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US confirms it’s selling Saudis $60 billion in weapons ‘to enhance stability’

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 21:08 by Paul Jay in category: News


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States plans to sell up to $60 billion worth of military aircraft to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. State Department announced on Wednesday in a move designed to shore up a region overshadowed by Iran.

Andrew Shapiro, the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told a news conference the U.S. administration did not anticipate any objections to the sale from Israel, traditionally wary of arms sales to nearby Arab countries.

“We think it will enhance regional security and stability rather than diminish it,” Shapiro told a news conference.

How to save your military industrial complex uhhh economy.

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce Spent $37 Million on Lobbying in Third Quarter

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 20:58 by Paul Jay in category: News


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its legal-reform affiliate spent $37 million to lobby Congress and the executive branch in the last three months, bringing its total for the year to $81 million.

That’s one-fourth more than the $65 million the group spent between January and September 2009. For all last year, the chamber and its Institute for Legal Reform spent a record $144 million on lobbying.

The chamber, the largest U.S. business lobby, failed to prevent President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress from overhauling health care and regulating the financial industry. The group has said it plans to spend $75 million to support congressional candidates in November’s election. Most of the money spent by the chamber on political activities from July through September has gone for advertisements backing Republican candidates.

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Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography – Language

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 19:43 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Karl Rove: Tea Party ‘not sophisticated’

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 17:03 by Paul Jay in category: News


Former top Bush adviser Karl Rove told a European publication that the Tea Party movement is “not sophisticated” and lacks the coherency and intelligence of prior right-wing uprisings in the United States.

“If you look underneath the surface of the Tea Party movement, on the other hand, you will find that it is not sophisticated,” Rove said in an interview with the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel published online Tuesday. “It’s not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek.”

The Reagan Revolution, by contrast, was a “well-organized, coherent, ideologically motivated and conservative revolution,” Rove posited.

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When Big Pharma creates a diagnosis

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 17:02 by Paul Jay in category: News


You know what would be great for pharmaceutical profits? If there was a reason for women to need their own Viagra. Of course, there’s no clear-cut, physical sexual dysfunction disorder prevalent among women the way erectile dysfunction haunts older men. But, when life hands you lemons, you can always make your own diagnostic tools and call them lemonade, anyway!

Australian journalist Ray Moynihan has been following the battles over so-called Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, and the Pharmalot blog has an interview with him that gets past the initial outrage and into the complex realities of trying to treat problems some women really do feel they have, while avoiding the unethical creation of a junk diagnosis meant to sell more pills. It’s a great example of how the right questions and playing devil’s advocate can lead to a deeper conversation.

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NSA’s Newest Recruiters: Cartoon-Leopard Twins

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 16:54 by Paul Jay in category: News


Dudes and dudettes: You know what’s totally radical? Reading your neighbors’ e-mail! So don’t you wanna be a junior National Security Agency deputy?

If so, the surveillance and cryptology crew at NSA has the right online companions for you: Cy and Cyndi, a pair of anthropomorphic snow leopards now kickin’ it with the CryptoKids, the Puzzle Palace’s team of cartoon animal hackers. Known as the CyberTwins and unveiled by NSA yesterday, Cy and Cyndi wear gaming headgear, talk into their hands-free mobile devices, and teach youths about proper online hygiene, all on the NSA website’s kids page, which actually exists.

Arriving in time for (the second half of) National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the CyberTwins have a backstory to appeal to military kids: Their mom is a government engineer, their dad is an Army computer scientist, and they “love to talk with other kids who love computers and cyber space as much as they do.”

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GOP Legislator Who Crusaded Against College Sex Ed Classes Owns Company That Sells Kinky Sex Gadgets

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 16:32 by John Sinteur in category: Foyer of Ennui (just short of the Hall of Shame)


In the winter of 2009, Georgia state legislator Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Canton) led a high-profile campaign against the teaching of public university courses that dealt with sexual health and related topics. Hill was joined by a small cadre of other conservatives who sought to end the teaching of courses dealing with topics such as male prostitution and gay history, and some of his acolytes even called for firing professors who taught these courses. Hill even appeared on CNN and boasted about an award he received for leading the battle to shut down courses dealing with sexuality. “Our public colleges are not the place for our young adults and future leaders to experiment and experience these types of sexually explicit behavior,” Hill said at the time.

