Monday, December 24, 2007

Drying Lake Lanier reveals

Source: CNN

History comes to light as lake falls

GAINESVILLE, Georgia (AP) -- The acres of drying mud that span much of what once was Lake Lanier jolt to a stop at a bend, where a concrete foundation appears as a sudden reminder of life before the lake....

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Faster Internet in Japan

Source: Washington Post

Japan's Warp-Speed Ride to Internet Future

By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, August 29, 2007; Page A01

TOKYO -- Americans invented the Internet, but the Japanese are running away with it.

Broadband service here is eight to 30 times as fast as in the United States -- and considerably cheaper....

Older news which I missed until now.

New fuel standards in US

Source: CNN Money
Fuel efficiency and the American driver
Congress is poised to finally make cars get better gas mileage. Consumers can expect to pay more for their vehicles but save on their gas bills.

By Steve Hargreaves, staff writer
December 1 2007: 1:15 PM EST

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The new racial dialogue

Source: NY Times

The DNA Age
In DNA Era, New Worries About Prejudice
Published: November 11, 2007
Research is exploring how DNA explains racial differences, but it could give discredited prejudices a new potency.

Science is now moving towards answering questions long-held about differences between various groups and some fear that reinforcement of negative stereotypes may occur while I do not.

That is because I have a very nuanced view of American racism where I see it as in my experience people who rely on race to say they are superior do so because they need that extra, as normal people do not wish to learn that the size of their accomplishments may be lessened because of genetic gifts.

For instance, to do an extreme, what person struts around proud of being able to talk versus their dog's inability?

As human beings we are genetically capable of speech while our four-footed friends are not, but who prides themselves on that?

If "whites" were genetically superior to "blacks" in some areas of intelligence, then their accomplishments in those areas would be rated less in comparison.

Since no one can say that any racial group is completely shut out of any area of human society in terms of accomplishment, actual racial disparity in some particular area would elevate, not diminish the accomplishments of someone from a disadvantaged group.

So those who look to race for a sense of their own superiority do so I suggest based on a sense of their own personal inferiority, so they need the help, as no one wishes to be simply told that their accomplishments are not that big of a deal because they have a genetic leg-up.

Like, consider fashion models.

The new racial dialogue I believe will be a complex one that will go far beyond past ones that were about scared people looking for advantage in a highly competitive society, especially as more people realize that the person claiming supremacy on the basis of race does so because he has nothing else to rely on, so he needs to believe that something built-in gives him at least some worth.

People who value real accomplishment do not value innate advantage as they seek to prove to themselves and others who is the best.

In a world where genetics are increasingly not enough, where people have to learn to be the best, I doubt racial intolerance will gain more traction than it already has as it is instead a sign of fear and weakness.

And in this modern world showing such weakness is increasingly a way to lose.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's referral, stupid

I find at times I wake up early in the morning which is when I seem to have these insights. Like I was thinking to myself that the easiest way to completely define Google is to say that it is a referral company. They refer people to interesting content where that you can say is what all media companies do, which is why we, the consumers, allow them to exist.

That is what media companies do, they refer us.

Now Yahoo! is having some troubles so I'm going to help them out with a business idea, as I go to their main website often to see if I'm going to get referred to anything interesting and I do at times and it's always news, nothing else.

But they have so much stuff there that I know they want to refer me, but clearly they want to refer me only to stuff they or their various business partners want. But what about what I want?

I can tell what they want as they are painfully transparent in their needs and I know it's about money and they need money. They need my time so they can make money, I got that part.

But if they can't refer me to what I want then what good are they to me? And why should I help them continue to exist? (Yes, they have search too but Google is a great referrer so I can get more with its search.)

Oh yeah, so the business idea for Yahoo is a personalized page that builds based on your searches (with your permission of course) which kind of acts like a friend, in that, say, you do a lot of porn searches it kind of nicely ignores that (unless you ask it not to) and slowly builds a profile by suggesting at times a site or two but no more than three that you might want to add to your page.

And every once in a while it refers you to some interesting content, which, wow, can include advertising! Where instead of being another beggar on the streets of the Web, Yahoo! can actually be a referrer you appreciate.

I am tired of pushy companies either forcing ads at me--still begging people, no matter how flashy or snazzy the ads are--or never figuring out ways to refer me to interesting content.

While Google keeps doing this better it will clobber everyone else.

Ok, that is my sleepy idea of the day. May as well get up now and later I'll come back to see how this one sounds after the passage of time.

It's referral, stupid. IRS. Hey, that's kind of ironic. Go figure.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What is the CDC?

The CDC stands for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its website is the one government website that I highly recommend to any and everyone.

