Friday, September 30, 2011

Trapped in a Maze?

  1. Nearly two years ago, the site of the supposedly-mythical Labyrinth was discovered.
  2. There was - at the time - much speculation regarding what kinds of skeletal remains might be found there.
  3. Since 2009, there has been essentially no news regarding these discoveries.
Why are the combined governments of Greece and the UK refusing to release photos of whatever skeletons have been found? Is there any connection between this reticence and the vast amounts of money being funneled to the Greek government by the other nations of Europe? When will those in power realize that there is nothing gained by hiding the truth from the people? We will continue to monitor this cover-up and share all we can discover here.

Posted by Listener 43

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Copping an Attitude

 It would appear that Obama, Reid, and Boehner are much less well-thought-of than Jobs and Gates, and held in even more contempt than Bank of America and WaMu.
Not much additional commentary required here, is there? Maybe if instead of just taking all the tax money they can get and throwing it down solar rat-holes and foreign rat-holes and every other kind of rat-hole, they produced something of value we wouldn't think they were such a bunch of useless leeches, but they don't and so we do.

Industry Positive Neutral Negative
Computer Industry 72% 16% 10%
Farming Industry 57% 22% 19%
Automobile Industry 42% 25% 32%
Banking 30% 21% 47%
The Federal Government 17% 20% 63%
 Source: Gallup Poll, Augst 29, 2011

Posted by Lewis Cannon

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Not Fast, But Furious!

We Didn't Start the Fire!

Oh great, another corporation trying to grab information about its customers in order to sell them even more stuff they can't afford.
If Google tried this kind of thing, they'd get hauled before Congress.
If Microsoft tried it, the fanbois would come up with the nastiest names to call them.
Ah, but since Amazon is everyone's favorite bookstore (you know, that box with a smile!) they can grab all our internet traffic and "enhance" our experience.


Amazon's "new" browser system - Silk - for the Kindle Fire offloads much of the actual browsing work from the Fire itself to the Amazon Cloud service. That "new" really belongs in quotes, because this is just a repeat of what BT did to its UK customers with Phorm - snagging all the traffic and using it to suggest products, serve ads, store data about each surfer (they call them punters over there - go figure?!) all without really making it clear that they were going to be profiting from the data that the punters were handing over, pretty much without thinking about it or saying it was OK with them.
Amazon will now have all the requests - probably even the https / SSL / TLS traffic - made by each Fire device, and will map that directly to the Amazon accounts of the owners so they can make sure they offer up products related to whatever it is that those folks are looking at in other places. You think cookie trails are too invasive now? Just wait for Silk to the the standard model of a browser based on whatever ISP you're using and it won't matter if you delete cookies or use incognito windows or other sandboxing systems - the cloud will have all your information:

It's going to get even worse when IP v6 is the law of the internet since each device will be able to have a static IP address and when that's added to the Phorm / Silk pattern of slurping all the browsing activity from everyone everywhere and making commercial use of it it's only a matter of not very much time until the various government agencies around the world will be getting everything from the cloud that pertains to anyone and everyone and there's not enough tin foil in the world to make hats to stop all that!

Posted by Gyro Gearloose

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Won't Someone Think of the Voters!?

Good grief. 
First we have elected officials actually proposing that we suspend elections so we can "get something done" in Washington.
Now we have evidence that the voting machines that we may (or may not?) be using next November are susceptible to some of the easiest hacking we've ever seen.

Isn't it obvious that having a voting system where there's no way to check the results other than to read the same numbers again is nothing but a recipe for disaster? Folks - there are no electronic chads, hanging or otherwise, running the numbers from the same machine through the same machine isn't a recount, it's a rerun! and at least the scantron kinds of ballots can be confirmed by a different counting process, it could be a human or it could be a different machine but at least there's some reason to think that errors would be caught instead of just repeated.

But it's worse when you find out that the machines can be hacked to give different results while the voter is voting but the voter can't even tell it's doing something other than what he intended because there's no way to find the error or fraud when it comes time to get the total votes counted.

Give me a paper ballot or the old mechanical voting booth machines any time - something that simple is easy enough to understand so it's easy to understand what might go wrong - not like software that no one ever really sees like that Excel bug that gave the wrong answer to a simple arithmetic problem that had to get fixed by Microsoft after they had already started selling the program.

