David Kirkpatrick

November 30, 2008

Endeavour lands safely

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:30 pm

The release:

NASA’s Shuttle Endeavour Glides Home After Successful Mission

EDWARDS, Calif., Nov. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Space shuttle Endeavour and its crew landed at 1:25 p.m. PST Sunday at Edwards Air Force Base in California, completing a 16-day journey of more than 6.6 million miles.

(Logo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO )

The STS-126 mission featured important repair work and prepared the International Space Station to house six crew members on long-duration missions beginning next year. The new station equipment includes a water recovery system, additional sleeping quarters, a second toilet and an exercise device. During four spacewalks, the crew serviced the station’s two Solar Alpha Rotary Joints, which allow its solar arrays to track the sun, and installed new hardware that will support future assembly missions.

Chris Ferguson commanded the flight and was joined by Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Donald Pettit, Steve Bowen, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Shane Kimbrough and Sandra Magnus. Magnus remained aboard the station, replacing Expedition 18 Flight Engineer Greg Chamitoff, who returned to Earth on Endeavour after more than five months on the station.

Weather concerns prevented the crew from returning to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the primary end-of-mission landing site. In 7-10 days, Endeavour will be transported approximately 2,500 miles from California to Florida on the back of a modified 747 jumbo jet. Once at Kennedy, Endeavour will be separated from the aircraft to begin immediate processing for its next flight, targeted for May 2009.

STS-126 was the 124th space shuttle mission, the 22nd flight for Endeavour and the 27th shuttle visit to the station.

With Endeavour and its crew safely home, the stage is set for the launch of STS-119, targeted for Feb. 12, 2009. Discovery will deliver the final pair of U.S. solar arrays, which will be installed on the starboard end of the station’s truss. The truss serves as the backbone support for external equipment and spare components.

Lee Archambault will command the 14-day flight that will include four planned spacewalks. Joining him will be Pilot Tony Antonelli, Mission Specialists John Phillips, Steve Swanson, Joseph Acaba and Richard Arnold, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata. Wakata will replace Magnus on the station as a flight engineer.

For more about the STS-126 mission and the upcoming STS-119 mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle

  For more about the International Space Station, visit:

                       http://www.nasa.gov/station

Photo:  NewsCom:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org/
PRN Photo Desk, photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: NASA
   

Web site:  http://www.nasa.gov/
http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle
http://www.nasa.gov/station

November 29, 2008

Modifying home loans via bankruptcy …

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:03 pm

… is actually a pretty good idea.

From the Obsidian Wings link:

Mortgages And Bankruptcy

by hilzoy

A bankruptcy judge in the Washington Post:

“Homeowners are the only ones who cannot modify the terms of their secured debts in bankruptcy. Corporate America flocks to bankruptcy courts to do precisely this — to restructure and reamortize loans whose conditions they find onerous or can no longer meet. Airlines are still flying and auto parts makers still operating because they have used this powerful tool of the bankruptcy process.

And from later in the post:

Perhaps it once made sense to think that mortgages should not be restructured in bankruptcy. I don’t think it makes sense now. It would be great if a repeal of this provision of the bankruptcy laws were one of the bills that will be waiting for President Obama to sign when he takes office.

Canadian internet access?

Filed under: Arts, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:11 pm

Not so much.

Here’s an informative post from Cory Doctorow at boing boing titled, “Canada’s Internet is crap.”

Good thing a Democrat won the Oval Office this year or all those hippies who’ve been threatening to move north for the last eight years would have to deal with sub par net access.

From the link:

Every time I think about moving back to Canada some day, I remind myself of how miserable the national Internet infrastructure is — and how awful the big telcos are, and how weak-kneed and ass-licking the telcoms regulator is — and I realize I can’t possibly move home. The Internet’s where I live, it’s how I earn my income. Living on Canada’s Internet would be better than living on China’s Internet, say, but that’s a pretty low bar to hurdle.

1. Last week the CRTC sided with Bell against a group of small Internet Service Providers who want to offer their customers unthrottled connections where what they download is their own business and not subject to interference.

The GOP and the RINO problem

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:00 am

Until the freaky fringe of the GOP who’ve convinced themselves they are the party understand all the RINO (Republican In Name Only) rhetoric is doing nothing but bouncing around a tired little echo-chamber bar room at last call — except when the message does get loose and serves to scare off potential GOP voters — sober up and face reality, there is no coalition.

I think this group can be blamed for shattering the three-legged stool. RINO this, RINO that. I get the feeling these folks wouldn’t recognize a Reagan Republican if they were bit on the ass. As a matter of fact Reagan’s policies and politics would render “the icon” a RINO in the minds of these incurious parrots.

Here’s a nice takedown from a cool site, The Unreligious Right:

John Hawkins, who blogs at Right Wing News, has a new column up at Townhall entitled “Five Hard Truths for RINOS.” As a pro-choice Republican who supports some sort of amnesty for illegal immigrants, gay marriage, and has other heretical positions, I qualify as a RINO when viewed by hardcore conservatives. Here’s my RINO response to Hawkins’ five points.

Be sure to hit the link for the whole bit. It’s worth it.

November 28, 2008

Will the bailout steal Xmas?

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:14 pm

Maybe in a grinchlike fashion.

Here’s one opinion from Cato-at-Liberty:

What do people do when they’re scared about the state of the economy? They stop spending. With each new government “investment” announced by our new overlord Hank Paulson, Americans are going to clutch ever more fiercely at their wallets. They will eat out even less than they’ve been doing. They will rediscover the true spirit of Christmas and give each other hugs instead of Blue-Ray disc players. They will forgo that new coat or pair of winter boots. And they will bring the U.S. economy to a halt.

I do have to say this is a little more chicken-little than I prefer, even though I’ve been pretty gloomy about all this corporate socialism myself. The point is well-taken. The media deserves some blame on the coverage, bloggers (including me) deserve a little blame for continuing to harp on the subject, but at the same time some very wise money managers I know have basically all taken their winter nuts and buried them deeply underground for the duration.

To expect anyone else to do otherwise is not fair and more than a bit foolish.

Sad parsing on the Corner …

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:06 pm

… where there’s fewer hands to pass the ripple these days and apparently DTs are kicking in already.

The title of the linked post is “Re: Will There Be an Obama Derangement Syndrome?,” and I’d have to say yes, but not quite in the intended usage. This bit by Byron York is one huge stretch to hope the lefties get a little heartburn. And really reading a lot into a mundane piece of writing from Rove.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and right now I’m guessing the left is still smoking too many hand-rolled Cubans in celebration to give a flyin’ eff what Rove thinks about Obama’s economic team.

From the link:

Putting Geithner and Paulson together, and then Summers and Phil Gramm together, along with efforts to reform Fannie — nicely done.  And it has the added advantage of being true.  And then there’s the issue of Rove knowing that it will drive some on the left crazy if Karl Rove says something positive about the Obama team.  All in all, a perfectly reasonable piece that was entertaining in its subplots, as well.

A report from Mumbai …

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:18 pm

… via the American Conservative:

Deeprak Chopra is on the TV. Among other things, he says that the Al-Qaeda and like minded terrorists are really worried by Obama, and his capacity to transform the whole moral-intellectual landscape between the West and Islam, and are striking out to try to prevent that. Sounds about right to me.

