

Pre-Edison sound recording found

A recording of “Au Clair de la Lune” dating back to 1860 has been found. This recording predates Thomas Edison’s earliest recordings by an (even after the edit, still) astounding 28 17 years.

Meet the father of recorded sound, Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville.

From the link:

For more than a century, since he captured the spoken words “Mary had a little lamb” on a sheet of tinfoil, Thomas Edison has been considered the father of recorded sound. But researchers say they have unearthed a recording of the human voice, made by a little-known Frenchman, that predates Edison’s invention of the phonograph by nearly two decades.

Isabelle Trocheris

The audio historian David Giovannoni with a recently discovered phonautogram that is among the earliest sound recordings.

Audio: 1860 recording: mm.DI = true; mm.LI = false; mm.AH = “The Phonautograph Recording from 1860 of ‘Au Clair de la Lune'”; mm.AS = “”; mm.AD = “10”; mm.AU = “http://graphics8.nytimes.com/audiosrc/arts/1860v2.mp3”; mm.IU = “”; writePlayer();

 The Phonautograph Recording from 1860 of ‘Au Clair de la Lune’ (mp3)

var so = new SWFObject(“http://www.nytimes.com/packages/flash/multimedia/swfs/multiloader.swf”, “p97536”, “100%”, “25”, “8”, “#FFFFFF”); so.addVariable(“mp3″,”http://graphics8.nytimes.com/audiosrc/arts/1860v2.mp3”) so.addVariable(“duration”,”10″) so.addVariable(“contentPath”,”http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/flash/multimedia/INLINE_PLAYER/NYTInline.swf”) so.addParam(“allowScriptAccess”, “always”); so.write(“p97536”);1931: mm.DI = true; mm.LI = false; mm.AH = “An Audio Excerpt from a 1931 Recording of the Same Song”; mm.AS = “”; mm.AD = “26”; mm.AU = “http://graphics8.nytimes.com/audiosrc/arts/1931.mp3”; mm.IU = “”; writePlayer();

 An Audio Excerpt from a 1931 Recording of the Same Song (mp3)

var so = new SWFObject(“http://www.nytimes.com/packages/flash/multimedia/swfs/multiloader.swf”, “p242125”, “100%”, “25”, “8”, “#FFFFFF”); so.addVariable(“mp3″,”http://graphics8.nytimes.com/audiosrc/arts/1931.mp3”) so.addVariable(“duration”,”26″) so.addVariable(“contentPath”,”http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/flash/multimedia/INLINE_PLAYER/NYTInline.swf”) so.addParam(“allowScriptAccess”, “always”); so.write(“p242125”);

The 19th-century phonautograph, which captured sounds visually but did not play them back, has yielded a discovery with help from modern technology.

The 10-second recording of a singer crooning the folk song “Au Clair de la Lune” was discovered earlier this month in an archive in Paris by a group of American audio historians. It was made, the researchers say, on April 9, 1860, on a phonautograph, a machine designed to record sounds visually, not to play them back. But the phonautograph recording, or phonautogram, was made playable — converted from squiggles on paper to sound — by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif.

“This is a historic find, the earliest known recording of sound,” said Samuel Brylawski, the former head of the recorded-sound division of the Library of Congress, who is not affiliated with the research group but who was familiar with its findings. The audio excavation could give a new primacy to the phonautograph, once considered a curio, and its inventor, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, a Parisian typesetter and tinkerer who went to his grave convinced that credit for his breakthroughs had been improperly bestowed on Edison.

Scott’s device had a barrel-shaped horn attached to a stylus, which etched sound waves onto sheets of paper blackened by smoke from an oil lamp. The recordings were not intended for listening; the idea of audio playback had not been conceived. Rather, Scott sought to create a paper record of human speech that could later be deciphered.

March 26, 2008

Wednesday video fun — Saudi car “skating”

Filed under: et.al., Media — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:52 pm

Can’t remember where I first saw this clip linked, but it’s been a while. And totally worth a reprise …

Those crazy Saudis!

