<data:blog.pageName/> |<br /> <data:blog.title/>


Powered by WebRing.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Back on the bike

They say you can't keep a determined man down. After last nights incident, today I was able to go out for a bike ride. I was a little sore after last night, normal after something like that. But it was a part of the healing process and it made me feel better. Don't drive at night with your high beams on, unless you absolutely need them. All you do is blind everyone else on the road.

If you don't need them, don't use them

With the days getting shorter, and the nights getting, I am wondering one thing: What is it with all these people who believe that they absolutely need to have their high beams when they drive at night?
The event that led to this question happened just this evening. I was riding home from my mother's house on my bicycle when some nutcase who happened to be going the other way drove by with their high beams on. Needless to say, I was blinded by this jackass. Naturally, he (or she) did not see me crash. This person also did not have to go through the few anxious hours that I and my parents had in the emergency room. Luckily, I got out of this with only a few stitches.
Why do people use their high beams? Is it because they are forgetting about the general rule about not overdriving their headlights? Or is it that they just don't care and don't want to slow down? This is just one of those areas where people should really be using their brains. Not onlly do they blind everyone else of the road, but under the right conditions they can even blind themselves. This can really get dangerous!
With the high beams, if you don't need them, don't use them. The life you save coould be your own. Or mine.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

All you have to do

In a nation where there are more and more people making more money every year than the gross national product of most third world nations, what you do not see is more wealth. All you have to do to see where the money is going is watch how Americans drive.
The way Americans drive tends to reflect on how we as Americans do as stewards of our money. A lot of that money goes to the one thing that we need to keep our vehicles going and that is gasoline. The quicker we accelerate and the faster we drive, the more gasoline we use. All you have to do to save money is take it easy on the gas pedal and keep your speed down.
Traffic violations are another way our money is just wasted needlessly. Even if you beat the ticket, the thousands spent on lawyer fees can really take it's toll on the pocket book. On the other hand, if you can't beat the ticket, in addition to the possible lawyer fees, there also the added court costs. And that is just the beginning of the pain. It takes years for the points to come off your license. That means added insurance costs that can be in the thousands.
Of course, all the large oil companies in third world countries would love to take your money out of your pocket at the pump. Slow down and the terrorists woul lose their funding.

Our Big Brother Bush thinks it is his place to tell us what to do

I found this article in the Buffalo News. It tells us how the U.S. ban on internet gambling is bound to be compared to how Prohibition worked in the 1920s. Oh yeah, that's right. Prohibition did not work. The ban on alcohol drove people to speakeasies and other underground places. And this new bill will do the same.
There is an answer to this phenomenon. That answer is to legalize online gambling. Let the states and the federal government collect taxes from this lucrative market, the same way they do alcohol sales. The taxes collected from this practice could go to help our rather antiquated and outdated education system. About half of the people who gamble online are from the U.S. anyway. Bush and his religious right cronies are missing out on a great taxation opportunity for our government.
They do this on the basis that they think they know what is the best for the rest of the country, these self-rightreous conceited fools who were themselves born with silver spoons in their mouths. These are the same people who make their money from the other lifeblood of this country. And that would be oil. Every time you put gasoline in your tank, you put money in their pockets. But of course, they never seem to mind when we do that. The oil industry controls everything in this country.
The oil compnanies want you to buy that huge gas guzzler suv that you don't really need. They know that automakers can make vehicles that can get 100 mpg. They are only worried about their bottom line, the money that flows into their pockets.
And yet, they don't want us spending our money on online gambling in offshore markets? The only reason that they care is that the money spent on these casinos isn't going into their coffers.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Teens texting? While driving? What idiots!

Of all the things there are to distract teenage drivers in this day and age, there is only one thing that is more dangerous than using a cel phone while driving. That would be text messaging while driving.
I found an article at United Press International that describes what could be a parent's worst fear. That is that teenage drivers say that they are most distracted when they send or receive text messages while they are driving their car. When that happens, their attention is taken off the road which is where it should be. All the time.
The thing is that they are not doing anything illegal. That is, it is not against the law to use a cell phone for text messaging or talking while. So they think that is OK. But teenage drivers just don't have the experience necessary to judge whether their behavior is dangerous or not. Some even might tempted to do so by the fact that it is dangerous. Those teens are in this for the thrill factor and just don't care abolut what happens to anyone else.

