July 31, 2007

Citizen journalism website gets multi-million-dollar boost

Citizen journalism website gets multi-million-dollar boost

Should traditional journalism be concerned by the rise of amateurs? I think traditional news journalism is threatened by two things: steady loss of advertising revenue and their continued low credibility and shrinking readership among Americans.

I think we will not be better off with the loss of good journalism, but we need to hear from all sides otherwise we risk being propagandized by "Big Media'.

As the slogan on this blog's 'masthead' states: Wisdom is only found in truth.

A War We Just Might Win - New York Times

A War We Just Might Win - New York Times

It's a miracle that the NY Times, more and more the mouthpiece of the Democrats, would even publish this report because it's so favorable to the present situation in Iraq. The two Brookings Institution researchers/analysts paint a brighter picture than the politicians would have us believe. Good strategy implemented by good people and sound leadership can make a huge positive change.

This comment sums it up:

"VIEWED from Iraq, where we just spent eight days meeting with American and Iraqi military and civilian personnel, the political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with."

July 29, 2007

The revolution strikes back | Economist.com

The revolution strikes back | Economist.com:

Interesting perspective from an Economist article. It seems two Irans exist, the focus of this piece. Worth a read.

"Iran is a young country (see chart): two out of three people are below the age of 30. On the streets of affluent north Tehran, young people dress in the latest fashions—even if the jeans-clad women are obliged by law to wear the Islamic headscarf (the hijab). The audience at prayers, however, is older: shabbily dressed men well into their 40s, regime stalwarts who have trekked uphill from the poor southern suburbs.

Which is the true Iran—the consumer-oriented young, bored by the slogans of a long-ago revolution and impatient to move on? Or the regime faithful chorusing the familiar slogans at Friday prayers?

It is tantalisingly hard to know. With 71m people and a multitude of languages and ethnicities, Iran is a difficult place to read. Although it has elements of democracy, including an elected president and parliament, the state is not ultimately controlled by elected institutions. And even the elected bit of the system is a backstage game of personalities and factions, not a transparent process rooted in political parties. Press freedom is limited, almost no serious independent opinion polling is allowed, and many official economic statistics appear simply to be made up. All this makes the regime's inner workings elusive. Outsiders can only follow the trend and make a guess."

Vermont Electric Power Sources and Timing

The following excerpt from a Burlington Free Press article today describes a $500,000 outreach effort to obtain citizen input for Vermont's energy policy as the licensing of Vermont Yankee and the HydroQuebec power supply contracts expire in the next decade. The effort will be specifically targeted to determine what non-experts and non-advocates think about where and how Vermont should get its electric power in the future. Whatever the outcome, rest assured that we will pay significantly more for electricity after 2012/2015 than we do today, either in direct costs, surcharges or hidden costs.

A half a million dollars seems a steep price for this effort, and it alone certainly won't be the determining factor. The issue will boil down to what is the expected demand for baseload power and how can that be met at the best cost. I say 'best,' because, for some lowest price won't be best because of the ideological and philosophical basis which individuals will assert are important to them, e.g., the planet, the environment, renewable sources, etc.

I was disappointed in the Freep piece because it failed to describe how someone can participate in this process. Also, the writer failed to make important distinctions between baseload, peak, and intermittent power sources. Perhaps I am expecting too much of the Vermont media.

In any event, the media has a wonderful opportunity to deal with the electric power issue for the next few years. I hope they take advantage of it to truly inform Vermonters of the issues and options from all sides of the issue, not only the political machinations that will inevitably surround it.

I remember providing public comments many years ago at a hearing before Vermont utilities chose to negotiate a power supply contract with HydroQuebec. The environmental opponents attempted to turn the hearing into a circus by parading around the hall dressed as Cree carrying canoes. They were protesting the flooding of Native peoples' hunting grounds for the reservoirs that HQ was building in far northern Quebec.

The good news result was Vermont elected to obtain electricity from HydroQuebec at what history has shown to be very favorable rates and I believe the Cree were accommodated.

"The discussion is needed because Vermont relies heavily on two sources: Vermont Yankee, a 650-megawatt nuclear power plant in Vernon, and Hydro-Quebec, a massive Canadian utility that generates 35,000 megawatts, mostly from 54 hydroelectric dams; a sliver of that, about 300 megawatts, is sent over the border to Vermont. One megawatt generates enough electricity to supply about 1,000 residential homes.

