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User Journal

Journal Journal: How you can help to avert further Bush disasters 2

Whether or not you're in the USA...

1. Write to all the corporations which were major donors to Republican candidates.
(Virtually all of them are multi-national corporations with operations in your own country.
This includes firms such as Ford Motors/Jaguar and Daimler-Chrysler.)
Explain to them why you're boycotting their products and services,
EVEN IF they also supported non-Republican candidates:
as Bush himself says, you're either with us or against us;
there is no neutral ground.
Follow through on your words. Money talks.

If you own stock shares in those firms, also write to their department of
share-holder relations, explaining why you're dumping their stock.
Write to the managers of your pension funds to tell them
why they shouldn't invest in those firms.

2. If you're a member of any organizations with involvement in out-of-town
conventions, urge them to boycott events held within the USA,
and to avoid choosing the USA when selecting venues.
Avoid travel to the USA whenever possible.
When it's not possible to avoid such travel, avoid using USA airlines,
and minimize your stay and your expenditures within the USA.
For each potentially affected city in the USA, write to the respective
Chamber Of Commerce and the municipal and state departments of tourism,
explaining your feelings and intentions.

If you're NOT a US citizen, write to your elected representatives as follows...

3. Urge your government to propose resolutions at the UN, the EU, etc.,
condemning the USA for threatening international peace and order.
The mere introduction of such resolutions, even if defeated, can have significant effects.

4. Iran and North Korea are next on the list for Bush's advisors.
For people who oppose and fear the USA's present course,
it's time for all of us to temporarily put aside our negative feelings
toward Iran & North Korea.
Suggest to your government that your country should form a mutual-defense
pact with those countries, in the case of aggression from the USA --
to expire as soon as the USA unequivocally promises non-aggression against them.

This is NOT mere melodramatic symbolism:
the welfare of ALL nations is threatened, directly or indirectly,
by the ideology and policies of the Bush administration.
Two days after the election, Bush and his supporters were already
triumphantly announcing that their narrow victory is a "mandate" for their ideology,
that the election empowers them with "political capital"
which needs to be promptly spent in the expansion of their policies.

Many of you (outside of the USA) blame us who are in the USA for what is happening,
even though almost 50% of us oppose Bush.
Yet IN YOUR OWN COUNTRIES, even more of the people (over 70%) oppose Bush:
so why aren't you applying proportionately greater pressure on
your own government to oppose the USA vociferously and unrelentingly?

Urge your friends to join you in all the above actions.

User Journal

Journal Journal: historical prescience 1

On non-commercial channels in the US you may have seen an educational series called "The Western Tradition",
by Eugen Weber, a renowned history scholar from Romania with a fascinating verbal style and voice,
something like Jacob Bronowski.
"Western Tradition" was produced in 1988 but is still frequently broadcast.

Here's something he said in a segment about the decline and fall of the Roman empire...

"It has always been a problem, for a society faced by a serious challenge,
to decide just what measures it can take, and how far it can go,
in opposing and meeting that challenge.
If you argue that you can only preserve your way of life
by adopting certain means which *negate* that way of life --
that you can only preserve democracy or free speech by limiting them, for example --
or preserve liberty by regimentation, or moral order by inquisition --
then you run the risk of sacrificing exactly the things you say you are fighting for.
You run the risk of sacrificing precisely those things
that you used to justify the sacrifices in the first place.
And you risk becoming so like your enemy, that the differences matter very little."