Take research papers with a grain of salt

Filed under: Media, Science — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:57 pm

I post a lot of science press releases and many are on research papers. This post from the excellent new blog, Secular Right, makes a great point.

Just because something was published does not make it correct. Not too sure about the stats statistic since it looks like a casual sample, but it should remind you to keep your skeptical mindset whatever the source.

From the link:

Just a quick addendum to my previous post where I advised caution about skepticism of science.  A biomedical scientist recently told me that the journal Virology had a statistician audit all their papers within a 1 year interval with statistics to see if they were using them correctly. Turned out that 2/3 of the papers which had statistics made basic elementary errors!  The moral here is to be very cautious of, and therefore skeptical of, new science, especially sexy new science.  Junk statistics are especially an issue with medical science because of the incentive structure of these research.

(And on another note for all those at Secular Right — thanks for the shoutoutfor my shoutout. That’s right, I’m thanking you for thanking me for thanking you for starting the blog. Er, or something.)

Endeavour set for Sunday landing

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:34 pm

The release from a few minutes ago:

Space Shuttle Endeavour Set to Land Sunday

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The space shuttle Endeavour crew is expected to complete its mission to the International Space Station with a landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1:19 p.m. EST on Sunday, Nov. 30. This will conclude a 16-day flight, 11 of which were spent docked to the station.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO )

The STS-126 mission began Nov. 14 and prepared the space station to house six crew members for long-duration missions. The new station cargo includes a water recovery system, additional sleeping quarters, a second toilet and a resistance exercise device. During four spacewalks, the crew serviced the station’s two Solar Alpha Rotary Joints, which allow its solar arrays to track the sun, and installed new equipment in support of future assembly missions. The flight also delivered station resident Sandra Magnus to the outpost. Greg Chamitoff will return to Earth aboard Endeavour after spending more than five months aboard the complex.

The entry flight control team in Mission Control, Houston, will evaluate weather conditions at Kennedy before permitting Endeavour to return to Earth. Sunday landing opportunities at Kennedy are at 1:19 p.m. and 2:54 p.m.  The secondary landing site at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., will be activated Sunday for consideration as well. The opportunities at Edwards are 4:24 p.m. and 5:59 p.m.

Approximately two hours after landing, NASA officials will hold a media briefing to discuss the mission. The participants will be:

  — Michael Griffin, NASA administrator
  — Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Space Operations
  — Mike Leinbach, NASA space shuttle launch director

After touchdown in Florida, the astronauts will undergo physical examinations and meet with their families. The STS-126 crew is expected to hold a news conference at approximately 6 p.m. Sunday.  Both news events will be broadcast live on NASA Television.

For NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

  For the latest information about the STS-126 mission, visit:

  http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle

  For more on the International Space Station, visit:

  http://www.nasa.gov/station

Photo:  NewsCom:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org/
PRN Photo Desk, photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: NASA
   

Web site:  http://www.nasa.gov/

Will Bush pardon Rove?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:04 am

My gut tells me yes, but it could easily fall either way. It’d be craven, but no more craven than pretty much every other president has acted at one time or another.

A preemptive pardon would be sold as keeping “the architect” from unfounded partisan attacks, but the reality is history will almost certainly see that move as an acknowledgement Rove, and by association the entire Bush 43 administration, was knee-deep in illegal and unconstitutional activities for a number of years. That stain will never be washed away.

There’s a little to like about the Bush 43 years and a whole lot not to like, but the defining action of the outgoing administration is authorizing torture. George W. Bush is the first United States president ever — ever — to authorize torture under the auspices of our nation. Taking a long view I doubt anyone would say Islamo-terrorism is/has been the greatest threat this country has ever faced, but until Bush 43 no president saw fit morally or tactically to institute a program of systematic torture applied to potentially innocent captives.

No rule of law, no rule of human decency and no real objectives at the end of the day other than to detain and torture prisoners who might (and you better believe some are) or might not (and you also better believe we’re destroying some innocent lives) be guilty of conspiring against the USA. The utter lack of judicial oversight — military or civilian — ensures no one knows the truth of guilt or innocence.

So at the end of the day will Bush pardon “the architect?” I guess we’ll know sometime in the next two months.

From the link:

Should Rove be indicated by the special prosecutor before January 20, 2009 (unlikely) or should the House Judiciary Committee seek and receive a contempt of Congress charge, which it could do (veryunlikely), that would make Bush’s decision to pardon Rove easier. “I think Bush pardons Rove on his last day in office regardless,” says George Shipley, a longtime political foe of Rove in Texas. “Bush has to pardon a hundred guys—washboarders, torturers, lawyers who wrote the opinions on torture, the White House political staff who violated the Hatch Act. And Rove.”

Others disagree. “I would think Bush would not want to further damage his presidency by clearing the hired help,” Roger Stone says. “Bush Senior’s pardoning of Casper Weinberger is different. Weinberger was secretary of defense and a social peer of the Bush family. Karl is still the hired help.” What’s more, Bush may not be pleased with the way his presidency has turned out. “Rove is the architect of Bush’s current unpopularity,” Stone says. “He is the architect of failure. Bush might want the judgment of history to be on Karl as well as himself.”

As such, Rove may have worries separate from potential indictments or a possible presidential pardon: his legacy. Within the Republican Party, he is now viewed by many as the mastermind behind one of the greatest collapses of a political party in American history—losing both chambers of Congress in 2006, now the presidency.

November 27, 2008

Photons driving machines

Nanotech news.

The release:

‘The photon force is with us’: Harnessing light to drive nanomachines

IMAGE: Photonic circuit in which optical force is harnessed to drive nanomechanics (inset)

Click here for more information. 

New Haven, Conn. — Science fiction writers have long envisioned sailing a spacecraft by the optical force of the sun’s light. But, the forces of sunlight are too weak to fill even the oversized sails that have been tried. Now a team led by researchers at the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science has shown that the force of light indeed can be harnessed to drive machines — when the process is scaled to nano-proportions.

Their work opens the door to a new class of semiconductor devices that are operated by the force of light. They envision a future where this process powers quantum information processing and sensing devices, as well as telecommunications that run at ultra-high speed and consume little power.

The research, appearing in the November 27 issue of Nature, demonstrates a marriage of two emerging fields of research — nanophotonics and nanomechanics. – which makes possible the extreme miniaturization of optics and mechanics on a silicon chip.

The energy of light has been harnessed and used in many ways. The “force” of light is different — it is a push or a pull action that causes something to move.

“While the force of light is far too weak for us to feel in everyday life, we have found that it can be harnessed and used at the nanoscale,” said team leader Hong Tang, assistant professor at Yale. “Our work demonstrates the advantage of using nano-objects as “targets” for the force of light — using devices that are a billion-billion times smaller than a space sail, and that match the size of today’s typical transistors.”

Until now light has only been used to maneuver single tiny objects with a focused laser beam — a technique called “optical tweezers.” Postdoctoral scientist and lead author, Mo Li noted, “Instead of moving particles with light, now we integrate everything on a chip and move a semiconductor device.”

“When researchers talk about optical forces, they are generally referring to the radiation pressure light applies in the direction of the flow of light,” said Tang. “The new force we have investigated actually kicks out to the side of that light flow.”