Contracts with both suppliers are nearing an end.

Vermont Yankee's 40-year license and power contracts expire in 2012; in 2015, most of Hydro-Quebec's contracts end."

July 27, 2007

Tour in Tatters: Team Ousts the Race Leader - New York Times

Tour in Tatters: Team Ousts the Race Leader - New York Times

The constant brouhaha around cyclists and drugs in the Tour de France will never disappear as long as one competitor chooses to take performance enhancing substances or other measures that violate the rules of the game. We see the same scenario in major league baseball, football, track and field, and I'm sure it's prevalent, if not so very public, in other professional and amateur sports, too. It seems the temptation to cheat to win is overpowering for many athletes .

I'm torn on the issue of drug enhancement for athletes. One side of me says that true athletic prowess and the centuries-old principle of 'let the best man/woman win in a fair contest ' must prevail. This is the true and honorable spirit of competitive sports. For that to occur, very tight enforcement of rules is essential because not all competitors have that principle uppermost in mind because their moral compass is disoriented. And some of those around them, e.g., coaches, trainers, physicians, sponsors, friends, etc., believe in a different principle...win at all costs and do it without getting caught violating the rules.

The other side of me says that because sports has become such a big money entertainment business where athletes are nothing more than skilled performers they should be able to make as much money as they can in their limited prime years. Because this attitude is fostered by the business of sports, then all participants should be able to choose to abuse their bodies and character as they will, with no restrictions on drugs or techniques for personal enhancement. Certainly the science of body chemistry and substances to alter body functions in favor of certain attributes has advanced by leaps and bounds from 'the old days.'Why shouldn't they take maximum advantage of scientific advances? After all, it's only a business and the players can choose to abuse themselves as they please...'let the best man or woman win'...with no limits on personal performance enhancement. The only rules and regulations would be those that define the game, not what substances athletes use to train or compete.

After considering both arguments with myself, I come down on the side that says a top athlete in any sport should also serve as a role model and inspiration for peers, those coming behind him/her, and especially for those youngsters who have athletic skills willing to work hard to have a shot at greatness. There is far more to athletics than winning. Character should be built in the process. I think young people should be inspired to excel without performance-enhancing drugs rather than be exposed to 'winners' embroiled in controversy about using illegal substances. If our youngsters are encouraged to evade the rules in order to win, we put another negative signal for them on life's scoreboard.

July 26, 2007

American Thinker: Turkey Betrayed Again

American Thinker: Turkey Betrayed Again:

Following is an excerpt from a longer piece by James Lewis discussing the recent elections in Turkey and the growing strength in that country of radical Islam. He may not have it perfect , but his view of radical Islam in various parts of the world is worth digesting. We are in this nasty fight for the long haul as Bush reminds us always. I have yet to hear that from Democrat Presidential candidates or what they would do differently, except, perhaps, from Joe Biden.

"The Free World -- a phrase that is relevant again -- may therefore see no less than four kinds of Islamist radical movements in the future.

1. In Iran, we see the Khomeinist suicide cult, now thirsting after nukes. It presents a clear and present danger. Even to Democrats.

2. In Europe and elsewhere we have the Saudi version of aggressive Islamism, the Sunni Wahhabi movement. This is the source of Al Qaeda, and of the mass-murdering suicide bombers in Iraq. Using Saudi oil money, Wahhabis have taken over most of the mosques in the Western world, encouraging a flow of immigration with the clear intention of taking over the host nations. So far, the West has shown itself to be helpless to resist such a 'peaceful' infiltration.

3. A third Sunni radical movement is coming from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which is using legislative elections to strengthen its power. This is the Salafist brand of totalitarianism. When Nancy Pelosi flew to Syria to beg for its help from the Khomeini fascists to get the US out of Iraq, her sidekick Steny Hoyer outraged the Egyptians by openly meeting with the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo, the source of Salafist fascism in the world. The only thing the Pelosi Democrats want to know is, 'whom do we surrender to?'

4. Finally, we may be seeing a Turkic Islamist radical branch emerging. Turkey controlled the last caliphate (Islamic empire), the Ottomans, which went out of business only eighty years ago. It has not been forgotten.

The whole thing is a terrible mess, and it may get worse before it gets better. But there is an obvious US policy direction: That is to treat Islamofascism as another Cold War, backed up by some of the hot proxy wars that are so painful to democratic nations -- like Iraq. During the Cold War the United States fought two major hot proxy wars, Korea and Vietnam. Those conflicts were more difficult domestically than World Wars I and II. In both cases the United States had to settle for less than victory."

