David Kirkpatrick

May 19, 2009

Wisdom from teh internets

Filed under: et.al., Sports — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:08 pm

Here’s an actual question from an ESPN chat with UFC president Dana White:

Is your eight sided octagon a trademarked fighting arena?

I’m thinking about trademarking the lesser known seven-sided octagon.

May 18, 2009

The latest on the Bush 43 “war on terror”

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:09 pm

The rabbit hole becomes more deep, more dark and more criminal.

From the link:

Worthington told TPMmuckraker that the information came from transcripts of al-Karim’s combatant status review, which he has examined.

There’s no direct evidence that al-Karim was tortured. But given what we know about interrogation techniques at Guantanamo, it certainly can’t be ruled out. And if nothing else, al-Karim’s clear belief that he was brought to Gitmo in 2002 to give information about Iraq suggests just how focused on Saddam’s regime interrogators were during that period.

It’s also worth noting that looking for information about the Iraqi army is not the same as looking for information about Saddam’s links to al Qaeda, since such information presumably had a military use, rather than just a political one. But nor is it the same as looking for information that could thwart another terror attack, which is how torture defenders prefer to portray what the program did.

Update: Even more fuel on the growing fire

Then-Vice President Dick Cheney, defending the invasion of Iraq, asserted in 2004 that detainees interrogated at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp had revealed that Iraq had trained al Qaida operatives in chemical and biological warfare, an assertion that wasn’t true.Cheney’s 2004 comments to the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News were largely overlooked at the time. However, they appear to substantiate recent reports that interrogators at Guantanamo and other prison camps were ordered to find evidence of alleged cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein — despite CIA reports that there were only sporadic, insignificant contacts between the militant Islamic group and the secular Iraqi dictatorship.

May 16, 2009

Dick Cheney and the Constitution

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:41 pm

Sully, as usual, nails it.

From the link:

America is not by virtue of being America somehow immune from the same evil that has occurred throughout human history; and the human beings running the American government are no more and no less human than those who controlled ghastly regimes in the past.

In fact, the American constitution makes no sense unless you see this. The founders assumed that Americans are as bad and as good as anyone else; and that therefore the rule of law and constitutional checks and balances are our only guarantee against tyranny. When the Cheney wing of the GOP asserts that the executive has the capacity to do anything to anyone outside the constitution and the law, and that it is also empowered to use torture to acquire “intelligence”, then the entire ballgame is over. You have given a few people the power to destroy others without due process and to create reality to buttress their power. If Democrats had done this, rule of law conservatives would have exhibited no less outrage than I have.

May 15, 2009

Matt Welch on Obama and the torture photos

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:12 pm

The Reason magazine editor-in-chief pans the Obama administration move to not release any more torture photos at this time.

From today’s Reason Alert:

President Obama’s Flip-Flop on Torture Photos
President Obama has reversed course and decided not to release another batch of photos showing how prisoners were abused in Iraq. Reason magazine Editor-in-Chief Matt Welch writes,by lacking confidence to air this publicly, the U.S. missed an opportunity to send a powerful message to the world: Not only do we no longer torture (in both word and deed), we take that notion seriously enough to withstand a public relations hit as we fully exhume the ghosts of a dishonorable seven-year policy. In a region of autocratic, torturous governments, I daresay such a message could have surprising resonance among the people alleged to hate us most.”

The “war on drugs” rebranded

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:39 pm

The Obama administration has rebranded the “war on drugs.” The key being taking the loaded word, “war,” out of the equation. The moniker was stupid to begin with and as has been noted around the blogosphere gave rise to a martial us-versus-them in law enforcement circles.

It’s not much, but it is a baby step so Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske deserves some kudos.

Now let’s take a look at that “czar” thing …

From the Cato Insitute’s weekly dispatch:

White House Official Says Government Will Stop Using Term ‘War on Drugs’

The Wall Street Journal reports that White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske is calling for a new strategy on federal drug policy and is putting a stop to the term “War on Drugs.” “The Obama administration’s new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting ‘a war on drugs,’ a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use…. The Obama administration is likely to deal with drugs as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment’s role growing relative to incarceration, Mr. Kerlikowske said.”

Will Kerlikowske’s words actually translate to an actual shift in policy? Cato scholar Ted Galen Carpenter calls it a step in the right direction, but remains skeptical about a true change in direction. “A change in terminology won’t mean much if the authorities still routinely throw people in jail for violating drug laws,” he says.

Cato scholar Tim Lynch channels Nike and says when it comes to ending the drug war, “Let’s just do it.”

