Tuesday, March 31, 2009

China Poses a Rival to the Dalai Lama


From the article:

China has pushed a young bespectacled monk into the spotlight in an effort to show that it governs Tibet with a benign hand.

Although he is only 19, the Panchen Lama has already stepped onto the public stage to praise the Chinese Communist Party.

Tibet expert Professor Robert Barnett, of New York's Columbia University, says this is part of China's efforts to undermine the appeal of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism.

"He will never really replace the Dalai Lama, but his role confuses the picture and can gradually be used to weaken the Dalai Lama's standing," he said.

"I think [China's] Panchen Lama is being built up very gradually as a public spokesman within the Tibetan Buddhist world."

The Dalai Lama's choice of Panchen Lama - a young boy called Gedhun Choekyi Nyima - was rejected by China, and disappeared soon afterwards.

China's choice, Gyaincain Norbu, has been largely kept from public view since his appointment at the age of five.


Honda Develops Brain Interface For Robot Control


"Honda has released a video of experiments showing a person wearing a large hemispheric scanner on his head and controlling Honda's Asimo robot by visualizing movement. Back in 2006, Honda and ATR researchers managed to get a robotic hand to move by analyzing brain activity using a large MRI scanner. This latest work uses EEG to measure the electrical activity in a person's brain and blood flow within the brain using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to produce data that is then interpreted into control information. While both the EEG and NIRS techniques are established, the analyzing process for the data is new. Honda said the system uses statistical processing of the complex information to distinguish brain activities with high precision without any physical motion."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

U.S. Report on China's Military Power

"Beijing has reacted angrily to a Pentagon report on China's military power, which claimed it was altering the military balance in Asia."


Included in the BBC news article is a link to a .pdf file from the U.S. Dept. of Defense:
"Military power of the People's Republic of China"

I skimmed through and took screen shots of some maps and a chart I found interesting. I have recently been looking at alternative world maps and found these particularly useful when considering the whole picture.

Although we are embroiled in the Middle East, U.S. priorities should be focusing on the expanding power of China, the collaborative military activity between Russia and Venezuela, and the rising activity and violence spilling into the U.S. from the South and Central American drug cartels, masked by the unchecked illegal immigration.

Another useful view, given how we all grow up looking at Western-centric Mercator maps:

Brain on a Chip


Excerpts from the article:

"An international team of scientists in Europe has created a silicon chip designed to function like a human brain. With 200,000 neurons linked up by 50 million synaptic connections, the chip is able to mimic the brain's ability to learn more closely than any other machine."

"...the current prototype can operate about 100,000 times faster than a real human brain...We can simulate a day in a second," says Karlheinz."

"Despite efforts to make the chips as biologically plausible as possible, Markram admits they are still crude compared to what can be achieved in simulation. "It's not a brain. It's a more of a computer processor that has some of the accelerated parallel computing that the brain has," he says."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mobile Device + Subvocal + Twitter = "Mutter"

Lately, I have been considering how I might make use of Twitter. My most immediate use would be for sending notes to myself in the form of a dedicated private (https) log - an improvement over emailing myself.

The ideal configuration would be:

Mobile Device + Subvocal + Twitter

...this, I have dubbed "Mutter".

Before getting a cell phone, I was amused by the notion of carrying a calculator that I could put up to my head, not only to camouflage the act of talking to myself, but to fully indulge in it. These days, the hand gesture alone would probably suffice. If only I could talk to myself and send those words to a repository when 'we' arrive at a conclusion worthy of note.

Subvocal technology is ideal for accuracy (not picking up other sounds), privacy, and practicality. For example, a listener might better note their own questions or reactions when listening to a phone conversation or business meeting without interrupting or distracting.

There are apparently two recommended speech-to-text solutions for mobile devices:

MyCaption for BlackBerry: http://www.mycaption.com

vlingo for BlackBerry and iPhone: http://www.vlingo.com

Upon googling, I did find this link which is currently dead - perhaps something to watch out for in the future:

Speech recognition notes from wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_recognition:

"The improvement of mobile processor speeds made feasible the speech-enabled Symbian and Windows Mobile Smartphones. Current speech-to-text programs are too large and require too much CPU power to be practical for the Pocket PC. Speech is used mostly as a part of User Interface, for creating pre-defined or custom speech commands. Leading software vendors in this field are: Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft Voice Command); Nuance Communications (Nuance Voice Control); Vito Technology (VITO Voice2Go); Speereo Software (Speereo Voice Translator).

Mexican drug cartels thrive in suburban Atlanta

State Rep. Doug McKillip was quick to note his political position at my home closing, inviting me to direct any concerns I might have to his attention. I immediately accepted his invitation by calling for a crack down on illegal immigration. Doug shrugged it off as a federal issue, though he agreed that it needs to be addressed "sooner than later". If there is any doubt, read the news about the drug war raging in Mexico, and how it is expected to driver more immigrants north into the U.S., along with more drugs and crime. How can the U.S. expect to handle such an exodus on top of the 14-20 million who are already here and multiplying at 3 times the rate of U.S. citizens?

