April 2009 Archives

Felony Stupidity

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How can it be that someone at this level of government could make a decision that is so obviously stupid, not evil, just incredibly stupid? A ten year old would know better. What this shows is how the post 9/11 mindset is still captivated by a paranoia that is destructive.


'Furious' Obama orders review of NY plane flyover

60

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Two days older than that and nothing's changed.
Hope 80's more exciting.

Twitter Out.

True Dat

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BSide // 13 hours ago


What a headline. Why don't you tell that to Common? Or Lil Wayne? Or Rick Ross?

And while you're at it, tell Wynton Marsalis that jazz no longer exists.

There are millions of artists across the country who pour everything they have into writing good, creative, intelligent, innovative music - hip-hop, jazz, and otherwise, that you would probably LOVE to hear.

But because you don't hear them on your radio or see them on your TV, you declare that they don't exist.

Clear Channel Communications owns 1207 radio stations. On those stations, they play the same hand-picked songs every hour...you can find it on their websites. They pick the songs they think that your average lazy fool wants to hear. "You want dumb? We're broadcasting all the dumb you can handle, 24-7!"

Put your money where your mouth is. If you really want good music, get onto the Internet and search for it. Moving to the internet will eventually kill off the lazy radio stations, the same way it's killing the lazy newspapers who get publish 90% of their news based on AP wire, and do it a day late.

So it goes.

Catching on to the Creationists Lie

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Good news for rational thinkers.

More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops

By Laurie Goodstein

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Two months after the local atheist organization here put up a billboard saying "Don't Believe in God? You Are Not Alone," the group's 13 board members met in Laura and Alex Kasman's living room to grapple with the fallout.

The problem was not that the group, the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, had attracted an outpouring of hostility. It was the opposite. An overflow audience of more than 100 had showed up for their most recent public symposium, and the board members discussed whether it was time to find a larger place.

And now parents were coming out of the woodwork asking for family-oriented programs where they could meet like-minded nonbelievers.

"Is everyone in favor of sponsoring a picnic for humanists with families?" asked the board president, Jonathan Lamb, a 27-year-old meteorologist, eliciting a chorus of "ayes."

More than ever, America's atheists are linking up and speaking out -- even here in South Carolina, home to Bob Jones University, blue laws and a legislature that last year unanimously approved a Christian license plate embossed with a cross, a stained glass window and the words "I Believe" (a move blocked by a judge and now headed for trial).

They are connecting on the Internet, holding meet-ups in bars, advertising on billboards and buses, volunteering at food pantries and picking up roadside trash, earning atheist groups recognition on adopt-a-highway signs.

They liken their strategy to that of the gay-rights movement, which lifted off when closeted members of a scorned minority decided to go public.

"It's not about carrying banners or protesting," said Herb Silverman, a math professor at the College of Charleston who founded the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, which has about 150 members on the coast of the Carolinas. "The most important thing is coming out of the closet."

Polls show that the ranks of atheists are growing. The American Religious Identification Survey, a major study released last month, found that those who claimed "no religion" were the only demographic group that grew in all 50 states in the last 18 years.

Secessionist Gov. Rick Perry asks for federal help to deal with swine flu.

Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), who was last making headlines for suggesting that Texas may consider seceding from the Union, is requesting help from the federal government to deal with a possible swine flu pandemic:

Gov. Rick Perry today in a precautionary measure requested the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide 37,430 courses of antiviral medications from the Strategic National Stockpile to Texas to prevent the spread of swine flu. Currently, three cases of swine flu have been confirmed in Texas.

According to a recent DailyKos/Research 2000 poll, "37% of Texans and 51% of Lone Star Republicans agree with Gov. Rick Perry's recent suggestion that Texas may need to leave the United States. ... Imagine the outcries of patriotism (or lack thereof) if Massachusetts or New York hinted at secession during the Bush years," writes NBC's Mark Murray. And imagine how Texas would deal with the swine flu without federal assistance.

Survialist Haikou

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the paper tigers
with paper guns
ready for action
that never comes

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Weird Checkmate Against Machine

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Forfeiting Queen as a sucker move.

