... seeking simple answers to complex problems, and in the process, disrupting the status quo in technology, art and neuroscience.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Global Warming Swindle

Originally posted 06-16-07:

With all the press lately, you may have started to wonder if there's anything to this Global Warming scare. I know I did.

Fortunately, I'm old enough to remember the very OPPOSITE was being presented in the early seventies. I also know how easy it is to distort the truth - inconvenient or not.

But since I like to keep an open mind, I sat through "Inconvenient Truth" - all of it.

I was far less impressed than many I've talked to, but I DID find the charts interesting. The next day I spent some time on the net and found lots of data both ways, but nothing very definitive - certainly nothing as well presented as Al Gore's film.

Now that's changed.

"Global Warming Swindle", produced by the BBC, is THE best counterpoint to Al Gore I've seen. It not only starts with very convincing science in far more detail than Al presented, but it also shows the political reasons for the movement itself. It makes FAR more sense than Al's film. I especially liked the final presentation by the co-founder of Greenpeace (who of course has split with most of his fellows).

So if you're as open-minded as I am, you'll watch this film.

It's worth your time.

No matter what side of the issue you're on.

Global Warming Swindle

Thanks Dave.

03-20-15 An Update from Dr Moore, Co-founder of Greenpeace - Why I am a Climate Change Skeptic

05-20-16 EPA's counterpoint:  Causes of Climate Change

02-07-17 When science gains an agenda, it ceases to be science:

A Top Climate Scientist Blows the Whistle on Shoddy Climate Science

03-28-17 An interesting approach to the problem:

How to Change My Biases on Climate Science

If the science is truly "settled", why are there still so many skeptics? And why is Washington DC such a hotbed of conviction? Are people inside the beltway really that much smarter?

"Some opinions don't quite mesh with scientific reality. Just 49 percent of people thought that "most scientists think global warming is happening," the survey found. In reality, 97 percent of all climate scientists agree that climate change is happening and that humans are very likely the cause of it"

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Give me Liberty or Give Me X

Many assume most Burners are hard core Democrats.

Not true; and I've tried to explain why a couple of times. It looks like someone's done a better job. I've seen the name several times but haven't read any of his books yet.

Brian Doherty's going on my to read list.

Check out the review...

Good thoughts here.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Unknown Story - Mao

I've never blogged a book review, but this book is an exception. It's not just for how well it's researched and written; Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have done an excellent job. This book's an exception for it's content.

I grew up when Mao was in power. In school we learned he lead "Red China" which somehow was even more scary than our obvious cold war foe, the USSR. Maybe it was because less was known about Red China.

I remember wondering many times what was really going on there, as the limited news out of Red China never made much sense. From their success with AGRIculture, to the destruction of ALL culture I suspected much was not being reported. In this case "much" is an understatement.

This book is amazing. It will stand as one of the greatest contrasts between perception and reality ever written. At the time, and in spite of communism, Mao was presented to me as hero of his people. Nothing could have been further from the truth. This book documents the greatest social mismanagement of all human history. What's even more amazing, it was largely accomplished by one man for one purpose - Mao and to keep his position of power. Or was Mao something more? A true villian?

Neal Stephenson referred to Mao as, "Buddha's evil twin", which makes a lot of sense if you think about his looks, nature and the impact on history.

Mao makes the French revolution look civil and fair. Mao makes Hitler look reasonable. Mao even out-murdered his mentor, Stalin, by a wide margin. And he does it all by maintaining his political hierarchy largely through intimidation - this was no conspiracy of fifty, or even five. FEW around him actually agreed with his actions for any significant period of time. But he managed control in spite of more rational minds at hand. This was the genius of Mao and probably the ONLY thing he did well.

I started this post to note some of the things done by Mao or at his direction. Some of these might be considered "spoilers" if you plan to read the book, which you should. If so, stop now. If not, you've been warned...

You've probably heard, Mao was responsible for over 70 million deaths. The book will detail why, when and where this was done, as well as how this was calculated - fascinating. Here are a few examples...

Mao deliberately sent thousands of his OWN soldiers into probable death simply so HE could be the first to rendezvous at the Russian border. He did this for political reasons. And those troops who DID return were made to dig their own mass grave before being executed and buried in place. This was all done to take a political competitor out of play.

Mao also personally defined methods of torture and enjoyed watching them being performed on large a scale. Many were old favorites from history such as death by a thousand cuts, red-hot rods forced into rectums and various other forms of death using water and weights.

He also helped develop new ones, like stuffing gun power into the sinuses of the subject which then were of course, lighted. Or forcing people to eat things not normally digested until they died slowly. In some cases people were kept alive for years so they could learn of their family's fate before meeting their own.

And there was no safety in being close to Mao - just the opposite. Those closest often went first. His own son fell in love with a girl Mao originally brought to court for himself - when she was 12 years old. At first Mao refused to let them marry, but relented and let his jealousy take another course.