Silicon photonics tech

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:35 am

From KurzweilAI.net:

Replacing Wire With Laser, Sun Tries to Speed Up Data
New York Times, Mar. 24, 2008Sun Microsystems is planning to announce that is has received a $44 million contract from the Pentagon to explore the high-risk idea of replacing the wires between computer chips with laser beams.The “silicon photonics” technology would eradicate the most daunting bottleneck facing today’s supercomputer designers: moving information rapidly to solve problems that require hundreds or thousands of processors.
Read Original Article>>

March 25, 2008

Clinton and time travel

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:13 pm

(I’ve been reading some classic science fiction from the 40s and 50s, so I’m blaming my time travel trope on that. Now, here’s a bit of sci fi political satire.)

September 2008 — International courts are looking into the pall that’s befallen the entire planet. Many blamed Hillary Clinton for the bleakness after winning the Democratic Party nomination. Little did they know just correct that idea has turned out to be. Clinton has been using a time machine during this entire primary season.

The problem began manifesting itself very subtly, but once certain authorities learned the source things became more clear. As is turns out, no one ever really used the machine with any amount of regularity — certainly no where near as often as Clinton did to squeeze extra campaign time into her schedule.

The problem is heavy use of the machine creates multiples time paradoxes in our current time thread. These paradoxes have the effect of producing great amounts of uncertainty which lead in a straight line to extreme doubt, and then progresses to crippling fear. Inadvertently, Clinton destroyed Obama’s message of change and hope with the time machine paradox artifacts of doubt and fear. Once the pall became heavy enough, Obama himself barely had the energy to keep fighting and the superdelegates lost the will to save the Democratic Party from what is now seen as a colossal mistake.

The major problem for both the party, and the candidate, is Hillary was told of the device by her husband when he was president. She never attained the security clearance necessary for this knowledge, but presidential wives have always been given some leeway. Bill’s mistake was providing Hillary with location and access codes of the time machine. This knowledge proved to be irresistible as her campaign cratered before a stronger candidate in Obama.

Now Clinton is the Democratic Party nominee, Obama is probably out of politics forever after the experience and international courts are considering drastic actions against Clinton.

It seems her actions have opened multiple threads in our time stream and alien intelligence that originally provided the device has been in contact. They are going to clean up the paradox issue for us, but possibly will destroy the original thread to remove the Clinton threat from the stream of time. Sadly, all of us are part of that time stream and will most likely blinker out of existence as we know once the paradox problem is fixed.


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Democratic official compares Clinton to Tonya Harding

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:45 pm

And we all know what a classy broad Harding is.

From the link:

l just spoke with a Democratic Party official, who asked for anonymity so as to speak candidly, who said we in the media are all missing the point of this Democratic fight.

The delegate math is difficult for Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, the official said. But it’s not a question of CAN she achieve it. Of course she can, the official said.

The question is — what will Clinton have to do in order to achieve it?

What will she have to do to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, in order to eke out her improbable victory?

She will have to “break his back,” the official said. She will have to destroy Obama, make Obama completely unacceptable.

“Her securing the nomination is certainly possible – but it will require exercising the ‘Tonya Harding option.'” the official said. “Is that really what we Democrats want?”

The Tonya Harding Option — the first time I’ve heard it put that way.

It implies that Clinton is so set on ensuring that Obama doesn’t get the nomination, not only is she willing to take extra-ruthless steps, but in the end neither she nor Obama win the gold.

(In this metaphor, presumably, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would be Oksana Baiul. Does that make former President Bill Clinton Jeff Gillooly?)

– jpt

David Brooks joins …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:47 pm

… the pundits sticking a fork in the Clinton campaign. It really is amazing she refuses to step aside.

From the linked column:

In short, Hillary Clinton’s presidential prospects continue to dim. The door is closing. Night is coming. The end, however, is not near.

