Entries Tagged as 'World'

Dropbox being Blocked in China

About two hours ago, in the forums, it seems that Dropbox has been blocked by China.

There really isn’t any reports on why this has happened or why Dropbox has joined the ranks of Twitter, Facebook and the rest, but one could probably speculate the fact that since they do allow sharing of files and some public urls of files, which could be used in anti-government actions. However, there hasn’t been anything that has surfaced so no one really knows why this action has been taken.

More Layoffs Means Economy Still Down Toilet

sun Still think that the economy is improving? If the shutdown of the Dell plant around here isn’t enough to scoff at that mindset, let’s look at an even larger one. Sun Microsystems is looking to layoff three thousand more employees. Now, while layoffs are inevitable during mergers and acquisitions (in this case with Oracle), this also represents something a little bit larger.

It says that until corporations or the government gives a nice jab in the arm on hiring, the overall percentage of buying power has been reduced. This hurt can and will be felt through both retail and financial markets since people without jobs cannot pay loans and mortgages. And let’s face it. Saving the financial institutions do not amount to squat if the people that the money is being loaned to can’t get work to actually pay it back. This is not only brings financial players to a grinding halt, but it shows that politicians do not understand the basics of economics. Everything starts with the beginning of the food chain, not the end.

What’s worse is that until someone does actually gain this bright idea, all of the injection of federal funding is for naught. That means that the taxpayers bear the burden of a costly mistake, of which becomes more and more weight per each individual as more and more people cannot find work. And you wonder how Congress can sleep at night with a twenty or so percent approval rating.

Pirate Party takes Seat in EU Parliament

The Pirate Party
Image via Wikipedia

It seems that the Pirate Party has finally made it happen. They’ve joined the EU Parliament with at least one seat in Sweden but more likely two seats. This basically should leave most of the more aged political parties quaking in their boots. What this really means?

The Internet is a powerful tool. This was proven in the last American election when the Democrats used the Internet and technology as a driver for youth voting. Similarly, the Pirate Party is the largest party in the young voting demographic in Sweden and is growing in Europe at an astonishing rate. Gathering behind the Pirate Flag and the only agenda being to legalize file-sharing for personal use and throw gestapo copyright enforcement back media industries, they have gathered a younger generation into a political rebellion.

And interestingly enough, this should open the eyes of not only corporate leadership, but also political ones where special interest groups hold some weight. Because this legal process basically shows that the people will stand up and rise against things they believe in regardless of regime. And this is one method of doing so, not to mention it’s the legal way of doing it.

Should be interesting to see if there are any more Pirate Party representation in future elections around the world.

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Crazy Science

introduction to terraforming
Image by zyphichore via Flickr

I’m not so sure I’d want to go down this path that Obama’s science advisor wants to take. Not that I’m a Nobel prize winner, nor is my fascination in the topic as in depth as any of these experts, but it’s based on a few common sense methodology.

Here’s the issue I see with geoengineering which is the application of planetary engineering specifically to Earth. Ever watch a lot of science fiction? Know the term terraforming? It’s basically the process of turning another planet into one suitable for living for human beings. The scale and technology that you would need to do such a maneuver is so enormous that it’s mainly theoretical and inconceivable at where are scientific research is currently. On top of that, we’re lacking in the tools and technology, but the ones we have for planetary terraforming are crude at best. Mimicking volcanoes by shooting sulfur into the atmosphere? What guarantees would you have that you wouldn’t bring the apocalypse as we know it upon ourselves because we don’t understand how the weather systems work?

I think we know too little to be delving into trying to cool the Earth outside of enforcing what it sent out into the atmosphere or perhaps create some artificial means of doing what we’re currently lacking (like reproducing the types of effects the rain forest has on the Earth by artificial means). The issue is that the delicate nature of how weather systems are make it impossible with current mathematics to understand if we’re overdoing something that might upset the balance the other way.

So terraform Mars? Sure, why not. There’s nothing to lose there. But we’d have to get there, understand how gravity functions on a human body, how to change a planet from the inside to out, understand gravity itself, how to do massive experimentation on planetary scales, and so on so forth. To try to do it on Earth, where we have issues predicting the weather a week in advance is almost absolute insanity.

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Skiiers and snowboarders will soon be afraid to enter the UK…

If you have anything to do with winter sports, I’d probably avoid the U.K. for now. News of the confiscation of the War on Terror: The Boardgame is spreading like wild fire all over the Net.
Why? Because ‘the balaclava “could be used to conceal someone’s identity or could be used in the course of a criminal act”.’ Wow. And you would think that the word Evil printed on it doesn’t throw someone off a bit. And on top of it, pretty much every person that has ever worn face protection for skiing or snowboarding has owned something that could be used for some bad act. In fact, you could wear costume masks from Halloween and whatever else you see on television or movies.
Next thing you know, pantyhose and cosmetics will be confiscated since they can “conceal someone’s identity”. At which that point, there would be officers’ wives revolting. Or something. Now if it wasn’t a legitimate product, and there were fake pistols or something in the game, I would say that it might put security at risk. But a giant stitched “EVIL” across the forehead? Wow.
Either that, or there’s a huge conspiracy from the companies that make those jester type snowboarding hats.