Now, the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Jim Galloway reports that, while Hill may think that sex is too hot of a topic for the young adult students at public colleges in the state to handle, he’s perfectly fine making a buck off it. Galloway writes that Hill’s Democratic opponent, Stephanie Webb, has discovered that the company Hill serves as CFO of, Gila Distributing, sells numerous sex gadgets and gay pride paraphernalia through the company. These products include “stress relievers” in the shape of male sex organs and Gay Pride flag lapel pins.

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Anti-ACTA rap

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 16:24 by Paul Jay in category: News


Copyfighting rapper Dan Bull (he of Dear Lily Allen fame) has just released a new track, “Death of ACTA,” about the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a privately negotiated super-copyright treaty. He says, “I wrote it after reading about the terrifying implications of ACTA. I want it to raise awareness and make people act directly, by joining lobby groups (eg EFF and ORG) and putting pressure on their political representatives. The video was made on a zero budget, filmed and edited with the voluntary help of friends and colleagues. Directed and produced by Russ Houghton, and filmed at the Golden Hinde in Southwark. I’m an unsigned, unsignable geek rapper and activist, determined to make a living out of my music whilst sharing it all for free. Not sure how that will work yet, but working it out is all part of the fun.”

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  1. “determined to make a living out of my music whilst sharing it all for free. Not sure how that will work yet, but working it out is all part of the fun.”

    Can’t wait, curious to see what he comes up with…
    (my prediction: we will never hear from him again, only if he writes another song likes this without making a dime, and he will earn his money by working at 7-11)

  2. Artists get money by performing live. You can’t download a live performance.
    True fans go to concerts, buy a ticket to see the artist play.

    In this digital era record companies get a smaller piece of the pie. New artists don’t need (and want) them anymore for distribution and marketing.
    That’s why the record companies are getting agressive on copyrights. They are pissed for losing control!

  3. So what new artists are really making it without the industry then? Can’t think of one that became big on its own without help…

  4. (And do me a favor, don’t mention the Radiohead method, please)

  5. My favorite artists are not on TV.
    I support my favorite artists by going to their concerts, buy their music from their own website, through bandcamp or paypall.
    These artists do their own promotion, distribution and production in most cases.
    They are not millionaires, but at least they are pure artists that play music they like with a dedicated fanbase.

    The current piracy/downloading discussion is the music industry’s own fault. It’s because of their own greedy culture.
    They could’ve embraced the digital era but they chose to fight it.

It Gets Better at Google

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 15:33 by John Sinteur in category: awesome, Google

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Stayin’ Alive In The Wall (Pink Floyd vs Bee Gees Mashup)

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 15:27 by John Sinteur in category: awesome

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Using MySQL as a NoSQL

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 15:16 by John Sinteur in category: Software


In our benchmarks, we could get 750,000+ qps on a commodity MySQL/InnoDB 5.1 server from remote web clients.


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Joe Miller’s private “guards” were active-duty military

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 14:00 by John Sinteur in category: News


But revelations today have made the story much, much worse still.  ADN now reports that not only was Joe Miller’s excuse for why he had hired private guards a lie, but two of the guards who handcuffed the journalist and threatened others are active-duty soldiers in the U.S. military


The more recent version of the relevant DoD Directive is here.  It is essentially the same as the one quoted in the prior update, with slight differences, and provides, among other things:  “A member of the Armed Forces on active duty shall not: . . . [p]erform clerical or other duties for a partisan political committee or candidate during a campaign.”

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When Dilbert came to Nokia

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 13:57 by John Sinteur in category: News


The report is very long on detail and short on opinionising – and for those of you fascinated by technology and bureaucracy, something quite interesting emerges. What we learn is that the company’s current predicament was fated in 2003, when a re-organisation split Nokia’s all-conquering mobile phones division into three units. The architect was Jorma Ollila, Nokia’s most successful ever CEO, and a popular figure – who steered the company from crisis in 1992 to market leadership in mobile phones – and who as chairman oversaw the ousting of Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo this year.

In Ollila’s reshuffle, Nokia made a transition from an agile, highly reactive product-focused company to one that managed a matrix, or portfolio. The phone division was split into three: Multimedia, Enterprise and Phones, and the divisions were encouraged to compete for staff and resources. The first Nokia made very few products to a very high standard. But after the reshuffle, which took effect on 1 January 2004, the in-fighting became entrenched, and the company being increasingly bureaucratic. The results were pure Dilbert material.