Cato scholars have long argued that our current drug policies have failed, and that Congress should deal with drug prohibition the way it dealt with alcohol prohibition. With the door seemingly open for change, Cato research shows the best way to proceed.

In a recent Cato study, Glenn Greenwald examined Portugal’s successful implementation of a drug decriminalization program, in which drug users are offered treatment instead of jail time. Drug use has actually dropped since the program began in 2001.

In the 2009 Cato Handbook for Policymakers, David Boaz and Tim Lynch outline a clear plan for ending the drug war once and for all in the United States.

Unemployment continues unabated

Filed under: Business — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:53 am

Same song, new verse. Jobless claims at 637,000.

From the link:

New jobless claims rose more than expected last week due partly to an increase in layoffs by the automobile industry, while the number of people continuing to receive unemployment benefits set a record for the 15th straight week.

Car companies dumping dealerships

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:49 am

In a very necessary move from both General Motors and Chrysler — they each have many, many more dealerships than the Japanese manufacturers — the number of dealerships out there is being cut. The exact numbers differ depending on the source, but in the near future there will be fewer GM and Chrysler lots out there.

From the link:

The next auto businesses on the chopping block will be 2,600 General Motors dealerships.GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson said Monday that the company would by the end of the week start notifying dealerships it wants to eliminate over the course of the next year. The company said last month that it planned to eventually eliminate 42% of its 6,250 dealer locations, which employ more than 300,000 workers among them.

On Thursday, Chrysler LLC’s announced that it is dropping nearly 800 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers, or about a quarter of its network, as part of its bankruptcy restructuring.

GM (GM, Fortune 500) is not yet in bankruptcy court, although Henderson has said such a filing is “probable.” The company has until the end of the month to win agreement from creditors, unions and dealerships on a turnaround plan or the Treasury Department, which has been bankrolling GM’s ongoing losses, has said it will force the company to file for bankruptcy.

Avoid online quizzes and scams

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:30 am

It ought to go without saying, but don’t waste your time with online quizzes — that free IQ test, RealAge and others — unless you’re interested in providing personal information to marketers, or even more nefarious characters.

From the link:

While Web quizzes may be fun to take, they’re also a powerful tool for companies to collect your data and even your money–and often in ways you might not notice. We’ll get to the spooky stuff in a moment, but let’s start with the simplest method of quiz-based marketing: advertising. The very nature of a typical online quiz requires you to divulge all sorts of details about yourself. Those tidbits of info are like nuggets of gold for advertisers craving a way to connect with you.

“The big trend is about engagement,” says Debra Aho Williamson, a senior analyst with eMarketer. “These quizzes are getting people to pay attention to ads.”

Paying attention, it seems, is almost a requirement: Aside from being carefully targeted at your interests, the ads are often in-your-face and impossible to avoid. Take, for example, TheFreeIQTest.com, a quiz I found via a text ad on Google. By the time I clicked through the 105th “offer” (aka advertisement) it threw in front of my results–no exaggeration–I gave up without seeing the results of the quiz.

“There’s a clear annoyance factor, leading people to one thing, then at the last minute bait-and-switching them,” Williamson says. “The challenge with this type of advertising is walking that line between people wanting it and people wanting it to go away.”

May 14, 2009

Bush torture program — politics over protection?

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:55 pm

Sadly, that may well be the case. It’s horrible that the Bush 43 regime overturned United States policy against torture, ostensibly to keep the nation safe from terror attacks. It’s an entirely new level of criminal to have done so in order to cook up information (proven to be false) to take this nation to war.

Inexcusable, anti-American and criminal. This is subversion of U.S. law at the highest level of government, the White House.

From the link:

At last, the torture debate looks to be heading toward what’s been the big question lurking in the background all along: was the Bush administration using torture in large part to make a political case for the invasion of Iraq?

Writing on The Daily Beast, former NBC producer Robert Windrem reports that in April 2003, Dick Cheney’s office suggested that interrogators waterboard an Iraqi detainee who was suspected of having knowledge of a link between Saddam and al Qaeda.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse was questioned on the issue today in two TV interviews. Speaking to CNN, Whitehouse allowed: “I have heard that to be true.” To MSNBC, he noted that there was additional evidence of this in the Senate Armed Services committee report, and from Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell. “This thing is just getting deeper and deeper,” said Whitehouse, noting that if it were true, it would significantly bolster the case for prosecutions.

