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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Shooting Monks

I've been following a little bit about the events in Myanmar and protests by Monks for democracy. There is a repressive military government there and this isn't the first time they've been faced with Monks protesting for greater freedoms. The last time, 1988, the end result was a whole bunch of Monks getting shot and killed.

The same could be about to happen now. But the Monks and sympathetic citizens who are starting to join them, have technology on their side. The internet and satelite technology have allowed them to get messages, video and video footage out to the rest of the world.

A Japanese photographer was shot and killed last week. A picture of him down in the street may end up being the as well known as the Vietnam photo of the gun to the head execution or the student being run down by a tank in Tienenman Square.

Of course, neither of those situations ended well. But the Monks have hope, as Monks are wont to. But people are now being shot and the government is shutting down internet access in the country. Russia and China are saying it is an internal affair and the UN shouldn't get involved.

Take a look. Read one article.

http://www.nytimes.com/
http://www.cnn.com/

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

It it ain't bitter, it ain't NY

Had trouble posting a picture of it here, but the NY Post is apparently running the NFL standings with an asterisk next to the New England Patriots. At the bottom of the division it indicates that the asterisk means the Patriots were caught cheating.

It’s very clever and funny. But you know it's also a bit of whining, too. There’s real bitterness there.

Bitterness that Parcells left NY and turned up in New England. Bitterness that even though Parcells came back to New York—and in such a delicious way, sticking it to New England—he never really lived up to the hype before leaving again. Bitterness that Belichick left the NYJ and went to New England…and won three Super Bowls there. Bitterness that their candidate for Tom Brady has turned into Brad Johnson. Bitterness that the next generation of the Parcells-Belichick tree came to the NYJ as a Mangenius, but turned out to be a rat-fink with an 0-2 record.

So yeah, it’s funny. But considering the source, it’s funny to me on more than one level.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Military democrats

Most of the money is still going to Republicans, but it's encouraging (to me, a Democrat) that some military folks are considering the Donkeys more favorably. I was pleasantly surprised how many vets, Gulf War Vets ran as Dems in recent federal races.

Service members have traditionally supported the Republican Party, but there has been a dramatic shift since the war started in 2003 away from financial backing for GOP candidates for president and Congress, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics said.

So far this year and in the 2004 election, about 40 percent of contributions from donors identifiable as military members has gone to Democrats, compared to about one fourth in the 2000 and 2002 cycles, the center's study said. http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Becoming environmentally friendly

Earlier this year, I made myself feel good by buying and using four or five of the new flourescent bulbs. It was good for the environment becuase they have a longer lifespan and use less electricity. They lower our electricity bill. Forget that I haven't a clue what our electricity bill is.

Not long thereafter, we started filling the recycling bin with empty bottles, cans and milk jugs. Long overdue, I know. Soon we'll start separating paper, including the mounds of junk mail we get every day. Baby steps, you know?

I've also been looking into other environmentally friendly things. I've learned a little about solar power, wind power and floating grids of buoys that use the motion of the ocean to generate power. There are skyscrapers that use giant blocks of ice in the basement with fans to generate air conditioning. Small step to reduce demand on the power grid during peak demand hours. They refreeze the blocks at night. There's another method to do that which involves releasing water through a dam to generate power during peak periods and then pumping it back up to the reservoir above during times of less demand.

My latest study project, which I actually hope to use, are rain barrels. The standard formula is that you could collect up to 6,000 gallons of water from an inch of rain falling on a 1,000 square foot roof. If you can lay your hands on a 55-gallon drum, they are cheap and easy to make. Pre-made ones go for $75-300, depending on size and some other factors.

I may ask for a rain barrel for my birthday or Christmas.

There will be more posts on water and environmental issues at some point. Lots of interesting things to be learned about reusing shower or sink water for flushing toilets and other ways to reduce or reuse water. Even if I can't or don't take advantage of them, the science or creativity is pretty cool.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Technological singularity

There are times when I come across concepts that I can begin to grasp. But I can't get much beyond the basics without feeling my brain begin to spin.

I present for your consideration technological singularity. As I understand it is a theory where machines become more and more intelligent, surpassing the intelligence of their creators, humans. Humans then become unnecessary as the machines can learn to create not only replicas of themselves, but better versions of themselves.

In addition to being unnecessary, humans won't even be able to understand the advanced thinking of these machines.

The basis for these theories gets tough. There are big brains using big thinking to debate how this would happen or even if it would.

Interesting though.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Wow

Watching a no hitter is pretty cool.

Being at a no hitter is very, very cool. I know, I was just at one.

Great, exciting experience.