Oct. 11th, 2008

semiotic_pirate: (SVU flashlight-search)
Libya 'to pull Swiss bank assets'

Libya is to withdraw assets from Swiss banks, estimated at $7bn, as a diplomatic row over the arrest of the Libyan leader's youngest son escalates.

Read more... )

In other news on the BBC:

Bank turmoil fuels phishing boom - phishing attacks are up at least 180% over last year. Credit card fraud is likewise on the rise. UK reports 302 million pounds lost in the first six months of 2008, up 14% from the first six months of 2007.

According to an EU-commissioned study - the global economy is losing more money from the disappearance of forests than through the current banking crisis. The economics of climate change are monetizing biodiversity and carbon sinks like forestland. Study leader Pavan Sukhdev, in a statement to BBC News said: "So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today's rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year."

Repossession being considered a "mental threat" is not surprising. I'm glad that 90 year old woman in Ohio does not have to worry about foreclosure anymore. I never did find out why Polk, in 2004, took out a 30-year, 6.375 percent mortgage for $45,620 with a Countrywide Home Loan office in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio and an $11,380 line of credit.


Also... lucky those in the UK, as well as other countries with socialized health care, for whom mental health care is relatively free.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations says that at least 60 of its 6,500 members may have lost up to 120 million pounds of deposits that were meant for long-term projects. This includes The Cat Protection League. I wonder how the financial downturn is affecting U.S. based charities…

Where is the outrage? Why isn't OUR leader (US-Centric, yes) demanding the recent falls in the price of oil be passed on to the consumer?

Fear grips global stock markets…. Still. Never seems to end, does it? Turmoil! Fear! Plunging value of money! Fear! Be Afraid!


In other, other news:

Man Kills Bear With Stick

New Invasion of V's Lizard Aliens Coming! Here's the Variety article and for good measure… The Wiki.



Did you know that the 1980's miniseries V, in which aliens invaded Earth, served as an allegory for the Holocaust and Nazi Germany? Scott Peters, one of the two executive producers of the new V, said he won’t duplicate that concept, except that the new "V" will still focus on what happens when the masses have blind faith in their leaders.

Will Jesus be returning as an Atlantic blacktip shark? In a study reported Friday in the Journal of Fish Biology, scientists said DNA testing proved that a pup carried by a female Atlantic blacktip shark in the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center contained no genetic material from a male.

The first documented case of asexual reproduction, or parthenogenesis, among sharks involved a pup born to a hammerhead at an Omaha, Neb., zoo.

Interesting, reminds me of a Charlotte Perkins Gilman novel: Herland. Electronic text of the book to be found here.

Hey! Who gave this guy permission to build my library?! OMGF! *drools heavily into cupped hand to protect the books* Follow the link for more tasty personal library pictures… Yum.



Last, but certainly not least if [livejournal.com profile] crabbyolbastard has anything to say about it: New chips poised to revolutionize digital photography.
semiotic_pirate: (PirateWildGunnerKate)
IBM is seeding the iPhone App Store and using users as marketing test subjects. They're research projects are popping up like weeds in the effort to see how users in the real world take to them. The projects include an experimental text-input system and an application to sync multiple devices, the latter so you can virally infect your friend's iPhones.

Blackberry calls the iPhone out at high noon in the BlackBerry Storm vs. iPhone G3 showdown. The article contains a handy dandy reference chart and was deemed the best competitor to date for the iPhone.

Interesting history lesson: Did you know that in 1582 the pope declared that a one time deletion of October 4-15 would occur to fix the Julian Calendar slippage? That's right, in order to keep Easter from being observed in the summer and Christmas in the spring Pope Gregory XIII took drastic steps to reset the calendar.

Wired Science is putting forth a reasonable argument about why biofuels shouldn't be blamed for the food crisis. Placing the blame on biofuels obscures the role that long-held European and American agricultural subsidies played in creating the food crisis.



For you at-home terrorist hunters: data-minin for terrorists not 'feasible,' a DHS-funded study finds.



The government should not be building predictive data-mining programs systems that attempt to figure out who among millions is a terrorist, a privacy and terrorism commission funded by Homeland Security reported Tuesday. The commission found that the technology would not work and the inevitable mistakes would be un-American.

The 376-page report -- entitled "Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists: A Framework for Assessment" (which goes for $55)-- comes as a rebuke to the Bush administration's attempts to use high-tech surveillance and data-sifting tools to prevent another terrorist attack inside the United States.


"Terrorists can damage our country and way of life in two ways: through physical, psychological damage and through our own inappropriate response to that threat." This was said by the investigating committee's co-chair Charles Vest -- the president of the National Academy of Engineering at the report's unveiling.

The United States Army is looking to build the world's strongest solar array as part of a far-reaching effort to cut back on the service's dependence on fossil fuels.

Currently, the most powerful photovoltaic array in the country is at Nellis Air Force Base, outside of Las Vegas. It generates about 15 megawatts of power. Other plants are in the works in New Mexico, Arizona and California that could produce up to 300 megawatts. The Army declared that it would "partner with the private sector to construct a 500-megawatt solar thermal plant at Fort Irwin, California, in the Mojave Desert. In an update to the article it was noted that Pacific Gas and Electric recently announced contracts for 800 megawatts of solar energy -- including a 550 megawatt "solar farm" in San Luis Obispo County, California. It's slated to be on line by 2013.

How secret are your secrets? DARPA Launches "Secret" Gandalf Project.