Invisibility cloak, plus

Yep, news on invisibility cloaks  returns once again. This time with a twist — metamaterials that can go beyond a simple cloak of invisibility and actually create the illusion of a totally different object in place of the one being cloaked.

Via KurzweilAI.net:

Illusion Cloak Makes One Object Look like Another
The physics arXiv blog, May 13, 2009

Metamaterials could be used for an even more exotic effect than invisibility cloaks: to create the illusion that a different objectis present, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology researchers say.

 
Read Original Article>>

Small business and no credit, an explanation

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:11 pm

Here’s about as as good an explanation as I’ve come across why big finance still isn’t putting capital into the hands of small business owners.

Big hint: it has nothing to do with the financial condition of that small business. It also seems bank regulators aren’t on the same page as the bailout artists who are trying to get more dollars into Main Street businesses.

From the link:

The phenomenon may extend well beyond Chase and its borrowers. “I’m hearing it more and more,” says Stacey Sanchez, senior community loan officer with San Diego-based CDC Small Business Finance, a community development corporation, who says entrepreneurs often turn to her institution when their credit lines are pulled. Sanchez says the increased aggressiveness on the part of lenders may be due in part to banks now being in possession of 2008 tax returns for most of their clients, which show the full ugliness of the last quarter of 2008.

And suspending lines of credit is certainly an efficient way to reduce the risk on a bank’s balance sheet. According to officials at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, bank reserves for bad loans are based on the total exposure to a customer. So if a bank has a $100,000 line of credit with a small firm and only $20,000 is drawn down, the total exposure is still $100,000, and the bank usually will reserve for loan losses based on that amount. But if they convert the $20,000 outstanding to a term loan and cancel the line of credit, or if they simply cut the line to $20,000, the reserves would be based on that $20,000 figure.

Regulatory pressure likely plays a part as well. Bert Ely, an Alexandria (Va.)-based financial-services consultant, says he hears repeatedly from banks around the country that while the White House and Treasury talk about the need for lending to small business, local bank examiners continue to pressure them to upgrade the quality of their loan portfolios. “You have a disconnect between what policymakers are saying and what the rank-and-file bank examiners and supervisors are saying,” Ely says. That has painful repercussions for business owners around the country.

Breakfast cereal and sports drinks

This release provides a lesson in news dissemination. You’re barely going to find this information on the release itself, but it was put out by the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, an organization not surprisingly created by the breakfast cereal manufacturer and marketer.

For all I know this research is absolutely correct and I hope it is, but it’s always good to know where your news is coming from. Do you?

The release:

Cereal and milk is the new sports supplement

Exercise physiologist Lynne Kammer, from The University of Texas at Austin, led a group of researchers who investigated the post-exercise physiological effects of the foods. Kammer and her team studied 12 trained cyclists, 8 male and 4 female. In contrast to many sports nutrition studies, however, the exercise protocol was designed to reflect a typical exercise session. After a warm-up period, the subjects cycled for two hours at a comfortable work rate, rather than the more frequently seen test-to-exhaustion.

“Our goal was to compare whole grain cereal plus milk—which are ordinary foods—and sports drinks, after moderate exercise,” said Kammer. “We wanted to understand their relative effects on glycogen repletion and muscle protein synthesis for the average individual. We found that glycogen repletion, or the replenishment of immediate muscle fuel, was just as good after whole grain cereal consumption and that some aspects of protein synthesis were actually better”.

“Cereal and non-fat milk are a less expensive option than sports drinks. The milk provides a source of easily digestible and high quality protein, which can promote protein synthesis and training adaptations, making this an attractive recovery option for those who refuel at home”.

The researchers concluded that, for amateur athletes and moderately physically active individuals who are trying to keep in shape, popping into the kitchen for a quick bowl of whole-grain cereal with a splash of skimmed milk may be a smarter move than investing in a high-priced sports drink.

Kammer and her colleagues are scientists in the College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Education. This study was supported by General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition.

 

###

 

Notes to Editors

1. Recovery from a cycling time trial is enhanced with carbohydrate-protein supplementation vs. isoenergetic carbohydrate supplementation.
John M Berardi, Eric E Noreen and Peter WR Lemon
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.jissn.com/imedia/7586410682517602_article.pdf?random=737134
After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.jissn.com/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central’s open access policy.

2. The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN) is a peer-reviewed journal that covers various aspects of sports nutrition, supplementation, exercise metabolism, and/or scientific policies related to sports nutrition. The journal is designed to keep members of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and the public up to date on the latest advances in sport nutrition.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

May 13, 2009

April foreclosures hit record high

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:16 pm

Main Street is still getting pounded by this recession. The road to recovery is going to be very long.