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Recent quotes

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quote:

The conservative base is absolutely apoplectic because, because ... well, nobody knows. They're mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore. Even though they're not quite sure what "it" is. But they know they're fed up with "it," and that "it" has got to stop.

Here are the big issues for normal people: the war, the economy, the environment, mending fences with our enemies and allies, and the rule of law.

And here's the list of Republican obsessions since President Obama took office: that his birth certificate is supposedly fake, he uses a teleprompter too much, he bowed to a Saudi guy, Europeans like him, he gives inappropriate gifts, his wife shamelessly flaunts her upper arms, and he shook hands with Hugo Chavez and slipped him the nuclear launch codes.

quote:

It's sad what's happened to the Republicans. They used to be the party of the big tent; now they're the party of the sideshow attraction, a socially awkward group of mostly white people who speak a language only they understand. Like Trekkies, but paranoid.

The GOP base is convinced that Obama is going to raise their taxes, which he just lowered. But, you say, "Bill, that's just the fringe of the Republican Party." No, it's not. The governor of Texas, Rick Perry, is not afraid to say publicly that thinking out loud about Texas seceding from the Union is appropriate considering that ... Obama wants to raise taxes 3% on 5% of the people? I'm not sure exactly what Perry's independent nation would look like, but I'm pretty sure it would be free of taxes and Planned Parenthood. And I would have to totally rethink my position on a border fence.

quote:

Look, I get it, "real America." After an eight-year run of controlling the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court, this latest election has you feeling like a rejected husband. You've come home to find your things out on the front lawn -- or at least more things than you usually keep out on the front lawn. You're not ready to let go, but the country you love is moving on. And now you want to call it a bitch and key its car.

That's what you are, the bitter divorced guy whose country has left him -- obsessing over it, haranguing it, blubbering one minute about how much you love it and vowing the next that if you cannot have it, nobody will.

But it's been almost 100 days, and your country is not coming back to you. She's found somebody new. And it's a black guy.

Bill Maher

Great FOX News Explosion of Truth

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Shepherd Smith drops F-bomb during Freedom Watch: We do not F%$&ing torture!!!

Torture Must Be Prosecuted

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A counter-terror expert speaks out

By Malcolm Nance

Reading the Bush Administration torture documents released last Thursday by the Department of Justice - documents all about inflicting pain, suffering and discomfort - I felt plenty of my own.

America is truly about to go through the looking glass. But it's a task that must be accomplished if we are to stand before the world and destroy al-Qaeda.

I have been engaged in the hunt for al-Qaeda for almost two decades. And, as I once wrote in the Daily News, I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people - as we trained our own fighting men and women to endure and resist the interrogation tactics they might be subjected to by our enemies. I know waterboarding is torture because I have been on the giving and receiving end of the practice.

This was during the last four years of my military career, when I served at the U.S. Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) school. Working there, and helping protect our servicemen and women, was my greatest pride. We especially emphasized escape, because captivity by al-Qaeda's Jihadis would be severe, if not, final.  Our methods of instruction were intense, but realistic and safe.

Now, at long last, six years of denials can now be swept aside, and we can say definitively: America engaged in torture and legalized it through paperwork.

Despite all the gyrations - the ducking, dodging and hiding from the facts - there is no way to say that these people were not authorizing torture. Worse yet, they seem to have not cared a wit that these techniques came from the actual manuals of communist, fascist and totalitarian torturers.  It is now clear how clearly - how coldly - Bush's lawyers could authorize individual techniques from past torture chambers, claim they came from the safe SERE program, and not even wet their beds at night. That many U.S. service members over the years have died as a result of these same techniques was never considered.

This is about more than one tactic, waterboarding, that has gotten the lion's share of attention. As a general rule, interrogations without clearly defined legal limits are brutal.  Particularly when they have an imperative to get information out of a captive immediately.  Wearing prisoners out to the point of mental breakdown; forcing confessions through sleep deprivation; inflicting pain by standing for days on end (not minutes like in SERE); beating them against flexing walls until concussion; applying humiliation slaps (two at a time), and repeating these methods over and over.

