Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ring tones only a dog could love?

Seems high school students are going to great wave-lengths these days to communicate in the classroom without the teacher knowing.

A high-pitched sound developed in Britain to deter teen loitering and inaudible to most adults has invaded US classrooms where youngsters are using it in their cell phones to communicate without their teacher's knowledge.

The ring-tone, know as "Teen Buzz," allows students to surreptitiously exchange text messages unbeknownst to teachers whose older ears cannot detect the sound. ...

"Because the range of hearing varies greatly in individuals, it is possible that the teachers who do not hear this ring tone have never been able to hear up to the 17,000 range," said Stanton Jones, an audiologist at the St. Louis University School of Medicine. "Or age-related hearing loss may make the tone undetectable."

Children can hear high pitches. "Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, begins around age 35 with the highest pitches being lost first," Jones said.

There is, of course, an antidote to this new caper.

It's called an Audio Frequence Analyzer, and several companies offer quite affordable versions, including some that are software based. Teacher may not hear you, but she might be tuning in to your frequency, Kenneth, via her desktop. Or with this:

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fast just got faster

How fast is fast enough?

You can tell a true American by the answer: There is no such thing as too fast.

So you are going to be pleased that researchers for IBM and the Georgia Institute of Technology have managed to build a computer chip that is over 250 times faster than the stuff you've likely got operating in your desktop or laptop today.

It's still silicon-based, but it's been frozen to - get this - a negative 451 Farenheit. (There ought to be some ironic remark to make about that, but it's still too early for our analog brain cells). This is just 9 degrees above absolute zero, and weird things happen when you freeze stuff at that level. Brought back to room temperature, it operates at 350 gigahertz. That's almost 160 times faster than the Oklahomilist's fairly tame 2.2 gig processor.

Naturally, we can imagine all sorts of productivity increases with the new chips, which should be in commercial applications in the next 12 to 24 months. Where the chips will be most noticed, we imagine, will be in networks, both wired and wireless. So much for the adage that the computer industry "doubles" its speed every 'x' number of months. The graph just flew off scale.

We're gonna need brain implants just to be able to use this stuff.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Natalie Maines teaches Civics 101

Today Dixie Chick Natalie Maines gives us a lesson on the civic virtues of patriotism:
"The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism," Maines resumes, through gritted teeth. "Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country… I don't see why people care about patriotism."
Next week we hope to give you Natalie Maines teaching either Theology 101 or Economics 203.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Islamic 'Convert or Die' Variation No.26

The reputed Al Quaida leader in Indonesia - a wingnut cleric Abu Bakar Bashir - is calling upon President Bush and Australian PM John Howard to convert to Islam as "the only way to save their souls."

He also thinks the families grieving over their losses from the 2002 Bali bombings would feel a whole lot better if they would convert for "salvation and peace."

Bashir, 68, was released from prison Wednesday after completing a 26- month sentence for conspiracy in the Bali bombings that killed 202 people, was at a hardline Islamic boarding school that has spawned some of Southeast Asia's deadliest terrorists.

The firebrand cleric also declined to directly condemn young men who carry out bombings in Indonesia in the name of Islam, saying they he still considered them "holy warriors," because they believed they were defending the oppressed.

But he also said they misguided and wrong to use bombs in a country at peace.

"Why use bombs in a non-conflict zone, preaching is enough," he said.

First of all, 26 months is a joke as far as conspiracy sentences go. Someone may be buying his line of "oh, let us preach peace" bull----, but we aren't. Not that there is anything wrong with preaching peace, mind you, but we have seen little of it from Muslim clerics, particularly those who make excuses for mass murderers and who provide leadership for terrorist organizations.

Better yet, we would propose that Mr. Bashir devote the next 12 months of his life to a study of the Holy Bible with particular attention to the teachings of one Jesus of Nazareth.

Convert, Mr. Bashir, and truly live.

On being left in the dark ...

We can waste $1.4 billion on sex change operations (among other things) for Hurricane Katrina victims, spend a quarter-billion on a bridge to freakin' nowhere in Alaska, but we can't pay the electric bill at Fort Sam Houston in Texas?
SAN ANTONIO (AP) - Fort Sam Houston has received 1,300 utility service termination notices for delinquent bill payments, which officials blamed on a major budget shortfall.

CPS Energy warned commanders at the post to pay $4.2 million by Wednesday or risk losing power. The post is three months behind on its bills, but both Army and utility officials said the two parties were talking and no cutoff was imminent.

"Who would imagine us not paying our bill?" said Col. Wendy Martinson, Fort Sam Houston's garrison commander. "I worry about it. I can't sleep at night."

The post, which trains medics, faces a $26 million budget shortfall this year - a problem that officials said is symptomatic of the financial woes facing posts worldwide.
Someone please phone Donald Rumsfeld and let him know about this. If Dubya finds out a Texas military base is now operating with 19th Century efficiency, he might not be happy.

