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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Kid Needs This For STAR TREK: Online

New exascale computers!

The world's fastest system at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, according to the just released Top500 list, is a Cray XT5 system, which has 224,256 processing cores from six-core Opteron chips made by Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD). The Jaguar is capable of a peak performance of 2.3 petaflops.

But Jaguar's record is just a blip, a fleeting benchmark. The U.S. Department of Energy has already begun holding workshops on building a system that's 1,000 times more powerful -- an exascale system, said Buddy Bland, project director at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility that includes Jaguar. The exascale systems will be needed for high-resolution climate models, bio energy products and smart grid development as well as fusion energy design. The later project is now under way in France: the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, which the U.S. is co-developing.

Because we're going to need this to get the full effect for STAR TREK: Online

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KSM Trial = FAIL

When Kid Various was a, well, kid - his grandfather used to take him to Madison Square Garden to see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus... The Greatest Show On Earth!

Well - the circus is coming back to town, in the form of the trial of Khalid Shiekh Mohammed, mastermind of the September 11 attacks. This has got the worst idea to come out of the Obama White House yet (and that's saying something.) It literally makes no sense whatsoever.

Pat Buchanan, who seems ever more determined to consign himself to the lunatic fringe of political debate (Poland was asking for it...) writes a surprisingly cogent piece on just why bringing KSM into a civil court is the height of ridiculousness. Short answer: He's not supposed to be there!!!

And if we must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that KSM was complicit in mass murder, by what right do we send Predators and Special Forces to kill his al-Qaida comrades wherever we find them? For none of them has been granted a fair trial.

When the Justice Department sets up a task force to wage war on a crime organization like the Mafia or MS-13, no U.S. official has a right to shoot Mafia or gang members on sight. No one has a right to bomb their homes. No one has a right to regard the possible death of their wives and children in an attack as acceptable collateral damage.

Yet that is what we do to al-Qaida, to which KSM belongs.

We conduct those strikes in good conscience because we believe we are at war. But if we are at war, what is KSM doing in a U.S. court?

Good point Pat! Here's another:

Were not KSM's Miranda rights impinged when he was not only not told he could have a lawyer on capture, but that his family would be killed and he would be water-boarded if he refused to talk?

And if all the evidence against the five defendants comes from other than their own testimony under duress, do not their lawyers have a right to know when, where, how and from whom Justice got the evidence to prosecute them? Does KSM have the right to confront all witnesses against him, even if they are al-Qaida turncoats or U.S. spies still transmitting information to U.S. intelligence?

Jules Crittenden notes that empaneling the jury should be hysterical!

Once you get past ”Do you know anyone who died in the Twin Towers” or ”Were you in New York, or in the United States of America, or on Planet Earth on Sept. 11, 2001″ and “Do you believe al-Qaeda poses a threat to western civilization or just to innocent commuters,” that kind of thing, then you get some other tricky particulars. Muslims, thumbs up or thumbs down? Jews and Christians, OK or not OK? Never mind the dhimmi, what about atheists? Very haram. I’m guessing anyone who ever saw any vid of Nick Berg or Daniel Pearl getting their heads sawn off is immediately disqualified. Highly prejudicial. Ditto the jets-hitting-buildings, people-dropping, buildings-collapse footage.

and he notes, this effectively ends the war. Or at least, it ends the war for us - our enemies won't see it that way.

The Department of Justice, by determining these men have full constitutional rights and that they should be able to pursue them here, has also opened the door to all kinds of civil actions based on notions of unlawful imprisonment and harsh treatment. Could they really deprive these men of their right to seek redress? That what they were accused of are war crimes is no longer relevant. What they are accused of have been reduced to simple criminal acts, the defendants to criminal suspects, engaged in alleged criminal conspiracies. The GWOT effectively is over, at least our involvement in it. Al-Qaeda can keep playing, we’re all done.