Prison Cigarette Costs Rise

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Dare to Stand...against tolerance

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That ridiculously serious National Organization for Marriage video -- which was mocked mercilessly on Colbert -- now has some competition. This is an anti-gay video put out by an Illinois church that claims Christians are being oppressed by the Homosexual Agenda right now.


via Pharyngula

Don't Blame the Formula

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Blame the financial culture that wanted one and didn't do its homework

The Risk Management Formula That Killed Wall Street

formulak.jpgFelix Salmon published a great article in Wired that looks at the Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street. The article looks at the widespread use of the Gaussian copula function. In assessing the risks in mortgage backed securities.

The theory behind Gaussian copula function tries to overcome the difficulty in assessing the multitude of  correlations among all the risks in a pool of mortgages. David X. Li came up with the Gaussian copula function that instead of waiting to assemble enough historical data about actual defaults, which are rare in the real world, uses historical prices from the Credit Default Swaps market. Li wrote a model that used the price of Credit Default Swaps, rather than real-world default data as a shortcut to determining the correlation between risks. There is an inherent assumption that the CDS markets can price default risk correctly.

I did not do well in my college statistics class. (It was on Friday afternoon, close to happy hour.) But I do remember two concepts. One, correlation does not equal cause and effect. Two, you always need to challenge the underlying assumptions and methodology, because they can have dramatic effects on the data. (and third, do not schedule difficult classes on Friday afternoon.)

According to Felix's story, Wall Street seemed to miss some of the underlying assumptions in the Gaussian copula function. Since the risk profile was based on the CDS market, the data was only looked as far back as the CDS market existed. That was less than ten years. During that time, home prices did nothing except skyrocket. Unfortunately, the last real estate crash was before that period.

Li's formula was used to price hundreds of billions of dollars worth of mortgaged-backed securities. As we now see, Wall Street got it wrong.

It looks like I did not waste my time with statistics and that I got the key knowledge. Look closely at correlation to see why things are moving together. Challenge the underlying assumptions and make sure you understand how they effect the end product of your results. Those are good lessons for anyone involved in enterprise risk management.

Trickster Finds a Home

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What's Real?

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BILL MOYERS: Are you cynical?
DAVID SIMON: I am very cynical about institutions and their willingness to address themselves to reform. For their willingness to do what they're supposed to do in American life. I am not cynical when it comes to individuals and people. And I think the reason THE WIRE is watchable, even tolerable, to viewers is that it has great affection for individuals. It's not misanthropic in any way. It has great affection for those people. Particularly, when they stand upon their hind legs and say, "I will not lie anymore. I am actually going to fight for what I perceive to be some shard of truth."

You know, over time, people are going to look at THE WIRE and think, "This was not quite as cynical as we thought it was. This was actually a little bit more journalistic than that. They were being blunt. But it was less mean than we thought it was." You know? I think in Baltimore, the initial response to seeing some of this on the air was, "These guys are not fair and they're mean. And they're just out to savage us." And it was written with a great-- it's a love letter to Baltimore.

BILL MOYERS: The reason I ask you if you're cynical is not because you wrote that, I'm going to link our viewers at PBS.org to a powerful, extemporaneous speech. I can tell it was extemporaneous, because it reads like that. It reads as if your words were just taken down. That you made at-- to the students at Loyola College in Baltimore some years ago. And you said to them, "I want you to go and look up the word 'oligarchy.'" Well, I did just that. I took your advice. I looked it up.

DAVID SIMON: Uh-oh.

BILL MOYERS: It means "Government by the few. Or a government in which a small group exercises control for corrupt and selfish purposes." Is that what you saw in Baltimore?