From the link:

U.S. foreclosure activity in April jumped 32 percent from a year ago to a record high, and should mount because temporary freezes on foreclosures ended in March, RealtyTrac said on Wednesday.One in every 374 households with mortgages got a foreclosure filing in April, the highest monthly rate since RealtyTrac began tracking it in January 2005. Filings were reported on 342,038 properties last month.

The abundance of distressed properties keeps pressuring home prices, thwarting a housing recovery that is critical to rejuvenating the recessionary U.S. economy.

Most of April’s filings, which included notices of default and auctions, were in early stages. Bank repossessions, known as real-estate owned or REOs, fell on a monthly and annual basis to the lowest level since March 2008.

“This suggests that many lenders and servicers are beginning foreclosure proceedings on delinquent loans that had been delayed by legislative and industry moratoria,” RealtyTrac chief executive James J. Saccacio said in a statement.

A temporary foreclosure freeze by major banks and government-controlled home funding companies Fannie Mae (FNM.N) (FNM.P) and Freddie Mac (FRE.N) (FRE.P) ended before President Barack Obama‘s massive housing stimulus, unveiled on March 6, could take root.

“It’s likely that we’ll see a corresponding spike in REOs as these loans move through the foreclosure process over the next few months,” Saccacio said.

Intel hit with almost $1.5 B antitrust fine

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:12 pm

Courtesy of EU regulators. Ouch. South Korea and Japan are next in the antitrust line, and this move by the EU might force the hand of the U.S. government as well.

Everything Twitter

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

Well, not everything since I’ve done plenty of blogging about the microblogging/social networking application and website.

Here’s three offerings on Twitter from CIO.com — a comprehensive overview that is an excellent place to begin for every tweeting experience level, a great explanation of hashtags (using “#” in front of a key descriptor, such as #followfriday) in Twitter and a blog post blaming Twitter power users for running off the latest wave in new tweeters.

From the comprehensive overview:

Twitter Etiquette: Five Dos and Don’ts

Twitter beginners need to understand the rules of etiquette for the service. So before you stick a foot measuring 140-characters-or-less in your mouth, check out our advice on how to follow and un-follow, share politely, direct message appropriately, and more.

From the explanation of hashtags:

Twitter (the company) didn’t create hashtags. The Twitter community’s early adopters came up with the idea to put a “#” in front of topics to add context to tweets. The tag would also help filter and sort them out for future readers.

According to a Twitter fan website, the hashtags achieved significant notoriety with Twitter users in 2007 during the San Diego fires, when users designated their tweets with “#sandiegofires.”

The trend to use hashtags led to the community-driven site hashtags.org, where a semi-official index of Twitter’s hashtags now resides. To access the site, Twitter users merely need to opt-in (for free) by following @hashtags on Twitter.

And finally, from the blog post on ill mannered power users:

The rise of Twitter’s user-base has differed from Facebook, which grew upon a mainstream audience of college and high school kids looking to post photos and share the details of a Saturday night. While they were tech-savvy in the sense that they grew up with the Web, they weren’t “techy.” To them, the Web and technology just exists — and nothing more. 

Twitter has traveled a different road with its user base. Tech nerds and social media evangelists populated the service initially, followed by traditional media and public relations folks who wanted to track them. Soon, businesses and some over-aggressive marketers hopped in on the fun, before leading to famed celebrity accounts.

You can find on Twitter at http://twitter.com/davidkonline.

May 12, 2009

Dan Baum on the New Yorker

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:56 pm

Well, really on his time at the New Yorker. It’s a very cool tale and worth the read.

Oh, by the way he published it (at least initially) on Twitter. Fun idea, interesting use of Twitter and worth the time and difficulty to go back in Twitter time and read the whole thing.

Here’s a tweet from Dan for those who are a bit too lazy to read this in its original (and maybe original ought to be highlighted here) form:

I will be posting this account, in proper order, at www.danbaum.com. Thank you for your patience.

You can find Dan on Twitter at http://twitter.com/danielsbaum and you can find at http://twitter.com/davidkonline.