A few months later his son was sent to the active Korean battle front where he was quickly killed. Mao then continued the relationship with this daughter-in-law not telling her until years later her husband had died not long after their honeymoon. You'll have to read the book to learn what he did to his other children and wives. I'll warn you, it's not nice.

But let's put aside death for a moment. After all, Mao learned from Stalin that if you keep the numbers up, death is just a statistic. Shit happens when you run a government.

Actually, the bigger crime was probably done to those who LIVED. There were HUNDREDS of MILLIONS living on the EDGE of starvation for YEARS on end so that Mao could send their grain to Russia in exchange for weapons and weapon technology. Literally 38 MILLION people died so Mao could buy the technology to build an atomic bomb which was never used in anger. How's THAT for a Zen weapon? It was WAY more effective at killing people than the two wimpy bombs we dropped on Japan. Oops, I'm back on death.

Other amazing elements of Mao's policy is how he separated couples and families for long periods on a massive scale while not allowing communication with loved ones. It's hard to understand WHY he would do this, but Chang and Halliday show the reasons. And it makes a weird kind of sense. Well sort of, some of the time. The rest of the time Mao just comes off as a wacko with WAY too much power. Taking away each family's wok? Nothing to cook anyway.

Another one of my favorite books is "Hawaii". In one section James Michener describes the hardship of common life in 19th century china. What he described is paradise compared to what Mao created for his "People" in this modern age.

These people were made to sleep outside with no shelter for long periods. In some cases women literally went naked for months at a time because of lack of clothing. Many died of exposure, but the ones who lived, didn't live well. Modern America has NO CLUE about hardship. This book will give you a taste of what humans can endure. It will also allow you to appreciate how easy it can be to turn your back on life, when even endurance becomes a luxury.

This book tells so many secrets on so many levels it's really hard to believe. But what's written seems to be pretty well documented and the detail is amazing.

I've finally discovered what was happening in Red China as I grew up. I never could have imagined it. This book may be the key to never having this happen again. We can hope. Or can we? I wonder what's REALLY going on in North Korea right now.

But that's another post.

If you're interested in China, this is a must read.

Netflix Contest Winning Entry : Link from IMDB

(first posted to Sudden Technology 10-09-06)


I'd like to commend your efforts to improve Cinematch.

But haven't you overlook the obvious?

While you're waiting for some geek to improve Cinematch by 10%, there's a solution that will MORE than DOUBLE the effectiveness of movie search for Netflix.

Let's take this design from the top...

What's the most powerful tool in any search? That's right, the human mind. And when the object of the search is as personalized and subjective as a movie, even when the human mind is wrong, it's right! Take care to keep the customer in the loop.

What's the next most powerful tool in any movie search? That's right, it's IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base). A simple Netflix button on each IMDB movie page would dramatically improve search and selection for Netflix.

Face it guys - Netflix may have a nice site, but it doesn't even get close to what IMDB will do. It's time to mash something up.

IMDB is not only good with movie data, it's actually one of the best (and fastest) examples of TRUE hyperlink searching on the Internet. It's made the Kevin Bacon game kid's play.

Even if you only consider the simple searches by director, cast, crew, or title, you can get around quicker than any other comparable collection of data in the world. EVERY industry should have such text-based search tools.

IMDB is so quick and easy, I've even used it as a spell checker. When I can't immediately find a word in the dictionary, I do some free association with a movie title containing the word. If I can't remember the actual title, I simply cross-reference to one of it's actors. IMDB is THAT fast. IMDB is THAT effective.

And when you consider IMDB's Keywords, user ratings and compound searches, things improve by another order of magnitude. IMDB's Keywords are what Netflix's Genres SHOULD be. It's where you can find thousands of user-defined topics with the movie selections listed by user-defined popularity. Keywords are worth more than 10% all by themselves.

And don't forget the Power Search for when you want to get technical with complex searches. If you can't find movie data on IMDB, you're not likely to find it ANYWHERE on the Internet.

OK. So lots of IMDB movies won't be on the Netflix list. Button data would be a powerful indicator of what to stock next. And it would still be worth it for the ones that are. It would be so nice to click a Netflix button then go on searching at IMDB with no Cinematch splash screen interruption (hint).

Yes, I already copy and paste the IMDB movie title to Netflix for queue additions, and it works fine. But why not make that step automatic? This feature would be FAR more useful than a 10% improvement in Cinematch any day.

And no, I don't work for IMDB. It's just such an obvious solution, it deserves a blog post.

So, get over to IMDB with a busload of lawyers and geeks. With Netflix's volume, there MUST be a reasonable link fee solution. The rest is just standard technology. And don't let NIH (Not Invented Here) get in your way. Do it before one of your competitors does.

And if you still want to give away some money...

Make the check out to Sudden Consulting.

Thanks a million.