DAVID SIMON: I was speaking nationally. But I think that yes. We are a country of democratic ideas and impulses, but it is strained through some very oligarchical structures. You know, one of which could be, for example, the United States Senate. You know, you give me the high-- higher house of a bicameral legislature. And you tell me that 40 percent of the people are going to elect 60 percent of the representatives. And I look upon that as being decidedly undemocratic. Or I look at the Electoral College as being decidedly undemocratic. You know, I don't buy into the notion that one-- one man, one vote is not the most fundamental way of doing business. And ultimately, when I look at you know, for example, the drug war. There are places were the majority of people are now aware that the drug war has been a fraud for 30 years. And yet, because of the dynamics that are put in place that are I think, to an extent oligarchical, because money speaks so strongly in politics...

You know, listen, the only reason that alcohol and cigarettes, which do far more damage than heroine and cocaine, are legal is that white people and affluent white people at that, make money off that stuff. You know? Phillip Morris was-- you know, had-- if those guys had black and brown skin and were-- you know, in the Mexican State of Chihuahua, they'd be hunted. Or maybe not anymore. Maybe they'd be in control of the Mexican State of Chihuahua, that's another story.

But I look at that, and I say, you know, "Yes, this is about, you know, money talks." And the idea that what the most people what is best for the most people, and the utilitarian sense of democracy's supposed to be, that that's still applying in American life. I just don't see a lot of evidence for that.

BILL MOYERS: So, is this what you mean when you say THE WIRE is dissent?

DAVID SIMON: Yes. It is dissent. It is saying-

BILL MOYERS: Against what? From what?

DAVID SIMON: It is saying, "We no longer buy these false ideologies. And false motifs you have of American life." And so I look at this and I think to myself, if only you stand up and say "I'm not going to be lied to anymore." That's a victory on some level, that's a beginning of a dynamic. And, listen, I don't think-- can change happen? Yes. But things have to get a lot worse.

BILL MOYERS: Here's the lead I would put on the body of your work. Your journalism, your articles, your essays, your speeches, your books, your television series, it would be this. "David Simon says America's not working for everyday people who have no power. And that's the way the people with power have designed it to work."

DAVID SIMON: Right. I mean, it would be one thing with an oligarchy and they were doing a better job of it. I would be okay with that.

BILL MOYERS: Making the trains run on time.

DAVID SIMON: But everything-- right. Everything from Iraq to Wall Street to urban policy to the drug war. I look at it all and I say, "You know, these guys really couldn't do much worse." You know? I mean, New Orleans was such a beautiful metaphor for the hollowness at the core of American will, you know? To have seen the President of the United States take the planes down and look out his window and say, "Oh my God, it must be twice as bad on the ground." Twice as bad? Really? You know, it's not-- it's failure of will and imagination and I see it across the board and I just think-- in a way, THE WIRE is an editorial. It's an angry op-ed. It's, you know, as if Frank Rich was given, you know, 12 hours of rant-

BILL MOYERS: Are you, as someone said recently, "the angriest man in television"?

DAVID SIMON: Yes, I saw that. It doesn't really mean much. The second angriest guy is, you know, by a kidney shaped pool in L.A. screaming into his cell phone, because his DVD points aren't enough. I mean, what is the second angriest man in television, American television? But I don't mind being called that. I just don't think it means anything. How can you not have lived through the last ten years in American culture? In everything from-- how can you not look at what happened on Wall Street and that's still happening? At this gamesmanship that was the mortgage bubble, you know? That was just selling-- again, selling crap and calling it gold.

How can you not look at that? Or watch a city school system suffer for 20, 25-- how can you-- isn't anger the appropriate response? What is the appropriate response? Ennui? You know? Alienation? You know, buying into the notion that the "Great Man" theory of history? That if we only elect the right guy? This stuff is systemic. This is how an empire is eaten from within.

BILL MOYERS: But I don't think these good individuals you talk about, the individual who stands up and says, "I'm not going to lie anymore." I don't think individuals know how to crack that system. How to change that system. Because by you-- as you say, the system it self-perpetuating.

DAVID SIMON: And moneyed. And beautifully moneyed. I mean, you know-- and I don't think we can. And so, I don't think it's going to get better. Listen, I don't like talking this way. I would be happy to find out that THE WIRE was hyperbolic and ridiculous. And that the American Century is still to come. I don't believe it, but I'd love to believe it, because I live in Baltimore and I'm an American. You know? And I want to sit in my house and see the game on Saturday along with everybody else. But I just don't see a lot of evidence of it.