Last week, an important Clinton adviser told Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen (also of Politico) that Clinton had no more than a 10 percent chance of getting the nomination. Now, she’s probably down to a 5 percent chance.

Five percent.

Let’s take a look at what she’s going to put her party through for the sake of that 5 percent chance: The Democratic Party is probably going to have to endure another three months of daily sniping. For another three months, we’ll have the Carvilles likening the Obamaites to Judas and former generals accusing Clintonites of McCarthyism. For three months, we’ll have the daily round of résumé padding and sulfurous conference calls. We’ll have campaign aides blurting “blue dress” and only-because-he’s-black references as they let slip their private contempt.

For three more months (maybe more!) the campaign will proceed along in its Verdun-like pattern. There will be a steady rifle fire of character assassination from the underlings, interrupted by the occasional firestorm of artillery when the contest touches upon race, gender or patriotism. The policy debates between the two have been long exhausted, so the only way to get the public really engaged is by poking some raw national wound.

March 24, 2008

McCain, Obama and Clinton all poll around 47%

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:39 pm

Every Gallup iteration between Obama, Clinton and McCain is pretty much a statistical tie.

Seems to me to bode poorly for McCain. He’s had free reign for weeks now and Obama’s taken heavy fire between the Wright and Rezko flaps and Clinton’s kitchen sink/toilet strategy. Once she’s out of the way I expect his numbers against McCain to steadily rise.

From the link:

PRINCETON, NJ — The Democratic nomination battle — having undergone significant shifts last week during the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy — is now back to a virtual tie between Barack Obama (favored by 47% of national Democratic voters), and Hillary Clinton (chosen by 46%).

Today’s results are based on interviews conducted in the three days prior to Easter Sunday, March 20-22. The results confirm Gallup’s March 22 reportshowing that Clinton’s recent lead in the race — apparently fueled by controversy dogging the Obama campaign over the Rev. Jeremiah Wright — had evaporated.

At the same time, thus far Obama has not been able to reestablish the clear frontrunner position he enjoyed in late February, and again in mid-March. As has happened so often over the past six weeks, the race among national Democratic voters has become “too close to call.” (To view the complete trend since Jan. 2, 2008, click here.)

Gallup’s general election ballots, pitting presumptive Republican nominee John McCain against Obama and Clinton, continue to show McCain with a slight edge. According to the latest five-day rolling average, from March 18-22, McCain holds a three percentage point lead over Obama in the preferences of national registered voters, and a 2-point lead over Clinton. — Lydia Saad

March 23, 2008

Easter video fun — Elvis Presley, “How Great Thou Art”

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:26 pm

March 22, 2008

What happened to the GOP?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:32 pm

What is going on with the Republican Party? I’ve happily pulled the lever for GOP candidates in the past and expect to in the future, but as a ruling philosophy the GOP is an abject failure right now.

It’s fair to say over the last ten years the GOP has controlled the United States. I’d give the Democratic Party the nod these last two, but can’t because of shrinking violet levels of timidity. Bill Clinton’s last two years in office were clearly defined by GOP opposition, and the Republican Party actually held the presidency, House and Senate for most of the last ten years.

What is the result of this reign? Well, the GOP is certainly “old”, more certainly not “grand” and there’s not much “party” in it. Right now the country is in a very serious recession nobody wants to acknowledge, in an even more serious monetary crisis that could possibly cripple the nation, and we’re caught in a true quagmire in Iraq based on lies.

On top of all this is the ridiculous level of incompetence at the highest levels of governance. If I believed the Bush 43 regime had a plan to give governing a keystone kops sheen, I’d applaud the effort. In reality I think the answer is much more banal and sad. Somehow our entire nation has been turned into the lowest possible level of public service.

And the final indignity is an inability to even handle a scandal correctly.