I don't know what would be worse - that the people trying to install these machines are too stupid to realize their mistake or that they're actually trying to wreck stuff on purpose.

Posted by Lewis Cannon

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

ROOTing out the Higgs Boson at CERN

UPDATED! - See Below
  1. CERN says it's removed 40,000 bugs from ROOT, the software that analyzes the data from the Large Hadron Collider.
  2. ROOT - made up of 3.5 million lines of C++ code - crunches the 15 PB (petabytes) of data generated by the LHC's collisions each year.
  3. Several million additional lines of code have been added in the search for the Higgs boson by the physicists on staff.
  4. They admit there is no guarantee that they've gotten all the bugs - "software doesn't work that way," said Axel Naumann of the ROOT development team.
It's quite interesting that not long after the LHC@Home project was instituted, "bugs" are found in the ROOT system of the LHC at CERN. It would appear that the physicists and managers underestimated the potential threat to their software from connecting to vast numbers of "home" computers.
My colleague, Gyro Gearloose, has unearthed statistics indicating that a large plurality of home computers - whether Windows or MacOS - are compromised by viruses, trojans, or rootkits which could easily threaten the software of other computers which communicate with them. While it's a bit of a stretch to think that CERN is running Windows or Mac software to control much of anything, C++ is a common language, and rogue hackers are more than conversant with it. C++ may be the back-door leading to the derailing of the search for the Higgs boson.
I hesitate to exonerate the leadership at CERN without more evidence, but it may be that my past criticism has been somewhat too stern.
Should developments confirm that suspicion, you will find my apology here (but I'm not ready to bet on it).

CERN has announced they've found neutrinos going faster than light, but they're not confident of this result and are asking other physics teams to check their results and replicate their experiments. Could this be an artifact of compromised analysis software? It's looking more and more as if these folks are simply incompetent, rather than malicious. I'm not sure which is worse, when handling the powerful equipment and vast budgetary resources which are a part of this kind of science.

Posted by Procrustes 17 (with thanks to Gyro Gearloose)

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Triffids in Brazil?

  1. Botanists have discovered a plant in Brazil that plants its own seeds.
  2. Rather than count on the wind or animals to distribute its seed, it places them in the ground on its own.
  3. When all is working properly, the plant actually covers the seed with moss.
  4. Over the course of generations, the plant and its offspring will be found to be walking from one point to another.
While not moving as quickly as the Triffids of the film world, these plants are certainly capable of moving from one place to another via what this author is calling generational locomotion.
In an attempt to avoid fear, outrage, and panic, the plant has been "christened" with a religious-sounding name: Spigelia Genuflexa.

Posted by Listener 43

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

NASA Avoids Smelling Like Musk

  1. Congress cancelled funding for the previous NASA-planned heavy lifting rocket.
  2. NASA kept the Orion capsule from that system in their plans, but with no way to launch it.
  3. Elon Musk (SpaceX) has rockets that already work, and rockets in development that will be more than adequate for sending Orion capsules to Mars and beyond.
  4. NASA just announced plans for their next heavy lifting rocket (Space Launch System) which looks like a scaled shuttle booster system.
Liquid Hydrogen and liquid Oxygen may yield high amounts of thrust, but at significant cost - especially in a disposable system which must keep the two in liquid form. SpaceX can deliver as much thrust at far lower cost, and with fewer throw-away parts.

Given these factors, it's not really a surprise that NASA wants its own system, built and maintained by its traditional suppliers, is it? After all, they are a governmental agency. I'm beginning to wonder if there isn't someone from CERN advising them in this matter.

After all, this isn't rocket science, folks ... oh wait, it is rocket science. Frankly, rocket science is pretty darned simple, you know. So why do the rocket scientists seem to have such trouble with seeing how much their options cost? It's just simple arithmetic.

Posted by Procrustes 17

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ponzi Schmonzi

Updated - see below:

So now they're arguing about discussing Social Security - at last. It's darned disgusting to think that it's taken this long for anything like a real discussion of what's going on with that program to finally actually happen.