Texting on a motorcycle

You have to see it to believe it, but this guy is crazy. Texting, while lying down on a motorcycle. I’m not exactly sure how he’s keeping his throttle going at a regular pace since it’s motorcycles have a turn throttle that’s operated by the right hand, but it’s still nuts. Crazy nuts.

As we shift social classes

Crude oil prices keep flirting $140USD and gas prices are now close to averaging around $4.00USD a gallon. As nothing is being done of any significance on the national level to regulate their resource, the only talk there is comes from the White House on drilling in ANWR. But as with anything, if you allow people to take advantage of the system, then it only takes one bad apple to abuse the loophole.
But in doing some straight mathematics, we find that while traveling is a fixed necessity (you have to take your kids to school, go to work, or buy groceries), the lower on the societal totempole you are, the harder hit you have to take.
Let’s first make some assumptions. If we assume that the vehicle gets on average about 25 miles to the gallon, and that you drive about 300 miles a week. If that 300 miles takes up about 12 gallons (an average full-sized car given the circumstances) then that also means that every week you’re spending $4.00USD times 12 gallons. That would equate to $60USD a week. Given that there are fifty-two weeks in a year, $60 x 52 is $3120.00USD.
Now this estimate is probably a bit low, but let’s just use that number for now. If you’re a NC teacher with a Bachelor’s degree and certified in teaching with one year of experience, the salary is approximately $30,000USD. That means that even before taxes, you spend more than 10% of your income for gas. If that’s not ridiculous, I don’t know what is.
As you shift this fixed necessity above or below that salary scale, then you can see that it definitely impacts a lot more people a lot faster. You either have to make cuts in other necessities or find a job that pays better. Even cost-of-living increases can’t adjust quickly enough to rising gas prices. Thus, the social class shifts. Everyone takes a step downward and feels the pressure involved from these price hikes while the rich just keep talking about how we need to go drilling domestically. I’m not saying that wouldn’t help. I’m saying without regulation, who’s to say that we’re not going just delay the inevitable of greedy corporate executives looking to line their pockets with the most profitable quarters year after year on the backs of everyone else that do not make seven figures in compensation?
The rich get richer, as the gap grows between the top and the middle. As everyone starts taking the heat more seriously as it starts effecting their pocketbooks, you have to wonder when people will finally backlash and say, “No more.”
Photo Credit: ([email protected])

Learning to speak proper Mandarin

From another contributor at 8A, Joz gives us, Two Chinese Characters, with John B. Weinstein and Carsey Yee.

I have got to say that on one level, it’s very amusing to see people take a different approach at teaching Mandarin. A quick look shows that Weinstein is actually not only a professor of Chinese but he is also fond of Asian theater. Ah ha! Probably thus the entertaining video on Youtube!
Definitely has peaked my interest. I’d also be interested to see if they teach in the simplified version, or the traditional version (since I was raised under traditional) and if there eventually would be spin-offs for different dialects. Hate to say it, but I’ve been putting off learning Cantonese even though I have a whole bunch of movies on my shelf. Give the love to subtitles.
Good stuff, eh? Good stuff.

Britain’s Got Talent goes Thriller

Ahh. You think that it’s just another Michael Jackson thing. King of Pop. Oh ho, but it’s not. But just watch it, since you’ll crack a huge smile when you get to the part…. where…. ahh… shucks. Just watch the bloody thing. This is one of the reasons I actually really like Britain’s Got Talent over American Idol.

2008 Olympics website caught plagiarizing Flash game

This is really bad news for Beijing. I mean, with the 2008 Olympics coming up, they have been tightening the hatches and building and maintaining multiple billion dollar projects just to show the world that they’re on the up and coming. With the amount of money they’ve spent on the buildings and such, it’s an amazing thing that they had basically plagiarized a Flash game from The Pencil Farm.
Apparently, some impatient web developer for the Olympics had downloaded the swf file, decompiled it and inserted the Olympic characters and such in place of the others, and replaced the words. What’s even more interesting is that the original author, did the same with the one from the Olympics, and found some files of his still intact within the swf.
Obviously, the Internet community has turned up the heat on this issue. Should be interesting as to how Beijing responds to this since they don’t want any trouble to befall the Olympics and this could become pretty ugly with how fast the Internet mobilizes.
Definitely something to pay attention to since The Pencil Farm should in fact get compensation for use of their game in the Beijing Olympics. And I’d imagine in an event as large as this, it should be pretty great compensation since it’s no different than if a company plagiarized an indie designers product and then displayed it as an television advertisement during the Super Bowl.