Blog Smith

Blog Smith is inspired by the myth of Hephaestus in the creation of blacksmith-like, forged materials: ideas. This blog analyzes topics that interest me: IT, politics, technology, history, education, music, and the history of religions.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Germans Avoid Stepping On Terror Toes

Wolfgang Schaeuble, graphic source: BBC.

The Germans owe terrorists an apology for violating their privacy with spyware.

No, this is not a genuine headlline but Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble faces strong opposition in plans to spy on terror suspects by deploying malicious emails.

The emails contain Trojans, software that furtively installs itself, allowing agents to search the hard drives.

I suppose the opposition Free Democrats, Gisela Piltz, would apologize to suspects since this is an unacceptable intrusion into privacy. Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries, of the Social Democrats (SPD), has also voiced concern about the possible infringement of privacy laws.

If privacy were a larger concern most Trojans would be eliminated from desktops: like that is going to happen. So many products on the web contain Trojans I hardly think terror suspects deserve that much consideration. And, for those of us who take pre-emptive measures, it really does not matter. There are those times I wish governments would stop looking out for us. This is one of those times.

Governments Hacked

Graphic source, CNN, 19 September 1996.

Computer Sweden reports today that hacks compromised embassy and government email accounts worldwide. The countries effected by this breach are the foreign ministry of Iran, the Kazakh and Indian embassies in the U.S., Uzbeki embassies and consulates worldwide, the Russian embassy in Sweden, and login details for email accounts at the U.K. visa office in Nepal.

The usernames and passwords for more than 100 email accounts were posted online.

Freelance security consultant Dan Egerstad posted the information.

Egerstad told Computer Sweden that he never used the information to log in to any of the compromised accounts in order not to break any laws.

The story indicates the sorry state of security by governments worldwide. As annoying as Egerstad may seem, this is an indication that greater vigilance is needed online. The range of countries hacked also indicates that there is little likelihood that there is an ulterior, financial, or political motive, to the hacks.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

"Cut & Run" Sadr Suspends Militia Violence

Graphic Source: AP

The bizarre Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr suspended violent attacks for six months. He is making this move to reign in the rogue elements of his Mahdi Army militia’s operations. The good news is that attacks on American troops are suspended. My hope here is that while this hiatus intervenes, American troops can perform their genuine mission in Iraq, counter-insurgency, and vigorously rooting out elements in Sadr's militia. The suspension by Sadr, is his bowing to pressure hours after his fighters waged running street battles with Iraqi government forces.

Karbala, holy to Shiites, was the scene of battles between Shiite factions which left 52 dead.

Retail Security Flaws

Retail point-of-sale (POS) systems present security flaws for consumer credit card data, according to Neal Krawetz, founder of Hacker Factor Solutions.

Krawetz outlined numerous relatively easily vulnerabilities in POS technologies.

In the last year, no company has responded to Krawetz' inquiry.

One of the most basic limitations of POS is need for standards at the payment level. The Payment Card Industry (PCI) data security standard required by all major credit card companies requires businesses to take several measures for protecting cardholder data. However, PCI standards are not available for POS devices or software.

POS terminals that read credit card information, perform card transactions, and receive the confirmation code are easy targets for hackers. According to Krawetz POS terminals often store a relatively high volume of easily accessible credit card data. Most systems purge the data automatically when power is turned off or when transactions are tallied at the end of the day, but this does not occur in every instance.

Krawetz recommends asking the vendor whether payment card data is purged when power is removed from the POS system, finding out how much data can be retained in the device's permanent storage, and how to manually purge the data. Also, companies need to find out whether the data on POS devices is encrypted, whether the permanent storage can be removed, and whether the POS system forces users to change default settings. In addition, companies should find out if the POS device allows back-door access to the data and whether it has any logging functions for tracking activity.

These are serious concerns and I applaud Krawetz for describing them. I would hope the financial industry would take note.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Vista SP1 Beta Only a Few Weeks Away

Graphic source: Odd-Magne Kristoffersen.

Microsoft Corp. confirmed reports that the first service pack for Windows Vista will be out sometime in the first quarter next year.

The first major update to Vista will contain a number of tweaks to speed up the operating system and fix nagging reliability problems, according to David Zipkin, a senior product manager for Windows Vista.

The SP1 beta will be released by the end of September, though it will be limited to no more than 15,000 Microsoft partners and customers. Another beta or release candidate will be distributed to a larger pool of testers before SP1's final release, which is slated for sometime before March 31.

Beta copies of SP1 have already leaked to pirate sites.

The Microsoft message here is to wait for Vista if you haven't implemented it yet; and, XP is still viable because Microsoft will update a Version 3 of XP at the same time.

SP1 will include 19 major changes. Among the most important is to downplay what many find annoying, the User Account Control (UAC) security feature, to be less intrusive. Copying and unzipping files in Vista should be much faster as should the ability of Vista PCs to wake up from standby or hibernate modes. The Bitlocker drive encryption, which formerly could only encrypt the C: drive, can now be used to encrypt other partitions and hard drives.

As for XP SP3, the main new feature is Network Access Protection (NAP), now available only in Vista. NAP reports the security status of a PC to a Windows Server, which can quarantine the PC and block any network traffic to and from the computer if it appears compromised.

SP1 will come in the form of a 50MB .exe file.

This is a mid-level update, not too adventurous, not unnecessary.

ICANN Whois No Privacy Reforms

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has not setteled differences over proposed privacy changes to the WHOIS database. There has been no progress on how to reform the way WHOIS data is handled.

The WHOIS registry is the domain name systems' legacy database; it contains names and contact information of all those who register Internet domains. The contents of the database have been publicly accessible to anyone who wanted it.

Companies, intellectual property holders, and law enforcement authorities favor open access to the WHOIS database on the grounds that it helps them go after phishers, trademark infringers, copyright violators and others. Privacy advocates oppose unrestricted WHOIS access on the grounds that it could expose individual domain registrants to spam and unwanted surveillance.