The PBS program

Good News for Internet Consumers

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Time Warner shelves plan to cap Internet use

Time Warner Cable Inc. is shelving its plan to bill customers based on how much Internet traffic they generate, following mounting public and political outcry.

Time Warner Cable's capitulation doesn't bode well for the future of metered billing of the Internet, in which people who use more bandwidth pay more.

Frontier Communications Corp., a Time Warner Cable rival in one key test market, Rochester, N.Y., also has dropped its plans for metering Internet use.

"We have gotten hundreds of calls from Time Warner customers into our call centers," said Ann Burr, the head of Frontier's Rochester unit, in an interview with The Associated Press. "I guess it's been a public relations crisis for Time Warner."

Stamford, Conn.-based Frontier had 579,900 Internet subscribers at the end of the year. New York-based Time Warner Cable had 8.7 million, making it the third-largest Internet service provider in the country.

The cable company started testing metered billing in Beaumont, Texas, last year, offering plans with 5 gigabytes to 40 gigabytes of monthly traffic, then charging $1 extra for each gigabyte over that.

Many ISPs cap their subscribers' monthly traffic usage, but the thresholds are usually much higher -- at Comcast Corp., it's 250 gigabytes. It's also very unusual for ISPs to charge extra when customers go over their limits.

By charging by the gigabyte, the cable company said it hoped to shift the cost of providing Internet service, and the cost of upgrading the network, from those who use the Internet the least to those who use it the most. All ISPs find a small percentage of Internet users consuming most of the bandwidth, usually by downloading or watching movies.

But Lauren Rich Fine, research director for ContentNext Media, called consumption-based broadband billing "a huge step backwards."

She added, "Inner-city youth's ability to go online is the best way to give them broad access societally. Consumption-based models will end up being a bigger burden on less affluent people."

Somalian Flipside

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africanpiracy.jpg

Are we ready for socialism?

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Interestingly, almost.

Just 53% Say Capitalism Better Than Socialism

Only 53% of American adults believe capitalism is better than socialism.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 20% disagree and say socialism is better. Twenty-seven percent (27%) are not sure which is better.

Adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided: 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided. Thirty-somethings are a bit more supportive of the free-enterprise approach with 49% for capitalism and 26% for socialism. Adults over 40 strongly favor capitalism, and just 13% of those older Americans believe socialism is better.

Investors by a 5-to-1 margin choose capitalism. As for those who do not invest, 40% say capitalism is better while 25% prefer socialism.

There is a partisan gap as well. Republicans - by an 11-to-1 margin - favor capitalism. Democrats are much more closely divided: Just 39% say capitalism is better while 30% prefer socialism. As for those not affiliated with either major political party, 48% say capitalism is best, and 21% opt for socialism.

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls.) Rasmussen Reports updates also available on Twitter.

The question posed by Rasmussen Reports did not define either capitalism or socialism

It is interesting to compare the new results to an earlier survey in which 70% of Americans prefer a free-market economy. The fact that a "free-market economy" attracts substantially more support than "capitalism" may suggest some skepticism about whether capitalism in the United States today relies on free markets.

Other survey data supports that notion. Rather than seeing large corporations as committed to free markets, two-out-of-three Americans believe that big government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors.

Fifteen percent (15%) of Americans say they prefer a government-managed economy, similar to the 20% support for socialism. Just 14% believe the federal government would do a better job running auto companies, and even fewer believe government would do a better job running financial firms.

Most Americans today hold views that can generally be defined as populist while only seven percent (7%) share the elitist views of the Political Class.

Hi ho - over the edge, boys

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via Kos

This is seriously warped. If there is a real resonance for this sort of shit out there by the party of losers..we might be in more trouble than i thought.


I know what you're thinking, Fox News. I know you're thinking "you know, I bet if we just give this guy [beck] a show, sooner or later he's just going to lose it, blow a gasket, blow a fuse, pop a tire, break the cookie jar, spread the mayonnaise, ratchet the clank, or whatever the kids are calling it these days. And that will be ratings gold."

