Cruise ship attacked by pirates used sonic weapon

November 11, 2005 01:30 by keithkaragan
This story has been fairly well covered, but many of the reports don't talk about the sonic weapon that they used to repel the attackers.
On 2600's 'Off the Wall' program it was stated that the technology was provided by Sonic Works, but they don't list a dish based device as mentioned in a few reports. The USA Today report states the weapon was  American Technology Corp.'s LRAD device. (not too much info on their site)
The passengers were extrodinarily lucky that the crew responded so quickly with this device, and that the ship was healthy enough to haul ass out of the area. The crew should be commended. I'm kind of surprised that the TV news I saw around the time of this incident didn't cover this better.
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Was the Miers Nomination Just a Diversion?

November 1, 2005 16:53 by keithkaragan
It seems obvious to me that the Nomination of Harriet Miers was a ploy to divert attention away from gender in the debate over who will replace Justice O'Conner. Another so-called conservative male is a solid bet for those who prefer a so-called conservative court. One has to credit Bush's advisers on the gall they display in taking advantage of every opportunity to use the attributes and tendencies attributed to Bush: Appoints cronies to strategic posts, Scandal over Libby-Gate, etc. - They play every card dealt to their optimum advantage, they know that the so-called liberals can't focus long enough on what's important to counter multiple moves with a unified response - dangle shinny objects in front of them and they end up bickering over them, playing dress up and fighting for position to look at themselves in the mirror and pretend that they are movie stars.
The democrats, and republicans that aren't right-wing religious zealots or fascists, better wake the hell up and form a united front against the quiet coupe 'de ta that has been going on. It's unacceptable to replace Justice O'Conner with a conservative male that will be a sure bet for the right-wing. If they wish us to believe that Harriet Miers is the only woman they could find that would pass congressional scrutiny, they need to hear a loud and unified response that says otherwise. If American women wish to wield influence at the top positions of corporate America with equal compensation, responsibility, and representation - then they must demand that this be reflected in all aspects of our government as well.
It's a well known opinion that Supreme Court justices tend to become more liberal in their views over time, and it's my suspicion that females tend to become more liberal with age as well (just my observation - as men tend to become more conservative and inflexible). The successful nomination of a male conservative will be a safe bet, and that's what they are going for - unabashedly.
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Was the Miers Nomination Just a Diversion?

November 1, 2005 00:30 by keithkaragan
It seems obvious to me that the Nomination of Harriet Miers was a ploy to divert attention away from gender in the debate over who will replace Justice O'Conner. Another so-called conservative male is a solid bet for those who prefer a so-called conservative court. One has to credit Bush's advisers on the gall they display in taking advantage of every opportunity to use the attributes and tendencies attributed to Bush: Appoints cronies to strategic posts, Scandal over Libby-Gate, etc. - They play every card dealt to their optimum advantage, they know that the so-called liberals can't focus long enough on what's important to counter multiple moves with a unified response - dangle shinny objects in front of them and they end up bickering over them, playing dress up and fighting for position to look at themselves in the mirror and pretend that they are movie stars.
The democrats, and republicans that aren't right-wing religious zealots or fascists, better wake the hell up and form a united front against the quiet coupe 'de ta that has been going on. It's unacceptable to replace Justice O'Conner with a conservative male that will be a sure bet for the right-wing. If they wish us to believe that Harriet Miers is the only woman they could find that would pass congressional scrutiny, they need to hear a loud and unified response that says otherwise. If American women wish to wield influence at the top positions of corporate America with equal compensation, responsibility, and representation - then they must demand that this be reflected in all aspects of our government as well.
It's a well known opinion that Supreme Court justices tend to become more liberal in their views over time, and it's my suspicion that females tend to become more liberal with age as well (just my observation - as men tend to become more conservative and inflexible). The successful nomination of a male conservative will be a safe bet, and that's what they are going for - unabashedly.
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Banned Books Week ends Oct. 1 - Hurry up and subvert now!