The WTO takes a stand against U.S.laws against online gambling

In this article I found in the BBC News, the World Trade Organization, of which the U.S. is a member, is going to determine whether some U.S. laws banning online gambling are in line with WTO fair trade rules and regulations. The U.S. has had a long running legal battle over it's views on this matter with the Caribbean country of Antigua.
Partners of the WTO who fail to comply with it's rules are often subject to Major economic sanctions. Those sanctions include huge tariffs on their exports. Internet gambling supports the economies of many Caribbean countries, including Antigua. This allows them live less without their dependence on the tourism industry.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Answering a cell phone while weight lifting!!!!!???????

I saw this video at College Slackers.com and thought to myself, what an idiot!!!!!!!! How stupid could you be? This guy managed to drop his dumbbell on himself when he just had to answer his phone. Seeing this makes me wonder why somebody even bothered to invent such things as voice mail and answering machines.
People should just get with the program and use these devices for what they were made for. If you don't you could wind up like the guy in the video. Or worse.

Monday, October 23, 2006

One is bad enough, two make things even worse.

I saw this article L.A. Daily News. It is just another example of what makes talking on the cell phone while drivingso dangerous.
In the article, it is stated that as much as forty percent of drivers caught on camera running a red light do so because they are too distracted while talking on their cell phones. This is what happens when drivers "accidently" just happen to glue their cell phone to their ear. How often they seem to forget all about this great service called VOICE MAIL. If people would just shut up and drive, most of those problems would disappear.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

How little we have changed

I was watching the movie Gladiator a few weeks ago, and when I saw that much blood in the Roman Amphitheatre. It left me wondering: Have we really changed in our enterment venues that much?
If you have watched any movies lately, you would realize that truthfully, we have not really changed that much. The crowd's thirst for blood must still be quenched. The difference is that nobody really gets killed in these movies. Still, the more blood, usually the better. Just take a look at how many popular movies are gigantic gore fests.
The crowd's thirst for blood and violence is just as great now as it was then. Only back then, when the hero killed the villain, the villain didn't re-appear in another venue. Rape was not faked in the Roman amphitheatre as it is today. In the Roman amphitheatre, nothing was faked. Everything was real.
It just goes to show how little we have changed in our choice for enterment.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

BIg Brother strikes again!

President Bush and his religious Republican leaders have signed into law the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006. It is prohibition all over again. It didn't work then. Prohibition gave rise to organized crime and illegal speakeasies. The sale of alcohol was driven underground and was not stopped.
What our "democratically" elected leaders seem to forget is that restricting internet gambling runs contrary to the policies of the World Trade Organization and other free trade agreements. The WTO has regulatory power over the U.S. government and controls what our government can and cannot do. The WTO has filed strong protests with the U.S. government concerning internet gambling. Gambling websites have supported the economies of entire countries. Many of those websites collect as much as 50% of their income from Americcan gamblers.
In some countries like Great Britain, internet gambling companies are even traded publically on the stock market. The signing of this Act into law could have quite an adverse effect the economies of such countries. And the U.S. calls them allies? What right does the government have to tell Americans what to do with their own money. It is time to vote this government out of power!
Here is where you will find a terrific article on this.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Instant aging while driving

Their have been many studies done on what happens when a driver, particularly a teenage driver, when they answer a cell phone call while driving a car. It is said to have the effect of taking a teenage driver and instantly aging them upwards of 50 years.
That is, a twenty year old suddenly has the reflexes of a normal seventy year old driver. So much of their concentration switches from watching where they are going to the conversation itself. However, there is an answer to that problem. That answer is voice mail.
People think that they just have to answer the phone when it rings even while on the road. The think that the person calling just has to hear a human voice. That is just not the case. That is the reason that voice mail, and answering machines, were invented in the first place. There is a time to answer the phone. And there are times when you should just let it go to voice mail.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Note to teens: HANG UP AND DRIVE!