User Journal

Journal Journal: Marian The Robot Librarian

[story submitted to slashdot editors 2004-07-24 09:35 UTC] BBC reports on robotics researchers in Spain, who have developed a prototype which can retrieve books from library shelves while patrons are present. 'When it receives a request for a book, its voice recognition software matches the titles with the book's classification code to identify which bookshelf stack to go to. The robot navigates its way to the bookshelf, using its infrared and laser guidance system, and scans books within a four-metre radius. Once the book is located, it has to grasp it and take it off the bookshelf, which is not a simple as it might seem. For this, the team had to develop special fingertips like nails, with one nail longer than the other. "For me that was the hardest part. All the other things were current state of the art technology," said Professor Pobil.' The article also discusses using robots to assist in digitizing library materials.
User Journal

Journal Journal: AIDS Experiments On Prostitutes Condemned

[story submitted to slashdot editors 2004-07-24 09:15 UTC] Biotechnology writer Paul Elias reports: 'Researchers in Africa and Cambodia are experimenting with Gilead Sciences Inc.'s popular drug Viread to see if it can be used as a sort of AIDS "prevention pill." At least some of the prostitutes involved will take pills with no medicinal value to see if they contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, more readily than prostitutes who take the drug.' Activists accuse Gilead of 'exploiting the women and giving them poor AIDS-prevention education to further its research, because it needs infection data to analyze Viread's potential to protect against the virus'.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Study shows P2P might be *helping* CD sales

[story submitted to slashdot editors 2004-07-23 12:25 UTC, and AGAIN at 2004-07-24 06:55 UTC] The Guardian reports on a study of file-sharing performed by two professors at UNC and Harvard Business School. The effect of file-sharing is 'statistically indistinguishable from zero' -- and in some cases may actually help sales. Their analysis is based on correlating three months' of weekly sales reports with corresponding data from two P2P servers. One of the researchers says of the Napster trial in 2000, 'The studies that were used during the trial were really horrible. They don't imply that downloading is the root cause of college students and teenagers buying less. If we got rid of file sharing tomorrow, it doesn't necessarily mean these kids would be buying any more music.'

One possible explanation for prior declines in CD sales: 'people were spending on DVDs instead of CDs'. During a multi-year period when CD prices rose ten percent and sales fell, 'DVD prices fell by 25% and the price of players fell in the US from over $1,000 to almost nothing'. Furthermore, recent RIAA claims of damaged sales may very well be disingenuous, based on 'a creative redefinition of the word "sale": during the past nine months, actual CD sales in America have increased by 7%, despite continued growth in file sharing'.

This is the first empirical study based on actual file-sharing behavior -- and perhaps the last: 'I imagine it's going to be difficult for us to get sales data in the future because of the views of the record industry towards us', says the researcher.
User Journal

Journal Journal: US army food... just add urine

[story submitted to slashdot editors 2004-07-23 02:15 UTC] BBC: "The US military has devised a way to ensure its troops in battle need never go hungry - with dried food that can be rehydrated using dirty water or urine."

Mmmm, mmmm, good! Hey, it's ARMY food, who'll notice?
User Journal

Journal Journal: Study Shows PHBs Are Security "Idiots"

[story submitted to slashdot editors 2004-07-22 23:20 UTC] IT-World: "top executives now consider security the single most important issue for their corporate networks. Yet nearly four in five admit they open email attachments from strangers."
User Journal

Journal Journal: 1st Operational Quantum Crypto Network

[story submitted to slashdot editors 2004-07-22 22:15 UTC and AGAIN 2004-07-24 07:35 UTC] Technology Review: A quantum cryptography communications channel sends each bit as a single photon. Such a channel is thought to have absolutely perfect security from sniffing, because even observing the photon changes it, and so sniffing is always detectable. With this security, parties can initiate a session by repeatedly exchanging one-time keys until each knows that both have received an uncompromised key. 'Until now all of the prototype systems have been point-to-point links rather than networks. Researchers have built a six-node quantum cryptography network that operates continuously. The network is ready for practical applications today'.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Fat-Busting Ultrasound May Be On Its Way

[story submitted to slashdot editors 2004-07-22 21:50 UTC] Associated Press: "People tired of being chubby but with no interest in dieting, exercising or liposuction could soon have a new, pain-free option: fat-busting ultrasound. The idea is to use high-intensity ultrasound waves, beamed about an inch under the skin, to break up fatty tissue without pain, scars, anesthesia or a long recovery time. In testing on 30 people in Mexico, the treatment did not burn or seriously irritate the skin, and it reduced fat on the abdomen without causing serious complications by sending too much loose fat into the bloodstream. It's not clear exactly where the fat goes after ultrasound jolts it loose."
User Journal