But I got news for you. This gasket is already well and truly blown. That tire is already popped -- this guy makes Rush Limbaugh look as solemn and philosophic as one of the founding fathers. No, we're at the point of the movie where Thema and Louise and Glenn Beck have driven off that cliff, and the car is hanging in the air, and Beck is fiddling with the radio trying to find a program he likes before we all vicariously hit the ground with him. We're at the point of the show where Geraldo is peering into that vault, and there's Glenn Beck, dusty and vacant-eyed, staring back at him, and even Geraldo can figure out that this is about to be marked in the annals of television history, and not in a good way.

This is not Good Touch. This is Bad Touch. This is crazy person pornography. This is an entire show in which an animated courtroom doll shows where all the bad people touched him.

Beating the machine

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About 12 moves

YES!!

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'Nuff Said

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New Segway

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Looks fun and dangerous.

GM and Segway unveil new two-wheeled urban vehicle

By Bree Fowler and Dan Strumpf

A solution to the world's urban transportation problems could lie in two wheels not four, according to executives for General Motors Corp. and Segway Inc.

The companies announced Tuesday that they are working together to develop a two-wheeled, two-seat electric vehicle designed to be a fast, safe, inexpensive and clean alternative to traditional cars and trucks for cities across the world.

The Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility, or PUMA, project also would involve a vast communications network that would allow vehicles to interact with each other, regulate the flow of traffic and prevent crashes from happening.

"We're excited about doing more with less," said Jim Norrod, chief executive of Segway, the Bedford, N.H.-based maker of electric scooters. "Less emissions, less dependability on foreign oil and less space."

2wheel_segway.jpgThe 300-pound prototype runs on a lithium-ion battery and uses Segway's characteristic two-wheel balancing technology, along with dual electric motors. It's designed to reach speeds of up to 35 miles-per-hour and can run 35 miles on a single charge.

The companies did not release a projected cost for the vehicle, but said ideally its total operating cost - including purchase price, insurance, maintenance and fuel - would total between one-fourth and one-third of that of the average traditional vehicle.

Larry Burns, GM's vice president of research and development, and strategic planning, said the project is part of Detroit-based GM's effort to remake itself as a purveyor of fuel-efficient vehicles. If Hummer took GM to the large-vehicle extreme, Burns said, the PUMA takes GM to the other.

Ideally, the vehicles would also be part of a communications network that through the use of transponder and GPS technology would allow them to drive themselves. The vehicles would automatically avoid obstacles such as pedestrians and other cars and therefore never crash, Burns said.

As a result, the PUMA vehicles would not need air bags or other traditional safety devices and include safety belts for "comfort purposes" only, he said.

Though the technology and its goals may seem like something out of science fiction, Burns said nothing new needs to be invented for it to become a reality.

"At this point, it's merely a business decision," he said.

Burns said that while putting that kind of communications infrastructure in place may still be a ways off for many American cities, the automaker is looking for a place, such as a college campus, where the vehicles could be put to use and grab a foothold in the market.

There's currently no timeline for production, Burns said.

The ambitious announcement also comes at a time when GM's future is hanging by a thread after receiving billions of dollars in federal aid and is in the midst of a vast restructuring that could still lead to a filing for bankruptcy protection.

Meanwhile, the ongoing recession has resulted in some of the lowest industrywide vehicle sales in more than a quarter century.

But Burns argued that some of the most revolutionary ideas have been born out of tough economic times.

"The next two months, and really 2009, is all about the reinvention of General Motors," he said.

Wanna Rob A Bank? Own One.

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Via Infectious Greed

Bill Moyers Journal

Sharing the Blame for the Economic Crisis?...

William K. Black, former senior bank regulator :


Parts 2 & 3


One Solution to the Gitmo Situation

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And why not?

Hugo Chavez: Released Gitmo Prisoners Can Come to Venezuela


Liliana Segura, AlterNet


"We wouldn't have any problem in taking in human beings," Chavez said this week, calling on the U.S. to "finish with that miserable prison."