July 25, 2007

MySpace deletes 29,000 sex offenders | Tech News on ZDNet

MySpace deletes 29,000 sex offenders | Tech News on ZDNet

A good deed finally done. I hope all social networking sites take the same action. However, I soon expect the ACLU or other like-minded persons to object to this 'national database of sex offenders.' If we know who likely predators/perpetrators are and do nothing to keep them away from our children, shame on us.

Taxes in the Global Economy - New York Times

Taxes in the Global Economy - New York Times

Why is it a bad thing for corporations or individuals not to pay more taxes. The Times would have you believe that government is the better decision maker for spending. Not true! If U.S. companies that are successful players in the global economy were made less profitable or handicapped by raising U.S. taxes, our whole economy would likely suffer.

The Times would have you believe that more government is better and that Americans are better served by a more socialist society than the one we now enjoy, though it continues moving toward socialism. Yes, jobs are displaced because of the rising tide of other world economies, but the answer is not 'more government.' We are better served by higher quality education, a more uplifting culture and vibrant capitalism at home.

More taxes is exactly the wrong answer.

New Orleans Recovery Is Slowed by Closed Hospitals - New York Times

New Orleans Recovery Is Slowed by Closed Hospitals - New York Times

For all its woe, New Orleans must cope with the result of individual decisions. If people who left the city before/after hurricane Katrina choose not to return, they probably have made a wise choice to establish a life elsewhere. New Orleans has always seemed to me a city rife with incompetence (can you say Ray Nagin?) and corruption (Doesn't every Congressman store cash in his freezer?).

As a practical matter, if I were a New Orleans resident, I would leave if I could for all the reasons that make it a poor choice for the future, not the least of which is the high risk of a future flooding catastrophe. If the oceans are rising, why should the country's taxpayers continue throwing $Billions to only lessen the risk of future doom?

July 24, 2007

OECD Broadband Report Questioned - US Broadband Penetration Grows to 81.8% Among Active Internet Users - May 2007 Bandwidth Report

OECD Broadband Report Questioned - US Broadband Penetration Grows to 81.8% Among Active Internet Users - May 2007 Bandwidth Report

2006 broadband penetration data.

An excerpt:

"Over Half of US Households Subscribe to Broadband - US Broadband Penetration Grows to 82.2% Among Active Internet Users - June 2007 Bandwidth Report

Summary: 53% of all US households now subscribe to broadband, according to Leichtman Research Group. Internet use is strongly tied to income. For US households with annual incomes above $75,000, 92% subscribe to an Internet service. Among active Internet users, 82.2% subscribe to broadband, up over 10 percentage points from last year. 53% of all US households now subscribe to a broadband high-speed Internet service at home, according to Leichtman Research Group.

Broadband services now account for about 72% of all home Internet subscriptions - compared to 60% last year. Broadband adoption is strongly tied to household income. Just 45% of households with annual incomes below $30,000 subscribe to an Internet service at home - compared to 92% of households with annual incomes above $75,000. Broadband penetration among active Internet users grew to 82.18% in US homes in May, up over 10 percentage points from 71.76% last year."

July 19, 2007

Disney Pixar Movie Ratatouille

Disney Pixar Movie Ratatouille

We have been camping with the RV this week at Lone Pine Campground in Colchester...really close to home. Yesterday was the first rainy day so we took the three youngest grandkids to see Ratatouille at Palace 9 followed by a mid-afternoon lunch-supper at Uno's.

Ratatouille is a wonderful animated movie about a rat who would become a chef and his friendship and rise to fame with the kitchen garbage boy at a famous Parisian restaurant. Disney/Pixar have done a superb job with this story and I am blown away with the technical wizardry behind the animation. The children thoroughly enjoyed it and Carol and I did, too.

See it if you can. It's one of the best I've enjoyed in a while.

July 17, 2007

Solar Power Wins Enthusiasts but Not Money - New York Times

Solar Power Wins Enthusiasts but Not Money - New York Times:

"In the current fiscal year, the Energy Department plans to spend $159 million on solar research and development. It will spend nearly double, $303 million, on nuclear energy research and development, and nearly triple, $427 million, on coal, as well as $167 million on other fossil fuel research and development."