September 28, 2005 00:30 by keithkaragan

http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/bannedbooksweek/bannedbooksweek.htm

"Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, the annual event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted.
Banned Books Week (BBW) celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met."


Don't let the oppritunity to subvert en-masse pass you by - Stick it the Man !

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Bush vs. Sheehan - Advantage Sheehan

August 13, 2005 18:30 by keithkaragan
Cindy Sheehan has views contrary to President Bush, she has also lost her son to Bush's war effort - that doesn't make her right, or wrong in her view. That's a matter of you political viewpoint, but George Bush is wrong, way wrong for being a coward and not meeting her face to face to tell her the things he said in press conferences, and to thank her personally for son's selfless sacrifice.
Would any president in recent history not met with Cindy Sheehan, especially when she's camped out across from you vacation retreat? Only maybe G.H.W. Bush (family values?), but even he may have had enough political common sense not to look like a totally insensitive boob in the eyes of the public. Clinton certainly would have, so would Reagan, Carter, Ford, and Nixon even (given the same circumstances).
It seems to me like the hypocrisy of GW Bush's 'Family Values' are most evident in this outrageous shortsighted action. Same on you!
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Hell's Angels - HST

July 27, 2005 01:00 by keithkaragan

In memory of HST's passing I've been wanting to read some material of his that I hadn't read (or don't remember reading) so I picked up a copy of Hell's Angels. A few things became clear in the process of reading this book:

  • HST was an enigma that changed the definition of an American writer for me, there isn't another like him. Anyone coming close is merely influenced and no matter how hard they try they can't be that pioneer into the ether of what he managed to capture in his forays.
  • I wonder if HST had been born in the 60's or 70's what form this unique persona's energy would have manifested into. I don't know that in the late 20th or early 21st century the true grit of his writing would have had the influence it had at the time of it's incarnation. He was definitely in the right place at the right time - regardless great things would have to come from him, but journalism is such a ethical void these days that I doubt the same impact would be possible.
  • The Hell's Angels archetype that is depicted in the book in the mid 1960's was the fore shadowing of the dehumanization of a social class that today is yet more dehumanized and decentralized from mainly a single ethnicity to a more multi-cultural stew of people with even less piss and vinegar to muster into a defiant rage against the establishment. The blueprint HST lays as the evolution of the Angels' composite heritage was a great insight for me, one that never occurred to me before. While the specific actions of the Angels can be seen as horrific and criminal, the underlying theme of their rage is easy to identify with and it imparts an empathy of sorts to them, like the cowboy riding into the sunset - it's easy to ignore the piles of dead Indians in their wake.It really is a near perfect tale - it's naughty, it makes you disgusted, yet you have feelings for the characters and feel their pain as they drive themselves to obsolescence.
  • Its clear that HST really rode that bike, and he got the buzz of what's so alluring about motorcycling. The closing passages of the book describe the visceral surge that occurs and the thrill of the ride. Pure poetry.
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Do Blink!

July 12, 2005 03:30 by keithkaragan

"It's a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, "Blink" is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good..."