The decision to bring KSM to trial in New York isn't even internally consistent. It's not like they said, "Evil Chimpy McBushitler created these military tribunals and they're not acceptable so we are trying all enemy combatants." No. Holder said some enemy combatants will face military tribunals, but KSM and four others will be tried in a civilian court. Why? What's diference between them and the others? By what legal criteria are they judged differently [CRICKETS CHIRPING]

Even leaving aside the stupendously bad decision to give enemy combatants access to constitutional rights (which they have never had previously.) The decision makes no sense politically. What does the president get out of this? Because Kid Various sees a lot of downside but absolutely zero upside except making the ACLU happy. As James Taranto notes:

You have to wonder if the Obama administration and its supporters bothered to think through the implications of their decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other enemy combatants as civilians. An immediate effect, and one that will only be strengthened by an actual trial or trials, is to bring 9/11 back into the public consciousness. That can't be good for President Obama.

Add to that this idea which should make the president wet the bed at night. If Holder came to Kid Various with this ludicrous proposal, The Kid would have just one question. "What if KSM walks?"

[HOLDER] Oh, mister president, that won't happen! We have so much evidence. No jury would...

[KV] Blah, blah, blah - WHAT...IF...HE...WALKS?

What, KSM doesn't get presumption of innocence now? Guiltier men than him have walked free. No matter how remote a possibility, if KSM walks, Obama's presidency won't be worth shit.

Kid Various just gets the sinking feeling that this hasn't been thought through very thoroughly.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Gay Penguin Gene Much Older Than Anticipated

Ancient penguin DNA raises doubts about accuracy of genetic dating techniques

This is potentially huge, as we thought we had a good handle on a standard rate of mutation in species.

Penguins that died 44,000 years ago in Antarctica have provided extraordinary frozen DNA samples that challenge the accuracy of traditional genetic aging measurements, and suggest those approaches have been routinely underestimating the age of many specimens by 200 to 600 percent.

Sadly for creationists, it seems that we have been underestimating the rate at which mutation takes place. So species are actually much older than we thought. No word yet, on when the "gay gene" in penguins appeared.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Issue is Nothing Less Than Slavery

The central problem that Kid Various has with Obamacare is not its cost (although it is indeed debilitating) or the fact that it will displace his current mode of insurance (it will, The Kid has a health savings account married to a high deductible plan, which means it's insurance - not a way for him to get someone else to pay his doctor bills. And such arrangements are banned under the House bill.)

No, the problem is that by becoming the main health care provider/regulator the federal government fundamentally redefines the concept of what it means to be a free citizen.

You'll be given money to pay for it: Since premiums will be such a burden, families making up to $96,000 will get federal subsidies. By squashing lower-cost high-deductible plans, Congress makes insurance expensive. Then it spares you with someone else's money. You should be grateful.

That is the problem: The poor and old aside, most of us now buy our own coverage or earn it through an employer. The new normal will be health care as a gift from government.

What can be given can be taken away. Are you eating right? Exercising? You're not still drinking, are you? Authorities merely nag us now. When we owe them our health care, they can start demanding.

Do not imagine they will hesitate to use this power. The House puts the Internal Revenue Service and all its compassionate flexibility in charge of enforcing the insurance mandate. If you don't buy, there will be penalties. Those penalties can include the slammer, Congress itself points out.

They'll go further. At 1,990 pages, the bill has room for dreams of utopia, and so health care reform demands affirmative action in nursing schools (page 1379), calorie lists on menus (page 1510) and inspections (voluntary, for now) of expectant parents (page 1176). These are not, even now, the restrained ambitions of a modest government.

They are signals of a new relationship. When we all are on the take, voluntarily or not, we are no longer exactly free citizens. We are, in part, dependents. And as dependents are customarily told by Dad, "If you live in my house, you live by my rules."

We have been fighting a rearguard action against losing our basic freedoms for some 70 years. Ironically, we may triumph in our fight for freedom abroad, only to become slaves at home.