(Hat tip: the Daily Dish)

May 11, 2009

EntreTech Forum coming May 19

Warm (this morning) from the inbox:

The EntreTech Forum Presents … PHOTONICS/OPTICS – Understanding the Latest Applications of Light-based Technologies in Medical, Consumer, Industrial, and Defense Sectors

BOSTON, May 11 /PRNewswire/ — On May 19th, The EntreTech Forum will bring together some of the region’s educators, researchers and entrepreneurs to focus on photonics/optics academic/commercial nexus of innovation, and to answer key questions around:

  —  understanding the local resource base for photonics-based innovation
  —  distilling the key drivers that define success or failure for
      early-stage research-driven photonics entrepreneurs
  —  defining for the audience what the next great ideas in
      photonics/optics technology will look like

Whether for treating disease, advancing solar energy cells or enhancing semiconductor performance, recent advances in photonics and optics have created myriad opportunities for entrepreneurs to break new ground across a tremendously wide spectrum of commercial activity. As ever, the Greater Boston area’s potent mix of university resources and entrepreneurial culture have made our region a leader in a new and constantly evolving technological field.

  Tuesday, May 19, 2009 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

      The Enterprise Center at Foley Hoag,
      The Bay Colony Corporate Center
      1000 Winter St., Ste. 4000
      Waltham, MA
      Cost: $25 – public;  $10 – students & active military

For information, registration and directions visit our web site http://www.entretechforum.org/

  Pre-Registration Available Online http://theentretechforum.camp7.org/

  Directions & Map http://www.entretechforum.org/7_contact.htm

  — Moderator:
      Andrew Fairbairn, Managing Principal, Fairbairn Ventures

  — Panelists:
      Jonathan Rosen, Executive Director, Institute for Technology
       Entrepreneurship and Commercialization, BU School of Management

      Stephen Saylor, President & CEO, SiOnyx

      George Tegos, Instructor at MGH, Wellman Center for Photonics

  About The EntreTech Forum

The EntreTech Forum consists of moderated monthly panel discussions on emerging academic research and the commercialization of this technology. It was designed for those interested in technology innovation and marketing collaboration and networking with fellow entrepreneurs, business and government executives, investors, and technology researchers.

The technology-innovation presentations feature entrepreneurial and corporate accomplishments along commercialization pathways with discussions of tech transfer and technology incubation and research from universities, industry and government. The multi-disciplinary subjects of raising and utilizing different forms of capital, building alliances and structuring deals are included as part of the programming, and serve as tools for the entrepreneur and researcher to commercialize science and technology.

The EntreTech Forum is an affiliate of Northeastern University’s School of Technological Entrepreneurship (STE) and is directed by a governing board of business principals, investors, and researchers.

For information and directions visit our web site at http://www.entretechforum.org/

Source: The EntreTech Forum
   

Web Site:  http://www.entretechforum.org/

Remember, postage is up $0.02

Filed under: Business, et.al., Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:09 pm

Well, at least for those who didn’t stock up on “forever” stamps.

From the link:

While the new 44-cent rate covers the first ounce of first-class mail, the price for each additional ounce will remain unchanged at 17-cents.

Postal officials estimate the increase will cost the average household $3-a-year.

Other changes taking effect May 11:

_ The postcard stamp increases 1 cent to 28 cents.

_ The first ounce of a large envelope increases 5 cents to 88 cents.

_ The first ounce of a parcel increases 5 cents to $1.22.

_ New international postcard and letter prices are, for one ounce, 75 cents to Canada; 79 cents to Mexico; and 98 cents elsewhere.

GM closer to Chapter 11

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:06 pm

Looks like General Motors will be declaring bankruptcy at some point. Despite all the noise to the contrary, this is — and has been for a while — the only real solution to what is going on in the Rust Belt. If done correctly GM will reemerge much leaner and ready to do business in today’s world. It’s been playing by its own unsustainable rules since the 80s.

From the link:

To remake itself outside of court, GM must persuade bondholders to swap $27 billion in debt for 10 percent of its risky stock. On top of that, the automaker must work out deals with its union, announce factory closures, cut or sell brands and force hundreds of dealers out of business — all in three weeks.

“I just don’t see how it’s possible, given all of the pieces,” said Stephen J. Lubben, a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law who specializes in bankruptcy.

GM, which is living on $15.4 billion in federal aid, faces a June 1 government deadline to complete its restructuring plan. If it can’t finish in time, the company will follow Detroit competitor Chrysler LLC into bankruptcy protection.

Although company executives said last week they would still prefer to restructure out of court, experts say all GM is doing now is lining up majorities of stakeholders to make its court-supervised reorganization move more quickly.

“If we need to pursue bankruptcy, we will make sure that we do it in an expeditious fashion. The exact strategies I’m not getting into today, but we’ll be ready to go if that’s required,” CEO Fritz Henderson said last week.

