Monday, July 14, 2008


Firefox has shattered the download record. If you haven't downloaded 3.0 yet, do it now. Firefox is bursting with new features and with RAMback works faster than ever. Note that updating your add-ons from 2.x can be a pain, as you have to do so manually and some updates for 3.0 aren't yet available; however, the inconvenience is worth it. In true Mozilla fashion the transfer of all history, bookmarks, etc. is seamless.

2% percent jazz, my favorite coffee shop, now has a live web-cam, which captures stills of the store. Prior to going, check out how busy it is and think twice before stealing the tip jar, which is stupid anyway. I'm addicted to the Monte Cristol coffee from Costa Rica these days. Try it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Barack's balance act

This week ended with much griping over Barack's whiplash effect and comparisons of who was making faster about-faces, Obama or McCain. While some question Barack's integrity, especially many of Hillary's large donors, he's doing what it takes and not defecting. I like how Freedland in the Guardian Weekly put it, "[Obama's u-turns] suggest that he is determined not to be just another principled loser -- and the Democrats have had plenty of those."

Update: Some Democrats also wonder whether he has compromised his core beliefs; however, his Marshall Plan for the 21st century shows he hasn't: end Iraq, end war with Taliban and al-Qaida (the recent bombings show how difficult this will be), end U.S. oil dependency (take notes Harper), securing nuclear weapons (it would help if Israel's were official), and rebuilding U.S. alliances (how about returning the soft-wood lumber tariff). Although finishing the war with the Taliban and securing all nukes seems unattainable the rest are within reach and needed. It can't get worse (assuming Bush's half-baked plans on attacking Iran and maintaining permanent bases in the region don't come to fruition):

Images are scanned from the Guardian Weekly 11.07.08.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Changing Science?

Chris Anderson in The End of Theory proclaims that science, specifically the model which is based on hypothesis and experimentation, has been rendered unnecessary by the abundance of available data. In other words, if you want something, look it up; don't theorize. Nevertheless, science rests on thought; as a result, although answers wait amidst the petabytes, someone must ask the question. Thus, only experimentation diminishes, although data must still be manipulated. In effect, the change proposed by Chris Anderson regularly occurs. Scientists have determined that Caesar invaded Britain 4 days earlier than previously thought based on astronomical data. Similarly, though in my opinion with much less certainty, scholars have announced that Odysseus slaughtered the suitors on April 16, 1178 BC. Precise dates, such as this one, are unheard of in Homeric scholarship. The dispute over the date of the Capitoline Wolf is making the news again, although there's no data set to solve this one. Imagine the number of textbooks that will have to be changed. Scientists have also been extracting the charred Herculaneum scrolls with impressive results.

Experimentation also leads to innovation. For instance, new dyes used in glass capture and intensify the sun's rays to produce cheap and effective solar power. Some amazing news is that a breakthrough has been made on combating malaria. (Malaria "will strike up to half a billion people this year.") On an aside, Greenway's light show of the Last Supper re-invigorates the old; impressive!

All about Obama

When I read that Canadians prefer Obama to their own PM, I couldn't help thinking about what made Obama so appealing. The pessimistic types have noted that the topic of change has been touted in many a presidential campaign and almost none of them brought about this touted change. Nevertheless, Obama has much more than the potential for change. Although he is not perfect, his broad view of humankind and his passion to see in human terms, past race and religion, reveals the depth of prejudice and racism in the world. First, he was not black enough, didn't have a slave's ancestry and then he's not Christian enough. The public's reaction to these views starts with astonishment at the inherent irony and ends with action. On the first issue the dust has settled and most refer to him as a black candidate. I believe that is so, because Obama, if he did take offense, didn't react and didn't seem to feel compelled to assert his blackness; rather, he saw human beings with black skin, some descended from slaves, others not. Surprisingly, his paradigm of the common thread among human beings has been interpreted as superciliousness. (Jackson's vulgar remark, "I want to cut his nuts out," relates much more than a benign concern for the treatment of blacks: "a little jealous you didn't get this far?").

The second issue clearly is a non-issue: so what if his father was a Muslim? When I watched the interview of his half-sister, I couldn't believe she had to downplay her Muslim faith as well as her father's. What does the "controversy" around his background reveal about America? Obama's like a magnifying mirror bringing attention to the ugly spots. Can there really be so much bigotry? I guess so, since so many are adopting Hussein as a middle name. I like the reaction, but am dumbfounded it's necessary; I guess people really do see bin Laden when they look at an immigrant. Speaking of comedy, why is Stewart's Indecision 5768 removed from so many sites? Speaking of Israel, here's a virtual tour of Israel's atomic weapons facility based on photos taken by hidden camera; Mearsheimer and Walt held a forum in Tel Aviv, and here's an account.

So Obama is great and causes us to question the status quo, but what can one man do? Everything. Travel back to 1962 and consider how we got out of the Crisis (this site has actual clips of some of the meetings); it was Kennedy (and his brother). Just imagine if Bush was in power then. Obama, like Kennedy, has the character and intelligence to avert another world crisis. Support Obama.


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