Counter-Enlightenment Morons

Wait, you can't be bothered to take an inexpensive pill once a day that will halve your chance of getting prostate cancer. AND it'll also grow your hair back? What are you, a fucking moron? Can Kid Various have your share?

Take prostate cancer, the second-most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, surpassed only by easily treated skin cancers. More than 192,000 cases of it will be diagnosed this year, and more than 27,000 men will die from it.

And, it turns out, there is a way to prevent many cases of prostate cancer. A large and rigorous study found that a generic drug, finasteride, costing about $2 a day, could prevent as many as 50,000 cases each year. Another study found that finasteride’s close cousin, dutasteride, about $3.50 a day, has the same effect.

Nevertheless, researchers say, the drugs that work are largely ignored. And supplements that have been shown to be not just ineffective but possibly harmful are taken by men hoping to protect themselves from prostate cancer.

And this:

Others, like Cecilia Anderson, who is 57 and lives in Houston, worry about side effects. “I felt like my quality of life was in question,” she said. “I am busy, I am out there. I totally love my life and don’t want it to be compromised.” Her lifetime risk of breast cancer is 20.5 percent, compared with an average risk of 9.8 percent for a woman her age. Ms. Anderson declined the drugs. “I live a different lifestyle,” she said. “I eat organic foods, I exercise. Through all of that comes a spiritual element as well. Mind, body, and spirit are all connected.”
Ms. Anderson, and The Kid says this in the nicest possible way, is a fucking idiot. She's "so busy" that she can't find time to pop a pill in the morning with her useless organic ginseng root tea? She's a raving apopheniac! Mind, body, and spirit are not connected! And your mind and spirit aren't going to help you out when your body starts its epic fail lady.

And the worst part is, as the article notes, drug companies are thinking twice about developing preventive drugs because people don't use them. So the Counter-Enlightenment nonsense is depriving Kid Various of extremely important preventative treatments.

And it is Counter-Enlightenment nonsense, because it's not laziness. You'll note that these idiots can find the time to ingest useless saw palmetto root extract but don't like to take "drugs." Because "drugs" are not "natural" and therefore dangerous.

The Kid is surrounded by idiots!

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Warm-blooded Dinosaurs Worked Up A Sweat

Warm-blooded Dinosaurs Worked Up A Sweat: "The results of both the simple and complex method were in very close agreement: based on the energy they consumed when moving, many dinosaurs were probably endothermic, athletic animals because their energy requirements during walking and running were too high for cold-blooded animals to produce. Interestingly, when the results for each dinosaur were arranged into an evolutionary family tree, the authors found that endothermy might be the ancestral condition for all dinosaurs. This pushes the evolution of endothermy further back into the ancient past than many researchers expected, suggesting that dinosaurs were athletic, endothermic animals throughout the Mesozoic era."


What's the Property Tax Rate on a Decatur Class Light Cruiser?

Doesn't Kid Various ALREADY pay enough taxes to the United Federation of Planets? I mean, they basically tax all of his salary. Which is really a misnomer since he doesn't really get, well, paid at all. There's more of a 100% tax on his labor - since all of the value created by his labor is confiscated by the Federation to pay for the schooling of poor Denebians or whatever...

We STARFLEET officers are paid with the satisfaction of a job well done!

Although in a non-Gene Roddenberry reality, The Kid imagines that STARFLEET officers would be among the laziest beings one would ever come across in the universe.

[COMMS OFFICER] Captain! We're getting a distress call from the Epsilon 9 listening post! They're under attack by Klingons!

[CAPTAIN] Let them handle it. Not my job...

Well, the Federation definitely does have some real world parallels - that being that an all encompassing government will try anything to get that extra strip of latnium out of you.

Governments are looking at ways to justify taxing virtual items because they now have real-world value, even if they exist only on a server somewhere. With this inevitable tax comes intrusive and overbearing regulation. More bureaucracy and less freedom; that’s always a good thing, right?