It is a site you should check for important information on a regular basis.

You can do so from this blog but I recommend adding it to your favorites:

The more we know, the more we help each other.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Useful appendix

Source: MSNBC

Scientists may have found appendix’s purpose
Seemingly useless organ may produce, protect good germs for your gut

WASHINGTON - Some scientists think they have figured out the real job of the troublesome and seemingly useless appendix: It produces and protects good germs for your gut....

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Grape has more genes than you

Source: Yahoo! News

Wine grape genes mapped
By JENNY BARCHFIELD, Associated Press Writer Thu Sep 27, 1:51 PM ET

...A team of French and Italian researchers has mapped the genome of the pinot noir grape, used to make bubbly and many red wines from France's Burgundy region and around the world — and it has about 30,000 genes in its DNA. That's more than the human genome, which contains some 20,000 to 25,000 genes.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Germs in space, experiment makes deadlier

Source: Yahoo! News

Germs taken to space come back deadlier
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer Mon Sep 24, 5:02 PM ET

WASHINGTON - It sounds like the plot for a scary B-movie: Germs go into space on a rocket and come back stronger and deadlier than ever. Except, it really happened.

Oh, I love this story. And who thinks of sending germs into space and seeing how many mice they kill when they get back anyway?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Iceland's clean energy

Source: CNN

... Virtually all of the country's electricity and heating comes from domestic renewable energy sources -- hydroelectric power and geothermal springs.

It's pollution-free and cheap....

Saturday, September 15, 2007

About class, not really about race

Source: MSNBC

The ‘Jena Six’

Things are looking up for six black teens charged with trying to kill a white classmate last year after a Louisiana court vacated the conviction of one of the men. But national civil-rights advocates say something remains very amiss in the small town.

People may be puzzled by the endurance of weird racism in the United States, as consider the story linked to above where the start was with white teenagers angry at black teenagers sitting in what was considered a whites only area--a spot under a tree.

So how is it about class and not race?

Well, if the town could send a message to its black teenagers that they are second-class citizens who have to defer to whites, is that not telling them that the whites are nobility?

Story after story of American racism when looked at from a class perspective really are attempts at one group asserting its nobility over another and demanding respect.

In England in the past, nobles could have people physically punished for not giving them "their due". Calling a lady, a lady was not about choice.

American racism is best interpreted as I have said before as an attempt by one group to make itself a noble class in this country along the lines of what its members saw in their country before they came here.

It is so hard to stamp out as it is about a social safety net, where the belief is that all you have to do is be in the top class and live off the bottom one, which is that naive perspective of how British royalty worked--or did not.

So if only those pesky black people would accept their role at the bottom, then the upper class could get to the business of enjoying life! Like in jolly ol England.

Now not every person labeled white in the United States thinks this way, and I'd think that the majority do not.

I believe that the majority of people in this country like a middle class way of life, and would actually get sickened by a real upper class riding herd over a dominated "commoner" class, but while they ignore the reality that not everyone in this country thinks the same way, they allow these people to create very un-American situations, like a special tree for only whites, and punishments meant to send a message to black kids who stepped over the class lines drawn.

That's not the United States that most people think of, when they think of here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ice keeps New York office towers cool

Source: CNN, title is their headline

...Some office towers and buildings are keeping their AC use to a minimum by using an energy-saving system that relies on blocks of ice to pump chilly air....

Sunday, July 15, 2007

"Controlled Burn"

Source: Fox station KTVU

POSTED: 8:36 am PDT July 14, 2007
Two dispatchers with the California Highway Patrol initially dismissed 911 calls that came in reporting a fire on the south rim of Lake Tahoe, causing a seven-to-nine minute delay in their response, recordings of the 911 calls that were released Friday show.

On the tape from five calls answered by the CHP Truckee field office, dispatchers tell callers the smoke they are seeing is from a controlled burn in the area. The smoke actually came from a fire that ultimately destroyed 254 homes and burned 3,100 acres of mountain wilderness....

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Completing DMESE

I've introduced an idea for protecting digital media from unlimited illegal copying which I call Digital Media Equipment Self-Encryption or DMESE for short, where the essential part of the idea is that the copying equipment encrypts its own copy where it can read it but it is harder to pass to others, but part of the idea is use of a flash drive so you can pass the copy.

But thinking about it more I realize that now people can do things like pass their master copy around to all their friends who can make copies that way, and while that might be a bit more involved than things are now it might not be enough to satisfy the entertainment industry.

So the completion of the idea is that the copy will work without hassle for 30 days and at the end of the 30 day period, you have to put the master disk back into the drive after which the copy will work indefinitely. That way if people pass their master disk around copiers will need to keep it for 30 days or ask for it back in that time.