Over the years I've recognized that in certain areas I can (or do) almost immediately sum up the situation and form a conclusion without trying, or better put  - without conscious analysis. Most of the time I've chalked this up to experience with the subject manner - but in others I hadn't, and at times have gotten burned for not trusting that instinct. It's easy to trust that gut feeling in areas where I've developed depth, but if I start to analyze too deeply the decision on areas where I don't feel I have this subject matter expertise (so to speak) I'm prone to second guessing my choice (or at least in some cases, less now than before).
So when I heard Gladwell talk about the book in a recording from the South by South-West conference (via IT Conversations), the premise of the book was really intriguing for me to possibly get a better understanding of this process of rapid cognition. The outcome was a better understanding, but also a disturbing feeling about the power of subconscious bias that may be inflicted (or elevated) by outside forces.
In practical application, I have two areas that I have full trust of this ability and where I've always had a very difficult time inter-operating with others in the execution of the underlying tasks where this action was being used - Hiring and Music.
In hiring, I've worked in responsible positions in a number of companies in several fields. Over my employment (I can't really call it a career, or perhaps I don't want to) I've probably interviewed 1,000 people or more and hired over 150-200 of them (or recommended their hiring). People come and go for a myriad of reasons, but firing  a person is an untidy and rather rare occurrence. Of these folks, there was probably three that were truly bad hires that I misjudged. I say this because in nearly all of these cases highly technical analysis or deep testing was neither performed or necessary to size up the individual's capability to perform the job. In fact I knew in the first three minutes (hmmm ... based on blink, it may have been the first 10 seconds) if the person was honest, capable, and had the appropriate disposition for the position. I've butted heads with business partners, employers, and co-workers over how technical or deep an interview needs to be. Many of these folks (very qualified and deep folks in their own right) either did not have the ability to size up the candidate, or couldn't trust their ability to do so. Many had very rigorous and elaborate processes that they would use to examine the situation, and would take on a lot of overhead in order to make the right choice - and in many more of the cases were not satisfied with the outcome.
I've gotten to a place in my life where when I need to be the interviewed candidate, the process that is presented to me becomes one of the ways I size up the client or company in what the experience will be like working with them, and how I need to adapt my demeanor and report with them to make them comfortable with my capabilities and work ethic. In the age of 'work is life' for a great many people it really is surprising that the people that are in the business of hiring (HR folks) are often not very astute in evaluating potential candidates for positions. I would think that people with a keen sense of people would gravitate to these kinds of positions, and be successful and richly rewarded for their skills. Think of it as 'inside sales' - making a 'good' hire saves tons of expense for a company, not only in the the reduction of interviewing overhead, but in the reduction of lost investment for employees that are let go or leave before significantly contributing to the firm.I'm very skeptical of the practices that are the myths of hiring at Microsoft and Goggle (for example). What reduction in attrition do these practices really result in? (if any) What are the hidden costs? Do these practices actually self-perpetuate as a hazing, rite, or fraternity model? I think they do, based on what I've seen.
In music I've been exploring this concept of rapid cognition for a while now. When I meet with other players they often ask what songs I know, and frequently I'll answer that I don't know any songs. The fact is that I do know lots of songs, I've played music for 25  years or so. I'm not lying though - I've not prepared any songs to play and wouldn't be able to recall them readily in the situation without preparation. The act of not preparing them is intentional though. I don't want to play music to exercise my ability to recall the structures and particulars of one song or another, I play music to experience the creative energy that flows between musicians during the improvisation of playing off each other.
I've explained this to other musicians from time to time as a sort of Jazz mentality, and most didn't understand what I was going for, or were alienated by the premise of Jazz when they play some other style - and Jazz is considered 'hard' by most non-Jazz players. What I meant though was the spirit of Jazz, not the specifics of Jazz. So, by clearing the slate of old and reliable cliché tunes we could embark on an adventure (for better or worse) that would be more rewarding - that is if the other players are after a similar satisfaction from playing music.
I took this to another level last year by starting to use alternate guitar tuning, and other stringed instruments in my music. Then adding more percussion. I didn't study the tunings to re-learn the chords and scales I know in standard tuning. I didn't get deep on the other instruments to develop traditional skills on them. I did get familiar with the specifics of operating in each environment, and developing a comfort to be able to create sound on each, and understand what notes lay where on the instrument in order to allow music to happen. In percussion, I'm self-studying the tabla as a gateway to musicality in percussive instruments, and develop a vocabulary and base ability to perform on other percussive instruments. This process has been really satisfying, and very interesting to me as I see where these practices take the music I make.
When I was able to apply this to a situation that was more than solo (with another live person) I was fortunate enough to be able to find a person open to the idea. I don't know if his motives are the same, or that all of what I'm talking about makes sense to him - but he is willing to give it a spin. In the dozen or so times we've collaborated we've started with a theme (sometimes just a tuning - that we were both inexperienced and uneducated in) and were able to play music on that theme that was energetic and interesting (at least to us) for very extended periods. I want to see this expand to a trio, quartet, etc, -  just to see (or hear) the results over time as the group assimilates to the improvisational or chaotic manner of this realm of making music. It's difficult to find these people, and I'm going to need to employ rapid cognition not only in the execution of the art, but in the acquisition of the people to make the art. Up to know I've tried to shoehorn traditional players into this medium, and that hasn't worked. With the musician I'm working with now, I just got a feeling that he would be receptive - and he was (is). So in essence this blink mentality comes into play at two levels in this case.
So, anyway, if you find this type of stuff interesting you'll probably enjoy blink from cover to cover. A hopeful outcome of this book is that Gladwell's vocabulary can become a common vocabulary for discussion and better understanding of the decision making process.
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Too pooped to post, 'Till now ...