One of the better proposals was one to shield the contact information of individual domain registrants while making that of commercial registrants publicly accessible. Also, access to shielded WHOIS information could be provided on a one-time basis or on an as-needed basis to those who could demonstrate a valid reason for access to the information. A warrant should reveal all if need be.

There are those who would avail themselves of a proxy, for good or for ill, and law enforcement will always need to be vigilant and perform their appointed tasks to discern the difference.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chinese Wife Who Has the Aegis

Several Japanese homes of the Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) and a destroyer were raided over a computer data leak. This leak may effect the Aegis missile defense system, the sea-based Standard Missile-3 interceptor system, and the reconnaissance satellite data exchange Link 16 system.

Police were alerted when conducting an immigration-related investigation into the Chinese wife of a JMSDF officer. During the search they came across the data, which included the radar and transmission frequencies of the Aegis system. The officer wasn't authorized to be in possession of the data so the investigation was begun.

He apparently came into possession of the data while swapping pornography with another JMSDF officer, according to a Japanese news source, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

Aegis is an American defense initiative.

Japan would like access to technical details of the F22A Raptor, one of the most technically advanced jets in the U.S. fleet. The U.S. has not accepted the request yet.

I guess this means you can't always trust a wife, or who you can swap pornography with.


During the era of Colonialization, an accused person had the right to be returned to their home country, a British citizen would return to England, for trial: extraterritoriality.

The colonized country would have their laws and persons often violated as a result.

Currently, Yahoo Inc. asked in a 51-page defense filing in the Northern District of California, a federal court, to dismiss a human rights lawsuit. I believe Yahoo is wrong.

Yahoo's Hong Kong subsidiary, Yahoo Hong Kong Ltd., (YHKL), provided information about dissidents to the Chinese government and subsequently a lawsuit was filed against Yahoo by the World Organization for Human Rights USA.

What is clear is that the information supplied led to the persecution, torture and imprisonment of four Chinese dissidents.

Writer Wang Xiaoning was charged on incitement to subvert state power. Wang was sentenced to 10 years in prison in September 2003. Yahoo gave his e-mail account information and IP address to the Chinese government.

Yahoo's defense is that it doesn't condone the suppression of their rights and liberties by their government, it had no control over laws passed by the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the ways in which those laws were enforced.

I disagree. China does not adhere to international norms and standards and this position makes it more likely that information turned over to Chinese authorities, as opposed to information that might convict child-molesters, and others accused of heinous crimes in the West, might be misused. Yahoo's defense is disingenious.

Would anyone consider China to be a paragon of free speech?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Senator: Surge Is A Success

Senator Mitch McConnell stating the key August news story.

Good Enough for My Grandfather

Philadelphia could spend $47M over 20 years for water billing improvements. The latest of a two decades long effort to replace Philadelphia's aging water billing system could reach nearly $47 million.

Philadelphia Controller Alan Butkovitz released a 29-page report that detailed the costs since 1987 of replacing the city's 30-year-old proprietary Cobol mainframe billing system that still relies on punch cards.

Yes, punch cards, you read that correctly.

Costs have already exceeded $35 million and could reach $46.7 million, the controller's report stated.

Last January, an attempt began to replace the old water billing system with commercial off-the-shelf software for water billing called Basis2 from Prophecy International Pty. of Adelaide, Australia. Most of the previous plan to use Oracle Corp. applications was scrapped.

The Oracle applications cost $18.9 million, twice more than it initially expected to, without getting a working system.

Now, the Prophecy software and related costs will total $6.7 million, bringing the Prophecy and Oracle costs to $25.6 million.

The controller's total cost of $46.7 million includes years of work prior to 2002 when the Oracle work started. There was project creep between 1987 and 2002 which enlarged the initial costs.

I find this appallingly expensive, wasteful, and inefficient but typical of how money was wasted in dead-end projects. The non-innovative East attitude seems to be, if it was good enough for my grandfather, it is good enough for me.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

INDEX Prizes Awarded to $100 Laptop, Electric Car

The AP reported that an electric sports car, a prosthetic foot for land mine victims, and a potentially lifesaving device known as the "Tongue Sucker" won in an international award honoring innovative designs.

The INDEX prize also awarded the $100 laptop designed for Third World children.

The Danish award began in 2005 "to celebrate design that not only looks good but also improves lives of people all over the world," according to Kigge Hviid, manager of the award foundation.

"Great design is a way to tell people that you value them," said Yves Behar, a Swiss designer who was part of the team behind the "XO" portable computer.

The laptop is now estimated to now cost $175 which is still inexpensive.

Canadian Sebastien Dubois' prosthetic foot was designed for land mine victims.

The Tesla Roadster electric sports car is made by California-based Tesla Motors.

The Prize awards are available at the INDEX site.

Friday, August 24, 2007

China In the Right Direction

China's recent announcement that it will begin a four-month campaign on tainted food, drugs and exports is a step in the right direction. Unless China begins to play according to international rules and by international standards, it will lose all the good will it earned by offering cheaper products. Consumers have begun to question the "Made in China" label.

Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi announced the "war" to focus on the troublesome products that have questioned China's commitment to quality.

The world's largest toymaker, Mattel, often thought of as an American company, recalled more than 18 million Chinese-made toys recently.

Chinese standards have been questioned in numerous products such as toothpaste, animal-food ingredients, tires, eels and seafood, and deadly chemicals in cough medicine.

Not long ago I commented on the execution of Zheng Xiaoyu, who was the former head of the national food and drug safety watchdog, and was executed in July for taking bribes.

Where Are the MRAPs?

The U.S. military needs more MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protector) Vehicles since February 2005 and are only now beginning to receive a small number. I would like to document where the hold up is for these life-savers. Is it Congress, the companies themselves, or plain old bureacracy? Now that the military has given Iraq some breathing room, despite Maliki, our troops deserve the best.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Iraq Intelligence Estimate

Released yesterday, "Prospects for Iraq's Stability," is not filled with light and joy. Iraq is in generally poor condition although it is a bit better in certain areas.