This quote tells the story of which energy sources the government backs with research dollars. Solar is an emotionally attractive alternative, but the economics and efficiency are not there. At .01% of the total U.S. electricity output, solar is a toy...witness this quote from the same story:

"But Vinod Khosla, a prominent Silicon Valley entrepreneur who focuses on energy, said the market-driven improvements were not happening fast enough to put solar technology beyond much more than a boutique investment.

“Most of the environmental stuff out there now is toys compared to the scale we need to really solve the planet’s problems,” Mr. Khosla said."

Our best hope to meet the electricity requirements in the future (expected to increase 50% by 2035) is nuclear, hands down. Perhaps we can and should reduce usage a tiny bit with more conservation, but some is already factored into the demand. in any event we cannot conserve our way out of the need for vastly more electricity.

July 13, 2007

The World is Violent and Chasms are Widening

For many years I have been following the writings and travels of Ravi Zacharias, a Christian apologist after attending a dinner in Rome six years ago where he spoke to business people and lawmakers. We also traveled to Connecticut following the visit to Italy to hear him speak. I have great respect and am encouraged by his commitment to preaching the true Gospel around the world. More about his ministry can be found by clicking here.

Here's what he has to say in his most recent newsletter (I have added paragraphing to make it easier to read):

"As one who is constantly privileged to see the world i its struggles and longings, I find myself hard pressed to fully explain the reality 'out there.' I hear so much and see so much and, yes, speak so much that my greatest prayer is to be wise and responsible without being careless in effort and vision. Frankly, at this stage of my life (he's in his late 60s or early 70s) I had expected to 'retreat' a little and be able to spend more time writing than traveling. But history has its moments and its suddenness. Such is the time in which we live. I am glad that the Lord has called us to an 'eternal rest.' But until then I doubt that we can fully stretch back and laze about. God is at work and we are His workmanship, called to be His voice and His laborers.

I am convinced that the next few years will shape the entire century and what's left of human history to be lived out. The power to destroy is growing exponentially. The chasms of cultural misunderstandings are widening. So much of what is reported in the news is distorted and deadly. Hate is not just the mood of religious fanatics. It is also the the mood fomented by by the new band of atheists like Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and, and their followers of cultic similitude. They simply mock and ridicule all religious belief as if all belief in God is based on the same misgivings. The vitriol and bullying that comes from them toward those whose lives are shaped by their belief in a Creator is now at an unprecedented pitch and calls their bluff of their own demand for tolerance. We all mourn the physical deaths of the tragedy at Virginia Tech. But the lives that are spiritually slaughtered in the intellectual arena make that statistic look paltry by comparison.

Those of us who call ourselves Christians had better wake up and realize what it is going to take to to respond to the hate of Islam and the hate of atheism at the same time. I realize such language is strong. But when you are in the front lines making contact with those who would seek to exterminate us, you would be naive and blameworthy if you did not take their threats seriously. With that said, let me reassure you that there are those who are willing to take the challenge to those who wield such hostility, and to win the battle with the marvel and love of the Gospel."

Ravi is wise and we Christians had best heed his counsel.

Mobile phones | Towers of trouble | Economist.com

Mobile phones Towers of trouble Economist.com

Vermont makes news with the Economist as a (negative) poster child for the difficulty in building cell towers to meet the ever growing demand for services and coverage.

The newly created Vermont Telecommunications Authority will certainly have its plate full if they take on the task of expediting tower construction in a state notorious for resisting them.

This story raises the 'radiation hazard' foolishness. When, oh when, will the nonsense about radiation hazards be finally put to rest? Invoking junk science to prevent tower siting should be dismissed out-of-hand by development review people.

July 11, 2007

Paul from Cardiff Sings Puccini

Whether you like opera or not, you will enjoy Paul's rendition of Nessun Dorma. Take a listen.

July 10, 2007

Sheehan challenges Pelosi to back Bush impeachment | U.S. | Reuters

Sheehan challenges Pelosi to back Bush impeachment | U.S. | Reuters

Well, it seems Ms Sheehan cannot stick to her word and 'retire' from the activist spotlight as she promised. Here's what she said on Memorial day in her "Sayonara statement":

"I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost. I will try to maintain and nurture some very positive relationships that I have found in the journey that I was forced into when Casey died and try to repair some of the ones that have fallen apart since I began this single-minded crusade to try and change a paradigm that is now, I am afraid, carved in immovable, unbendable and rigidly mendacious marble."