Google better watch out …

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:02 pm

… the U.S. government is about to crack down on antitrust regulation.

Social networking and the job search

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:52 pm

If you are in the position of looking for work, here’s an article outlining how some job seekers found employment utilizing social network sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

From the link:

Brennan Carlson ( Facebook and LinkedIn), a newly hired product manager at e-mail marketing firm Lyris Inc., is an extreme example. He took a highly organized, scientific approach to his job search when he was laid off from Yahoo Video last winter.

This included using custom search engines, Greasemonkey(a Firefox plug-in allowing customized Web page appearances via JavaScript), scripts running on top of Firefox, widgets, mashups, a spreadsheet and a customized Netvibes “start page”that organizes blogs, news, weather, photos and social networks. Carlson also made concentrated use of social networking sites to present himself online and to research targeted companies.

LinkedIn was one of the most useful tools he used, as it is for almost everyone else we interviewed. It’s also a key tool for IT hiring managers and recruiters looking for candidates. It has become the de-facto must-use tool in today’s career environment.

But whether it’s LinkedIn or one of the other myriad services, these Web tools are vital to today’s IT job search, Carlson said.

“If you’re not online, get online,” Carlson said. “Be everywhere. Start using these services. . . If you’re not on Twitter, get there. Start Tweeting.”

May 8, 2009

Zapping “killer” electrons

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:10 pm

An interesting release from NASA today:

NASA’s THEMIS: ‘Singing’ Electrons Help Create and Destroy ‘Killer’ Electrons

GREENBELT, Md., May 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Scientists using NASA’s fleet of THEMIS spacecraft have discovered how radio waves produced by electrons injected into Earth’s near-space environment both generate and remove high-speed “killer” electrons.

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

Killer electrons are born within Earth’s natural radiation belts, called the Van Allen belts after their discoverer, James Van Allen. Killer electrons are mostly found in the outer belt, which over the equator begins approximately 8,000 miles above Earth and tapers off about 28,000 miles high.

The high-speed electrons pose a threat to satellites in or near the outer belt — those in medium-level and higher (geosynchronous) orbits — like the Global Positioning System and most communications satellites. They are known as “killer” electrons because they can penetrate a spacecraft’s sensitive electronics and cause short circuits.

“This discovery is important to understand the physical processes that shape the radiation belts, so that one day we will be able to predict the moment-by-moment evolution of the radiation belts and be in a position to safeguard satellites in these regions, or astronauts passing through them on the way to the moon or other destinations in the solar system,” said Dr. Jacob Bortnik of the University of California, Los Angeles, lead author of a paper on this research appearing May 8 in Science.

Electrons are subatomic particles that carry negative electric charge, and we harness their flow every day as electricity. Electrons are also present in space in a gas of electrically charged particles called plasma, which is constantly blown from the surface of the sun. When this plasma interacts with Earth’s magnetic field, some of it is shot toward Earth. The magnetic field over Earth’s night side acts like a slingshot, propelling blobs of plasma toward Earth. When this happens, electrons in the plasma blobs release extra energy gained from the slingshot by “singing” — they generate a discrete type of organized radio wave called “chorus,” which sounds like birds singing when played through an audio converter.

Scientists previously discovered that electrons in the outer radiation belt can extract energy from these chorus waves to reach near-light speed and become killer electrons. The new research, confirmed by the team’s THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms) observations, is that the chorus waves can be refracted into the inner portion of the radiation belts by dense plasma near Earth and bounce around from hemisphere to hemisphere within the radiation belts. When this happens, the chorus waves become disorganized and evolve into another type of radio wave called “hiss,” according to the team.

Hiss waves, named for the sound they make when played through a speaker, are of interest to space weather forecasters because earlier research showed they can clear killer electrons from lower altitudes of the outer radiation belt. Hiss deflects the speedy particles into Earth’s upper atmosphere, where they lose energy and are absorbed when they hit atoms and molecules there. Despite its important role, it was not clear how hiss was generated.

“It is not immediately obvious that these two waves are related, but we had a fortuitous observation where the THEMIS spacecraft were lined up just right to make the connection,” said Bortnik. “First we observed chorus on the THEMIS ‘E’ spacecraft, then a few seconds later, we observed hiss on the THEMIS ‘D’ spacecraft, about 20,000 kilometers (almost 12,500 miles) away, with the same modulation pattern as the chorus.”