The official explanation is that the money needed by the base is part of a supplemental appropriations bill waiting action by the U.S. Senate (already passed by the House). Since it contains money for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is the ubiquitous liberal foot-dragging taking place. This is repulsive and unnecessary. We seem to have the money - or the willingness to print it - for everything. Why is an Army base left unfunded? The explanation might educate us in some way, or it might just be enough to scare Congress into tightening the rein on other spending.

Somebody, other than the medics in training at Fort Sam Hood, ought to be paying attention.

Monday, June 12, 2006

If the NYT really cared about baseball ...

... a recent report on the New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox game would have read like this:
Fans came trickling into Yankee Stadium amid fears that their hometown team would implode. Only 55,246 fans attended the game.

Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina was in trouble early as Covelli "Coco" Crisp opened the game with a double for the Sox of Red.

The higher paid Yankees were futile as they tried to deal with the insurgent Crisp. Their battle plan was wrong, and coaches in the field admitted as much off the record. Although the next three batters each struck out, Mussina was a tired, overpaid pitcher, ill-equipped to deal with the flexibility of the speedy Crisp.
Yankee batters lacked the proper body armor to face Boston pitchers as Jorge Posada would discover when he was hit with a pitch later, in the bottom of the third. It was a near-fatal blow that the trainer admitted could have been deadly if the pitch had been thrown faster and at his temple, and he had his helmet off.
The Yankees tried to rally as Posada and Robinson Canó somehow managed to get on base. But Andy Phillips ended the rally with a three-run homer.

Sure, Bernie Williams, Miguel Cairo and Damon each singled to continue the inning. But Melky Cabrera grounded into a fielder's choice. Again. Just like he did in the first inning. That made Jason Giambi's home run a three-run blast instead of a grand slam.

Experts agreed that even with an 8-2 lead, there was no way the Yankees could ever win this battle.
Read the complete Don Surber-penned report, as only the NYT would've played it, if they gave a damn about baseball which, fortunately for the rest of us, they do not.

HT: The Anchoress.

Do we really need a NAFTA super-highway ...

... and if we do not, how do We, the People, put a stop to it?

Bush Administration Quietly Plans NAFTA Super Highway
Quietly but systematically, the Bush Administration is advancing the plan to build a huge NAFTA Super Highway, four football-fields-wide, through the heart of the U.S. along Interstate 35, from the Mexican border at Laredo, Tex., to the Canadian border north of Duluth, Minn.

Once complete, the new road will allow containers from the Far East to enter the United States through the Mexican port of Lazaro Cardenas, bypassing the Longshoreman’s Union in the process. The Mexican trucks, without the involvement of the Teamsters Union, will drive on what will be the nation’s most modern highway straight into the heart of America. The Mexican trucks will cross border in FAST lanes, checked only electronically by the new “SENTRI” system. The first customs stop will be a Mexican customs office in Kansas City, their new Smart Port complex, a facility being built for Mexico at a cost of $3 million to the U.S. taxpayers in Kansas City.

As incredible as this plan may seem to some readers, the first Trans-Texas Corridor segment of the NAFTA Super Highway is ready to begin construction next year. Various U.S. government agencies, dozens of state agencies, and scores of private NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have been working behind the scenes to create the NAFTA Super Highway, despite the lack of comment on the plan by President Bush. The American public is largely asleep to this key piece of the coming “North American Union” that government planners in the new trilateral region of United States, Canada and Mexico are about to drive into reality.
This may be one of those issues like immigration that crosses and blurs lines between the modern definitions of liberal, conservative and libertarian beliefs. Or in other words, what is called for here is a matter of common sense, a certain amount of which can be found among persons of these mental disciplines. The greatest concern that we share with the author of this report is that, in the land of the free and home of the open marketplace of ideas, hardly anyone is talking about this.
The details of the NAFTA Super Highway are hidden in plan view. Still, Bush has not given speeches to bring the NAFTA Super Highway plans to the full attention of the American public. Missing in the move toward creating a North American Union is the robust public debate that preceded the decision to form the European Union. All this may be for calculated political reasons on the part of the Bush Administration.
We'll take it one step farther: The Bush people know damn good and well that, given a choice, the NAFTA Super-Highway would be moth-balled immediately and for good. No wonder they've been flying under the radar.

Let's make some noise.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Free market filets Dixie Chicks tour plans

A sign that the free market system in this country is not totally dead.

Dixie Chicks cancel US tour dates
Country music stars the Dixie Chicks have cancelled some US tour dates after slow ticket sales.

Concert industry magazine Pollstar says shows have been dropped in Republican states such as Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The BBC does not factor in that Fresno is in California, obstensibly a Dem state, but that's nit-picking. We don't expect a Brit news service to ever understand Americans or what a huge country this is. Truth of the matter: most of us don't care for our entertainers engaging in negative politickin'. It's their right to do so, naturally, but it's also our right to not to spend our money on their propaganda.