Announced yesterday by Darpa, the SECRET/NOFORN program's goal is to employ "set of handheld devices" to track down a particular "signal emitter of interest," using "radio frequency geolocation." And according to Lew Page, a former Royal Navy officer: "It would appear that a group of undercover operatives… dispersed near a target (perhaps a specific cell or satellite phone) might carry portable gadgets, presumably networked. The netted devices would be able to pick out the phone, radio or whatever they were after and track it. This sort of thing is already done by surveillance aircraft and/or drones; the new wrinkle is being able to do it using handheld devices. So Project Gandalf [is] presumably intended for situations where the spy planes and drones can't be used - perhaps where the local government is unaware of the operation."

Anyone want to comment on that?

In other news: the future of search won't be incremental.



In a play on the title of a great short story book: Do Toddlers Dream of Electronic Pets is about the robotic pets of the now and ruminations about their future use in society. Mainly though, it is a product review of "WowWee Alive" Lions, Pandas, Polar Bears and White Tiger all, of course, appearing as figuratively young as the children who are their intended playmates. Lions, Tigers and Bears… oh my.

For the weapon aficianados: Fighting Umbrella with Knuckle-Duster Handle Do you think the Umbuster is legal with that "brass knuckle" handle? Well, only if you have a license to carry… "The Umbuster has been classified a Class 5 weapon by good and upright men and women of the Victorian Police, and is considered similarly so in many countries. To have and to hold this accessory requires a weapons licence and, or gun licence." On sale now for $330. Not that impressive - really - if you consider how you have to hold the umbrella's handle when using it as rain gear.

Maybe Weird Al: Forefather of the YouTube Spoof should do a video where he uses the Umbuster?


Weird Al on tour - summer 2008.
semiotic_pirate: (speak your mind)
Sparked off of a recent post by [livejournal.com profile] crabbyolbastard I decided to start doing some digging. Being a person who has been personally affected by someone close who chose suicide over life, I wanted to make a go of understanding the mind-set of a person contemplating suicide. I realize that it is highly influenced by the societal, cultural, and religious underpinnings to each individual situation... But I also wanted to explore what was out there.

As a recovered Catholic, and especially after watching Religulous at the theater the other day, I don't need anyone pouncing about the sacredness of every life and how suicide is a sin, etc. Who wrote the Bible and every other "holy" book out there? Men. Not mankind either - men. For Christian doctrine has by and large held that suicide is morally wrong, despite the fact that no passage in Scripture unequivocally condemns suicide. Didn't Christ commit suicide? What he did is very reminiscent to what we refer to today as suicide by cop. Was that going a bit too far? Anyway.... on with the discussion on suicide.

I did a Google search for suicide rationale because when I used reason for suicide I got a bunch of speculation about suicide bombers, suicide terrorists, etc.

I found this interesting treatise on rational suicide that seems to have been published in the Washington Post back in 2004. The whole rationale behind this movement (pun intended) reminded me of an episode of Star Trek TNG, Half a Life where Lwaxana Troi falls in love with an (alien, yet humanoid species) scientist who is due to commit ritual suicide.

This article from Stanford University is also pretty interesting. The very long article addresses a gamut of questions and indeed begins by stating: For philosophers, suicide raises a host of conceptual, theological, moral, and psychological questions. Among these questions are: What makes a person's behavior suicidal? What motivates such behavior? Is suicide morally permissible, or even morally required in some extraordinary circumstances? Is suicidal behavior rational? Okay, I had to resort to skimming after a while, it is a very, very long article. The only thing lacking is that it focuses specifically on western, Christian philosophy. Even though some of that is obviously based upon ancient, classical (Greek) thought, it is at its heart, ethnocentric.

There's this article about a documentary from 2005 about a man named Stearn who, with a series of fatal diseases & conditions brewing in his body, when he committed suicide coined a term, self-made death, where death by your own hand is made out to be a choice like any other in life.

If people are legally allowed to put a Do Not Resuscitate order in place, (not that they are always followed) create Living Wills that delineate what they want (which are sometimes ignored) - why can't they choose death? Would the people who insist on denying people who choose DNR or who order via Living Will that they do not want to ever exist on life support in turn to be accused of being selfish in prolonging the suffering of an individual? Death With Dignity is described in the latter portion of this article.

There is The Hemlock Society - which in the United States (which can't understand the Socrates/Plato reference) is called Compassion and Choices and Death With Dignity as resources about End-of-Life situations and decisions.

This wikipedia article has some non-western, cultural opinions of suicide. New to me terms: Shame suicide, Heroic suicide (though I have read of examples of both, this is the first time I'd heard it called this.) A wiki on the philosophical views of suicide. Antoher on religious views. More on the "right to die" movement.

Hrm. Interesting: "Philosophical thinking in the 19th and 20th century has led, in some cases, beyond thinking in terms of pro-choice, to the point that suicide is no longer a last resort, or even something that one must justify, but something that one must justify not doing. Many forms of Existentialist thinking essentially begin with the premise that life is objectively meaningless, and proceed to the question of why one should not just kill oneself; they then answer this question by suggesting that the individual has the power to give personal meaning to life."

I am undecided. About whether I can accept another person's suicide as a rational act. I don't deny people the choice to lead, or end, their own life, as long as they do not harm another in their actions or inactions.

In my particular case; Yes, I grieved. Yes, I was angry. Yes, I thought for a very long time that they had taken "the easy way out" of life and were cowardly in self-annihilation. They couldn't cope with a situation that life didn't prepare them for. Just because I was able to live through it, and then their suicide, doesn't mean another would or could. I can't say I understand entirely, but I've made my peace with it.

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