polemicist: a writer who argues in opposition to others  

A BLOG about science, technology, consumerism, philosophy, higher education, media and other bothersome stuff that makes up modern life...

20090127.0859 And the Cow says...


20081028.1551 Peer to Peer Pressure

Actually the title makes very little sense - I just liked the ring of it.

In essence - I'm not going to be using GooglePages anymore - basically because Google is bullying me.

"Do Not Be Evil" apparently does not mean "Be Good" either.  GooglePages is much better than Blogger/Blogspot but they're going with that technology instead of this one.  Bummer.

Now thanks to pseudonym identity theft as noted below - I have to use THIS url instead:

 So far I haven't seen anything in terms of "imported" postings or how to do it.  Joy...

20081028.1000 Stuff!

I hate making posts at the end of the month.  The way that I break up the blog, it means that it will only be visible for a short period of time on the main page and then you'll have to click once to get back to it.  Not many people bother to read this to begin with, so expecting you to dig to find anything is ridiculous - which means that end-of-the-month posts just don't get a lot of play.

 In an attempt to get over this, I'm doing a news feed scan to make it worth your while for reading this:

General Points of Interest:

Wired Magazine - How to Speed Read

Motley Fool - 5 Best Countries to Invest

CNET - Social Security Numbers are Vulnerable (no duh!)

The New York Times - AT&T Whines that iPhone is making them lose money

CNN - No really, AT&T says that the iPhone is costing them money

Harvard Business Press - India Aims for Innovation, not Just Outsourcing

Psysorg - Science Identifies part of the Brain Associated with Memory

Psysorg - G-phone vs. iPhone 

Psysorg - Been there, done that: Brain mechanism predicts ability to generalize

Really Geeky Stuff:

eWeek - Slow Economy? Use Open Source Databases

Oracle - Migrating to ADF on JDeveloper 11

CIO - Oracle Dropped the Ball with BEA takeover

InfoQ - BPEL isn't all that

TheRegister - JavaFX gets skinny

BusinessWire - FSecure is Thinking in the Clouds

20081023.1717 Liar Liar

All politicians are liars.  That is their job.  Are we all clear on that?  Political speech is at odds with Science over 'precision'.  A Scientist attempts to be as precise as possible when communicating.  A politician attempts to be as ambiguous as possible when communicating.

The idea behind this is as noble as the question "can't we all just get along?"

So having said that - I think that how Convincingly Well you lie would be a measure of professionalism for any given politician.  It is their job to turn me into Fox Mulder - Make me want to believe you...

So that being said, here is a list of lies that I was able to come up with from both parties up for presidential election in <2 weeks:

McCain lies:

A handy index article that made compiling this list much easier:

Obama lies:

OK, it is nothing like complete - and there's some Bush lies mixed in with the other Republicans.  I am not trying to be biased here - this is just the result of some quick, non scientific Google searches.  If you know of any doozies that I missed - please email me with it.

[ Full Disclosure: Registered as Republican - to vote in the primary in New York State - but I always vote Independently.  Count on that. ]

20081023.1004 Blind Leading the Blind to the Voting Booth?

 I am a professional know-it-all.  So, by Socratic Inference - that means that I know just about nothing - except where to look things up.  (Things like Socrates and Inferences and Logic and stuff...)

I bet you think you know a few things too.  We all have these pesky things we call "strongly held beliefs" too.  As it turns out, believing things actually gets in the way of knowing things more often than not.

It seems also that there is a direct relationship between how right you think you are and how incompetent you are.  Humility, it would seem, is Wisdom after all. 

"We are the Doomed Generation." - Hunter S. Thompson

20081021.1730 (Nassau County Police > Protesting Veterans) = WTF?

During the last presidential debate, Iraq Veterans Against the War mounted a protest, where they informed the moderator of the debate that they wanted to ask the candidates two questions and that if they were not acknowledged then they would lead a peaceful protest and attempt to enter the hall.  They never even received an acknowledgment to their communication prior to their deadline passing.

Obviously, the veterans in question were setting themselves up for a fall.  That should have been understood all along.  With a little more sophistication in the use of a video camera we might actually have had proper video evidence of the police smashing their faces in.

 But what we do have is recorded here.   (And seriously downplayed by Newsday here.)  If you deny the common citizenry the Right to Protest Visibly (i.e. by sticking unwelcome protesters into 'Free Speech Zones' as far from the press as possible) then in your 'patriotic' zealotry you must hear the voices of those who have Been There.  This is especially true given that we had greater press coverage of the Vietnam war than both actions in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.  THEY are the only ones with Any Real Clue of what is going on over there.

