|Ken Novak's Weblog
Purpose of this blog: to retain annotated bookmarks for my future reference, and to offer others my filter technology and other news. Note that this blog is categorized. Use the category links to find items that match your interests.
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Thursday, April 29, 2004
Death to Iraqis who dare to speak out: "Over the past year, Baghdad's intelligentsia has seen a wave of killings: scientists, professors, and academics, executed in carefully planned assassinations. It's hard to estimate the toll, but US occupation authorities put the number of "intellectuals and professionals" assassinated at up to five a month, not counting another five to 10 monthly attempts. By some counts, as many as 40 of Iraq's leading scientists and university professors have been killed since last April. ..
But regardless of the numbers, there is one sure victim: free speech. On the campuses of Iraq's universities, the killings have created a climate of fear so pervasive that many professors flatly refuse to speak about them.. The killings are having another effect: brain drain...
Dr. Hadi, like several other professors, now refuses to give interviews on Arabic-language television channels. When asked why, he's afraid even to say. "Now we have freedom of speech," he says cautiously, "but no security." 10:51:02 PM
Is One-Fourth of Your E-Mail Getting Lost? High false-positive rates are cutting into corporate customer email. "A new report shows that most major Internet service providers (ISPs) shunt into end users' Junk Mail folders — or simply delete — about one-quarter of the corporate opt-in communications that their customers have requested. .. The study monitored 30,000 e-mails [in Jul-Dec 2003] from more than 100 Return Path clients, many of which are Fortune 500 companies. All of the e-mails that were counted in the statistics were either opt-in newsletters that individuals had specifically requested or "transactional messages," such as confirmations of orders, according to Return Path executive George Bilbrey. No unsolicited e-mail or "spam" was counted in the study..
The average "false positive" rate across all 16 ISPs was almost 19%, the report says. .. In a January 2004 scorecard of desktop spam filters, PC Magazine found that the best products misidentified legitimate e-mails only 1.6% of the time or less. ..
New production of solar thermal dishes: Phoenix-based Stirling Energy Systems Inc. and Schuff Steel Co. unveiled a prototype generator that could bring the cost of solar electricity down to 5 cents to 6 cents a kilowatt. .. Arizona Public Service Co., which is under an Arizona Corporation Commission mandate to generate 1.1 percent of its electricity through renewable resources by 2007, has agreed to buy 10 of the units next year. Southern Nevada Water Authority wants 40. " Sandia has ordered a number of them this year. They are 38-foot dishes with a Stirling engine, each generating 25 Kw.
"the Stirling units use no water, in contrast to so-called solar trough generators that use the sun's energy to produce steam to turn turbine generators. " Prototype units cost $300,000 each. "Stirling believes it can bring the cost down to about $25,000 per unit if they are mass-produced. That would make them competitive with conventional power plants, Liden said. " 9:38:17 AM
Summary and update of America Unbound: Address by one of the authors. "Bush prefers to act unilaterally. .. On occasion he has turned to international institutions .. [when] they can help solve his immediate problems. What Bob Keagan has called instrumental multilateralism..
“If we are an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us,” Bush observed about other countries during the presidential debates “If we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us.” Bush ignored this advice once in office. .. What the poll numbers tell us is that in many parts of the world the United States is seen as the “SUV of nations,” to borrow Mary McGrory’s phrase, “hogging the road and guzzling gas, and occasionally running over something — like another nation — on its way to the Middle East filling station.” ..
Bush’s way is not America’s only choice. In fact, Washington has chosen differently before. America emerged from World War II as the world’s predominant power. It could have imposed an imperium commensurate with its power. Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman were certainly comfortable wielding America’s military might. But they wisely recognized that American power is more acceptable and thus more effective and lasting if it is folded into alliances and multilateral institutions that serve the interests and purposes of many countries. .. Rather than hobbling American power, these efforts legitimated and sustained it, building up a reservoir of goodwill that made it easier for the United States to act unilaterally, as on occasion it inevitably had to do.
Bush has chosen not to take this course. From the first day he entered office, Bush has pursued a revolution whose motto has been “foreign policy done my way.” For all the feints and seeming tactical changes in policy — yes to a UN resolution one day, no to sharing real power the next — that sentiment will no doubt continue throughout the remainder of his presidency. And so, no doubt, will continued frustration and anger abroad at the arrogance of American power. The final bill, unfortunately, will be America’s to pay." 8:48:39 AM
Why Study Rome When You Can Build It?:
" John Seely Brown, the media innovator who helped make XeroxPARC such a center for creative thinking in the 1990s, has interesting things to say about [online] games, narrative, and education .." 1:45:08 AM
: "It's not a bug - it's a gotcha. A "gotcha" is a feature or function which works as advertised - but not as expected. MySQL has an abundance of gotchas. These will cause cause much head-scratching, grinding of teeth etc. - particularly for anyone coming from more fully-featured databases who is not used to implementing large portions of the RDBMS functionality in the application code. " It points to another concise set of MySQL complaints
. 1:02:32 AM
'Laser vision' offers new insights
: "US firm Microvision has developed a system that projects lasers onto the retina, allowing users to view images on top of their normal field of vision. It could allow surgeons to get a bird's eye view of the innards of a patient, offer military units in the field a view of the entire battlefield and provide mechanics with a simulation of the inside of a car's engine. The system uses tiny lasers, which scan their light onto the retina to produce the entire range of human vision, reported the journal of the Institute of the Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE Spectrum. .. The first generation product, called the Nomad Expert Technician System, consists of a wireless computer and a hi-tech monocle, costing around $4,000. " 1:01:19 AM
: "The css-discuss Wiki is a companion to the CssDiscussList mailing list. Among other things the wiki serves as a collective long term memory for the list participants." Table of contents serves as a fast directory/FAQ for css. 12:59:12 AM
: "Don't you hate all those RSS feeds with only title and links and no content? This little program will help you. It turns those RSS feeds into ones with full content. It does this by reading the original RSS file, following every link, downloading the content and putting it into the RSS files as HTML snippets. " Uses very simple heuristics to pick the best part of table layout. Written in Perl. 12:29:54 AM
Open Clip Art Project
: "This project has the goal of creating a free archive of clip art that can be used with free software, closed software, distributed with various software distributions, or be used in graphic design compositions. " See also Pixel Perfect Digital 3.0 - Free Image Archive
: "Here you'll find a growing collection of free high resolution photos and illustrations. They're free to use in both your personal and professional design projects. Registration is not required. " 12:14:24 AM
CPA work culture:
"The progressive leaders that I have met in my travels have all socialized very specific memes about what constitutes success in their organizations: Well done is better than well said; deliver quantifiable, measurable results; give me accomplishments over mere activities; schools and roads rebuilt versus meetings and discussions. .. In Baghdad, CPA drove metrics around lives saved, hospitals rebuilt, roads paved, electrical towers erected, and so on." This passage gave me chills, in hindsight. Getting things done is what matters when there is broad agreement about what's important, like within a company or among competitors in an industry (or a bureaucracy). But in national development, especially when the political system is underdeveloped, the ends are up for grabs, and the development of social processes with qualitative outcomes is what matters most. When the Europeans told the US to make a provisional government as the first step, when Sistani's people clamored for any kind of early elections -- the clock was ticking, and it was the unquantifiable unmeasurable preceptions and opinions and conversations that would matter more than the concrete actions. 12:09:38 AM