Everyone seems to admit that it can't work the way things are now, one Governor is saying it's a broken program that needs to be reformed and another Governor calls it a Ponzi Scheme. He's not really right, but he's not as wrong as everyone want to say he is.
Technically, Social Security may not qualify as a Ponzi Scheme - but we can sure see that it's not very far from a pyramid scheme or a multi-level marketing operation. Ponzi counted on a continual doubling of investors to fund the earlier entrants - that's why his scheme worked for less than a year, and how he got his name attached to one of the biggest scams of all time. Social Security counts on lots of present workers paying in to fund the benefits of fewer former workers (aka retirees)

This Guy says Social Security
"creates a strong link between the aged and the working-age population–today’s workers create the capital, the technology, and the wealth that will support tomorrow’s generation. Embedded in its…formulas is the notion that those of us who came before, whether they were teachers, accountants, homemakers, mail carriers, barbers, cashiers, or lawyers, have built up the productive capacity of our nation.
When the children of these workers come of age (along with new immigrants), they will earn their living from this infrastructure while also making their own contributions. As they do so, we will peel off some portion of their earnings to provide pensions for their forebears, just as those forebears did for their own predecessors…Social Security is thus an elegant collaborative solution to a universal challenge.”
 He's totally off his nut. If any of that crap drivel were actually true, then no one would have been sold the bill of goods that there are individual accounts where each worker's contributions go to grow in anticipation of retirement. That's why retirees think they are receiving the proceeds from their Social Security "contributions" (known more formally as Federal Insurance Contributions Act employment taxes). Former senator Algore told us he was going to move that money - that doesn't really exist - into a lockbox for us; that's right, folks, a lockbox!

What's actually in the Social Security accounts is a fiction of US Treasury debt - basically a promise by the government to repay the money that they borrowed from our "accounts" by spending it again. Spend that money again? Just because the feds think they can tax income over and over, they seem to have gotten it into their heads that they can spend the same money over and over as well (there's nothing in there to keep these crazy ideas out, I guess).

Here's the way it really is. Social Security isn't a Ponzi scheme, and it's not necessarily going to go under, because congress can simply change the benefits at any time - there are no guarantees, there are no individual accounts, and there's no lockbox.

Call it whatever you want - it's not something a rational man would count on.

I came across this article that came out after mine and seems to make some of the same points I did, (I'm not saying there's anything fishy, I'm just saying mine was first) but with a bit more nastiness than mine - more the way I wanted mine to come across when I wrote it in the first place but I was feeling too charitable at the time if you'll pardon the expression.

Posted by Lewis Cannon

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

SETI @ Home Is Back

  1. SETI had taken their radio telescope array off-line some time ago due to "lack of funds."
  2. They announced at the time that they would be coming back online when their liquidity improved.
  3. During that interim period, other researchers were discovering large numbers of potentially habitable planets in our "Milky Way" galaxy.
  4. Now SETI is looking for home computer owners to donate CPU cycles to their SETI @ home program for analyzing the many terabytes of data they are once again collecting.
As noted in an earlier post, this timing seemed too convenient to be coincidental - planets being discovered while SETI held their arrays off-line. They were looking for funding, and have reportedly received nearly a quarter of a million dollars from thousands of donors, and it is interesting to see that one such donor was noted author, Larry Niven.
Why haven't the non-SETI scientists released the descriptions of any rings found around these worlds, or at least denied their existence?
Are any of the newly notable suns actually surrounded by Dyson Spheres? (or by a ring-shaped portion of one?)
Why are these details being kept out of the public reports of these discoveries?

We'll report more here when it becomes available. Our Area 51 observation post will be on full alert in the weeks to come.

Posted by Listener 43

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Straw That Turns The Camel's Stomach?

I'm finding it easier to believe fiction than the current news these days. It looks to me like our fearless leaders in Washington have lost their political minds as they try to appease address all of their various competing constituencies.
This particular example, and maybe I should call it schizophrenia instead of saying they've lost their minds but I don't think it really matters all that much since I'm not a shrink so I'm not really making a diagnosis, just an observation of how it looks to me these days, is that the White House is backpedaling on the idea of giving away 300K work permits to undocumented workers illegal aliens in their back-alley amnesty program of only deporting the illegals who might vote Republican (or whatever their criterion is).
Somehow, someone has suddenly figured out that with over 9% unemployment, the laid-off union guys who would normally vote for the Democrats might be upset to see a bunch of work permits go to Mexicans or Canadians or whoever is sneaking across the border these days so they can undercut the unions' wage levels and keep those guys out of work.
This could have turned out to be the straw that turns the camel's stomach and actually loses the Dems some votes from the dependent class, but since 9% unemployment is a whole bunch more votes than 300K supposedly non-voting non-citizens, even these bozos seem like they figured out they'd be cutting off their votes to spike the punch, or however that old saw goes.