That the police had to keep them out is obvious.  That they needed to resort to using their horses as passive aggressive weapons is disgusting in the extreme and Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence W. Mulvey that oversaw this action should admit wrongdoing and resign immediately to preserve the honor of his department.  

I don't care where you fall in the political spectrum, people in uniform should not be brutalizing people in uniform.  It is embarrassing to America.


20081021.1104 XBox360 Cost Microsoft US$1Billion

 I think anyone who knows anything about XBoxen knows that they are not exactly the most thoroughly quality controlled products that have ever been released.  It seems that it is finally beginning to catch up with their makers.

Here is a little historical perspective:  Sony and other japanese zaibatsus completely PWNED the VCR market in America - to the point that there were NO American made VCRs at all.  They accomplished this by 'product dumping' - the time honored tradition of selling products below cost to make it impossible for anyone to compete in the marketplace - and then slowly ratcheting the price up to profitable levels once you dominate the market.

It seems to me like the Big M was trying to do exactly the same thing to compete with the PlayStation brand.  The problem is that PS2 AND PS3 have been profitable for quite some time now.  So that is what they are competing against - and then you come up against the true limit to product dumping - market saturation...  If there's no one left to buy the product at a price that is profitable - how do you ever make money?

Some say that the real profit is in the game titles and that the platform is a welfare society model - but Sony does not seem to be included in that group...  If only because they have crap titles.  I guess you can't win them all.  Especially when you're afraid to release your coolest new game because of who might protest to obliquely referencing a religion in any way...

Hey here's a hint - "Hey Sony ever think that you might be offending Polynesians in every single release of Final Fantasy or any other game that uses 'Mana' as magical hit-points?"

20081015.1514 Time Marches On

I find that if I wait until I have the Right thing to post - that this blog does not get updated.  So now I have a pile of things to get through.  So I'll just throw them out in no order and try to post as I find things from now on...

OpenOffice 3 is out!

I downloaded it & installed it & tried it.  It is certainly better than before.  It about in sync with M$-Office 2000.  Since that is what we still have installed in my office - it's more than fine.  What is more is that you get the Database application and the Math application as part of the standard installation.  Not quite M$-Access and Mathmatica, but for free who is complaining?  My first complaint however is speed.  It takes too long to launch at first & the response time is not snappy.  My second complaint is lack of support for older Macintoshes.  There are a lot of people on G4's still and they are out in the cold - for now.  (The german edition is available now, so I think it is coming soon...)  Last I question the logic of constantly playing catch-up with Micro$oft.  At this point I think it would serve them better to differentiate themselves rather than be perceived as a cheap knockoff.

 Still undecided about the election?  

Google has a fun tool to use to compare McCain & Obama quotes.  Alternately you can read about some of the implications regarding that lofty office to science.

Android - a smart-phone you can really use however you want

The G1 phone is out now on the T-Mobile network and the reviews are solid.  I tend to find people hanging onto their perceptions of what they think should be and what they are used to without keeping an objective eye.  It is strange that the iPhone is now the standard by which every other device is measured -- not the Blackberry or PocketPC's -- which have been around for a long time & are tried & true(ish) business workhorses.  What is important to software developers and phone owners alike is that Android forces the other vendors through competition to open up their platforms and allow people to extend these devices.  The problem I see is that lack of huge amounts of people who think this is important - who are not software developers...


20081006.1444 Pseudonym Identity Theft

I have used the same email address for over 15 years now.  As such the handle "gregor42" has also been in use that long.  I thought when I chose it that I would be safe.  I thought there would be at least 41 other options before people got around to muddying my namespace.  Incidentally the 42 is a Douglas Adams reference, plain & simple.

Alas the time has come.  In my own ego-centric googling I see some idiot posting nonsense using my handle right in the top few listings.  Not me.  Then I notice some polish guy or is he a german guy or is he a Canadian guy or is he a Slovakian guy - possibly with erectile dysfunction issues also using my handle.  Also not me.  Then a PC buyer, a poker player and a would-be gamer.  What the hell?  Does no one try using Google first before coming up with a handle?  I have account pages on several services that come up when you do the search.  Take a hint!  At that point I just stopped looking.  But my own postings surround all of these.  It makes me look even more creepy than I already am.  No fun!

I was here first - I have the most listings - I win.  Go the hell away.

It's not even bizarro flattering like all of the chain-emails that were attributed to George Carlin or Andy Rooney when they were also BS.

But it is also not like I can write a cease & desist letter to these people either.  So all that I can do is to warn you that your turn will come soon also.  Be emotionally prepared for it, because it will piss you off.