I arbitrarily picked 30 days of course as it could be shorter while I think it wouldn't help to be longer. And key to the idea is the copying drive keeping up with each of its copies, but they're all individually encrypted anyway with a time stamp from the original idea.

So now, yeah, someone might still let, say, their close friend make a copy, knowing they'll either have to keep the bought original disk for 30 days or ask for it again, but it'll be a hassle, and the point of all this is making it not worth it, so that it's easier to just buy your own.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

11-year-old charged with driving drunk in Alabama

Source: Yahoo! News, title is headline

An 11-year-old girl was charged with drunken driving after leading police on a chase at speeds of up to 100 mph that ended when she flipped the car in an Alabama beach town.

Friday, July 6, 2007

CDC and TV

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Millions of Americans have been able to dispel myths and stigma around cancer, obesity, HIV and many other public health concerns through the power of entertainment. Popular shows like ER, Grey's Anatomy and Girlfriends have helped CDC educate and inform the public while also reaching at-risk audiences with prevention messages....

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Entertainment industry, copy protection and DMESE

Back in January of this year I made a post of an idea for copy protection on one of my other blogs, and as time goes by I like it more.

Simply enough I figured that when you make a copy, say of a DVD--wait, let's shift to CD's now because the music industry's flagging sales of CD's are in the news--so you make a copy of a CD, then if it's a music CD you bought from a store with some artist, like say, Celine Dion, then your copy is automatically encrypted by your own pc's CD player as it makes the copy. That copy is its own, like its baby, so it can read it with no problem, but no one else can, without a key, which you can pass by a flash drive.

May sound silly, why should your computer's CD drive encrypt your copy?

Simple, so no one else can easily use the copy while you can use it without hassle or even caring that it is encrypted. Flash drives can fit into USB ports, and that part of the idea is so that you can play the CD on some other device you own, but yes, it also means that if you must you could give the copy to someone else, but they have to have the flash drive with the decrypting code as well and the copy has identifying information about you.

That means the point of this idea is that you the end user are unlikely to be able to take your CD player apart, pull the chips that encrypt it and solder in new chips re-programmed to give you unencrypted copies so that you can widely distribute to your friends and family.

I christened the idea Digital Media Equipment Self-Encryption or DMESE for short.

It has been on a blog of mine since January of this year.

For the sake of argument let's attack the idea with some questions:

1. Why can't anyone just figure out a way to get around this like they seem to do with every other copy protection idea?

Ans: Sure, experienced hackers with electrical engineering degrees might be able to re-program their digital equipment like take apart their CD drive or their DVD drive, but can you if you're not one? And will you go find that local guy to do it for you so that you can make illegal copies to give to lots of your friends, or will you just settle for legal copies that you can still give to your friends anyway if you really want?

2. Doesn't copy protection just suck anyway? Why have any?

Ans: Because illegal copying cuts into profits for people who control the production and distribution of entertainment media and while the system may suck in many ways, it is the system we have, so why not get a solution that helps everyone? This idea lets you make copies, say, of Transformers when it comes out on DVD without worrying about some studio hating your guts, as they can figure, sure maybe you'll give a copy to your daughter, your Dad, or your Mom, but you will not supply the entire neighborhood, and all your co-workers, and total strangers who you meet on the street, etc. with copies of their movie.

3. Sounds great, can I expect to copy my movies and DVD's legally by Christmas?

Ans: Probably not. I call myself one of the most successful failures in human history because I have quite a few spectacular ideas--mostly ignored by the mainstream--where I am in this arena where money matters (I hope) because my other big ideas are mostly in mathematics. Being an idea person I know how hard it can be to get institutions to look for ideas from unexpected sources, so despite the millions in losses from the industry, I know that this idea can just sit, without anything being done.

4. Wait a minute, if it's such a great idea and you think you're so smart, why not patent it and get rich?

I tried to patent an idea once. After over $4,000 U.S. ( I got an attorney) and silly objections from a patent examiner, I gave up--no patent. I have no interest in repeating working at a broken system, and besides, this is more fun! I estimate this idea is worth possibly over $100 million U.S. over its patentable lifetime, and I'm giving it away! For free!!!

Who can do that? Who else? No one but me, and it's kind of a fun thing to contemplate as I am an idea person and ideas intrigue me.

Besides, it allows me to feel quite a bit smarter than an industry full of arrogant people and I get a kick out of the idea of, say, some music executive whining in some meeting about flagging sales around people who may know this idea, and quietly smile to themselves...