Now she's targeted Nancy Pelosi to back Bush's impeachment by July 23 or she'll run against her for the U.S. House in California.

Ya gotta luv this leftist soap opera!! But there's a side of me that feels very sorry for this obviously passionate but distraught woman. Perhaps she can find satisfaction in some other line of work that rewards better than radical activism.

July 9, 2007

One of the lawyers Silicon Valley loves to hate | Tech news blog - CNET News.com

One of the lawyers Silicon Valley loves to hate | Tech news blog - CNET News.com

I hope all these crooked shyster lawyers who have been feeding in the class action suit trough get nailed and BIG. Their scheme to take $millions from corporations through the courts is a travesty on the American system of jurisprudence. All class action suits should be scrutinized deeply by investigators working for the courts to weed out these bad apples before the suit goes forward. Forcing corporations to spend needless $millions in discovery and other legal processes is wrong and these shysters should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Here's the NY Times take on this with a few excerpts below from the story.

"Mr. Bershad’s guilty plea is the latest blow to a powerhouse firm that once dominated the landscape for class-action securities lawsuits and spurred fear as well as contempt in corporate boardrooms. But over the last year, the firm has struggled to retain its major clients, its lawyers and its hold on numerous lawsuits even as the number of securities-related cases has declined, in part because of the strong performance of the stock market."

"The 20-count indictment, which included conspiracy and other charges, detailed a scheme that began in the 1970s and continued as recently as 2005. In that scheme, lawyers inside Milberg Weiss paid $11 million in “secret and illegal kickbacks” to named plaintiffs in more than 150 class-action and other shareholder lawsuits. The lawsuits, according to the indictment, earned the firm more than $216 million."

"In pleading guilty in Federal District Court in Los Angeles to one count of conspiracy, Mr. Bershad also agreed to give back $7.75 million, pay a $250,000 fine, and cooperate in the government’s investigation of other participants in the conspiracy, prosecutors said."

"The partners at the firm who agreed to the secret payments included himself, Mr. Schulman, who has vowed to fight the charges and is scheduled to go on trial in January, as well as numerous unnamed partners, including “Partner A” and “Partner B,” according to the plea agreement. People briefed on the investigation say Partner A and Partner B are Mr. Weiss and Mr. Lerach."

Now, if these others are guilty, I hope their trials result in substantial penalties. In my view, a lawyer must be held to very high standards before the bar. Ripping off corporations should be punished as harshly as ripping off individuals.

July 8, 2007

» JotSpot joining Google Apps revolution | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com

» JotSpot joining Google Apps revolution | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com

A peek into Google's strategy. They may not take over the online world, but they will be a major player. Microsoft and Amazon will be hot contenders in the race. The question is: What will happen to Yahoo!

Gmail - Circuits: Are U.S. Cellphone Carriers Calcified?

Circuits: Are U.S. Cellphone Carriers Calcified?

David Pogue nails the gap between American cell carriers and those i the rest of the world. He clearly states the real story behind the revolution that Apple's iPhone may have created:

As you can imagine, the iPhone was a primary conversation topic at this conference. Lots of grudging admiration and amazement at what Apple pulled off.

Not just technologically, either. The biggest impact of the iPhone may be the way Steve Jobs managed to change the phone maker/cell carrier relationship for the first time in years. "We'll give you an exclusive," Apple told AT&T, "and you'll let us do whatever we like. We're going to handle the billing. We're going to take the signup process out of your stores and let people do it at home. You're going to redesign your network so that it works with our visual voicemail system." And so on.

Stan Sigman, president and chief executive for wireless at AT&T, is on record as saying that he had no idea what Apple's phone would be like when he agreed to this-a deal that would have been unthinkable in the pre-Jobs era.

If the iPhone becomes a hit, then, it could wind up loosening the carriers' stranglehold on innovation. Maybe phone makers' imaginations will at last be unleashed, and a thousand iPhone-like breakthroughs might bloom.

July 7, 2007

Immigration Malpractice - New York Times

Immigration Malpractice - New York Times

If the Times has its facts right, this is one more example of why our government could not be trusted to to the right thing on immigration matters...and another good reason for dumping the immigration bill last week. If the government badly screws up legal immigration, how can we trust them to do well with illegals?