I guess I'm glad they seem to be dropping this idea, but it's pretty scary to think that these guys were dumb enough to think it was a good idea in the first place. Maybe they're the inmates who are running the asylum? Maybe we really are all bozos on this bus.

Posted by Lewis Cannon

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Trying to disCERN the Truth

  1. Just over a week ago, CERN scientists were telling their colleagues that they didn't have the evidence of the Higgs boson which they had previously thought they had.
  2. They claimed - bizarrely - that their loss in statistical certitude meant they had a better chance of finding the so called "God particle."
  3. This week, they're claiming to be ahead of schedule in their search for this elusive particle. In fact, they claim they may have evidence of a discovery "by Christmas."
  4. Somehow, the LHC has been pumping out collisions at a rate of approximately six times that they had "expected" prior to this announcement.
Once again, the LHC scientists at CERN seem to be playing fast and loose with their colleagues' collective credulity. One has to wonder if they were really that far off in the understanding of the capabilities of their machine. Of course, with their vaunted "LHC@home 2.0" program, they were anticipating a faster analysis cycle, but certainly they're not getting more collisions as a result of this program.

It seems apparent that the CERN leadership has already decided when and what their announcement will be regarding the Higgs boson, and they're trying to play the international press like a cello until then.

One can only hope they will turn out to be less unforthcoming in their science than they seem to be in their press relations.

Posted by Procrustes 17

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Facing The Ugly Truth

Just when I think our "elites" can't get any dumber, they delight me with another "Oh, great, I guess it can get worse" moment like this one.
First it was the smarmy Eurocrats telling people what kind of nose jobs they can have without being labeled as mentally ill. Now we have pinhead Texas professor Hamermesh telling us that since ugly people earn less money than the average, we need to make "Ugly" a protected class.
The moron helpfully provides research in his book, "Beauty Pays," (please don't buy it, folks, you'll just encourage him. Think of this as a "don't feed the trolls" kind of area.) to show that ugly people earn less money, marry folks who also make less money, have more trouble getting loans (not that making money - being able to repay - would have anything to do with how hard it is to get a loan, right?), and just find it all around harder to get ahead than the non-Ugly folks in these United States.
I think the best part of this whole idea is that once you get government certified as "Ugly" no one will ever even think of calling you ugly or treating you badly. I wish I could be a card-carrying Ugly-American - that's the kind that always gets to go to Europe and trash our reputation as educated, polite, progressive, reasonable people, right? Maybe that means the government is going to pay for these Ugly-Americans to travel - with my tax dollars, since as far as I can tell, I'm not ugly enough to qualify.

Does Ugly run in families? If my wife and I are Ugly, will my kids automatically qualify? What if they're only half-Ugly? Does this all work like the other protected classes?

Oh, one of the best parts is that we'll finally have an objective standard for who's Ugly and who's not - no more personal taste involved, and maybe Ugly women will suddenly be in demand for marriage since they'll come with automatic extra benefits from the government and in employment since you wouldn't dare lay off the ugly one or the EEOC would come down on you like a ton of bricks and maybe hit you with the Ugly Stick.

Maybe this all makes some sort of bizarre sense if you're a college professor moron, but since I'm not a moron, I happy to say that I probably wouldn't understand.

Posted by Lewis Cannon

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Threat of Transparency

  1. Scientists have added colors to worms through genetic coding.
  2. There may well be plans by governments and law enforcement agencies to use these colors as markers and tracking systems for criminals and other citizens.
  3. Japanese scientists at RIKEN have found a way to make human tissue transparent.

Treating biological tissues with the newly discovered reagent renders it transparent, allowing the underlying structures to be easily examined.
Administering the next generation of this reagent intravenously is expected to render all parts of the treated subject equally transparent.
Work is underway on an antidote to this reagent, and the word is that it's being called a deagent. It seems clear that a transparent man could be a very effective spy, especially when that deagent is available to restore his opacity. The one sticking point seems to be a way of retaining some level of opacity in the retinas, to allow for vision, while still reducing the appearance of floating pink discs.

When more information becomes available, we'll report back here.

Posted by Listener 43

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