“Last year, we published a Nature paper that put forward a theory that seemed to explain just about everything we knew about hiss,” adds Bortnik. “We showed theoretically how chorus could propagate from a distant region, and essentially evolve into hiss. We reproduced statistical information about hiss, and a few case-examples published in the literature seemed to agree with what we were predicting. The only problem was that it seemed really difficult to verify the theory directly — to have a satellite in the (distant) chorus source region, to have another satellite in the hiss region, to have both satellites recording in high-resolution simultaneously, for the waves to be active and present at the same time, and for the satellites to be in the right relative configuration to each other to make the measurement possible. That’s where THEMIS came in. It has the right set of instruments, and the right configuration at certain parts of its orbit.”

According to the team, it’s possible other mechanisms could contribute to the generation of hiss as well. “Lightning could certainly contribute, and so could ‘in situ’ growth — the high-speed particles in the belts could generate hiss with their own motion. However, it’s just a question of which mechanism is dominant, and each might dominate at different times and locations. More research is needed to determine this,” said Bortnik.

The research was funded by NASA. For images, refer to:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/themis/news/themis_singing_electrons.htm l

Photo:  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/

Small business credit crunch

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:55 pm

Tight, or no, credit for small business continues. Here’s some tough advice from Doug Tatum, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Tatum, an Atlanta-based consulting and executive search firm that specializes in helping growing companies with finance issues. Tatum is the author of ”No Man’s Land: What to Do When Your Company Is Too Big to Be Small and Too Small to Be Big” (Portfolio, 2007).

From the link:

Q.What’s your advice for businesses looking to borrow money these days?

 

A. Quit trying. The credit markets are tougher than I’ve ever seen them, aside from the Carter years.

Q.But it takes money to make money, right?

A. Entrepreneurs have a limited amount of bandwidth, and they have to quit wasting their time chasing the impossible. They need to think about how they can change their business model to become profitable. That’s where the capital to grow will come from. I just spent some time with a health care consulting company that pulls in $6 million in [annual] revenue with plans to grow to $10 million. They are just bobbing, weaving and growing despite how hard it is out there.

Q.Why hasn’t the government been able to open up the credit markets?

A. Banks have become cautious about what they have on their balance sheets. They still don’t know what their portfolios are worth. That means they’re waiting for the next shoe to drop, which could be the commercial markets. I talked to the C.E.O. of a community bank who told me that they have the regulators telling them when and where they can lend money. So while you might have politicians saying, ‘Lend, lend, lend,’ the regulators are holding the banks back.

About those bank stress tests

Here’s more information on the nuts and bolts.

From the link:

The Federal Reserve marshaled hundreds of supervisors to spend 45 days rigorously reviewing the banks’ detailed loan data. They applied exacting estimates of potential losses over two years, along with conservative estimates of potential earnings over the same period, and compared them with existing reserves and capital. The results were then evaluated against strict minimum capital standards, in terms of both overall capital and tangible common equity.

The effect of this capital assessment will be to help replace uncertainty with transparency. It will provide greater clarity about the resources major banks have to absorb future losses. It will also bring more private capital into the financial system, increasing the capacity for future lending; allow investors to differentiate more clearly among banks; and ultimately make it easier for banks to raise enough private capital to repay the money they have already received from the government.

The test results will indicate that some banks need to raise additional capital to provide a stronger foundation of resources over and above their current capital ratios. These banks have a range of options to raise capital over six months, including new common equity offerings and the conversion of other forms of capital into common equity. As part of this process, banks will continue to restructure, selling non-core businesses to raise capital. Indeed, we have already seen banks, spurred on by the stress test, take significant steps in the first quarter to raise capital, sell assets and strengthen their capital positions. Over time, our financial system should emerge stronger and less prone to excess.

Banks will also have the opportunity to request additional capital from the government through Treasury’s Capital Assistance Program. Treasury is providing this backstop so that markets can have confidence that we will maintain sufficient capital in the financial system. For institutions in which the federal government becomes a common shareholder, we will seek to maximize value for taxpayers and enable these companies to attract private capital, thereby reducing government ownership as quickly as possible.

Some banks will be able to begin returning capital to the government, provided they demonstrate that they can finance themselves without F.D.I.C. guarantees. In fact, we expect banks to repay more than the $25 billion initially estimated. This will free up resources to help support community banks, encourage small-business lending and help repair and restart the securities markets.

May 2, 2009

Jack Kemp, RIP

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 9:59 pm

Longtime advocate of supply-side economics and one-time GOP veep candidate. And NFL quarterback for the Bills.

From the link:

Jack Kemp, the former football star turned congressman who with an evangelist’s fervor moved the Republican Party to a commitment to tax cuts as the central focus of economic policy, died Saturday evening at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 73.