The remedy: tight border security first with fences if necessary; implement legal immigration fairly and effectively; then take steps to deal with illegals already here. Stern measures with employers and 'no benefits' for illegals should be the approach, including a fool-proof identification card or system for those who are here legally. Catch and deport should be the MO. It may seem harsh, but without stern measures, the problem will never be solved. Unfortunately, some Americans don't believe illegals are a problem for this nation. This attitude speaks volumes about their values concerning this country.

July 4, 2007

Wooliedales Etc. Slide Show

Here's a slide show of some of Carol's recent Woolies. You can see more at Wooliedales Etc.

If you'd like to order a custom Woolie, contact Carol at wooliedales@gmail.com.

Web 3.0: No humans required - July 1, 2007

Web 3.0: No humans required - July 1, 2007

It's a long road from here to the Semantic Web, a term coined by Tim Berners Lee and others in 2001. We'll move in that direction, but the machine/software agent readable metadata that describes the underlying content, at least at this moment...perhaps forever, will rely on people taking the time to 'tag' their content accurately. Accurately is a loaded word. What may be accurate for my personal use may not be accurate for your interests or inclinations.

This means that a tagging or other descriptive metadata discipline must develop widely among Web users involved in digital content creation. It's happening in many areas. Flickr is a prime example...even Blogger enables tagging (which I'm reasonably faithful to add.)

I think we'll see rapid advances of this concept, but I think it'll be a generational phenomena as the Web 2.0 generation is conditioned to support Web 3.0.

Fixing e-mail: once�a savior, now a scourge - July 1, 2007

Fixing e-mail: once�a savior, now a scourge - July 1, 2007:
I agree that email is in dire need of a radical overhaul, although I am very satisfied with the features and functions of Gmail. If the following scenario could be implemented, what a wonderful life it would be!

I find that most people of my generation and younger never move much beyond email once they experience it because of its tremendous value . It has become the lingua franca of most basic PC/Internet users. I have difficulty persuading my colleagues and friends to venture much beyond email as a way of communicating or sharing information. They are enamored of Google search, but tend to stop there.

People seem to have difficulty moving to valuable Web-based tools like Google Docs and Spreadsheets or calendars because, I think, they have too many other things to grab their attention in life. Perhaps the Internet is not tactile enough for them or too impersonal. The younger generation, though, has no such qualms given the uptake of MySpace and FaceBook.

"Here's where e-mail's socialism turns from strength to weakness: It doesn't matter if the message comes from a spammer hawking Viagra, your wife asking you to pick up some wine, your boss telling the company that Monday is a holiday, or a client asking for a meeting at his office at 11 a.m. In today's inboxes, all e-mail messages are equal.

In reality, of course, some are more equal than others. Spam, alerts, and calendar items all need to be treated separately. A smart inbox would -- all in one interface -- catch spam in junk filters, display the wine reminder in an IM, move company news to an RSS feed, and intelligently negotiate appointment requests with your calendar in the background."

Independence Day

Thomas Jefferson wrote...

'We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.'

Now, 231 years later, we celebrate that declaration, after having created, interpreted, reinterpreted, amended (but not too much), fought for (a lot) and lived under the Constitution...one of the most remarkable documents in history. But as we learn continually...

Freedom Isn't Free!

Here's a link to a summary of the lives of the signers after the Declaration

July 3, 2007

PC World - Hands on With Korea's Cutting-Edge Wireless Broadband

PC World - Hands on With Korea's Cutting-Edge Wireless Broadband

What a wonderful world it will be when this is possible everywhere in the U.S. Verizon's EVDO network is pretty decent, but not yet this powerful.

Vista - Networking Problems - Try This ~ The Blade by Ron Schenone, MVP

Vista - Networking Problems - Try This ~ The Blade by Ron Schenone, MVP

After a day of frustration attempting to get Windows Vista on my new PC properly networked with my two XP PCs, I finally found this site and followed the advice provided. Happily, my network seems to be working properly. When it was not functioning correctly, I could see and access shared folders on the two XP PCs, but they could not see the Vista PC.

Ron's advice was simple, accurate and effective. THANK YOU, RON!!!

I will never forgive Microsoft and firewall suppliers for making the networking process so frustrating and painful, at least for me. The last time I installed an XP PC, I had similar frustrations, all seemingly involving the firewalls.

It certainly should be easier than this, despite the security that everyone is attempting to insure.

Web of Tomorrow - By Peter A. Buxbaum - Military Information Technology

Web of Tomorrow - By Peter A. Buxbaum - Military Information Technology

A rich summary of the ways Web 2.0 technology is used by the military and intelligence agencies.