Journal Journal: Iceland discovery promotes Martian life hypotheses

[story submitted to slashdot editors 2004-07-22 20:35 UTC and AGAIN 2004-07-24 07:55 UTC] This article reports research presented at the Bioastronomy 2004 conference in Reykjavik, Iceland. 'Scientists have discovered a community of bacteria living in the lake beneath an Icelandic glacier. The chilly world provides a model of Martian terrain and may boost speculation about the red planet's potential inhabitants. This is the first unequivocal example of life in a subglacial lake. The bacteria were definitely not introduced from above'.
User Journal

Journal Journal: MATRIX database "accomodates" privacy concerns

[story submitted to slashdot editors 2004-07-22 21:05 UTC and AGAIN at 2004-07-24 06:25 UTC] Associated Press: The MATRIX program was feeding state vehicle and law-enforcement records into commercial databases owned by Seisint, covering half the U.S. population. But privacy advocates countered by availing themselves of state laws preventing transfer of such data to non-governmental entities. So the program will now 'address' privacy fears by having each state maintain its own records -- and software will search across all of the states' databases successively, from any requestor's location, in addition to the commercial databases. But, the ACLU points out, 'Decentralized data which is just as easily accessed as centralized data creates the same privacy problems.' Furthermore, Seisint soon will be owned, controlled, and accessible by the European owners of LexisNexis.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Africa Can Seize Share of IT Outsourcing Market

[story submitted to slashdot editors 2004-07-22 20:25 UTC]"Gartner predicts that up to 25 percent of traditional IT jobs in many developed countries today will be situated in emerging markets by 2010. . . . many companies are moving away from India as the place to outsource, because of the labor churn . . . Mauritius, for example, is building on a concept similar to Dubai Internet City, with its own Mauritius CyberCity . . . New York's parking ticket system is managed from Ghana . . . Nigeria has an entire ministry for ICT . . . Africa supplies the highest rate of return on investments"
User Journal

Journal Journal: FrankenBeer Introduced In Europe 1

[story submitted to slashdot editors 2004-07-16 08:21 UTC and AGAIN 2004-07-24 08:10 UTC] From Associated Press: Partially funded by biotech companies led by Monsanto, Swedish-brewed beer, produced with genetically engineered corn grown in Germany, is now being sold in Denmark, Germany, and through the Swedish state-owned liquor monopoly. The brewer is also in talks with stores in the United Kingdom. Biotech companies hope the beer will tempt consumers as the EU regulators lower the bars to GM foods, a process begun quietly in April. In parallel, the White House continues to push for the removal of the labels which make it possible for EU consumers to identify GM foods.
User Journal

Journal Journal: How & Why Microsoft Might Close Its Doors 2

[submitted article to slashdot editors 2004-07-15 08:02:55 UTC] John Dvorak's rationale: 'Bill Gates is reported to have told more than a few people, when asked how long he intends to run Microsoft, "Until it stops being fun." . . . How about simply shuttering the company? . . . where Microsoft can go from here . . . cutting costs to save a billion dollars . . . Do they know something we do not know? . . . wouldn't be unprecedented for a high-tech software company to just end its life cycle by closing . . . it might be possible to pay out the money to the shareholders and close the company. Just walk. . . . spinning off the Office, MSN, Xbox, and Server folks into new companies for a pot-load of cash . . . and close down everything else . . . And who would complain? Gates could get a few cheap shots in at the Justice Department while he was at it . . . Most users could coast on XP for three years if they had to . . . Microsoft would send all its OS offerings into the public domain as one last slap at Linux.'
User Journal

Journal Journal: US Presidential Election Possibly Delayed

[submitted article to slashdot 2004-07-12 19:03:00 UTC]
Reuters: Department of Homeland Security asked the Justice Department last week to review what legal steps would be needed to delay the election.

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