Let's just face it: Teenagers driving while talking on cell phones is just an accident waiting to happen. Even worse than is teenagers texting messaging while driving.
I would like to bring up an earlier post here. The young person, shall we say, thinks that not getting in a collision or getting a ticket makes him a good driver. But in fact, it just goes to show that he has just been lucky. In his opinion, when he talks on the phone, he thinks his driving has not been hampered in any way. He thinks that statistics mean nothing, that there is nothing wrong with driving and talking on the cell phone. How wrong can you be? I myself have nearly been run over on the bike path riding my bicycle home by teenagers using cell phones while they were driving. I would guess that all begins when they ride their bikes and using their cell phones. They have trouble watching there they are going.
Ford has studied this problem. They have developed the VIRtual Test Track EXperiment to monitor certain driving behaviors. Ford used to test the age difference while driving. The subjects used were teens and adults.
This experiment measured the response time with and without distractions. In the test without distractions, the miss rate forboth groups was roughly the same-3%. However, running the same test with distractions( hands-free cell phones), the miss rate for adults was 13%. The miss rate for teens was staggering higher. It was roughly 50%.
It just proves that most people tend to over-estimate their own ability to deal with distractions while driving a car.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

NIghtmares of 9/11

After watching the news story and finding this story at CBSNews.com, at first I thought I was having nightmares of 9/11. I was wondering what idiot would be flying that low over New York City in bad weather. Cory Lidle did have an instructor in the aircraft with him, but like most people when they drive, over-estimated his own abilities. The instructor should have been the one at the controls of the aircraft, but poor little rich boy Cory had to have his way.
It would have been nice if he had been the only one who had died, but sad to say that did not happen. I do feel sad for the others he took with him. His recklessness cost him not only his life, but he took with him the lives of at least three others. What a crazy world it is when the filthy rich dictate the lives of the commoners.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Big Brother is watching you

It is a well known fact that anonymous on-line web surfing is long sisnce a thing of the past. To illustrate this, htere is an article at MSN Tech and gadgets. The article also discusses all the other ways to find out who you are on the net. One such device used is the correlation between vocabulary and gender. Discussed is the use of certain keywords by each gender. These are found mostly in such thing as blogs. The text in the blogs can also used to determine the nationality of the author. I think you will the quite article interesting. I also wonder what the conspiracy theorists will think about this.
Security Watch: The myth of online anonymity