While this new optical force was predicted by several theories, the proof required state-of-the-art nanophotonics to confine light with ultra-high intensity within nanoscale photonic wires. The researchers showed that when the concentrated light was guided through a nanoscale mechanical device, significant light force could be generated — enough, in fact, to operate nanoscale machinery on a silicon chip.

The light force was routed in much the same way electronic wires are laid out on today’s large scale integrated circuits. Because light intensity is much higher when it is guided at the nanoscale, they were able to exploit the force. “We calculate that the illumination we harness is a million times stronger than direct sunlight,” adds Wolfram Pernice, a Humboldt postdoctoral fellow with Tang.

“We create hundreds of devices on a single chip, and all of them work,” says Tang, who attributes this success to a great optical I/O device design provided by their collaborators at the University of Washington.

It took more than 60 years to progress from the first transistors to the speed and power of today’s computers. Creating devices that run solely on light rather than electronics will now begin a similar process of development, according to the authors.

“While this development has brought us a new device concept and a giant step forward in speed, the next developments will be in improving the mechanical aspects of the system. But,” says Tang, “the photon force is with us.”

 

###

 

Tang’s team at Yale also included graduate student Chi Xiong. Collaborators at University of Washington were Thomas Baehr-Jones and Michael Hochberg. Funding in support of the project came from the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Alexander von Humboldt post-doctoral fellowship program.

Citation: Nature (November 27, 2008)

Hong Tang

Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science

IT industry survey at SIMposium 2008

The release:

Professor Luftman and SIM release full results of annual IT industry survey at SIMposium 2008

Businesses making broad use of IT to reduce costs and increase productivity

HOBOKEN, N.J. — The current economic crisis is forcing companies to quickly evaluate and modify their business models, but unlike previous economic downtrends, the information technology organizations are not feeling the cuts as quickly as in the past, according to a newly released survey.

“This time, businesses are using IT to reduce costs and to increase productivity across the company,” said Jerry Luftman a Distinguished Professor and Associate Dean at Stevens Institute of Technology, who also serves as the Vice President for academic Affairs for the Society for Information Management.

More than 300 respondents from 231 companies responded to Dr. Luftman’s annual survey (in June) which has become an industry barometer. The findings were released earlier this month at SIMposium 2008 in Orlando. Overall, the survey indicated that the IT industry remains strong, but Luftman noted that some data shows 2009 will likely to be a difficult year.

Among the findings in the report:

 

  • Chief Information Officers are spending about 80 percent of their time on non-technical relates issues.
  • Forty-five of the respondents said their CIOs have been in place for more than three years with the average CIO spending 4.3 years in their current position, up from 4.1 in 2007.
  • Of those surveyed, 22.2 percent said their IT departments are organized as federations, up 4.2 percent from a year earlier. Federated organization structures tend to have higher IT business alignment maturity scores, as uncovered in important benchmarking research underway by Luftman. Additionally, organizations where the CIO reports to the CEO also tend to have higher alignment maturity ratings. More than 40 percent of CIOs report to their CEO. Another important insight in Luftman’s maturity research is that organizations with higher maturity scores have higher overall company performance.

 

Luftman noted that companies are looking to hire IT employees who have more than just technical savvy saying they want “people who can demonstrate interpersonal, management, and industry skills.”

In fact, the survey found that companies want entry level and mid-level employees to demonstrate ethics and morals, oral communication and the ability to more effectively collaborate with their business partners.

“Technical skills are important, but it’s not everything to most companies,” said Luftman.

Looking towards 2009, the survey found that companies would likely increase or keep their IT headcount flat. But, noted that budget allocation for offshore outsourcing is projected to increase to 5.6 percent in 2009, up from 3.3 percent this year.

Some companies will have to do more with less as respondents said that IT departments, which have an IT budget averaging 3.82 percent of revenues, although having increasing IT budgets for 2009, will be faced with increases that will likely be down.

 

###

 

About Professor Luftman

Jerry Luftman (jluftman@stevens.edu) is Associate Dean and a Distinguished Professor for the graduate information systems programs at Stevens Institute of Technology, where he also earned his doctoral degree in information management. His 23-year career with IBM included strategic positions in IT management, management consulting, information systems, marketing, and executive education. He played a leading role in defining and introducing IBM’s Consulting Group. As a practitioner, he has held several positions in IT, including CIO. Luftman’s research papers have appeared in dozens of professional journals and books. His book, Competing in the Information Age: Align in the Sand, was published by Oxford University Press. He has been a presenter at many executive and professional conferences and is regularly called on by many of the largest companies in the world. He has served on the SIM Executive Board for over 10 years and was president of the New Jersey Chapter of SIM.

About Stevens Institute of Technology

Founded in 1870, Stevens Institute of Technology is one of the leading technological universities in the world dedicated to learning and research. Through its broad-based curricula, nurturing of creative inventiveness, and cross disciplinary research, the Institute is at the forefront of global challenges in engineering, science, and technology management. Partnerships and collaboration between, and among, business, industry, government and other universities contribute to the enriched environment of the Institute. A new model for technology commercialization in academe, known as Technogenesis®, involves external partners in launching business enterprises to create broad opportunities and shared value. Stevens offers baccalaureates, master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering, science, computer science and management, in addition to a baccalaureate degree in the humanities and liberal arts, and in business and technology. The university has a total enrollment of 2,150 undergraduate and 3,500 graduate students with about 250 full-time faculty. Stevens’ graduate programs have attracted international participation from China, India, Southeast Asia, Europe and Latin America. Additional information may be obtained from its web page at www.stevens.edu.

For the latest news about Stevens, please visit www.StevensNewsService.com.

 

High efficiency polymer solar cells

The release:

UCLA researchers create polymer solar cells with higher efficiency levels

Currently, solar cells are difficult to handle, expensive to purchase and complicated to install. The hope is that consumers will one day be able to buy solar cells from their local hardware store and simply hang them like posters on a wall.
 
A new study by researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has shown that the dream is one step closer to reality. Reporting in the Nov. 26 edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Yang Yang, a professor of materials science and engineering, and colleagues describe the design and synthesis of a new polymer, or plastic, for use in solar cells that has significantly greater sunlight absorption and conversion capabilities than previous polymers.
 
The research team found that substituting a silicon atom for carbon atom in the backbone of the polymer markedly improved the material’s photovoltaic properties. This silole-containing polymer can also be crystalline, giving it great potential as an ingredient for high-efficiency solar cells.
 
“With the reality of today’s energy crisis, a new-game changing technology is required to make solar cells more popular,” Yang said. “We hope that our newly synthesized polymer can eventually be used on solar cells far beyond their current rooftop applications. Imagine a house or car covered and powered by flexible solar films. Our dream is to see solar cells used everywhere.”
 
Polymers are lightweight, low-cost plastics used in packaging materials and inexpensive products like insulators, pipes, household products and toys. Polymer solar cells utilize organic compounds to produce electricity from sunlight. They are much cheaper to produce than traditional silicon-based solar cells and are also environmentally friendly.
 
But while polymer solar cells have been around for several years, their efficiency has, until recently, been low. The new polymer created by Yang’s team reached 5.1 percent efficiency in the published study but has in a few months improved to 5.6 percent in the lab. Yang and his team have proven that the photovoltaic material they use on their solar cells is one of the most efficient based on a single-layer, low-band-gap polymer.
 