Governments such as China, Britain, South Korea, the U.S., and Australia have considered the virtual world as the next step in levying property and income tax. In fact, Britain already imposes a VAT tax on the rent and sale of virtual property for the game Second Life. Not to be outdone, the U.S. Congress recently reconsidered its position on taxation of virtual items and income.
Members of the United Federation of Planets Bureau of Revenue Enhancement
persuade yet another race to generously share the wealth.

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Two Major Developments

With the health care bill, the Ft. Hood shootings and the interminable dithering over Afghanistan (victory is a choice Mr. President) two major developments in the war of the Enlightenment vs. its discontents have gone almost unremarked. Both have to do with the U.S. losing its ability intervene in major war theaters.

One, Iran has taken a giant leap forward towards becoming a regional hegemon and boxing the U.S. out of the Middle East with a major advance in weaponizing its nuclear program. It has been developing an advanced "implosion trigger" for its nuclear weapons.

This is bad news. It means that as soon as Iran successfully tests a bomb (if they even test one, remember the first time we detonated a uranium gun-barrel type bomb was over Hiroshima, so reliable was the design) they will immediately be able to mate the weapon to one of their Shahab missiles, capable of reaching Israel. If Iran develops a solid-fueled rocket as well, they'll have a potential thermonuclear launch-on-warning capability just like the five members of the Security Council.

Second, the "credibility dominoes" are continuing to fall. Because of U.S. weakness vis a vis Iraq, Afghanistan, Poland, the Czech Republic, Honduras and Israel - Taiwan has now concluded that it cannot depend on the U.S. as a credible deterrent to Chinese aggression.

In the latest edition of its biennial military review, the Taiwan Ministry of Defense released a metaphorical bombshell. It noted that with China’s continuing and unrelenting military buildup, “it can now deter foreign militaries from assisting Taiwan.” This, of course, is a euphemism for deterring the United States. Since the U.S. deployed an aircraft carrier in the Taiwan Strait a decade ago when conditions heated on both sides of the divide, China has vowed to thwart any American military assistance for Taiwan. And if the report is accurate, that moment may have arrived.

Because of this perception, the Taiwanese will be forced to adopt a more conciliatory policy toward the Chinese, and Chinese influence will grow in Asia at the expense of the U.S.

Both of these situations are bad news for the U.S. At this moment, America's security strategy rests on the bedrock assumption that it can shape the international environment to better enhance our own security. Because we are the only global power, with the capability to project force into any region of the world, we force the players in those theaters to react to our moves - rather than we reacting to theirs. Both these developments alter that balance. And the more it is demonstrated that our actions will be reactive to the regional hegemons, the more pressure is applied to regional actors to accommodate those regional hegemons, thus further weakening our position, and constraining us to be even more reactive than proactive.

This is what a "forward strategy of apology" gets you.

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Geek Alert

Dude! Beaming in on February 2, 2010... Star Trek: Online. Freakin' sweet!

Klingon warrior pwns a Federen maggot

Kid Various has been following the development of this game for over a year. Finally! He gets his immersive TREK experience! Here's hoping it doesn't suck!


The Thuraya War

Interesting post on the effect of Thuraya satellite phones on mobile, low-intensity desert conflict.

Desert warfare, as practiced by the Chadians and Darfurians, is based on mobility and surprise. The Landcruiser is the basic unit of military force. The possession of a Thuraya elevates a commander into a potential leader.

Tactical coordination is key to a successful operation. Before the Thuraya phone, guerrilla operations needed tight discipline and extremely careful planning. More often, the commanders gambled on surprise and the momentum of battle, relying on their prowess in combat to carry the day. Today, with the Thuraya phone, commanders in distant theatres can coordinate their actions. Or they can assemble forces from different places at very short order. They only need to agree on that day’s operation—tomorrow’s can be planned tomorrow.