First he offered aid to the abandoned victims of Hurricane Katrina. Then he offered to cheap oil to America's poor. Now, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has offered to take in prisoners released from Guantanamo Bay.

"We wouldn't have any problem in taking in human beings," Chavez told al-Jazeera Wednesday for a special Arabic edition of his TV program "Aló Presidente." He said that the U.S. military should return the territory occupied by the prison base to Cuba and "finish with that miserable prison."
Famous for his bombast and scathing criticism of George W. Bush, Chavez also expressed his hope that President Barack Obama would become "the last president of the (U.S.) empire."

Unsurprisingly, the Obama administration dismissed Chavez's public overture. ''The United States has not received a formal offer through diplomatic channels to resettle detainees to Venezuela, and is not contemplating resettling detainees to Venezuela,'' Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, told reporters this week.

Political theater or not, the question of where to send the prisoners it releases from Guantanamo presents a major challenge to the Obama administration. Despite his promise to close the prison camp within a year, Obama has not addressed the question of where the remaining 240 or so prisoners will go. Some communities in the U.S. have said that they are willing to accept them -- including a group in Tallahassee, Florida that has volunteered to welcome a group of Chinese Uighur prisoners who would face persecution in China -- but, particularly as it remains unclear how the prisoners will be tried, there's no sign that is close to happening.

"We are committed to ensuring that each of these individuals is addressed through responsible policies that are consistent with the interests of justice and the national security and foreign policy objectives of the United States," Boyd said.

(In other words, don't hold your breath.)

Chavez's remarks came the same week that Venezuelan-born Miss Universe raved about her recent USO-sponsored trip to Guantanamo. "I didn't want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful," Dayana Mendoza wrote in a blog post, with no sense of irony.If the beauty queen had any thoughts on the fate of the prisoners there, she did not express them.

CADIE

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Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity

Research group switches on world's first "artificial intelligence" tasked-array system.

For several years now a small research group has been working on some challenging problems in the areas of neural networking, natural language and autonomous problem-solving. Last fall this group achieved a significant breakthrough: a powerful new technique for solving reinforcement learning problems, resulting in the first functional global-scale neuro-evolutionary learning cluster.

Since then progress has been rapid, and tonight we're pleased to announce that just moments ago, the world's first Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity (CADIE) was switched on and began performing some initial functions. It's an exciting moment that we're determined to build upon by coming to understand more fully what CADIE's emergence might mean, for Google and for our users. So although CADIE technology will be rolled out with the caution befitting any advance of this magnitude, in the months to come users can expect to notice her influence on various google.com properties. Earlier today, for instance, CADIE deduced from a quick scan of the visual segment of the social web a set of online design principles from which she derived this intriguing homepage.

These are merely the first steps onto what will doubtless prove a long and difficult road. Considerable bugs remain in CADIE'S programming, and considerable development clearly is called for. But we can't imagine a more important journey for Google to have undertaken.

For more information about CADIE see this monograph, and follow CADIE's progress via her YouTube channel and blog.

All Fools' Day

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Wiki:

The origin of April Fools' Day is obscure. One likely theory is that the modern holiday was first celebrated soon after the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar; the term referred to someone still adhering to the Julian Calendar, which it replaced. In many pre-Christian cultures May Day (May 1) was celebrated as the first day of summer, and signalled the start of the spring planting season.

An April Fool was someone who did this prematurely. Another origin is that April 1 was counted the first day of the year in France. When King Charles IX changed that to January 1, some people stayed with April 1. Those who did were called "April Fools" and were taunted by their neighbors.

In the eighteenth century the festival was often posited as going back to the times of Noah. An English newspaper article published on April 13th, 1789 said that the day had its origins when he sent the raven off too early, before the waters had receded. He did this on the first day of the Hebrew month that corresponds with April.

A possible reference to April Fools' Day can be seen in the Canterbury Tales (ca 1400) in the Nun's Priest's tale, a tale of two fools: Chanticleer and the fox, which took place on March 32nd.

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