There have been measurable but uneven improvements in Iraq’s security situation since our last National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq in January 2007. The steep escalation of rates of violence has been checked for now, and overall attack levels across Iraq have fallen during seven of the last nine weeks. Coalition forces, working with Iraqi forces, tribal elements, and some Sunni insurgents, have reduced al-Qa’ida in Iraq’s (AQI) capabilities, restricted its freedom of movement, and denied it grassroots support in some areas. However, the level of overall violence, including attacks on and casualties among civilians, remains high; Iraq’s sectarian groups remain unreconciled; AQI retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks; and to date, Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively. There have been modest improvements in economic output, budget execution, and government finances but fundamental structural problems continue to prevent sustained progress in economic growth and living conditions.

The conclusion is to stay the course:

We assess that changing the mission of Coalition forces from a primarily counterinsurgency and stabilization role to a primary combat support role for Iraqi forces and counterterrorist operations to prevent AQI from establishing a safehaven would erode security gains achieved thus far.

On this report, an interesting comment was made:

I . . . want to mention a common mentality I've noticed in Americans. They're angry at Bush, the administration, etc. and believe they're incompetent, liars and crooks. Without touching that subject, let me say that whatever you believe they may have done, you must not let it cloud your judgments of what's happening NOW. However sincerely angry you may be at their past actions (and inactions) you should be cautious in how much you let it effect your assessment of what they are doing now. During April I went home on leave and encountered countless people who wanted immediate pull-out of Iraq. Their most common reason for this decision seems to be their absolute disappointment in how the administration presented the war case and how they handled Iraq post-Saddam. And it always followed that their description of the "surge", along with anything else the president said, was cast in this light.

The "Surge" - strong military action and an altered (read: actual) battle plan - has shown genuine progress. There's no doubt that this battle plan should have been initiated immediately upon the fall of Saddam. The American people sat and watched years and American lives go by with no (actual) progress whatsoever. So it seems natural that the administration now seems as though it's merely spinning its wheels.

But they're not. Yes, it's late. Yes, people believe they were lied to. Yes, they question the competence and integrity of the administration. But you cannot let this override your judgment of what's currently happening. It's important not to forget it, certainly, but you cannot let knee-jerk disappointment rule your sense. How many people here have actually read the Iraqi benchmarks and which ones they've met? When they were established they hadn't met ANY of them, and already they're making progress. I must sound like an administration spin-machine, but my boots, right now, are in Iraq. I see it first-hand every day

Posted by: SPC Haight Aug 23, 2007 1:38:05 PM

I agree with Haight. I took my time and did not let my frustration with the Administration misguide me. The contemporary Iraq situation has been long in coming, but rather than conclude its hopeless, I actually began tracking deaths, goals met, and screened out the misinformation. Sure enough, there are prospects for hope in the morass. The military has accomplished the mission of the surge. They did what they were asked to do, at great sacrifice.

Alternative Ending to "The Invasion"

Graphic source: Wikipedia Public License.

If you plan to see The Invasion, then don't read the following because I'm going to spoil the ending for you. I caught this update from the classic B-movie original and I thought of a better way to end it.

Our heroine, in the update, looks fondly at her beloved while he is still sleeping as the morning news drones out grim statistics of people being killed while she forlornfully listens to the radio drinking her coffee. She is obviously troubled and we are left with the impression that maybe total peace is the path to follow after all.

The peace route, completely restraining people and repressing them though, was what the alien bug offered during the horror of the movie we just experienced.

On the other hand, a better ending is my version.

Our heroine, waking up from a dream filled with the alien special effects bug we saw throughout the film, awakens her. Now, we would be left to wonder, was it all a dream? Or, did what we just saw really happen? We would be left to wonder. And, this would lead to a possible sequel. What are those bugs in her head? Where did they come from? Will they emerge?

To sweeten the pot and add to the mystery, our protagonist's beloved, could be arising from slumber at the same time, but as he gets out of bed he limps. The limp could be from what we had experienced in the movie, our protagonist shot him during the film, or, he may just limp. We don't know.

In any case, this alternative ending would heighten the mystery and add to the tense moments we experienced in the film.

In case one still needs to see the classic original, here is a summary of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

The theme of the cautionary, politicized film was open to varying interpretations, including paranoia toward the spread of a harmful ideology such as socialistic Communism, or the sweeping mass hysteria of McCarthyism in the 1950s and blacklisting of Hollywood, the spread of an unknown malignancy or virulent germ (read fear of annihilation by 'nuclear war'), or the numbing of our individuality and emotional psyches through conformity and group-think. Yet its main theme was the alien (read 'Communist') dehumanization and take-over of an entire community by large seed pods (found in basements, automobile trunks, a greenhouse, and on a pool table) that replicated and replaced human beings. And it told of the heroic struggle of one helpless but determined man of conscience, a small-town doctor (McCarthy), to vainly combat and quell the deadly, indestructible threat.

Tim Dirks

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tenet, Long Before Bush, Unprepared

The former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, George J. Tenet, failed to prepare the U.S. for the terrorist threat.

To Tenet’s shame he failed to prepare this country, the President--Clinton--for the terrorist threat. This fact, long before Bush, was clear from the 9/11 Commission report.

The recently released C.I.A. report merely, but importantly, confirms how not surprising Bush was ill informed regarding the terrorist threat upon becoming president. Clinton vacillates according to my reading of the 9/11 testimony. Therefore, it is not surprising that Bush inherited a vague policy against largely unknown actors.

According to the internal report, Tenet recognized the danger posed by Al Qaeda long before 11 September 2001, but he failed to adequately prepare the C.I.A. to meet the threat.

The document was completed in June 2005 but was kept classified until now.

Still, the report is old news and reminds me of the 9/11 Commission findings. That body concluded that “a failure of imagination” had made intelligence agencies unable to fully discern the growing peril of Al Qaeda, and that communication lapses within the C.I.A. and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and between those agencies had hobbled efforts to “connect the dots” of intelligence data and effectively pursue Al Qaeda terrorists, even after some of them had entered the United States.

The inspector general’s report stated that “it reaches the same overall conclusions on most of the important issues” as the Commission.