Robert Vamosi, Senior Editor

One truism in forensics is that every contact leaves evidence. That's true at a crime screen in the real world and also true on the Internet. You might think you can get away with posting an anonymous message somewhere, or even sending an anonymous e-mail via a bogus Web mail account, or perhaps writing anonymous malicious code. You can't. Not entirely.
At this year's Black Hat Briefings in Las Vegas, Dr. Neal Krawetz, of Hacker Factor Solutions, demonstrated how he and others have started to use nonclassical digital forensics techniques. By analyzing the words used or the keyboard characters typed, he can tell a lot about these supposedly anonymous online authors.
Surf anonymously? Think again
Recently I reviewed Torpark, an Internet browser designed to disguise your originating IP address. Whenever you connect to the Internet, your ISP assigns you an IP address. This IP address tells sites such as Google what country you're in.
This is important if you live in a country where free speech is tightly controlled. Torpark, which is based on Mozilla's Firefox 1.5, uses a worldwide network of encrypted routers to randomly choose a different IP address for you. So, when you launch Torpark, you're likely to see the Firefox-like browser default to Google Denmark instead of the Google U.S. screen.
Torpark is designed primarily to keep your online search requests from being censored or subpoenaed in the future by some court. But even if you were to use Torpark to disguise your IP address from law enforcement for malicious intent, the e-mails you send, the posts you make, even the code you upload still says a lot about you--probably more than you intended.
As hard as it is to change or alter the whorls of your physical fingerprints, it is just as hard to alter the way we think about and use language or the way our fingers naturally hit the keyboard. Dr. Krawetz showed how information about gender, country of origin, handedness, and even whether or not you play the guitar can all be determined from sample text.
Vocabulary and gender
In his talk, Kazwetz mentioned several studies on gender use of keywords which, when weighted--with specific numerical values for male and different numerical values for female--can determine the gender of the author. Sounds too simple to be true, but research (including Gender, Genre, and Writing Style in Formal Written Texts by Shlomo Argamon, et al., and Sexed Texts by Charles McGrath) has shown that some words are more likely to be written by one gender or the other. In informal writing, men are more likely to write "some," "this", and "as" while women are more likely to write "actually," "everything," and "because." In formal writing, men write "around," "more," and "what" while women write "if," "with," and "where." By determining the point totals in a given document, Dr. Krawetz can predict the gender of the author.
Dr. Krawetz admits upfront that this method is only 60 to 70 percent accurate, but it is far better than guessing, which is only 50 percent accurate. He further cautions that text including citations from poetry, quotes from others, and even the influence of copy editors on the original can all skew the results. It is best to collect a large number of examples, then average the point totals.
Who are you--really?
The New Yorker cartoon states: On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.
Well, Dr. Krawetz has applied his tests to several Web site examples. The most interesting case study involved soft-porn sites where he determined that a few of the "women" who write fantasies for men tested out to be men. So much for believing all those sultry blogs.
Want to see for yourself? Dr. Krawetz's Gender Guesser is available online from Hacker Factor Solutions.

By analyzing text, Dr. Krawetz can also learn something of a person's nationality. For example, when analyzing multiple documents, patterns emerge in word choice, punctuation, and sentence length. Americans choose words from a small core vocabulary, while Europeans draw from a much larger vocabulary and use alternative spelling choices to some equivalent American English words. Australians are a hybrid, using a smaller core vocabulary but choosing European spellings. Shorter sentences with simple punctuation are more likely to be American, and longer sentences with complex punctuation are more likely to be European.
What randomness can teach us
But most of us don't publish in large online publications, so blogs and even online chats can also reveal a lot of who we are online. Out of frustration, have you ever typed and posted some gibberish in an online post or chat? Like this: asdfasjfdj. Your dominant hand is likely to hit more adjacent keys faster than your other hand.
In this example, assuming the author used a standard QWERTY keyboard, you might determine that the author--myself, in this case--is left-handed, which would be true. Research shows that the ratio of right-handed individuals to left-handed is roughly a 70/30 split worldwide.

Again some disclaimers: This method is also only 70 percent accurate and doesn't include such factors as whether the person is an online game player, has carpal tunnel syndrome, or is employed as a typist (or at a job where typing is required).

Drumming for fun
But here's where it really gets fun. Try drumming your fingers on the keyboard. Does the pattern radiate out from the center of the keyboard or in from the outside? Research shows that the Out to In ratio is also a 70/30 split. And if one hand is mostly In and the other is mostly Out, the result is asymmetrical drumming, which might mean the author is a musician (usually a piano or a stringed instrument player). When no clear pattern emerges from this drumming exercise, that can be seen as a possible sign of Attention Deficit Disorder.
Also if the letters are adjacent to each other, such as in my above example, we can infer that I'm using a QWERTY-based keyboard, and not a Dvorak keyboard. Dr. Krawetz can further tell whether a person is using an ergonomic setup or not by which rows of keys are used more.

All this might sound crazy, but check out Dr. Krawetz's slides from his Black Hat talk where he uses the above techniques in a few real-world hacking examples. With one case study, he attempts to identify "TheUntouchable," a member of DutchMafia, a phishing group that has since disbanded.
In the end, Dr. Krawetz narrowed down the possible candidates for TheUntouchable from a list that included everyone on the planet to just one: a right-handed male, possibly a musician, whose profile matched only 3.5 percent of the population. It wasn't a direct match but it's better than nothing. Dr. Krawetz's Gender Guesser is available online from Hacker Factor Solutions, or try the Gender Genie by BookBlog.