Again, I point to my proposal from 2007:

Now, here we are in 2009 with this news:


From the article:

"In fiscal year 2008, authorities confiscated about $70 million in drug-related cash in Atlanta, more than anywhere else in the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration says. This fiscal year, Atlanta continues to outpace all other U.S. regions in such seizures, with $30 million confiscated so far. Next are Los Angeles, California, with about $19 million, and Chicago, Illinois, with $18 million. "There is definitely a center of this type of drug activity here, and we are working to make sure the violence does not spill out to the general public," Atlanta U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said.

Atlanta has become a stopping point for truckloads of Mexican cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine, agents say. "

Authorities also point to the growth of the Hispanic population in Atlanta, which allows practitioners of the Mexican drug trade to blend in among hard-working, law-abiding Hispanics.

No place is that more evident than in Gwinnett County, a community about 20 miles north of Atlanta.

Gwinnett's Hispanic population rocketed from 8,470 in 1990 to 63,727 in 2000, according to the U.S. Census. By 2010, 20 percent of the county's projected population of 700,000 is expected to be Hispanic.

"In Gwinnett County, the drug dealers are able to hide in plain sight," county District Attorney Danny Porter said. "To combat this, we have to be much more coordinated between my office, the police department and the federal authorities. The presence of the organizations is a dilemma enough that we have to develop new tactics."

Federal agents say arrests and drug-related violence in Atlanta have been linked to the two most powerful Mexican organizations: the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels. The fear is that the battle will extend deeper into the United States..."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

White House Plan To Make Vets Pay For Service Injuries


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance.


Democrats in Congress are organizing to squash a White House proposal that would require veterans to use private insurance to pay for treatment of their combat and service-related injuries.


President Obama's plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs for the treatment of troops injured in service has infuriated veterans groups who say the government is morally obligated to pay for service-related medical care.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Things You See...

Zoom for detail:

Out walking my dog today, I ran across this (dead) black widow. I flipped it over to check for the red hour glass and was not disappointed.

Photo below from last year - This wasp was dragging a spider, and when I got too close it flew away, then circled back and drug the spider under the sidewalk. I zoomed and took the photo from a distance:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

China's New Military Space Stations Coming Soon

"China will be launching 2 new space stations this next year. One is for their civil program (as run by the military), while the second is openly for the military. It appears that there will be multiples of the military version to be launched in 2010, and that they are developing the same US Air Force Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) that was canceled in 1969. In addition, it appears that China is accelerating their timelines on a number of the earlier space announcements."

Have's vs. Have Not's

Sent from my iPhone. Sent from my Blackberry. It isn't that people CAN'T edit their signatures. Parasitic passive plumage on pda's and iPhones offers consumers token prestige in exchange for cheap advertising. It is then up to the consumer to incorporate the vector fully into their lingo to further serve their master, announcing that they intend to 'iText' a message to a friend.

Maybe a tag-team combo of GPS, MRI brain scan, and twitter can send recipients even more passive information, offering the exact location, circumstance, and intent of the person sending the message. So it reads 'sent from my Blackberry, sitting on the can at the Circle K station, W. Blvd, on my way home from Cap'n D's.'

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Friendly Reminder

Think of this one as a sticky note:

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bionic Eye


"A man who lost his sight 30 years ago says he can now see flashes of light after being fitted with a bionic eye.

Consultant retinal surgeon Lyndon da Cruz, who carried out Ron's operation said the patients were starting to get meaningful visual stimuli from the technology.

Gregoire Cosendai, of Second Sight, is convinced the technology will prove to be invaluable - but also admits there is still much work to be done."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

While I'm at it...

Another thing to get off my chest and onto your bumpers:

View other designs at my online store:

Yes, You Can STICK IT, Al Sharpton

I hereby dub Al Sharpton the new Inspector General of Homeyland Security.

Al, here's your next gig - try chasing someone else's tail:

Go play in traffic.

From wiki:

Just prior to the 2008 US Presidential Election, then-candidate Barack Obama appeared on MTV and stated that laws banning the practice of wearing low-slung pants that expose one's underwear were "a waste of time". However, he did follow that up with the statement: "Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What's wrong with that? Come on. Some people might not want to see your underwear. I’m one of them."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Inside the New Science of Neuroengineering


"If we surgically or electrically modify someone's personality... that raises many questions about personal identity, (of) who we are at our core," says Dr. Debra Matthews of The Berman Institute of Bioethics. "We place ourselves in the mind and therefore the brain. (Mood-altering surgery) feels like fundamentally modifying who a person is."