Clinton will not take the fall for this, as Bush has been pilloried over the issue, but Tenet was once in charge of all federal intelligence agencies and the report noted that he said as far back as 1998 that “we are at war” with Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

However, Tenet failed to create “a documented, comprehensive plan to guide the counterterrorism effort at the intelligence community level.”

Clinton failed to grasp the urgency of the threat in 1998 since Tenet failed to follow up his understanding that terrorism was a critical threat. Not surprising, Bush never got this type of word as he entered the presidency.

Bush will continue to take the heat for the failings of others but he was not president in 1998 when the threat by America's leading intelligence authority grasped the critical nature of Osama's efforts.

Only a Summary of the report has been released in the de-classification. Sorta' Spooky

Graphic source:, which stands for Global Hosted Operating SysTem, has not arrived. Ghost Inc.'s Ghost: bills itself as the "Everywhere OS" but having tried it I would not say it works seamlessly. The interface is a mish-mash of Windows and Mac, so this might turn off both adherents of their favorite OS.

I like the basic concept. The idea is that the Windows and Mac model of your operating system, including all your favorite applications and data, are sealed inside one physical computer, and this manner of working and storing files is obsolete. According to Ghost’s creator, Zvi Schreiber, this is their raison d' etre.

The point sounds good but Ghost is sluggish in execution. I found the interface cluttered, my keyboard strokes were not easily picked up by Ghost, and thus my first impression was not a seamless experience.

Ghost should be a Web-hosted image of your desktop or laptop: a virtual computer that can be accessed by any client device via a Web browser. Maybe.

The `Wow Factor' for the "The Everywhere OS" did not materialize.

You can't beat the price though: Ghost is free for users.

Schreiber says a revenue stream will arise from vendors who remit fees to the company when they sell products or services to Ghost users.

To be fair, it should be mentioned that Ghost is in an alpha, “open to the public” release at the Ghost site.

Ghost is built from OpenLaszlo, an open-source platform for the development and delivery of Web applications that have the appearance and functions of traditional desktop applications.

I'll look in from time to time but I was not thrilled by the first experience.

Ghost is my second review of the top ten cool tools. The first review and product of those chosen by Computerworld came off better than Ghost.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Twisted Mickey: Hamas Martyrs Micky Mouse as Children's TV Entertainment

Graphic source: MEMRI.

Transcript Source: The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

June 29, 2007 Clip No. 1497

Farfour, Hamas' Mickey Mouse Character, Is 'Martyred' in the Final Episode of the "Pioneers of Tomorrow" Children Show on Hamas TV.

Following are excerpts from the final episode of "The Pioneers of Tomorrow," a children's TV show featuring Farfour, a Mickey Mouse character in a tuxedo, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on June 29, 2007:

Farfour's grandfather: I want to give you something in trust before I die, and I want you to safeguard it, Farfour.

Farfour: What is it this trust I am supposed to safeguard, grandpa?


Farfour's grandfather: This land, which was [occupied] in 1948, is the land I inherited from my fathers and forefathers. I want you to protect it. It is a beautiful land, all covered in flowers and olive and palm trees. I want you to take care of it, Farfour.

Farfour: What is this land called, grandpa?

Farfour's grandfather: The land is called Tel Al-Rabi'. But unfortunately, the Jews called it "Tel Aviv" after they occupied it.


I want you to safeguard this, Farfour. Keep this key with you. When the land is regained, use this key, Farfour.

Farfour: This key, grandpa?

Farfour's grandfather: That's right. And these are the documents proving that the land is ours, Farfour. I am entrusting you with this, Farfour. Make sure you don't give up the land, Farfour.

Farfour: Don't worry, grandpa.

Farfour's grandfather: Farfour, I am very tired. I feel that I am about to die. I feel very close to the land of Tel Al-Rabi'. I hope you will protect it.

Farfour: Yes. Grandpa... Grandpa...

Farfour's grandfather: Grandpa entrusted me with this great trust, but I don't know how to liberate this land from the filth of the criminal, plundering Jews, who killed my grandpa and everybody.

"Farfour is interrogated"

Farfour: What do you want from me? Why have you brought me here?

Israeli interrogator: Sit down, my dear Farfour.

Farfour: I don't want to.

Interrogator: Sit down, Farfour.

Farfour: Okay, I will sit down.

Tell me what you want.

Interrogator: We've heard your grandfather gave you the keys and the documents of the land.

Farfour: Who told you?

Interrogator: It's none of your business who told us, Farfour. What we need...

Farfour: Well, what do you want from me?

Interrogator: Farfour, we want you to give us the land documents.

Farfour: These are the land documents which my grandpa entrusted to me, so that I would safeguard them and use them to liberate Jerusalem. When the lands are liberated, we will go and live there. Give them to you? My grandpa didn't tell me to give them to you.

Interrogator: You'll get lots of money, and we'll take the documents, and that't it.

Farfour: No, we're not the kind of peole who sell their land to terrorists.

Interrogator: Farfour, give us the documents we want.

Farfour: I'm not giving you the documents.

Interrogator: Farfour!

Farfour: I won't give you the documents.

Interrogator: Give us the documents, Farfour. Will you or will you not give us the documents, Farfour?

Farfour: I won't give them to criminal despicable terrorists.

Interrogator: You're calling us despicable terrorists, Farfour?

"Farfour in prison"

Host, Saraa, a young girl: Yes, my dear children, we have lost our dearest friend, Farfour. Farfour was martyred while defending his land, the land of his fathers and his forefathers. He was martyred at the hand of the criminals, the murderers, the murderers of innocent children, who killed Iman Hijo, Muhammad Al-Dura, and many others.


Raw Data for Petraeus

Petraeus and the U.S. military came through to provide an opportunity for the surge to work. What didn't work is the fledging government of Maliki and Iraq. The surge provided breathing room and is an impressive effort against all odds. The surge put more troops in harm's way than ever before; yet, American losses are down. The U.S. military provided space for Iraq to settle political differences.

