Sunday, January 29, 2006

Screw Students

An article on the greed, manipulation, and outright treachery of Sallie Mae, and student loans in general. A must read for those of us who will have to change their names, move to different countries, fake their deaths, and repeat the process just to be safe after they graduate from College.

So, an article for me.

(village voice article)

DoD vs. WWW (or, 'insert Orwellian phrase here)

As the world turns networked, the Pentagon is calculating the military opportunities that computer networks, wireless technologies and the modern media offer.
The declassified document is called "Information Operations Roadmap".

The "roadmap" calls for a far-reaching overhaul of the military's ability to conduct information operations and electronic warfare. And, in some detail, it makes recommendations for how the US armed forces should think about this new, virtual warfare.

(bbc article)

There's one final gem that the document has that really creeps me out: The document says that the US should pursue the ability to "provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum".

From sea to shining sea, indeed. Click here to download 'Information Operations Roadmap'

Homeland Security has it's fingers in your safe deposit box

At this point they were told that no weapons, cash, gold, or silver will be allowed to leave the bank - only various paperwork will be given to its owners. After discussing the matter with them at length, she and the other employees were then told not to discuss the subject with anyone.

(bellacio article)

I don't claim to be privy to the inner workings of banks, or just why Homeland Security would want us to not have access to things like precious metals and handguns...but I do find it very ominous.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Liberal or Conservative, you're being stupid

Using M.R.I. scanners, neuroscientists have now tracked what happens in the politically partisan brain when it tries to digest damning facts about favored candidates or criticisms of them. The process is almost entirely emotional and unconscious, the researchers report, and there are flares of activity in the brain's pleasure centers when unwelcome information is being rejected.

(new york times article)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Bullshit Detector Invented

David Skillicorn and his group, of Queen's University in Ontario, Canada, have created a program that distinguishes spin in speeches.

Spin, in this case, is defined as “text or speech where the apparent meaning is not the true belief of the person saying or writing it”, says the algorithm’s developer, David Skillicorn at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.

He and his team analysed the usage patterns of 88 deception-linked words within the text of recent campaign speeches from the political leaders. They then determined the frequency of these patterns in each speech, and averaged that number over all of that candidate’s speeches.

I hope that this program has a high spin threshold. Ten minutes with Scott McClellan might crash it.

(new scientist article)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Illegal spying data useful as an appendix

In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.

But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.

(new york times article)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Celebrate Zhang He weekend

A map due to be unveiled in Beijing and London next week may lend weight to a theory a Chinese admiral discovered America before Christopher Columbus.

(bbc article)

You still can't 'discover' a place were people already live, but I'll take what I can get.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Fail at math, fail at...everything?

How do you convert written words into math? Goldman says it takes a combination of algebra and geometry. Imagine an object floating in space that has an edge for every known scrap of information. It's called a polytope and it has near-infinite dimensions, almost impossible to conjure up in our earthbound minds. It contains every topic written about in the press. And every article that Inform processes becomes a single line within it. Each line has a series of relationships. A single article on Bordeaux wine, for example, turns up in the polytope near France, agriculture, wine, even alcoholism. In each case, Inform's algorithm calculates the relevance of one article to the next by measuring the angle between the two lines.

By the time you're reading these words, this very article will exist as a line in Goldman's polytope. And that raises a fundamental question: If long articles full of twists and turns can be reduced to a mathematical essence, what's next? Our businesses -- and, yes, ourselves.

(physorg article)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

One overseas call is all it takes

President Bush has admitted that he gave orders that allowed the NSA to eavesdrop on a small number of Americans without the usual requisite warrants.

But Tice disagrees. He says the number of Americans subject to eavesdropping by the NSA could be in the millions if the full range of secret NSA programs is used.

"That would mean for most Americans that if they conducted, or you know, placed an overseas communication, more than likely they were sucked into that vacuum," Tice said.

(abc news article)

Soldiers need sexual purity, not body armor

Chaplain Randy Brandt, stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany, said the kits have helped combat the "problem of pornography."

"Even while we were in Iraq, the pervasion of this problem was evident — soldiers had porno CDs they could play on their personal DVDs, and they had sexually suggestive magazines "graciously" donated for the soldiers' entertainment," Brandt said.

(abc news article)

Sure, we're over-extended, under-equipped, poorly organized, with an unclear goal, bad leadership, and an enemy that we really can't figure out a way to defeat and still keep Iraq from turning into an even worse hellhole when it all (someday) wraps up...but at least our soldiers will not be unchaste heathens.

Look at the upside. If you strap enough of those propaganda boxes to yourself, the fundamentalist anti-sex kit could take shrapnel for you.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Jesusland can't be saved

Pat Robertson, the American televangelist, today appeared to withdraw a diatribe against Ariel Sharon in an attempt to salvage his $50 million plan for a biblical theme park in Galilee.

Ministers in Jerusalem were furious after the millionaire preacher suggested that the Israeli Prime Minister suffered a stroke in divine retribution for carving up the Holy Land in withdrawing from Gaza

(times article)

Global Safety Net

WITHIN a large concrete room, hewn out of a mountain on a freezing-cold island just 1000 kilometres from the North Pole, could lie the future of humanity.

(new scientist article)

The article itself ends up being a bit on the dry side...heavy words like doomsday, reinforced concrete, polar bears are being thrown around, and it's all just a rainy-day jar for agricultural revival.

Don't get me wrong, the concept is neccesary and needed. There are legitimate reasons to have a bastion to help rebuild the world just in case we do get around to fucking things up horribly. I just don't see why we're only putting seeds in there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Homeland Security can, will and does open your mail

Last month Goodman, an 81-year-old retired University of Kansas history professor, received a letter from his friend in the Philippines that had been opened and resealed with a strip of dark green tape bearing the words “by Border Protection” and carrying the official Homeland Security seal.

(infoshop article)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Dropping the Love Bomb?

The plan for a so-called "love bomb" envisaged an aphrodisiac chemical that would provoke widespread homosexual behaviour among troops, causing what the military called a "distasteful but completely non-lethal" blow to morale.

(bbc article)

And here I was, taunting them for the hyperspace travel interest.

Did it go on your Permanent Record?

Get information that the NSA might have on you.

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Gravitophotons and the US military

An obscure German physcist's theories on a six-dimensional space may allow the American military to get to a quagmire faster.

Hell, if this physcist's theories work out, we can get into all kinds of new and exciting quagmires...amongst the stars!

(new scientist article)

"This country cannot afford to be without its protections..."

Vice President Dick Cheney defeneded the recently uncovered NSA domestic espionage program. It's hard to think of any upsides to the program, but then again, I still see a bit of hypocrisy in screaming about the ideals of freedom then wiretapping my own citizens.

(cnn article)

About Me

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I'm Troy Doney. I'm on the internet. I'm the writer of the blog "Off the Reservation" at New West. I also write a blog at Reznet. My personal blog is Man Bites Dog. I post my pictures at Flickr and I write short sentences at Twitter.