At a lower band gap, the polymer solar cell can better utilize the solar spectrum, thereby absorbing more sunlight. At a higher band gap, light is not easily absorbed and can be wasted.
 
“Previously, the synthesizing process for the polymer was very complicated. We’ve been able to simplify the process and make it much easier to mass produce,” said Jianhui Hou, UCLA postdoctoral researcher and co-author of the study. “Though this is a milestone achievement, we will continue to work on improving the materials. Ideally we’d like to push the performance of the solar cell to higher than 10 percent efficiency. We know the potential is there.”
 
“We hope that solar cells will one day be as thin as paper and can be attached to the surface of your choice,” added co-author Hsiang-Yu Chen, a UCLA graduate student in engineering. “We’ll also be able to create different colors to match different applications.”
 
The study was funded by Solarmer Energy Inc. and a UC Discovery Grant. Solarmer Energy Inc. has recently licensed the technology from UCLA for commercialization.
 
The UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, established in 1945, offers 28 academic and professional degree programs, including an interdepartmental graduate degree program in biomedical engineering. Ranked among the top 10 engineering schools at public universities nationwide, the school is home to six multimillion-dollar interdisciplinary research center in space exploration, wireless sensor systems, nanotechnology, nanomanufacturing and nanoelectronics, all funded by federal and private agencies. For more information, visit www.engineer.ucla.edu.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Filed under: et.al. — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:53 pm

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving day full of all the “f”s — food, family, fun and football. And if any of those are mutally exclusive in your life, then I hope the bad one’s were avoided.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

November 26, 2008

Theocrats and Obama

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:31 am

I’ve done some recent blogging on the damage theocrats on the religious right are doing to the Republican Party. This post from the WSJ Political Perceptions blog explains why this GOP faction doesn’t like, or trust for that matter, the president elect.

Looking at the numbers in the second graf below, it’s easy to see why christianist extremists are killing the GOP.

From the link:

But progressive Christians responded that it’s quite possible for Christians to believe that Jesus provides a way to salvation but not the only way. As one reader commented, “Why should the language of John 3:16 be interpreted exclusively? If anyone who believes in Jesus (who was the Word back in chapter 1) is saved, does that verse tell us anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus isn’t saved? Or if Jesus is the only way to salvation, does that mean everyone must be aware of this fact to enjoy the benefit of it?”

Putting aside whether the conservatives have a better theological case, Mr. Obama is actually more in line with most American Christians. In a recent Pew poll, 70% said “many religions can lead to eternal life.” Two-thirds of Protestants, 66%, and 79% of Catholics said they agreed with that idea.

What this debate exposed is that the political differences between Obama supporters and foes have at least some roots in the way they interpret the Bible. Beliefnet surveyed 4,500 of its own readers right after the election and, for me, the most fascinating finding was that the most religious voters for Sen. John McCain and Mr. Obama (those who attend church weekly or more) interpreted scripture in dramatically different ways: 57.7% of Sen. McCain’s religious voters said God was “the literal word of God” while only 17.3% of Mr. Obama’s religious voters did (most thought it was “divinely inspired”).

Put all these stray factoids together and one is drawn to conclude that part of why some people distrust Mr. Obama is not that he’s deeply atypical but that he’s quite typical of liberal Christianity in America. And if there’s anything that disturbs traditional conservatives more than the effect of political liberalism, it’s the effect of religious liberalism.

Czechs rejoice you now have the Whopper

Filed under: Business, et.al. — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:07 am

The press release from moments ago:

First Burger King(R) Restaurant Opens in the Czech Republic

PRAGUE, November 26/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ —     Burger King Europe GmbH, a subsidiary of Burger King
Corporation announced today the opening of the first BURGER KING(R)
restaurant in the Czech Republic. This new market entry is an important step
to accomplish the European expansion strategy. BURGER KING(R) now operates
restaurants in Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Czech Republic.

    Commenting on the market entry, Peter Robinson, president of
Burger King Europe GmbH, said: “We are very pleased to announce our further
expansion in Central Europe. It is part of our overall growth plan to
increase our presence in both, the existing European BURGER KING(R) markets
and in strategic new ones. The expertise of our franchise partners in Central
and Eastern Europe is crucial for the successful development of the BURGER
KING(R) brand. We look forward to continued collaboration with these
franchisees and to the entry into further new markets in the region.”

    The first BURGER KING(R) restaurant in the Eastern part of
Europe opened in 1991 in Hungary. Our entry into Poland in 2007 was also an
important step towards the expansion in the region. In accordance with the
brand’s development plans we have opened 826 BURGER KING(R) restaurants in
Central and Eastern Europe. Most of these restaurants are located in central
business districts or large shopping centres, which strengthens the presence
of the BURGER KING(R) brand in this region.

    Referring to these new business opportunities Peter Robinson
stated: “We are excited about introducing the great flame-grilled taste of
BURGER KING(R) products such as the WHOPPER(R) to even more customers in
Central Europe. Our customers appreciate the affordable prices for high
quality food and exceptional service at BURGER KING(R).”

    About Burger King Corporation

    The BURGER KING(R) system operates more than 11,600
restaurants in all 50 states and in 73 countries and U.S. territories
worldwide. Approximately 90 percent of BURGER KING(R) restaurants are owned
and operated by independent franchisees, many of them family-owned operations
that have been in business for decades. In 2008, Fortune magazine ranked
Burger King Corp. among America’s 1,000 largest corporations. To learn more
about Burger King Corp., please visit the company’s Web site at
http://www.bk.com.

Source: Burger King Europe GmbH

Obama and the internet

Filed under: Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:59 am

After deftly harnessing the web during the long campaign, it’s expected the Obama administration will continue its groundbreaking political use of the internet. During the campaign Obama garnered a half a billion dollars from over 3 million donors and utilized the net for all manner of organization (you can find a blog post of mine on his campaign’s tech here.)  

From the first link:

With the campaign having learned what kinds of results you get from social-networking sites, viral videos, email lists, and text-messaging, it’s not hard to imagine that this administration will operate far differently than its predecessors. Sure, it’s not clear what shape it will take: how much YouTube, how much social-networking, how many email blasts from the White House or from proxies. Getting it right will be tricky. But clearly, Obama’s recent “radio address” on YouTube is a taste of things to come. I spoke yesterday with Thomas Gensemer, managing partner of Blue State Digital, the company that set up the social networking tools for the campaign (and which supplied the numbers above). He said: “My biggest outsider claim is this: The way the campaign helped inform critical decision-makers of the value of digital assets, means [these assets] will have a significant role in the ongoing administration.”

November 25, 2008

About that Canadian meteorite last week …

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 9:05 pm

… most likely ten tons!

The release:

Meteorite search update

10-ton rock responsible for fireball in Western Canada last week

Investigation of the fireball that lit up the skies of Alberta and Saskatchewan on November 20 has determined that an asteroid fragment weighing approximately 10 tonnes entered the Earth’s atmosphere over the prairie provinces last Thursday evening. And University of Calgary researcher Alan Hildebrand has outlined a region in western Saskatchewan where chunks of the desk-sized space rock are expected to be found.