Kid Various has some experience with this in that his political career spanned the time when cell phones first came into widespread use. He can remember a time when political campaigns were waged without the use of cell phones. It was a different world. You youngin's don't know, but back in the day, everything had to be meticulously planned. Really, really well. No, really. Even small events have a lot of moving parts, and it was real easy for everything to fall apart if everyone was not drilled to the plan. Nowadays, things can be put together on the fly. You expect to be adaptable. Unexpected events that would previously have caused event failure can now be adapted to in minutes. A totally different world.

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We're Living In The Future!


Progress made on the contact lens display. You have no idea how amped Kid Various is for this. Contact lens displays which can link to your iPhone to give you 24/7 access to the net and augmented reality?

The future is AWESOME!

A contact lens that harvests radio waves to power an LED is paving the way for a new kind of display. The lens is a prototype of a device that could display information beamed from a mobile device.

Realising that display size is increasingly a constraint in mobile devices, Babak Parviz at the University of Washington, in Seattle, hit on the idea of projecting images into the eye from a contact lens.

One of the limitations of current head-up displays is their limited field of view. A contact lens display can have a much wider field of view. "Our hope is to create images that effectively float in front of the user perhaps 50 cm to 1 m away," says Parviz.

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The War Against The Counter-Enlightenment

One must always remember that what we are involved in is a war between the Enlightenment and its discontents. Which means that it is a two front war.

The Kid has been overtly focus on the the pre-Enlightenment (or pre-modern) challenge for the past few years, but this post by Dutch novelist Leon De Winter highlights just how dangerous the enemy is on the other, Counter-Enlightenment front - and why we are losing the battle:

If you want to know the scope of the illusions of Western liberal elites, you should read the fascinating editorial published in the Guardian on October 22, 2003. It shows the willingness of these elites to disregard the cruel facts, the radical agenda, and the apocalyptic ambitions of the Iranian regime.

Six years ago, the regime in Tehran executed the same policies, and was driven by the same ideology, as today. And the same Western political elites tried everything in their power to distort the perception of their counterparts in Tehran in order to avoid the harsh truth: the mullahs want to crown Imam Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution with a nuclear weapon.

The Guardian wrote that day:

Iran’s agreement to allow unlimited UN inspections of its nuclear facilities and to suspend its uranium enrichment programme marks a tremendous success for European diplomacy. It shows just what can be achieved when the European powers work together, rather than in opposition.

At the time, it was as clear, as it is now, that the three European ministers involved lied to themselves and to us. On their flight back, they knew that the surprising agreement they took home wasn’t even worth the paper it was printed on, but it was better to pretend that the mullahs were guys like them rather than accept the stubborn reality that some value systems and some concepts of human dignity are incompatible.

The frightening thing is that, on that day in 2003, the editorial writers of The Guardian, champions of the Counter-Enlightenment, really did think that the post-modern tactics had achieved some enduring benefit. Against all experience, and frankly, plain common sense. And this is why they are so dangerous. The Counter-Enlightenment defines itself in opposition to the Enlightenment, and therefore interprets any opposition to such as being basically compatible with its beliefs. Which is why the Counter-Enlightenment can believe that the United States is more dangerous than a nuclear armed Iran.

And therefore, as De Winter notes, the pre-modern wins with an assist from the post modern:

Even more impressive is how they controlled the Americans by helping to kill thousands of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead of drawing America’s fury, the mullahs convinced two administrations that a peaceful Iraq is impossible without Tehran’s willingness to stop the flow of roadside bombs, instructors, and various weapons across its borders. Basically, they took the American army hostage in Iraq — and they never saw the shadows of vengeful B-52s gliding over the roofs of their buildings.

No, they witnessed American politicians incapable of demonstrating the will to carry on to the media and their voters. The wings of the American eagle were clipped by a group of cheating and manipulating religious men who perfectly understand the mechanisms of the Western media game.

The Kid is hoping against hope that De Winter's final statement is untrue - but it is getting harder to deny:
It’s too late. The mullahs won. Only the desperate and heroic people in the streets of Iran can turn the tide.

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