You can run but…
Research such as this should help investigators zero in on online criminals. Virus writers have in the past enjoyed some anonymity--until they bragged about their exploits in online chats. Now investigators have a means of fingerprinting text and code.
It is really a no-brainer that this has been going on for decades. People who believe that they really anonymous have been doing nothing but deluding themselves.

Monday, October 09, 2006

How we treat our children

There was an article in Sunday's edition of the Holland Sentinel. In the Life and Style section, there is a piece written by Dan Seaborn. It concerns what happens when a teenager asks the question: Do I do anything right?
In this article, Dan discusses what happens when children are constantly shown the flaws in their character. In an environment where that is the norm, it is easy to see how a child can get to the point where they think all they can ever be is a failure.
The most important job of a parent is to be their children's chearleaders. Children need to be reminded of their strengths and that their parents believe in them and trust them to succeed. It is important not to over-criticize our children.
Cheering for the 92

The flashback was what turned things around for me. Unexpectedly in the midst of an average day as "Dad," I was thrown back to a memory from my childhood, and it made me completely change the tone of my parenting.
I had been talking with one of my children -- I guess you could say I had been talking at him -- for a while, pointing out several problem areas I'd noticed in his behavior.
I'd griped about his slow starts in the morning, accusing him of constantly making the rest of the family late. I'd criticized how he was handling a squabble with one of his siblings, and then I'd shown disapproval for how he had managed an issue at school.

Then I mentioned some other things that I wasn't too thrilled about, continuing on and on with my rant. For a while my son took it all in, but then, just as I was making a point about mediocre schoolwork, he broke.
His teenager shoulders slumped, his bottom lip started quivering, and he looked at me with an expression of total dejection. "Dad," he said through tears, "do I ever do anything right?"
That was the phrase --Do I ever do anything right? In an instant, it launched me straight back to my own teen years, to a father who was never satisfied, to a home where I was often criticized but rarely praised, to an environment I had been happy to leave and had vowed not to replicate.

When you're a kid whose parents continually point out flaws in your life, it's easy to reach a place where you wonder if you'll ever be anything but a failure. It's hard to believe in yourself when even your own parents don't seem to, to feel loved when you keep hearing about all the ways you don't measure up.

Do I ever do anything right? Until my son's question caught me off guard, I had forgotten how awful a question it was to face. I'd also forgotten how important it is for parents to keep that question from having its place in the home.

One of the most important roles a mom or dad can play is the role of their kid's cheerleader. Children and teens need to be reminded on a persistent basis that their parents believe in them and that we see good things in them.

Their identity is wrapped up in the words we speak, the tones we take and the moves we make. Their self-esteem depends largely on our encouragement and applause. But still, many parents spend far more time cutting down their children than building them up.

We focus on the negatives. We make it very clear when we're disappointed. We chastise endlessly and we over-critique, but how often do we over-compliment? Or praise to the point that it's almost embarrassing?

Moms and dads, think about it. When your child brings home a quiz with a "92" at the top, what's your response? Do you cheer for the answers that were correct, or do you ask about what happened with the other eight percent?

After your child's team competes, do you comment about the points they scored and the plays they made, or do you mention first the missed goals, the poor technique, and the fumbles? Do you let a mistake slide sometimes, noticing instead something that your child did really well?

Does your son or daughter ever do anything right? Do you call attention to it when they do? If they're anything like my kids -- and if they're anything like you and I used to be -- then a lack of such praise is enough to break them.

Sure, there will always be mistakes, missed points and those few wrong answers on the quiz, but when was the last time you focused on the positives? Isn't that 92 pretty great?
Parents have to remember that they too are teachers. In fact, a parent has a magnitude more impact on a child's life than any teacher ever will. Sometimes we tend to forget this and blame the school and the environment for our child's poor self esteem. Belive it or not, kids do listen.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

If professional pilots mess up at this, how do the rest of usually fare?

