Friday, June 29, 2012

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) It's morning in America. All across the land, wingnuts are waking up and rising up as one, shouting, "I will never vote to re-elect Chief Justice Roberts again!" (link is to You've been warned.)
2) Appropriately enough, President Obama's home state of Illinois is moving fast to be the first state to the trough.
3) You keep dreaming there, snookums...
4) The other big development of the day, the contempt citation of Eric Holder by Congress, will likely also end up in the courts, and also end up with the GOP sucking egg-goop off their faces.
5) Now that Obama has prevailed on the signature issue of his first term, watch Republicans work overtime to find another issue to pin on him. Maybe they can blame him for the widlfires in Colorado? It wouldn't surprise me, he's become something of a demigod to them.
6) Interesting. Republicans have suddenly discovered Big Government, at least when it comes to Asian carp invading the Great Lakes. Ironically, environmentalists have a solution, but no one will listen because it doesn't cost enough and would require actual physical labor to implement. You know, jobs!
8) Yesterday, I wrote about the crisis in Syria. Russia has backdoored a signal.
9) Google released a really cool new app this week: Google Glass, wireless HD video goggles that you can connect directly to a Google+ Hangout and broadcast. This might end up being a Facebook killer.
10) Errr, the phrase is "To boldly go where no one has gone before," Bill, not "show"...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mitt Romney Can Quit Now

He called healthcare reform the single thing President Obama did in his first term and that striking it down would render Obama irrelevant.

World War III

You think I speak in hyperbole. I do not.

(AP) ANKARA, Turkey - Turkey deployed anti-aircraft guns and other weapons alongside its border with Syria, state television reported on Thursday, days after the downing of a Turkish military jet by Syrian forces heightened the tensions between the two countries.

A small convoy of military trucks, towing anti-aircraft guns, entered into a military outpost in the border village of Guvecci, which faces a Syrian military outpost across the border and where Syrian forces and rebels clashed in recent months, TRT television footage showed.

Several anti-aircraft guns have also been deployed elsewhere alongside the border. Some trucks were seen carrying self-propelled multiple rocket launchers, TRT footage showed.

As a member of NATO, Turkey has called on that group to stand with it. The NATO charter is pretty explicit: an attack on one member shall be deemed an attack on the alliance. Turkey's complaint is kind of small beer, since it's fighter strayed into Syrian airspace, except...

Except based on current foreign policy, there's strategic advantage for NATO (or at least the United States) to take an active role in Turkey. By occupying Syria, the US would have a clear path of friendly-ish nations to roll tanks through: Israel, Jordan/Syria, and Iraq.

Right to the Iranian border. Remember the first rule of chess: to control your enemy and win, you must control the middle of the board. If Syria were to fall into NATO hands, this would put Iran in an island surrounded by western forces, save for the north and nations like Kazhakstan and Uzbekistan.

Check. And if Iran does actually have nuclear weapons, there really is no telling what's next. Heck, even if they don't, Pakistan (nominally our ally) does and it's a mere hop, skip, and a smuggle to get them.

The distractions within the nation, the bombings of a Syrian television station and today's Justice Ministry bombings are indicative that the Assad regime does not have clear control. This will embolden the rebels to be sure, and that Turkey is on the border will give them a refuge in the north. In exchange, Turkey will have an antagonistic position that could come into play if they sortie across the border, then claim Syrian forces attacked them on native soil.

It doesn't matter what the facts will be, the "truth" will be that Turkey's sovereignty was assaulted.

The key development here, the one thing that could prevent now a crisis later, is a meeting in Geneva this weekend among UN special envoy Kofi Annan, the Syrian representative to the Arab League, and the heads of the Five Families, I mean, leaders from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

But I doubt it. I have serious reservations that this game of chess is anywhere near ended. Russia and China must see the threat to Iran, and given their previous support for that corrupt regime, will give it aid and comfort now. I'm not sure what would impel them to give Ahmadinejad a divorce, but one can pretty much see it's not Syria.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How Desperate Is Romney?

Clearly, even Condi Rice can see this disaster coming.

Charlie Rangel Must Go

It breaks my heart to have to type that, but Rangel has become a stultifying influence on the Democrats:

Rangel, who has represented Harlem since 1971 and is a founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, is battling a crowd of younger politicians in a redrawn district that is now heavily Latino. Most political watchers still expect him to be re-elected.

Rangel's opponents in the Democratic primary include state Senator Adriano Espaillat, who has strong Latino support; Clyde Williams, who worked in the Clinton White House and got a boost when he won endorsements from the New York Times and the New York Daily News; Harlem community activist Craig Schley; and businesswoman Joyce Johnson.

Once one of the most powerful members of Congress, Rangel now walks slowly through the halls of the Capitol with a cane.

He has survived difficult times before. The U.S. House of Representatives censured him in 2010 for ethics violations, including failing to pay income taxes, and he stepped down as chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means committee.

Now, I love me some Charlie Rangel. He's feisty but has a mind like a steel trap and can articulate a liberal position like few politicians before or after him. He's been one of the most important ideological figures in both New York City politics and on the national scene.

Unfortunately, it eventually went to his head. His ethical corruptions created a toxic environment not only for his authority and respectability, but it reflected in general on the Democrats. After all, if one of your oldest and longest serving statesmen has multiple apartments that he's charging to his campaign (and God knows what was going on in them) then your party is pretty much painted as corrupt and shady.

This is about the best opportunity to get rid of him. Indeed, it's such a ripe opportunity to primary him out and keep his seat that there are no less than four opponents vying for the Democratic nod. This pretty much guarantees Rangel's re-nomination despite demographic and jerrymandering changes that altered his district from predominantly black to overwhelmingly Latino. It's a five way race, which means it will come down to commitment from the candidate's base, something Rangel has in spades.



As you are reading this, your computer may itself be learning from you.

Google scientists working in the company's secretive X Labs have made great strides in using computers to simulate the human brain.

Best known for inventing self-driving cars and augmented-reality eyewear, the lab created a neural network for machine learning by connecting 16,000 computer processors and then unleashed it on the Internet. Along the way, the network taught itself to recognize cats.

While the act of finding cats on the Internet doesn't sound all that challenging, the network's performance exceeded researchers' expectations, doubling its accuracy rate in identifying objects from a list of 20,000 items, according to a New York Times report.

There is no truth to the rumour that the study was funded by pirate cats from the planet Procyon, reaching out to their terrestrial counterparts for help in stashing their loot in litterboxes and the like.

Cats like to dig, you see.

The interesting bit of this is, scientists never specified to the network what it was looking for, only feeding it images of cats along with tens of thousands of others. The network developed the concept of "cat" along with parameters for objects that fit the description well enough to be included in the results.
Things that think gain self-awareness, the ability to recognize one's unique place in the world and a concept of self. Things that don't think remain inert, and incapable of accepting change.
Sound like anyone we know?

Monday, June 25, 2012

New Commenting Format

You, too, can have a bigger p-ness.

JS-Kit, aka Haloscan, aka Echo, is closing in the fall, so I'm experimenting with new ideas in commenting. Let me know what you think-- you know, if you can...