The fireball first appeared approximately 80 kilometres above and just east of the border city of Lloydminster, Alberta/Saskatchewan, and traveled SSE towards the Battle River valley fragmenting spectacularly in a series of explosions. The fireball penetrated the atmosphere at a steep angle of approximately 60 degrees from the horizontal and lasted about five seconds from 17:26:40 to 17:26:45 MST with the largest explosion at 17:26:44. The fireball was recorded on all-sky and security cameras scattered across Saskatchewan and Alberta in addition to being witnessed by tens of thousands of people who saw it streak across the sky, saw its arc- welding blue flash, or heard the subsequent explosions.

“Firstly, we are enormously appreciative of all the people who have volunteered information about the fireball. The public response to this fireball has been the largest that we have ever had in Canada.” said Hildebrand, Canada Research Chair in Planetary Science and Coordinator of the Canadian Fireball Reporting Centre at the University of Calgary. Hildebrand said the fireball was like a billion-watt lightbulb shining in the sky, turning night into day with a bluish white light. It illuminated the ground for several hundred kilometers in all directions including as far south as Vauxhall, Alberta.

“Thanks to everyone’s help we are now beginning to delineate the trajectory of the fireball, so that its prefall orbit can be determined. We have also outlined an area where its meteorites may have fallen, although we will have more precise predictions to come,” Hildebrand added.

The asteroid fragment is now known to have weighed approximately 10 tonnes when it entered the Earth’s atmosphere from an energy estimate derived from infrasound records by Dr. Peter Brown, Canada Research Chair in Meteor Physics at the University of Western Ontario. Infrasound is very low frequency sound produced by explosions that can travel thousands of kilometers.

“At least half a dozen infrasound stations ranging from Greenland to Utah, including Canada’s Lac Du Bonnett, Manitoba and Elgin Field, Ontario stations, recorded energy from the fireball’s explosions. The indicated energy is approximately one third of a kiloton of TNT,” Brown said.

Dr. Brown also says that a fireball this size only occurs over Canada once every five years on average. About ten fireballs of this size occur somewhere over the Earth each year.

Dr. Hildebrand spent the weekend in the field interviewing witnesses and searching for security camera videos.

“We are now trying to get all the transient information about the fireball before it is lost. Many motels and gas stations only keep their security recordings for one week or less, so we urge everyone to check their systems to see if they recorded the fireball or the moving shadows that it cast,” Hildebrand said. “Three gas stations and motels in Lloydminster, Lashburn and Maidstone are known to have records, but dozens of other businesses in the area probably have the fireball or its shadows recorded.”

If fireball images are found, he suggests immediately saving a copy and contacting him. “With the security camera footage we can compute the fireball’s trajectory in the sky to calculate the prefall orbit. Meteorites have only ever been recovered from known orbits nine times previously and we want to make that ten. ”

Hildebrand estimates that hundreds of meteorites larger than 50 grams could have landed since the rock was large and its entry velocity was lower than average. The object’s speed is calculated to be only roughly 14 km/sec when it entered the atmosphere versus the average of around 20 km/sec.

“We are now starting to reasonably constrain where the meteorites will have fallen. Many witnesses reported seeing a cluster of red fragments continuing downwards in the sky after the fireball exploded. These represent the rocks slowing down that will eventually fall to the ground as meteorites,” Hildebrand said. “An outstanding thing about this fireball is that so many red fragments were seen and that they traveled so low to the ground before becoming invisible in the darkness.”

The projected area of fall lies within Saskatchewan’s Manitou Lake Rural Municipality north of Marsden and Neilburg, and just south of the Battle River in an area that is mostly cleared for cultivation.

“Several of the nearby eye witnesses describe sounds that could actually be from the meteorites falling through the sky, but we don’t know that for sure yet. The eye witness descriptions are remarkably consistent with each other as to the location,” Hildebrand said.

The remarkable consistency of the eyewitness accounts is probably partly explained by the dramatic dust clouds that marked the fireball’s path. These clouds remained in the sky without much distortion for several minutes. From the fireball’s characteristics Hildebrand thinks that it was a relatively strong rock and many rocks the size of a football or bigger are expected in addition to the more numerous small ones. Larger meteorites will have plunged into the ground if at all soft, making small pits with the meteorites at the bottom. Meteorites of common asteroids will have a dark gray or black coating covering their dimpled surface, be denser than the average rock, and will weakly attract a magnet, but other types of meteorites are possible.

The meteorites are expected to be scattered across a strewnfield approximately eight km long and three km wide with the larger stones to the southeast. Noting that they have a substantial commercial value, Hildebrand also advises that meteorites are the property of the landowner where they fall.

Hildebrand and Brown are both members of the Small Bodies Discipline Working Group that is funded by the Canadian Space Agency. Dr. Martin Beech at the University of Regina chairs this working group.

Hildebrand has returned to the field to continue gathering data. 

###

 

See Google Map of search area at: http://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=101407268858136267770.00045c7664e5121a35b7f&ll=52.957946,-109.741573&spn=1.111851,2.570801&z=9

James Dobson another executioner of the GOP

James Dobson, theocrat and Focus on Family leader, excoriates Kathleen Parker for the heresy of saying the GOP has a religious right problem. According to the king-unmaker she’s no longer a conservative.

I’d say Dobson is much more a cancer on conservatism and the GOP brand than anything Parker has written this electoral season. What a nutbag.

From the link:

Washington Post columnist says the Republican Party must ditch God in order to survive.

So, Kathleen Parker has determined that getting rid of social conservatives and shelving the values they fight for is the solution to what ails the Republican Party (“Giving Up on God,” Nov. 19). Isn’t that a little like Benedict Arnold handing George Washington a battle plan to win the Revolution?

Whatever she once was, Ms. Parker is certainly not a conservative anymore, having apparently realized it’s a lot easier to be popular among your journalistic peers when your keyboard tilts to the left. She writes that “armband religion” — those of us who “wear our faith on our sleeve,” I suppose, or is it meant to compare socially conservative Christians to Nazis? — is “killing the Republican Party.” Lest readers miss the point, she literally spells it out. The GOP’s big problem? G-O-D. N-O-N-S-E-N-S-E.

Update — Dobson does make one point I totally agree with.

Also from the link:

Good thing, then, we don’t need an embossed note from Ms. Parker — or anyone else — to take part in the political dialogue — of either party. Our invitation to engage the process comes straight from our Founders. We will continue to stand up for the sanctity of human life, the sacredness of marriage and the right to have a say in the principles that will continue to guide this nation founded on biblical  principles. Where Ms. Parker gets it most wrong is in writing that socially conservative Christians are an “element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners.”

The first amendment absolutely gives him and everyone the right to free speech. I think Parker’s point was if the GOP wants to continue winning elections (particularly nationally) Dobson and his ilk need to be confined to wooden crates on street corners.

Bush 43, fiscal liberal

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:30 pm

This is a prime example of where I break every possible way from the Bush 43 policies. The Community-Based Abstinence Education has been an abject failure and is a prime example of reckless fiscal liberalism coupled with thinly-veiled theocratic uber-conservative social policy.

A total lose-lose any way you slice it. Gives the religious right a few warm fuzzies and simply wastes the treasure of the United States.