I was browsing the Car Talk website, and saw an article in the spring 2006 edition of Perspectives. In this article, the two professors, Jacob Rose and James Hunton, studied the effects of using a cell phone. The result of this study shows that the use of a hands-free headset has no effect on a driver's abilities. It is the conversation itself that is the problem.
There were two groups used in this study. The two groups were professional airline pilots and non-pilots. Airline pilots were used in this experiment because they operate complex aircraft while talking to ground control and passengers. They do this on a daily basis safely.
There were three parts in this experiment. In the first part, normal driving was not effected in either group. in the second part, talking to a passenger, airline pilots faired slightly better than non-pilots. It is in the third part were the two groups diverged greatly.
In the third part of this experiment, which involved talking on a cell phone, the performance of the airline pilots dropped slightly. On the other hand, the performance of the nonpilots dropped quite drasticly.
Normally, a person who is talking on a cell phone is attempting to visualize what the other person is doing. When that person is driving a car, that is a dangerous situation. After all, less than one percent of the American population consists of pilots.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Payday lenders: saviors or wolves in sheeps clothing?

It seems so easy, so tempting. You go to payday lender for a short-term loan. You fill out your financial information and write a post dated check. It is after that when you get hit with the fees, with interest rates as high as 390% yearly. You get sucked into a never ending cycle. Soon, it gets to the point where you can no longer pay off the loans. As if they don't have enough financial burdens, young military personel are increasingly being targeted with these short-term, high interest loans. Therefore, the question becomes this: Are payday lenders saviors or wolves in sheepe clothing?
I found an interesting article on this at CBSNews.com. It seems that our military personel are very technically proficient in doing their jobs. It is just that in this instant gratification addicted world, it is easy to forget that just because you have checks in your check book, that doesn't mean that you have money in your checking account. Our military personel are just not financial proficient in their day to day lives.
Anyway, here is the article.
Payday Lenders Or Loan Sharks?NORFOLK, Va., Oct. 8, 2004
CBS) Petty Officer Chris McClintic is smart enough to teach lessons about the Navy's big guns, but as CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports, that didn't keep him from ruining his personal finances using so-called payday lenders.
Payday lenders offer tempting short-term loans for a fee, due on payday. What McClintic and a growing number of military borrowers don't foresee is how fast those loans and fees add up.
It seems like it should be simple, but once you take out the $500 loan, you need $575 extra in a payday to pay it off," McClintic says. "Nobody has that."
So what ends up happening is, "You kept taking out the loan and repaying it."

McClintic and his wife ended up owing fees amounting to 390 percent at an annual rate on five separate payday loans due at once.

Today, he's trying to navigate his way out of debt.
"I called them and I said, 'Look, there is no way I can pay all these loans this payday," says McClintic.
Virginia's "Hampton Roads' area is a magnet for payday lenders. The world's largest naval base offers up an endless supply of young sailors with tight budgets and steady paychecks.
But payday lenders reject critics claims that they're "legal loansharks". They insist they help people on active duty stretch their paychecks in a pinch.
Lyndsey Medsker, spokeswoman of Community of Financial Services Association, says payday lenders provide a service to the people who find themselves in financial need.
"At the end of the day it's their choice," she says. "They weigh their options. It can be a bounced check, a reconnected utility fee, whatever it may be, they look at their options and they are making the choice."
Payday lenders may find easy targets among young troops, and the top brass worries debt could be distracting or turn them into security risks who could be compromised by terrorists or spies.
"It's the ability of that young man or woman to resist all those temptations," says Navy Adm. Steve Turcotte. "The ability of that young man or woman to fully focus and work on his job."
The Navy is pushing for stricter laws governing payday lenders and offers financial counseling and other relief for sailors like McClintic.
McClintic is confident he'll get out of debt, though he says, "In time. It may take a while."
He blames himself, not the payday lenders, but admits he never would have gotten all those loans if it hadn't been so easy.
Yes, it does seem so easy. The thing is you end up taking out loands to pay off the previous loans. You wind up in a kind of financial quicksand. you find yourself in so deep, you can't find your way out.