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TcpClient supported?

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 13:44 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


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Color Film of London in 1927

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 13:26 by John Sinteur in category: Great Picture


This is a true color movie and not “colorized”. It was filmed in 1927 as part of a series of cinema travelogues. Pioneering filmmaker Claude Friese-Greene brought these picture-postcard scenes to life with a specially-devised colour film process.

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Bacteria ‘R’ Us

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 13:24 by John Sinteur in category: News


Bacteria can communicate with each other, take concerted action, influence human physiology, alter human thinking, and work together to change their environment. The bacteria in your gut are talking to each other, and to you, and you are talking back to them. The mind boggles.

Bacteria can distinguish “self” from “other,” and between their relatives and strangers; they can sense how big a space they’re in; they can move as a unit; they can produce a wide variety of signaling compounds, including at least one human neurotransmitter. Some bacteria practice predation in packs. Maybe we should start thinking about making peace with bacteria, instead of wildly taking antibiotics.

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Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 13:14 by John Sinteur in category: Cartoon

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Android Chief Andy Rubin Sends His First Tweet

Posted on October 20th, 2010 at 7:39 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Free Software, Google


Well would you look at that. Earlier today, Apple CEO Steve Jobs went on a bit of a tirade against Google and Android in particular. And you know that couldn’t have made Android chief Andy Rubin too happy. But how was he going to respond? Well, he decided to awaken his dormant Twitter account and send his first tweet tonight. And sure enough, it’s clearly (but subtly) in response to Jobs.

Without further ado, here is Andy Rubin’s first tweet:

the definition of open: “mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make”

Really Andy?

Okay, let’s see. I’m running a few FreeBSD boxes, I guess those qualify as open.

%which git
%mkdir android
%cd android
%repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git;repo sync;make
repo: Command not found.
repo: Command not found.
make: no target to make.


Five minutes in Google tell me that “repo” is apparently a python script google wrote to maintain git stuff. That page offers a handy link to the script: http://source.android.com/download/using-repo.
Which gives me a page not found.
Okay then, let’s ignore twitter, ignore the google results, and see if that git URL also has a website. Weird that the official site is nowhere in the earlier google results, but it does indeed have a repo tool.


Okay, now it does get me the source. Cool.


As I’m typing this, it has downloaded a bit over 720 Mb of source, and it’s still going strong. I also note that all versions of Android, back to 1.0, are scrolling by in the list of things that appear to be fetched.
I’ll type ‘make’ when it’s done and update this post with the result, but I can already tell you that Andy’s definition of “open” means that about 0.0001% of the world population can actually use it.

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  1. Check the meaning of “open” and “easy”. Looks quite different.
    In the evolution of many “open” projects, the coder aim first to “working”, then to “stable” and at last to “easy”.

  2. I’m a little bewildered by your argument here, John. If you feel that Android’s source availability is irrelevant to most customers, you don’t have to “prove” that by doing a build.

  3. No, I’m not claiming source availability is irrelevant I’m claiming that google is doing marketing on an issue that is irrelevant to 99.999% of their customers.

  4. That much was obvious without the build. I get the sense that it’s a talking point that works, though, certainly on a far larger set of people. I’d say the way to combat it is to point those people to the fact that some of these “open” phones will brick themselves if you try to jailbreak them. Not much more open than iOS.

  5. In the mean time the repo syn command caused my zfs system to crash (not enough memory in my test box), but that’s a whole other ball of hate, and cannot be blamed on android.

  6. This isn’t meant as an attempt to explain the repo syn behavior, just reminded me: seen recently:

    RT @jacobian: Git is comprised of 117 C programs, 25 Bash shell scripts, 9 Perl scripts (5 with -w flags, 4 w/o), and 1 Python script.

  7. What does it matter if the OS is open, when the phones it gets installed on are not? A number of phones won’t let you upgrade your phone OS without a root hack, while others prevent that in the hardware. As people say: the OS is open to the customers, but the customer is the carrier, not the end user.

    That being said, there are plenty of Android phones which you can upgrade, and they are, in fact, more open than Apple.