If Iraq is to make it, it is up to the Iraqis to make it work. The U.S. military did its part; it is high time for Iraq to do the same. Despite recent talks with opposition leaders I would not be optimistic about Maliki's chances of success.

Deaths due to IED’s are down for the third month in a row.

Combat deaths due to causes other than IED’s are at one of the lowest points in the last twelve months.

Last statement: January 15 through May 31, 3,184 Enemy KIA, 6 IED cells dismantled; 17,946 detained.

This is a summary of what we know by tracking deaths in Iraq by: Period, US deaths, Total deaths, and Average number of deaths in the month:

8-2007, 49, 53, 2.52;

7-2007, 79, 88, 2.84;

6-2007, 101, 108, 3.6;

5-2007, 126, 131, 4.23;

4-2007, 104, 117, 3.9;

3-2007, 81, 82, 2.65;

2-2007, 81, 85, 3.04;

1-2007, 83, 86, 2.77;

12-2006, 112, 115, 3.71;

11-2006, 70, 78, 2.6;

10-2006, 106, 110, 3.55;

9-2006, 72, 77, 2.5.

The raw data is hard to read in this format and in the table below but the message and numbers are clear. The U.S. is experiencing fewer deaths and casualties in Iraq.

Period US UK Other* Total Avg Days
8-2007 49 4 0 53 2.52 21
7-2007 79 8 1 88 2.84 31
6-2007 101 7 0 108 3.6 30
5-2007 126 3 2 131 4.23 31
4-2007 104 12 1 117 3.9 30
3-2007 81 1 0 82 2.65 31
2-2007 81 3 1 85 3.04 28
1-2007 83 3 0 86 2.77 31
12-2006 112 1 2 115 3.71 31
11-2006 70 6 2 78 2.6 30
10-2006 106 2 2 110 3.55 31
9-2006 72 3 2 77 2.57 30

Gunplay Kills the Net

Computerworld explained why my Net was so slow yesterday. I wondered why. Apparently gunplay that damaged a network cable near Cleveland was blamed for an Internet slowdown.

Internet service providers in the U.S. experienced a service slowdown yesterday after fiber-optic cables near Cleveland were apparently sabotaged by gunfire.

TeliaSonera AB lost the northern leg of its U.S. network. Technicians pulled up the affected cable, it appeared to have been shot, according to Anders Olausson, a TeliaSonera spokesman.

If just anyone can shoot out a cable and down the Net then our infrastructure is not really very secure now is it?

Iran's Abuse of Academic Freedom for Iranian-Americans

Graphic source: The Wilson Center.

The AP reported today that a detained Iranian-American academic accused of conspiring against the Iranian government was freed on bail. Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, had been in a Tehran prison since early May.

Iranian authorities investigated Esfandiari and Kian Tajbakhsh, another detained Iranian-American, who was also accused of conspiring against the country's security.

Esfandiari was broadcast on Iranian televsion on a video which also featured Tajbakhsh, an urban planning consultant with the Soros Foundation's Open Society Institute. Some have found the broadcast to have been coerced.

Two other Iranian-Americans face security-related charges: Parnaz Azima, a journalist for U.S.-funded Radio Farda, and Ali Shakeri, a founding board member of the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding at the University of California, Irvine. Shakeri is in prison, while Azima is free but barred from leaving Iran.

No developments were announced in the case of the other three Iranian-Americans.

The Wilson Center is a nonpartisan institution established by Congress in 1968 and funded through private and public funds. Its Middle East program focuses on several areas, including "analysis of internal domestic and social developments in Iran; the aspiration of the younger generation for reform and expansion of individual liberties."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Biden's Support of MRAPVs

Senator Joe Biden's press conference in Charleston, S.C. from July 23. Two local companies displayed Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (MRAPVs). The Biden Amendment funding supplemental included funding for accelerated procurement and deployment of these vehicles. The vehicles are four to five times safer against IED attacks and account for 70% of our casualties in Iraq.

Previously, I've reviewed MRAPVs and how they are deployed effectively.

One of Ten Top Ten Cool Tools

Graphic source: Computerworld.

Computerworld reported on the top ten cool cutting-edge technologies. The Eleksen Group's wearable gadgetry is an idea whose time came some time back. One reason I detest laptops is that they are not handy enough, they are bulky, and they take so long to boot up.

The idea behind the Eleksen Group PLC Sideshow Wearable Display Module though makes it more handy, not bulky since you are actually wearing the display, and you don't really boot up.

The ElekTex is a fabric-based, pressure-sensitive control interface that can be integrated into jackets, bags and other textile products. The ElekTex fabric controls come with an LCD display to interact with Windows Vista’s Sideshow feature. The ElekTex exports information from a Vista laptop to a secondary display. Thereafter, mini-applications, or “gadgets,” written for Sideshow can then wirelessly deliver e-mail, alerts or other updates to the remote screen even if the laptop remains in its case and turned off. That is handy.

One reason I enjoy my HP Jornada is that it boots up quickly, is so much smaller, and as a mini-PC it is not bulky at all. The ElekTex combines these features in one.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Out of the Mouths of Babes?

Children the world over learn what they are taught.

Food for Thought

I caught one of these videos before and this new one is just as thoughtful.

Disappointing Dennett

Ordinarily, Daniel C. Dennett is worthwhile reading but in Breaking he has written a disappointing book.

The "Roots of Religion" section is truly weak and does not make reference to leading thinkers on the origins of religion. No one can ask another to write the book they would like, but even with Dennett's caveats and how he notes his limitations, he fails to grasp important work in the roots of religion.

Dennett has a section entitled "Should Science Study Religion?" F. Max Mueller thought so: in the 1860s he began calling for a "science of religion" (William E. Paden, Interpreting the Sacred: Ways of Viewing Religion, p. 67). Independent of confessional agendas, Mueller called for objective, scientific studies of religion just as inquiries into natural things such as geology were conducted.

How could someone discuss the origins of religion and yet have no reference to such leading lights as F. Max Mueller, Edward Burnett Tylor, or Andrew Lang? Dennett does not even mention the leading lights in the origins of religion, who worked deliberately in the nineteenth century as a result of Darwin's insights, and in contradiction to Dennett's assertion that his Darwinian approach to natural religion is something new.