Box office sales for a concert in Houston, Texas have also been cancelled.

But the band have encountered no problems in Canada.

Tickets for a Toronto appearance sold out in just eight minutes, and a second date has been added.

The Chicks can have all the Canadian gigs they can bag. We don't give a flip. All you really have to know is that their first single off the new album is titled, "Not Ready to Make Nice," which may or may not be a coded message to Red State America and the White House, but the prudent observer would bet that Natalie Maines is still furious over the fact that the Chicks went from darlins to dumplins overnight after she started shooting off her mouth. Seems only right that their tour should be "Taking the Long Way."

Colin Powell - Still a state department weenie at heart

Colin Powell was always a bit squishy when it came to making firm judgments on major issues, which is probably why he fit in so well at the State Department.

Today he continues that pattern by arguing that the perfect is the enemy of the good, declaring that building walls along the border with Mexico "is not the answer."
"The Berlin Wall did not work perfectly and the wall that the Israelis are putting up is not going to work perfectly," Powell said. "So, a wall alone is not the answer."
Such specious logic! (And people used to consider him a presidential contender?)

First, the Berlin Wall was constructed by East Germany (Soviet Union) to keep people INSIDE, unable to leave upon pain of death. No one is advocating we shoot people who breach the wall.

Second, the Israeli wall is already doing what it was designed to do to a remarkable degree, which is to cut down substantially on suicide bombings and such. How well it will function when completed is unknown, and it won't be perfect, but does that mean that it is not worth doing? Nobody said the fence has to be perfect. Any barrier would be a far sight better than nothing if you care about border security.

Of course Powell - talking to a bunch of folks in Mexico - is trying to look mexi-sympathetic and defend the failed "road map to peace" process in the Mideast, all at the same time.

Powell, speaking at a business conference in Mexico City, said any new barriers should include gates and other entrances to provide easy- access between both countries.

He said U.S. authorities should let many of the estimated 12 million undocumented migrants already in America earn some form of legal status through expanded temporary-worker programs.

"We have to find a way for them to live in dignity and not in fear," he said.
The simplest way to not live in fear and have some dignity is to apply for entry into the USA by legal channels. (Had Powell said as much we would hail his common sense genius.)

As to the notion that the new barriers should include gates and "easy-access" entrances, what part of the phrase "border security" does Powell not understand.

Most of it, apparently. Extra gates - or holes - in the border fence would defeat the very purpose of its existence. Just the kind of State Department weenie thinking we've come to expect from Mr. Powell.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Obviously misunderstood jihadist farming operation

These two AP stories need side-by-side placement.

Terror Suspects Arrested in U.S. Last Year

Two men believed to be part of a terrorist ring in Canada were arrested last summer while trying to smuggle guns and ammunition from the United States, authorities said.

Mohammed Dirie, 22, and Yasin Abdi Mohamed, 24, were both in jail serving two-year sentences for weapons smuggling when they were hit with new Canadian terrorism charges Friday.

The men were among 12 adults and five suspects younger than 18 charged with plotting an attack in southern Ontario.

Dirie and Mohamed, both Somali immigrants living in Kingston, Ontario, were arrested Aug. 13 after being questioned and searched by Canadian Border Services inspectors at Peace Bridge between Buffalo and Canada.

The inspectors found Mohamed had a semiautomatic handgun taped under his clothes, and Dirie had two handguns taped to his inner thighs, the Toronto Star reported. Officers also found about 200 rounds of ammunition in bags. It was not known where the men had obtained the weapons, the newspaper said.

Imam: Canada Suspects Didn't Seek Violence

Several members of a suspected terrorist ring prayed daily at a storefront mosque in a middle-class city west of Toronto but never spoke of hurting others, one of their prayer leaders said.

"I will say that they were steadfast, religious people. There's no doubt about it. But here we always preach peace and moderation," Qamrul Khanson, an imam at the one-room Al-Rahman Islamic Center for Islamic Education, said Sunday. ...

The group had acquired three tons of ammonium nitrate _ three times the amount used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, said assistant Royal Canadian Mounted Police commissioner Mike McDonell. The bombing of the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, killed 168 people and injured more than 800.

The fertilizer can be mixed with fuel oil or other ingredients to make a bomb. ...

"I have faith that they have done a thorough investigation," Khanson said of authorities. "But just the possession of ammonium nitrate doesn't prove that they have done anything wrong. ..."

Of course not. The ammonium nitrate was obviously for one hell of a lot of farm work in the green fields of Toronto. The guns obviously to scare off the crows and the deer.

Yes, indeedee! There is a lot of fertilizer being spread these days in Canada, and it ain't all ammonium nitrate.