July 2, 2007

Fairness in Media

The debate about free speech and fairness in the media is ratcheting up mightily these days as Conservative talk radio is under attack by Liberals (Progressives...seems the new label of choice). The Fairness Doctrine, never a Legislative mandate, was rescinded by the Federal Communications Commission in 1987. This was followed by changes in the media ownership rules and, as some believe, concentration of media outlets in the hands of too few owners.

The debate will continue to rage, sparked most recently by the publication of a report, The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio, by the Center for American Progress, a Liberal group headed by John Podesta, President Clinton's former Chief of Staff. The report argues for equal time by increasing the regulatory hurdles for multiple station ownership.

"There are many potential explanations for why this gap exists. The two most frequently cited reasons are the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 and simple consumer demand. As this report will detail, neither of these reasons adequately explains why conservative talk radio dominates the airwaves.

Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the U.S. regulatory system, particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules including the requirement of local participation in management."

Said another way, the report wants increased government regulation to reduce the concentration of station ownership to curb the success of Conservative talk radio. Liberal Congressional leaders, e.g., Senator Feinstein, Sanders, Representative Pelosi and others have begun beating the drum to silence their critics on talk radio. It can't be plainer than that. They want to regulate free speech and have another go-round on the issue because Liberals have failed to compete in talk radio, witness the colossal failure of Air America. Is it the jejune nature of Liberal talk radio that fails to interest people?

I see this attempt as a warm up to the 2008 elections to create an issue for the Liberals to attack the Conservatives, particularly Conservative talk radio. The liberals must believe that the word 'fairness' will attract many in the public to their side of the debate. I think their strategy will ultimately fail because this issue inevitable will wind up in the Supreme Court which has already indicated that free speech, particularly political speech should be allowed. Nevertheless, the Liberals feel they have an issue with some traction and clearly intend to make life difficult for their opponents by putting them on the defensive. They certainly have the attention of Conservatives. Check out this piece.

July 1, 2007

Wikipedia - Computers and the Internet - Encyclopedias - News and News Media - New York Times

Wikipedia - Computers and the Internet - Encyclopedias - News and News Media - New York Times

Click the link for today's Sunday Times piece on Wikipedia and the values underlying it. I think it's a grand experiment and hope the enthusiasm will remain vibrant in the dedicated people who keep it as neutral and devoid of junk as possible. It's a wonderful resource. Naysayers have yet to convince me that its model is any less effective than that of a traditional encyclopedia.

Try it. You'll like it!

Immigration Strategy Momentum

The immigration issue has people energized, for sure. Now, the task will be to hold and exploit that energy for real reform. I fear that will be difficult because, led by our Vermont Senator Leahy, the Democrats will try to focus our and the media's attention on the "bad" Bushies. They are doing this by issuing subpoenas for White House personnel to testify. Bush has rejected them (appropriately), but all this is a lead-in for the 2008 campaign to make the present administration look bad.

The immigration strategy must be to target the leadership in the House, Senate and the White House. a critical supporting approach will be to target local officials to pass and enforce local laws AND turn over the illegals detained or arrested locally to immigration authorities. In other words, work hard locally to 'flood' the system, while continuing to demand that Homeland Security do something about them.

In Vermont we have an immigration issue on a scale that is minuscule compared to that in southern California. Here, dairy farmers are hiring immigrants, some legal, some illegal, because 'these are jobs locals won't take.' There's sympathy for the farmers' plight because dairy in Vermont struggles to survive, although with the present high milk prices, they are financially better off than they've been for a while. There's no backlash against the illegals.

Another key strategy should be to insure there's a grass-roots effort to force the immigration issue as one of the top 2-3 in the 2008 Presidential and Congressional campaigns. If the public is truly fired up about the issue, keeping it in the media and public eye is critical. No politician should be let off the hook for this, nor should the Bushies who must enforce present laws.

Activists deservedly should have a moment of basking in their present success, but a great deal more work will be required to keep Washington constructively engaged with the issue.

Wikipedia - Computers and the Internet - Encyclopedias - News and News Media - New York Times

Wikipedia - Computers and the Internet - Encyclopedias - News and News Media - New York Times

An insightful piece in the Sunday Times Magazine about Wikipedia, one of my favorite websites. Many will claim that it can't be authoritative with everyman editors, but, over time, it has become one of the best go-to sites on the Internet. Try it you'll like it!