From the link:

White House Says It Destroyed Hard Drives

Older White House computer hard drives have been destroyed, the White House told a federal court yesterday, and some, but not necessarily all, of the data on those hard drives was moved to new ones.

The White House revealed the information about how it handles its computers in an effort to convince a federal magistrate that it would be fruitless to undertake a plan proposed by the court to recover millions of possibly missing e-mails from 2003 to 2005.

It would be costly and time-consuming for the White House to institute an e-mail retrieval program that entails pulling data off each individual workstation, the White House said in a sworn declaration filed with U.S. Magistrate Judge John Facciola.

Saturday video fun — Led Zeppelin, “Black Dog”

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:59 am

A classic filmed 35 years ago.

Even Clinton’s staff knows the end is near

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:52 am

I have no idea why Clinton is continuing to campaign and tear the Democratic Party asunder. Even her staff hears the fat lady beginning to sing.

From the link:

Unless Clinton is able to at least win the primary popular vote — which also would take nothing less than an electoral miracle — and use that achievement to pressure superdelegates, she has only one scenario for victory. An African-American opponent and his backers would be told that, even though he won the contest with voters, the prize is going to someone else.

People who think that scenario is even remotely likely are living on another planet.

As it happens, many people inside Clinton’s campaign live right here on Earth. One important Clinton adviser estimated to Politico privately that she has no more than a 10 percent chance of winning her race against Barack Obama, an appraisal that was echoed by other operatives.

In other words: The notion of the Democratic contest being a dramatic cliffhanger is a game of make-believe.

March 21, 2008

Sully and George Bush

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:35 pm

Andrew Sullivan was asked by Slate for a piece about the Iraq war since he was an early supporter, and now a critic. It’s a great read, and is worth the time spent. One part I found particularly interesting was his final section on George W. Bush.

I’m a Texan and lived under his governorship. I’ve never met him, but know many people who have. I ghosted a book for one of George’s friends and business colleagues. By all accounts he’s a good guy, a good friend, and certainly more erudite than he’s given credit for.

And possibly, I’m even more disappointed in his presidency than Sully.

From the link:

Misreading Bush

Yes, the incompetence and arrogance were beyond anything I imagined. In 2000, my support for Bush was not deep. I thought he was an okay, unifying, moderate Republican who would be fine for a time of peace and prosperity. I was concerned – ha! – that Gore would spend too much. I was reassured by the experience and intelligence and pedigree of Cheney and Rumsfeld and Powell. Two of them had already fought and won a war in the Gulf. The bitter election battle hardened my loyalty. And once 9/11 happened, my support intensified as I hoped for the best. His early speeches were magnificent. The Afghanistan invasion was defter than I expected. I got lulled. I wanted him to succeed – too much, in retrospect.

But my biggest misreading was not about competence. Wars are often marked by incompetence. It was a fatal misjudgment of Bush’s sense of morality.

I had no idea he was so complacent – even glib – about the evil that men with good intentions can enable. I truly did not believe that Bush would use 9/11 to tear up the Geneva Conventions. When I first heard of abuses at Gitmo, I dismissed them as enemy propaganda. I certainly never believed that a conservative would embrace torture as the central thrust of an anti-terror strategy, and lie about it, and scapegoat underlings for it, and give us the indelible stain of Bagram and Camp Cropper and Abu Ghraib and all the other secret torture and interrogation sites that he created and oversaw. I certainly never believed that a war I supported for the sake of freedom would actually use as its central weapon the deepest antithesis of freedom – the destruction of human autonomy and dignity and will that is torture. To distort this by shredding the English language, by engaging in newspeak that I had long associated with totalitarian regimes, was a further insult. And for me, an epiphany about what American conservatism had come to mean.

March 20, 2008

Why discussing the US and torture …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:24 pm

… is a debate worth both time and intellectual energy. In a previous post on US torture, there was (an all too short) debate on the United States use of torture, and particularly waterboarding, in the comments.