Dennett implies that students of religion have worked in a vacuum and without reference to Darwin. This is not true.

He notes that there have been natural histories of religion but that these efforts have been marred by either deference or hostility to religion(pp. 31-32). Dennett's dismissal of natural historians is a gross overstatement.

By the 1880s Mueller knew that Darwinism was too powerful of a force to ignore. Religion, due to Darwin, was viewed as a natural organism. At the turn of the 20th century, the Oxford anthropologist R. R. Marett was to declare that "anthropology is the child of Darwin" (Eric Sharpe, Comparative Religion: A History, p. 48). Andrew Lang's study of folklore was motivated with the understanding that folklore preserved anthropological data and is therefore worthy of study. Tylor, since he was a Quaker, well neither ill-disposed towards religion, nor did he have a penchent for Christian orthodoxy.

Dennett blithefully dismisses truly important historians of religion who viewed religion worth of study as a natural, organic, phenomenon.

Dennett seems to equate ordinary religious practitioners with the most serious scholar of religion which is a serious gaffe.

Two reviewers made trenchent remarks:

The most striking gap in Breaking the Spell is its lack of humanistic commentary from anthropology, aesthetics, and confessional literature. (...) Breaking the Spell is an insidious book; not because it breaks taboos by asking uncomfortable questions of religion, nor because its author is an ardent atheist, but because it is written by a brilliant philosopher who betrays his academic standards by proceeding from emotive, ill-informed prejudice.
- John Cornwell, Sunday Times

Breaking the Spell , however, not only differs in tone from Dennett's earlier work in being amicable and almost meek, but is also largely bereft of critical analysis. (...) In the end, its 400-page analysis yields little more than platitudes.
- Jerry A. Coyne, Times Literary Supplement

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sobering NYC Intelligence on Radicalization

Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat by Mitchell D. Silber and Arvin Bhatt, Senior Intelligence Analysts at the NYPD Intelligence Division, provides sobering reading.

The authors state: "There is no useful profile to assist law enforcement or intelligence to predict who will follow this trajectory of radicalization. Rather, the individuals who take this course begin as `unremarkable' from various walks of life."

A radical is not born with horns on their head but the authors conclude, based on foreign and U.S. examples that a process of radicalization takes place for the eventual jihadists. Although Europe has been hit, and homegrown U.S. radicals have largetly been thwarted, the danger remains. They state:

Despite the economic opportunities in the United States, the powerful gravitational pull of individuals’ religious roots and identity sometimes supersedes ghe assimilating nature of American society which includes pursuit of a professional career, financial stability and material comforts.

The implications for homegrown radicalization make the efforts of law enforcement extremely difficult.

They conclude:

The global jihadi-Salafi movement poses a significant challenge to law enforcement and intelligence since the radicalization phenomenon that drives it is spontaneous, indiscriminate, and its indicators are subtle. Identifying whether an individual is being radicalized is hard to detect, especially in the early stages.

How is law enforcement to determine when and if simply radical talk is just that, talk? But this stage is when an individual may be stopped before they actually commit any violence.

•The individuals are not on the law enforcement radar. Most have never been arrested or involved in any kind of legal trouble. Other than some commonalities in age and religion, individuals undergoing radicalization appear as `ordinary' citizens, who look, act, talk, and walk like everyone around them. In fact, in the United Kingdom, it is precisely those `ordinary' middle class university students who are sought after by local extremists because they are `clean skins'.

None of these types of people would attract any attention. They look like any other pod.

The authors continue:

•In the early stages of their radicalization, these individuals rarely travel, are not participating in any kind of militant activity, yet they are slowly building the mindset, intention, and commitment to conduct jihad.

As evidenced by all eleven case studies these groups, or clusters of extremists:

"Act autonomously, can radicalize quickly, and often are made up of individuals, who on the surface, appear to be well-integrated into society."

They may be spontaneous which makes detection difficult. Silber and Bhatt state that the jihadists:
Are not “name brand” terrorists or part of any known terrorist group. For the most part, they have little or no links to known militant groups or actors. Rather they are like-minded individuals who spend time together in clusters organized, originally, by previously established social network links.

They are not engaged in activities which would get them noticed because they "Are not crime syndicates and therefore, applying organized crime strategies will fail."

Finally, the authors conclude:

The challenge to intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the West in general, and the United States in particular, is how to identify, pre-empt and thus prevent homegrown terrorist attacks given the non-criminal element of its indicators, the high growth rate of the process that underpins it and the increasing numbers of its citizens that are exposed to it.

These are sobering words. Americans have to be vigilant but respectful of privacy and American liberties. This is a difficult path to follow when the threat is real, it is here, and it is covert.

As the Middle East has gone, so has Europe, as Europe has gone, so has New York City, as NYC goes, so goes the U.S. The threat is real; the threat is here.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wave of the Future?

Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen and former gang member, convicted. He was a star Al-Qaida recruit. Padilla sought to kill, and sought to obtain material support for terrorism. However, I see this as a more to come scenario with additional cells coming to light over time.

Egypt, Kuwait, and Asia to Profit In Iraq

Despite the title in this post I don't imagine many will object to Egypt, Kuwait, or some in Asia profiting from Iraq. Many would object and sloganeer phrases such as "No Blood for Oil" but as some countries profit from Iraq no one bats an eye.

Yesterday Iraq begain auctioning off $300 million as the minimum bid price for mobile licenses in that country. An Egyptian, Kuwaiti, or an Asian company are the leading bidders. The next highest bidders come from Turkey.

Apparently war is good for business.

The $300 million starting price is for three 15-year mobile licenses moderated by Communications Minister Mohammed Allawi.

These lucrative 15-year licenses replace three short-term contracts awarded soon after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The leading bidders are Cairo-based Orascom Telecom Holdings, Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Co. MTC, and AsiaCell, said Siyamend Othman, head of the National Communications and Media Commission.