The cause was cancer, said his son Jimmy Kemp. Jack Kemp’s Washington consulting and lobbying firm, Kemp Partners, announced in January that he had cancer but did not disclose the type.

Mr. Kemp was secretary of housing and urban development under the first President George Bush and the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 1996. But his greatest legacy may stem from his years as a Buffalo congressman, especially 1978, when his argument for sharp tax cuts to promote economic growth became party policy, one that has endured to this day.

The nation, Mr. Kemp told the House that year, having embraced a supply-side economic theory, suffered under a “tax code that rewards consumption, leisure, debt and borrowing, and punishes savings, investment, work and production.”

Oracle of Omaha still sees short-term bears

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:41 pm

From the report the annual Berkshire Hathaway meeting was a bit somber again this year. Operating profit fell another 12 percent over last year and Warren Buffett sees more short-term losses on the horizen.

From the link:

Berkshire’s stock has fallen 39 percent since December 2007, but Buffett said no stock buybacks are planned because Berkshire’s share price is not “demonstrably below” the company’s intrinsic value. Profit fell 62 percent last year.

Buffett offered a gloomy forecast for parts of the economy and Berkshire itself, saying some units are laying off workers as managers “look at the reality of the current situation.”

He also said massive federal efforts to stimulate activity could pay off, at a possible cost of higher inflation.

“It has been a very extraordinary year,” Buffett said. “When the American public pulls back the way they have, the government does need to step in…. It is the right thing to do, but it won’t be a free ride.”

May 1, 2009

CDC flu prevention buttons

Anyone who wants a webstite button from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for various flu prevention measures can hit this link for a whole slew of ’em.

Just one example:

Wash your hands with soap and clean running water. Visit www.cdc.gov/h1n1 for more information.

(Hat tip: this tweet — whitehouse RT @CDC_eHealth Add a graphic with flu prevention messages to your webpage. Help spread the word about H1N1 (Swine Flu): http://is.gd/vXN6)

This bad tweet of the day …

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:07 pm

… comes courtesy of an online marketer who I’ll not name. I’m sure you can search the phrase on  Twitter and find the original, and maybe a lot more since a re-tweet request was included.

This is just so bad, and stupid to boot. And coming from a self-proclaimed marketing pro.

The gist of the tweet:

3 “Swine Flu” Twitter Secrets to Wild Viral Success

Rogue narcs in Philly

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:59 pm

IF you haven’t been following this story — Reason has been doing a bang-up job on that front — it’s worth the time to hit the link and get all the sordid details. Dirty cops and one more black mark against the war on drugs.

The real question is there will always be bad cops and even entire bad law enforcement units, but where was the oversight? That’s the question Radley Balko asks in this post.

From the link:

Previously (here and here), I blogged about a rogue narcotics unit in Philadelphia that was raiding bodegas on the flimsy excuse that the stores were selling resealable zip-lock bags that could potentially be used by drug dealers. Bodega owners say the cops were cutting the lines to surveillance cameras, then stealing cash, alcohol, cigarettes, and snack food from the stores. The Philadelphia Daily News was able to obtain footage of the cops cutting off one of the cameras during a raid, then inquiring to the store owner about whether the camera feeds went to a computer that was on or off-site.

The lingering question, here, is how this unit was able to operate like this for so long without any oversight. Why wasn’t anyone questioning the use of such aggressive tactics in searches not for drugs, but for no more than an otherwise legal product? Why did no one in the department ask why an “elite” narcotics unit was wasting its time busting immigrant shop owners with no criminal record for selling plastic bags instead of pursuing actual drug distributors?

It’s one thing to have a few rogue cops that, once caught, are fired and—hopefully—criminally charged. It’s a more wide-ranging and serious problem if there are institutional failures in the Philadelphia police department that allowed Officer Jeffrey Cujdic’s scam of terrorizing immigrant shop owners to flourish.

Now, the Daily News has published the results of its review of the search warrants obtained by Cujdik’s unit over the last several years, and the results are troubling. They find a wholesale lack of supervision of Cujdik and his men, even as complaints against them mounted.

Obama interrupts Gibbs in briefing room …

Filed under: Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:26 pm

… to make a statement that he spoke with Souter and confirmed the Supreme Court justice is going to retire.

Mark Knoller, CBS News White House correspondent, had a great tweet on the event:

It was Obama’s first time making a statement in the White House briefing room. “this is kind of cool,” he said.

Find Mark on Twitter at http://twitter.com/markknoller

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