From the link:

Our federal government recently announced that it would review abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that receive federal funds under the Community-Based Abstinence Education (“CBAE”) program. CBAE is one of three dedicated federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding streams. Over the last several years, the federal government has spent more than $1.5 billion on these programs, even though we’ve known for awhile that they simply don’t work.

Yesterday, we sent comments, expressing our frustration, to the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”), the federal agency proposing to evaluate CBAE programs. Our basic concerns: researchers have already concluded that these programs do not have any measurable effect; moreover, by definition, these programs exclude and stigmatize a large number of students.

Search and rescue robots

The release from today:

Rescue robot exercise brings together robots, developers, first responders

IMAGE: Robots are being trained to map spaces using their sensors. This robot travels through a simulated “wooded area ” that has uneven terrain and randomly placed PVC pipes as “trees. ” It…

Click here for more information. 

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) held a rescue robot exercise in Texas last week in which about three dozen robots were tested by developers and first responders in order to develop a standard suite of performance tests to help evaluate candidate mechanical rescuers. This exercise was sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate to develop performance standards for robots for use in urban search and rescue missions.

Urban search and rescue robots assist first responders by performing such tasks as entering partially collapsed structures to search for living victims or to sniff out poisonous chemicals. NIST is developing robot standards for testing in cooperation with industry and government partners.

“It is challenging to develop the test standards as the robots are still evolving,” explained Elena Messina, acting chief of the Intelligent Systems Division, “because standards are usually set for products already in use. But it is critical for developers to be able to compare results, which is not possible without reproducible test environments. So, we have reproducible rough terrain that everyone can build in their labs, whereas you can’t reproduce a rubble pile. This way, developers in Japan can run tests, and people in Chicago can understand what the robot achieved.”

The event took place at Disaster City, Texas, a test facility run by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). The facility offers an airstrip, lakes, train wrecks and rubble piles that can be arranged for many types of challenging tests.

Exercises included testing battery capacity by having robots perform figure eights on an undulating terrain and mobility tests in which robots ran through increasingly challenging exercises beginning with climbing steps and escalating to climbing ramps and then making it up steps with unequal gaps. A new mapping challenge introduced at this event tests how accurate a robot-generated map can be—the robot must traverse a simulated “wooded area” that has uneven terrain and PVC pipes for trees, and create a map using its sensors. Researchers came from across the globe to collect data to feed into their mapping algorithms. NIST researchers developing ultra-high-resolution three-dimensional sensors also participated.

Communications and manipulator tests were performed and discussed at the November exercise will be submitted to ASTM International as a potential rescue robot test standard.

 

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To see the robots in action, three videos can be viewed at the Disaster City TEEX Web site: www.teexblog.blogspot.com/.

Dean Kamen’s North Dumpling

Filed under: Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:49 pm

From KurzweilAI.net — Dean Kamen is the mad scientist behind the Segway and a new, possibly revolutionary, water purification system. Here’s a link to an Esquire article on the inventor.

How Dean Kamen’s Magical Water Machine Could Save the World
Esquire, Nov. 24, 2008

Dean Kamen‘s private island, North Dumpling, is a green, proof-of-concept center for all of his wild ideas.

 
Read Original Article>>

Media tips from American Society for Microbiology

The release:

Tips from the journals of the American Society for Microbiology

New Vaccines Protect Against Asian H5N1 Influenza A Viruses in Domestic Ducks

Scientists are looking at a novel strategy to prevent the spread of pandemic avian influenza. They have developed a vaccine that protects ducks, a known natural reservoir for the virus. They report their findings in the November 2008 issue of the Journal of Virology

Waterfowl are considered to be the natural reservoir of influenza A viruses due to the isolation of all subtypes from these hosts. Current research indicates that influenza A viruses are continuously evolving within their natural environment and can be transmitted to a variety of animals, including humans. H5N1 avian influenza A viruses are now endemic in domestic poultry in many Asian countries and ducks are believed to be the primary source of infection. Reducing the spread of H5N1 in ducks could play a key role in minimizing the risk of a pandemic outbreak.

In the study researchers first identified dominant pathogenic strains of H5N1 influenza A viruses circulating in Asian poultry and found that four caused symptomatic illness in domestic ducks, but not all were lethal. In addition the researchers reversed the genetics of the viruses in domestic ducks to develop three different inactivated oil emulsion whole-virus H5 influenza vaccines. Following one round of inoculation with the vaccines ducks were completely protected when challenged with a lethal dose of the H5N1 virus.

“The vaccines provided complete protection against the lethal challenge of the homologous and heterologous H5N1 avian influenza A virus with no evidence of morbidity, mortality, or shedding of the challenge virus,” say the researchers. “The complete protection offered by these vaccines will be useful for reducing the shedding of H5N1 avian influenza A viruses among vaccinated agricultural avian populations.”

(J.K. Kim, P. Seiler, H.L. Forrest, A.M. Khalenkov, J. Franks, M. Kumar, W.B. Karesh, M. Gilbert, R. Sodnomdarjaa, B. Douangngeun, E.A. Govorkova, R.G. Webster. 2008. Pathogenicity and vaccine efficacy of different clades of Asian H5N1 avian influenza A viruses in domestic ducks. Journal of Virology, 82. 22: 11374-11382.)

 


 

Beetles May Be Source of Food-Borne Pathogens in Broiler Flocks

A new study suggests that darkling beetles and their larvae can transmit harmful food-borne pathogens to chicks in broiler houses in successive rearing cycles. The researchers from Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands and Research Centre, Lelystad, The Netherlands report their findings in the November 2008 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Salmonella and Campylobacter are two main sources of human food-borne disease and many of the reported cases can be directly linked to the handling or consumption of contaminated chicken meat. Although exact contamination routes of broiler flocks are not fully understood, certain insects that are persistent in these environments are common reservoirs of zoonotic bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter.

The darkling beetle (Alphitobius diaperinus) and its larvae are known to inhabit broiler houses and are believed to survive between rearing cycles by eating their way into insulation materials and hiding under floors. In the study researchers artificially contaminated several groups of beetles and their larvae with a mixture of Salmonella enterica Serovar Paratyphi B Variant Java and three Campylobacter jejuni strains and fed them to housed chicks either the day of inoculation or one week following to mimic an empty week between rearing cycles. All the broiler chicks that were fed insects contaminated on the same day showed Campylobacter and Salmonella colonization levels of 50 to 100%. Insects that were fed a week after infection resulted in transfer of both pathogens as well, but at lower levels. Naturally infected insects collected at a commercial broiler farm and fed to chicks also resulted in colonization but at lower levels.

“In conclusion, the fact that Salmonella and Campylobacter can be transmitted via beetles and their larvae to flocks in successive rearing cycles indicates that there should be intensive control programs for exclusion of these insects from broiler homes,” say the researchers.

(W.C. Hazeleger, N.M. Bolder, R.R. Beumer, W.F. Jacobs-Reitsma. 2008. Darkling beetles (Alphitobius diapernus) and their larvae as potential vectors for the transfer of Campylobacter jejuni and Salmonella enterica Serovar Paratyphi B Variant Java between successive broiler flocks. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 74. 22: 6887-6891.)