Do read the linked post and all the comments, but I’m going to include my final comment here because I feel it sums up my thoughts on the subject:

I would say elements of both the left and the right use the Global War on Terror (and all its attendant parts, including this issue) as a proxy for ideological arguments.

There are vocal elements of the left who want to do just what you wrote — shut down Gitmo, pull out of the Mideast, etc. And I’m pretty sure there’s parts of the right that would have no problem instituting full-blown, no questions asked systematic torture to attempt to pry information from captured combatants.

What I meant by not a left/right issue is, the topic under discussion — waterboarding and its role in the GWOT — transcends the ideological battles described above.

Certainly pretty much every one in opposition to the Bush administration is against our using the technique, and a number of administration supporters and members have publicly aired concerns as well. Yes, there’s a core of right wing support for waterboarding, but it is a controversial topic. Some people may make it a divisive issue, but the real debate is not inherently divisive.

As I quoted above, as recently as Vietnam our service members were court martialed for using that very technique. The technique may or not be torture, but we defined it as such for a long period of time.

September 11, 2001, created the change in that policy. As shocking as 9/11 was, at the highest levels of government it was not a complete surprise. We’ve known about bin Laden and al Qaeda for a long time, and knew he was plotting against our policies and person.

The question I ask is 9/11 and the subsequent framing of the GWOT worthy of throwing out a policy of non-torture that began during the Revolutionary War and was put into practice by George Washington?

I don’t think the technique is necessary to effectively prosecute the GWOT. I would particularly like to hear a sound justification from the administration why this change in policy was necessary and how it is effective. I’m sympathetic to needs of secrecy regarding the GWOT because there is a unique, and new, nature to the threats facing the US, but I also think this shift is so fundamental to our national heritage and image this debate should be conducted with much more transparency on both sides.

Sure waterboarding is a proxy for many things left and right, but it’s also a tangible and controversial issue.

You mention you feel I’m passing judgement after listening only to the prosecution. I feel I’ve read a wealth of material from sources on the left and right, and from journalism (biased or not) that presents facts. To date the pro-waterboarding side has not persuaded me that bin Laden and his minions require the US to radically change the way we approach the rest of the world militarily and legally. I think the America of September 10, 2001, was perfectly capable of handling the GWOT.

Sure that Tuesday morning I was blindingly angry. I was woken in a vacation condo on the beach in Panama City Beach, Florida, to hear the World Trade Center towers were both struck by planes. When the media began reporting celebrations in Afghanistan I immediately thought of bin Laden (didn’t think of al Qaeda per se, but I was aware of bin Laden pre-9/11). My next thought was we should nuke that country back from its then (and now) Middle Age society to the Stone Age, or maybe to time before humans walked in Afghanistan.

That was my heart. I feel no less strongly about Islamic terrorism today than I did at that moment. I do know I think the US did very well for itself before 9/11, and to me nothing occurred that warrants changing our fundamental approach to the world.

So that’s the question I ask, and the topic I’m discussing — does the GWOT make changing our core values necessary? Or worthwhile? For me, until I learn something completely new about the topic, the answer is no.

Terahertz without a wire

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:13 pm

Yowza.

From KurzweilAI.net:

Terahertz video transfer is foretaste of future wireless
New Scientist news service, Mar. 19, 2008Video footage has been transmitted experimentally (22 meters) using a terahertz wireless signal for the first time, by Terahertz Communications Lab in Braunschweig, Germany.

Using terahertz bandwidth— which ranges from 300GHz to 3 terahertz (THz) — could offer a 1000 fold increase in transmission speed and should open up new frequencies for communication. The as yet untapped terahertz band of the electromagnetic spectrum lies between microwaves and visible light.
Read Original Article>>

Joyride in space, anyone?

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:29 am

Looks like the doors are open and the keys are in the ignition. Let’s go for a a spin …
(link above goes to the full-sized image)

iss016e032312.jpg

(Hat tip — Bad Astronomy)

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