Linux Still Not Working Like a Lion

A solid review which identified the major problem many of us still have with Linux, although I for one am ready to get on board ASAP, is the problem of "dealing with text in varied forms" as Sharon Machlisas notes in Computerworld. Her review of nine Linux text editors reveals that no single editor does the job. Like her, I need an application that handles plain ASCII text and rudimentary HTML. We also share an enthusiasm, not for me the Windows environment, but in an inexpensive and useful tool like NoteTab Pro. Neither is available on Linux. NoteTab has no plans to migrate to Linux.

Alas, Machlisas found no single killer text editor workable. I know some have the leisure of using several applications but this seems terribly inefficient to me.

She does report that an UltraEdit version for Linux is on the way and perhaps I would try again at that point, till then, I'm married to Windows unfortunately.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Truth and Honesty on Wikipedia

A beginning graduate student at the California Institute of Technology, Virgil Griffith, invented Wikipedia Scanner, a tool that exposes the anonymous edits in Wikipedia. The tool can trace the IP address of those who make edits which does not exactly specify who did the edits but it obviously reveals the person at least had access to the respective IP addresses: close enough most of us would say to reveal who is responsible for the shenanigans.

While there are meticulous records of changes on Wikipedia, a person can make changes without identifying themselves, but the changes often create digital fingerprints that provide information about the user, such as the location of the computer used to make the edit.

Many of the changes are innocuous, but the scanner also traced entries to people at several large companies who appear to have altered potentially damaging content for concerns such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Diebold Inc. Someone at the BBC poked fun at George Bush, Al-Jazeera's edits were fairly extensive, and someone at the CIA changed some wording as has the Vatican in one instance.

The Mormons changed a couple things, the Episcopals didn't like some of the word on them, and numerous Christian groups and colleges revised as they saw fit as well.

Wired collected an extensive list of the edits which is handy to see who wants what changed and we can figure out the embarrassing whys in most instances.

As an example, someone at the Vatican edited the Wikipedia entry on Gerry Adams.

Source: Wikipedia

Gerry Adams
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
Revision as of 12:54, 17 October 2006 (edit) (Talk)
(→Moving into mainstream politics)
← Older edit Revision as of 12:55, 17 October 2006 (edit) (undo) (Talk)
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==Fresh murder question raised== ==Fresh murder question raised==

- In October 2006, it was alleged that Adams's finger- and hand-prints were found on a car used during a double murder in 1971.[,,2091-2383263,00.html Paisley, Brady in historic meeting] by Christopher Morgan and Liam Clarke, ''The Times'', 1 October 2006[ Adams Prints Murder Link] by Alan Murray, ''The Sunday Independent'', 1 October 2006 However, no link between Adams and the killings has been shown. + In October 2006, it was alleged that Adams's finger- and hand-prints were found on

==References== ==References==

NSA Scrutinized

The post-911 National Security Agency (NSA) spying program has been argued at a U.S. appeals court hearing. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) questioned AT&T's no-warrant monitoring of citizens' communications. The court agreed on Wednesday to weigh a government motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging the NSA monitored phone lines and e-mails without a warrant. The EFF filed a class action lawsuit against AT&T Inc. claiming the company violated the privacy rights of its customers when it cooperated with an NSA program of monitoring AT&T customer phone calls and e-mail traffic without warrants.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Liberal Says War Can Be Won

"A War We Just Might Win"

That is what liberal commentators Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution stated in the New York Times following their recent visit to Iraq.

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms.***
After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.

Today, morale is high. The soldiers and marines told us they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.

Everywhere, Army and Marine units were focused on securing the Iraqi population, working with Iraqi security units, creating new political and economic arrangements at the local level and providing basic services — electricity, fuel, clean water and sanitation — to the people. Yet in each place, operations had been appropriately tailored to the specific needs of the community. As a result, civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.

Open source Alternative to Project

Graphic source: Projity Inc.

Projity Inc. released its OpenProj software as an Open source project. This alternative to Microsoft may take market share away from their Project product. OpenProj is compatible with Microsoft Project though and seems to have most of the same features. OpenProj plays with Linux (in fact it is bundled with various Linux distributions) and Macs as well as Windows. The final version will be released in Q4.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Too Much Face (book)

The popular social networking site Facebook showed a bit too much face recently. The source code that drives the site was leaked to the Internet due to a misconfigured Web server. I guess there is such a thing as too much face.

Positive Middle East Trend

A report on related how India seeks Israeli assistance to fill their need for an unmanned combat helicopter. The story outlined how the Indian Navy is exploring collaboration between local and Israeli defense companies. Admiral Sureesh Mehta, chief of the Indian Navy, and Vice Admiral David Ben Bashat discussed the possible joint development and other defense programs Bashat’s visit to India, the first official visit to India by an Israel Navy chief.

The Indian Navy projects 30 to 50 unmanned combat helicopters reflecting a greater cooperation between India and Israel since 1999. Israel is working on a the co-production of nuclear-capable cruise missiles, air defense systems and anti-ballistic missile systems. The country is the largest supplier of UAVs for the Indian Defence Forces.

In terms of great Middle Eastern security this is a positive development in that Israel is not isolated in the region by reaching across the Middle East to India, India is stepping up its greater regional role which as the world's largest democracy it should be doing. Two democratic regional powers flanking the Middle East is a good thing.

Life Almost as Real as the Gaming World

Screenshot Source: Morteza Nikoubazl, Reuters.

A screen shot from the Iranian-made computer game shows an Iranian commander (unseen) killing a U.S. soldier.

Designed by the Union of Islamic Students a game released in July, Rescue the Nuke Scientist, is sure to be jihadically correct. Once an American game company released Kuma\War's Assault on Iran, the students responded with a game of their own. Rescue's basic premise is that U.S. troops capture a husband-and-wife team of nuclear engineers during a pilgrimage to Karbala, a holy site for Shiite Muslims, in central Iraq. Game players take on the role of Iranian security forces carrying out a mission code-named "The Special Operation," which involves penetrating fortified locations to free the nuclear scientists, who are moved from Iraq to Israel. In this way both the U.S. and Israel can be attacked by Iranians.