 


 

Resistance to TB Vaccine May Be Uncommon, Protects Against Nine Strains in Mice

A new study shows that the current tuberculosis vaccine induces protective immunity against nine strains of the bacteria in mice indicating that strain-specific resistance may be uncommon. The researchers report their findings in the November 2008 issue of the journal Infection and Immunity.

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world’s most challenging infectious diseases to date and is responsible for approximately 2 million deaths per year. An attenuated vaccine incorporating Mycobacterium bovis BCG has been used for over 50 years, however, high mortality rates have persisted and researchers attribute multiple factors to its varying effectiveness including that the anti-TB protective immunity induced by the vaccine may be strain-specific.

W-Beijing lineage strains are among the most prominent associated with worldwide outbreaks of TB. In the study researchers investigated the strain specificity of Mycobacterium bovis BCG vaccine-induced antituberculosis protective immunity responses by inoculating mice with the vaccine and challenging them 2 months later with one of nine Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains, four from the W-Beijing lineage, four non-Beijing isolates, and one control. Organ bacterial burdens and lung pathology were examined in vaccinated and naïve mice the day of infection as well as at 4, 12, and 20 weeks postchallenge. Four weeks following an aerosol challenge with each of the strains, results showed the bacterial growth in the lungs and spleens were much lower and lung pathology significantly improved in all vaccinated animals when compared to controls. Animals infected with six of the nine strains exhibited reduced organ bacterial burdens after 12 weeks and lung inflammation in all immunized animals was measurably lower at 20 weeks postchallenge.

“These data demonstrate that BCG vaccination protects against infection with diverse M. tuberculosis strains in the mouse model of pulmonary tuberculosis and suggest that strain-specific resistance to BCG-induced protective immunity may be uncommon,” say the researchers.

(B.Y. Joen, S.C. Derrick, J. Lim, K. Kolibab, V. Dheenadhayalan, A.L. Yang, B. Kreiswirth, S.L. Morris. 2008. Mycobacterium bovis BCG immunization induces protective immunity against nine different Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains in mice. Infection and Immunity, 76. 11: 5173-5180.)

 

###

Improve your email communications

With tips from this press release. If you’re reading this I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you do some amount of email communications.

The release:

How to improve email communication

Developing strategies to mimic face-to-face interactions

In a new article in the current issue of American Journal of Sociology authors Daniel A. Menchik and Xiaoli Tian (both of the University of Chicago) study how we use emoticons, subject lines, and signatures to define how we want to be interpreted in email. The authors find that “a shift to email interaction requires a new set of interactional skills to be developed.”

Unlike face-to-face conversations, email interactions leave out tone of voice, body-language and context, which can lead to misunderstandings. While these authors agree that there are difficulties, they believe that no way of communicating is actually superior to another.

Menchik and Tian argue that face-to-face and internet-based contexts each require a set of distinct interaction strategies. “People can cultivate ways of communicating in online contexts that are equally as effective as those used offline,” they write. “The degree to which … individuals develop unique conventions in the medium will determine their ability to communicate effectively.”

The research focuses on “the case of a well-known scientific organization that decided to replace occasional meetings of a research panel with ongoing email interaction.” The panel encountered numerous problems conversing via email. But the researchers identified several ways people were able to overcome these barriers.

“People innovate in response to the challenges of a new context for the communication of essential elements of language,” the authors write.

Capital letters, use of quotations, emoticons, exclamation points, punctuation, bullet points, style and even color help the sender communicate the meaning of a word or message. For example, “I feel betrayed” reads differently from “I FEEL SO BETRAYED!! ;)” where the capital letters and winking smiley face indicate sarcasm.

Participants also maintained their conversational flow by cutting and pasting from previous emails and using subject lines that referenced previous discussions. In email listservs these devices help address comments to a certain individual and help the discussion to stay on topic.

Signatures, disclaimers and other information about the person’s state of mind were also commonly used when writing an email. The authors found that subjects felt more comfortable communicating once they knew a little about each other, like the information included in a signature. They also found that indicating the frame of mind as a disclaimer, (i.e. “I wrote this at 5AM” or “on a blackberry while on vacation”) helped prevent the email from being misinterpreted.

Developers have picked up on these cues with the advent of linguistic monitors such as Eudora’s MoodWatch feature. This program tries to indicate to the sender that their email might be considered inflammatory, and to the receiver that they are about to receive such an email.

 

###

Laffer on the bailout

Arthur Laffer, Reagan’s economist and namesake of the Laffer curvedisses the ongoing financial crisis bailout. I think I’ve made my thoughts about this bailout well known. Probably two words suffices to sum up my opinion — corporate socialism.

From the (second) link:

As you read this, our government is committing enormous sums of money above and beyond normal spending, solely to stimulate the economy and prop up failing companies and markets. These additional sums are huge by any reasonable measure, with estimates as high as $3 trillion in an economy with a GDP of about $15 trillion.

Here’s the bottom line: Instead of making things better, increased spending will only drive our economy further into the ground.

And there is still a lot more spending to come. First it was a $170 billion stimulus package in February of 2008, then material add-ons to both the housing and agricultural bills, followed by Federal Reserve asset swaps with Bear Stearns and a bailout of AIG (which, by the way, isn’t over yet) and then came the debt guarantees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Shortly after that, the administration anted up $700 billion in a bailout package, and now Obama, Reid, Pelosi and Bernanke want another stimulus package of $300 billion. Just this week the powers that be are debating bailouts for Michigan’s auto industry. With the slowdown in the economy, tax receipts are now projected to fall sharply. The logic here is totally upside down, and each new measure, far from helping the economy, does enormous damage.

The right wing fights back against the far fringe

After the Palin veep picked proved to be an electoral disaster — and exposed a very ugly theocrat faction that before Bush 43 has always been coddled and marginalized. Now they seem to want blood of some sort. Right now that blood is taking form in the GOP brand. Beaten down, sullied and starting to rend where does the GOP go from here?

Well, there’s a lot of opposition to this electoral suicide. The American Conservative has fought against Bush 43 anti-conservatism for quite a while; a relatively new blog of young conservatives, Culture11, is seeking a new way as well; Taki’s Magazine also has been a fierce critic of Bush 43 politics; and now John Derbyshire of National Review fame has started a new blog, Secular Right.

And coming in January is another new blog by a National Review alum, David Frum. His offering is NewMajority.com and should be a very interesting entry into this moment of conservative/GOP/right wing soul-searching.

I’m very excited about Frum’s site because I’ve been offered the opportunity to blog at the launch. I’ll be coming at this debate from farther left than most I’m sure, offering my take on little “L” libertarianism — quite fiscally conservative and culturally liberal to moderate. I’m betting I ought to expect some very exciting feedback from the more partisan contributors, and especially readers. The challenge is welcome and I’m already planning topics to hit the gate running.

From the NewMajority pre-launch splash page:

NewMajority.com is a new political group blog edited by David Frum, and is scheduled to go live on Inauguration Day, January 18th 2009.

Update — I left Rebuild the Partyout the above list because I didn’t know about it until right now. Actually read about it first on a left wing site — Daily Kos. Looks like there’s going to be a total explosion of critical thought on fixing conservatism in general and the GOP in particular.

I’m still not certain the GOP as a national party is fixable right now. Something new may well arise out of all this intellectual activity and the GOP may become a party of marginal theocrats. Hopefully the theocrats get booted to their own little marginal party and the GOP returns to its small government roots and accepts a live-and-let-live cultural stance. Maybe too much to ask for, though.