James Harris

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Jumping Sturgeon Striking Boaters

Source: New York Times

Summertime. Fish Jumping. That’s Trouble.
Published: July 4, 2007
Florida’s season of “sturgeon strikes” — collisions between the leaping fish and hapless boaters — is under way.

Happy 4th of July!!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Taxing reality

Source: CNN

...Speaking to several hundred supporters of the U.S. Senator from New York, Buffett revealed his puzzlement that he was taxed at a lower rate than many of the lesser-paid individuals working for his company.

Buffett said he makes $46 million a year in income and is only taxed at a 17.7 percent rate on his federal income taxes. By contrast, those who work for him, and make considerably less, pay on average about 32.9 percent in taxes - with the highest rate being 39.7 percent....

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mystery shark pregnancy, aquarium experts ponder

I paused for a bit wondering who'd want to hear another shark pregnancy story? But then I realized this one should go into what I fear may be a hard to fill category, so here it is:

Source: CNN article

...Asexual reproduction among sharks is more likely to happen in captivity, when there is no other option for reproduction, than in the wild, Hueter said.

Crossbreeding, on the other hand, is not known to happen at all among sharks, said Heather Thomas, aquarist at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

"It's not natural," Thomas said. "If you've got a shark that needs to swim to breathe and cross it with a shark that can lay on the bottom to breathe, what are you going to get? Are you going to get these weird mutations?"

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Article on CDC sex, drug survey

CNN has an article about a survey of sexual behavior and drug use in the United States released Friday.

Here's a quote from the article:

A new nationwide survey, using high-tech methods to solicit candid answers on sexual activity and illegal drug use, finds that 29 percent of American men report having 15 or more female sexual partners in a lifetime, while only 9 percent of women report having sex with 15 or more men.

The median number of lifetime female sexual partners for men was seven; the median number of male partners for women was four.

Fascinating. It is the kind of information that automatically has one thinking, where do you rank?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

100-foot deep Andes lake disappears

Source: CNN, title is headline

• Lake disappeared between March and May
• Ice chunks that floated on lake now lie on rocks
• Scientists say no earthquakes that could have caused cracks in lake bottom

Monday, June 18, 2007

New York City pays $29,000 for arresting topless woman

Source: CNN, title is article headline

• Jill Coccaro, 27, accepts settlement for her 2005 arrest during topless stroll
• NYC police held her for 12 hours before telling her she wouldn't be charged
• Appeals court ruled in '92 that women have same right as men to go topless
• Lawyer: "We hope police learn a lesson and respect the rights of women"

Friday, June 15, 2007

Re-thinking DNA and RNA

Source: Economist

Molecular biology is undergoing its biggest shake-up in 50 years, as a hitherto little-regarded chemical called RNA acquires an unsuspected significance

Friday, June 8, 2007

Alabama state senator hits another

Source: CNN

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) -- Simmering tensions in the Alabama Senate boiled over Thursday when a Republican lawmaker punched a Democratic colleague in the head before they were pulled apart....

Saturday, May 26, 2007

What is "managed copy"?

Link above is to a news article on managed copy which is a subject that has recently been in the news.

Idea as I see it is to let people do what comes natural and make backup copies of DVD's that they buy. I know I want to have backup copies as I learned that lesson with CD's as I have lots of scratched up CD's that I don't like playing because you have to keep jumping them over the really bad scratched parts.

Trouble is, if you make a DVD easy to copy, movie studios and other people in the chain are worried about losing lots of money as people then make copies for their friends, or even people who are strangers as I've noticed as today copying is a casual thing.

What gets me though is that it is easy to solve the problem by digital media equipment self-encryption (DMESE)--I like making up phrases so I just made that up--where your computer makes a backup copy--encrypted by it, for it.

So because your computer encrypts your copy, your computer can read your copy, but no one else can without a key.

Ok, problem solved, next thing?

Sure, yeah, the problem can be solved by me casually on a blog just like that but we live in a world complicated by massive human egos so don't necessarily think that because I put out a simple idea that would let me back up my DVD's like I backup CD's that you'll be able to do it by Christmas!

Oh yeah, I've talked about this idea multiple times on one of my other blogs:

Post on my other blog

James Harris

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

House slides into Bodega Bay

Source: KTVU, San Francisco

Link is to a slide show about a home that slid into Bodega Bay.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Back again

I had this blog for a while and then dropped it, but found that my other blogs just didn't satisfy all my needs so I've revived it.

If only partly because I have a new compilation of some of my short stories and a couple of poems, which I'm tossing in the link section.

But mostly I've realized that at times I want to just babble, and my other blogs are just too focused like on my programming work or my mathematical research, while this one can just be silly, and I can do what I like at times to do, comment on the world.

I think I should make another post, with one of my poems.

James Harris