June 12, 2005 02:00 by keithkaragan
I saw Star Wars Episode III on Friday night, and liked it (not too surprising, since I liked the others as well). What I found interesting in the film was the dialog, and the underlying theme of democracy and the fragility of it. No wonder the republican droids were giving Lucas a hard time at the press conferences leading up to the release of the film. While I don't think that Lucas created some master scheme to release this film with this message at this time .... it is uncanny how appropriate it is for the times were in - Hell, it would have been as appropriate during any time of US politics over the last half century - but today the state of our democracy is as critical as the fictional one in the film.
See: Link, Link, Link (random related links)
The frail democracy of the film is slipping away not through external pressure, but from within, just like we're witnessing today. I'm not sure who our Jedi knights would be in real life and hate to think we need a novelistic hero to save us ... worse I'd hate to think that the hero would end up being the offspring of the fascist leader a generation later. That's rather dark, even for me - I doubt that one of the Bush twins will rise to save democracy.
This situation leads me to recall a recent Dave Emory broadcast (FTR#510) that looks at the support of fascism in America through recent times, painting a rather nasty picture of the current administration ... or should we say the current regime and how they have basically been the same players over the last quarter century. It's scary stuff, and one could say that a crafty person can paint anyone to look like a villain, and that might be true, but how is it that so many people have documented these trespasses to democracy by a few elites in society and there has been little to no rebuke of these reports. And with all this information, we still appear to both support and elect these people to run things - Personally I'd feel far more comfortable with a drafting of average citizens to congress (where they can't run, they must be nominated - or even randomly selected for only a single term).
 In the end I bet we would find that they would take the responsibility seriously, and make decisions that are more representative of the morality and ethics of the country and that corporations and special interests would be kept in check. The fact that these public servants would need to return to and live in their communities in the same social class and occupations that they left before serving would keep them vested in true American values and not the currently epidemic propaganda driven nationalistic lunacy. Let's call this a Washingtonian approach.
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more on Social Security ...

June 3, 2005 01:00 by keithkaragan
Birdland expands the discussion on Social Security, see Paul's article (Link).
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HST - Songs of the Doomed (Audiobook)

June 1, 2005 02:30 by keithkaragan
I think I read Songs of the Doomed  (Songs of the Doomed : More Notes on the Death of the American Dream Gonzo Papers, Vol. 3) in 1990 or so as an introduction to Hunter Thompson (RIP), and recently got to hear the Audiobook version  - what a trip. It flew by, and hearing the gruff and gargled voice of HST was a real treat.
How right on he was about the direction of the nation is uncanny, he was such a consistent honest voice pointing out the moral shortcomings of the political elite in society in his lifetime.
In the Audiobook version HST interjects commentary and riffs between chapters, quite a blast to hear.
If you want a good into to HST, find the Audiobook and take a listen (check the library first if funds are short).
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