Obama’s keeping Gates at Pentagon helm

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:47 pm

This should be good news to both Obama supporters and detractors. And very bad news for our enemies abroad.

From the Political Punch link:

Sources tell ABC News that Defense Secretary Robert Gates will be staying on in the top Pentagon job, for at least the first year of the Obama administration. “It is a done deal,” a source close to the process tells ABC News.

Gates, while a registered independent, has served numerous Republican administrations. President George W. Bush nominated Gates to replace the Donald Rumsfeld after the 2006 midterm elections, when the war in Iraq was spiraling out of control.

The former Eagle Scout is expected to be rolled out immediately after the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend as part of a larger national security team expected to include Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, as Secretary of State; Marine Gen. Jim Jones (Ret.) as National Security Adviser; Admiral Dennis Blair (Ret.) as Director of National Intelligence; and Dr. Susan Rice as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

As CIA Director for President George H.W. Bush in 1992, Gates conveyed to incoming President Bill Clinton that he wished to stay on in that role. Clinton did not keep him on, replacing him instead with Jim Woolsey.

— Martha Raddatz and Jake Tapper

Thanksgiving video fun — WKRP in Cincinnati

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:21 pm

Yeah this is early, but it’s worth watching early and often. Absolutely one of the funniest scenes in sitcom history, and very possibly the most funny. Here’s WKRP in Cincinnati’s Thanksgiving turkey drop

Elmarco named November 08 Autodesk inventor of the month

Filed under: Business, et.al., Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:31 pm

A release from this morning:

Nanotechnology Pioneer Shortens Concept-to-Manufacturing Process With Autodesk Digital Prototyping

Autodesk Names Elmarco as Inventor of the Month for November 2008

SAN RAFAEL, Calif., Nov. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK) has named Elmarco Ltd. (Elmarco), a Czech-based manufacturer of industrial machines for the production of nanofibers, Inventor of the Month for November 2008.

Elmarco relied on Autodesk Inventor software to develop its Nanospider line of machines, which make the production of nanofiber textiles possible on an industrial scale. Nanofiber textiles are highly breathable but have pore sizes that are small enough to prevent micro particles, bacteria or even viruses from passing through, making it ideal for air filtration systems in medical settings or in chip fabrication plants.

The Inventor of the Month program recognizes the most innovative design and engineering advancements made by the extensive community using Autodesk Inventor software–the foundation of the Autodesk solution for Digital Prototyping. A digital prototype allows users to design, visualize and simulate a product before it is built, reducing the reliance on constructing multiple physical prototypes.

“Inventor of the Month Elmarco is the first–and only–company in the world to offer customers machines for the industrial production of nanofibers,” said Robert “Buzz” Kross, senior vice president of Autodesk Manufacturing Solutions. “Inventor has helped Elmarco unleash its innovation in the nanofiber industry.”

Many times smaller than a human hair, nanofibers have a diameter of 200 to 500 billionths of a meter. The Nanospider machine produces these nanofibers through a patented electrospinning process, in which a rotating drum is partially submerged in a polymer solution and placed in a high-intensity electrostatic field. The resulting nanofibers are highly desirable for filtration and acoustic applications.

Simplifying with Digital Prototyping

Autodesk Inventor played a key role in helping Elmarco simplify the concept-to-manufacturing process of the Nanospider machines that mass-produce these nanofibers. The 12-member Elmarco design team uses Inventor to create 3D models of the spinning units and the overall machine body that it can easily share with other members of the organization, or reuse for later designs.

“Autodesk Inventor is easy to learn and very user friendly,” said Jan Cmelik, chief designer at Elmarco. “By leveraging its capabilities, we’re able to reuse existing designs for approximately 80 percent of the parts on our industrial production line.”

For the remaining 20 percent of the parts that must be custom developed–such as chemical distribution vehicles–Elmarco is able to take advantage of the powerful piping and tubing functionality in Inventor software, which helps pipe runs comply with design standards. Streamlining the process further, models of purchased components can be easily imported into Inventor to complete the final assembly. Because the Autodesk solution for Digital Prototyping employs a single digital model through all stages of production, it allows Elmarco to use Inventor software’s visualization tools to give demonstrations of the machine to customers, decreasing review times and improving Elmarco customers’ understanding of the design.

About the Autodesk Inventor of the Month Program

Each month, Autodesk selects an Inventor of the Month from the more than 700,000 users of Autodesk Inventor software, the foundation for Digital Prototyping. Winners are chosen for engineering excellence and groundbreaking innovation. For more information about Autodesk Inventor of the Month, contact us at IOM@autodesk.com.

About Elmarco Ltd.

Elmarco Ltd. is a leading producer of high-tech solutions for the nanofiber industry. Founded in 2000, Elmarco is headquartered in the Czech Republic and has annual revenues of US$23.3 million. For more information about Elmarco, visit www.elmarco.com.

About Autodesk

Autodesk, Inc., is the world leader in 2D and 3D design software for the manufacturing, construction, and media and entertainment markets. Since its introduction of AutoCAD software in 1982, Autodesk has developed the broadest portfolio of state-of-the-art Digital Prototyping solutions to help customers experience their ideas before they are built. Fortune 1000 companies rely on Autodesk for the tools to visualize, simulate and analyze real-world performance early in the design process to save time and money, enhance quality and foster innovation. For additional information about Autodesk, visit www.autodesk.com.

Autodesk, AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor and Inventor are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries. All other brand names, product names or trademarks belong to their respective holders. Autodesk reserves the right to alter product offerings and specifications at any time without notice, and is not responsible for typographical or graphical errors that may appear in this document.

  (C) 2008 Autodesk, Inc. All rights reserved.

  (Logo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20050415/SFF034LOGO)

Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20050415/SFF034LOGO
AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org/
PRN Photo Desk, photodesk@prnewswire.com/
   
Source: Autodesk, Inc.
   
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I don’t think we learned much …

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:54 am

that statement is a direct quote from an unnamed Republican senator from this Politico piece. That long walk in the wilderness looks pretty likely right now.

The election is still warm, but weeks have passed with no easing of the bad taste in the collective GOP mouths.

And Sarah Palin is still on a publicity tour thanks to a $3M PAC ad campaign. Until she’s no longer a viable “face” for the Republican Party, things will not improve.

From the link:

The Republican U.S. senator sits glumly across the restaurant table.

“I don’t think we have learned much from the election in terms of what people want to see,” he says. “We have the same gridlock.”

By the “same gridlock,” he means that party hard-liners, both Democrats and Republicans, will remain in control of the machinery of Congress. And that means more of the same. It means more politics as usual — especially in his party.

“We need someone who speaks from the center,” he says. “Sarah Palin is not the voice of our party.”

He talks a little about immigration. He is a moderate on immigration, which is to say he is out of step with most of his party. He says the Republican hard line on immigration hurt the party with Hispanics.

Barack Obama won about two-thirds of the Hispanic vote this year, up from the 53 percent that John Kerry won in 2004.

And the Republicans are very, very worried about the Hispanic vote. They see the African-American vote as largely gone, but the Hispanic vote was a possibility in future elections. If only Republicans knew how to appeal to Hispanic voters.

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