All this from a country whose president has already denied the reality of the Holocaust.

College Hijinks?

Campus Technology today ran a story about Professors building an Open-Source educational gaming engine. Washington State University Vancouver professor Scott Wallace and University of Puget Sound computer science professor Andrew Nierman were awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to build a gaming engine designed to make learning computer science more absorbing for students. If only this were available across the board to make all education more involving.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Turkish Trio Hacks UN

Photo source: Giorgio Maone screenshot from his blog.

Hackers formerly associated with Turkey defaced a UN site with anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli messages. The attack was chronicled by an Italian software developer Giorgio Maone on his blog and later reported by the BBC. The hacker trio, "Kerem125," "m0sted" and "gsy," claimed responsibility for the defacement which forced the UN site down and the site was still unavailable by Sunday evening. According to Maone the incident is a SQL injection exploit, which let the attackers add their own HTML code to the site. SQL injection attacks are a common tactic by defacers. Maone expressed surprise because "this is a very well known kind of vulnerability, fairly easy to avoid and very surprising to find in such a high-profile site."

In the past, "Kerem125," "m0sted" and "gsy," are names that have been used by would-be hackers claiming to be from Turkey,

Secure Flight Not all that Safe

Today's IDG News Service ran a story about the Department of Homeland Security air passenger screening program which is changing procedures.

The DHS announced plans for an overhaul of its Secure Flight program, with the agency no longer no longer assigning risk scores to passengers or using predictive behavior technology, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff stated. The Transportation Security Administration, part of DHS, will check domestic passenger lists against terrorist watch lists, instead of the airlines.

I appreciate an advance on privacy issues, but in contrast to Marc Rotenberg, executive director of privacy advocacy group the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), I don't think the DHS is correct in its focus on matching passenger names to terrorist watch lists instead of trying to predict behavior.

The terror in terrorism is that it is unpredictable. by focusing on previously drawn up lists, the terrorist in the making will slip through.

Rotenberg states: "Instead of open-ended profiling ... the revamped Secure Flight focuses on the problem at hand," which is precisely the problem. The problem of today surely will not catch the innovative would-be terrorist. Another effective screening process is needed, profile based I would imagine.

As difficult as the task is, I believe we precisely need to develop tools that predict behavior.

Notwithstanding the Secure Flight program suspension in February 2006 due to two government reports that outlined security and privacy problems the revised program does not address the security concerns of behavior profiling.

It's All Greek to Me

The new translation tools are being implemented with some sucess in business applications although I have previously expressed my skepticism with the effort. A Computerworld story online today illustrates how the new efforts are going. Most results to the present have been sketchy requiring human translators.

Ford Motor Co. has used “machine translation” software since 1998 and has translated 5 million automobile assembly instructions.

Ford uses Enterprise Global Server from Systran Software Inc. but this is just the beginning. English instructions are written by engineers and then parsed by a homegrown AI program into unambiguous detailed directions, such as, “Attach bracket No. 423 using six half-inch bolts.” Each instruction is then stored as a record in a translation database.

Systran’s tool uses a reliable translation technique called rules-based translation. Such systems use bilingual dictionaries combined with electronic style guides containing usage and grammar rules. The commercial translators are then supplemented with assembly line application-specific glossaries from Ford.

The glossaries are cumulative in that they are combined with “translation memories,” databases of previously translated text in the form of source and target sentence pairs. These memories are usually compiled over time by users. If the translation system (or a human) finds an exact match for the sentence it’s trying to translate, it just retrieves the corresponding sentence in the target language from the database. Near matches or “fuzzy,” matches are flagged for review by a human translator.

Statistical machine translation is a newer technique. It uses collections of documents and their translations to “train” software. Over time, these data-driven systems “learn” what makes a good translation and what doesn’t and then use probability and statistics to decide which of several possible translations of a given word or phrase is most likely correct based on context.

The systems as a result develop their own rules and fine-tune them over time.

Google Inc. uses Systran’s rules-based software but is also developing its own statistical-based systems to translate to and from the more difficult and non-Western Romance languages due to their significant differences from Western languages.

Sites may include a link to Google’s system at Google translation for free.

Other large companies are in need of translations and use them such as Microsoft Corp. which incorporates a rules-based natural-language parser in its Word software.

FedEx Corp. rolled out Trados GXT, a product of Maidenhead, England-based SDL International. It consists of translation memories integrated with an enterprise translation workflow system but has not obviated the need for human-based translation services.

A new development and increasingly sophisticated translation systems combine multiple methods. A statistical machine translation product from Language Weaver Inc. in Marina del Rey, Calif., can now be used with translation management software called WorldServer from Idiom Technologies Inc. Customers can tap into WorldServer to retrieve previously translated content in a translation memory or generate new translations — through Language Weaver’s algorithms — when no matches are found.

At SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif. researchers are working with the U.S. Department of Defense to automate the translation of Arabic and Mandarin Chinese — structured and unstructured text as well as real-time speech — into English.

It's all Greek to me; but, actually I do know Greek so if I can learn perhaps machines can as well.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Democracy Is Not Built in a Day

Peter Kenney of Denver relates his experience of building local democracy in Baghdad.

Do you think freedom is free?

China Not "Red" Anymore

The adventure with the Chinese-made lamp looks like it has taken China out of the red and into the black. So far, the replacement lamp is doing fine. The low cost is the attraction and the website, Made in China, demonstrates the wide variety of goods available. Differences between manufacturing standards predominates, but the Food and Drug Administration is working with Chinese officials to address issues of quality. The consumer activist, Ralph Nader, weighs in with his opinion.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The OLPC: Should Not a Controversy Be

On 23 July 2007 eWeek ran a story that has been controversial for too long. The story discussed the ongoing battle about the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) project which is ambitious, has potential benefits for many computer users across the board, and is timely. The project should garnish a great deal of attention but this really should not be contentious. The project though gained attention not only for its humanitarian goals and the groundbreaking technologies it's introducing but also negativity is connected to it for the wrong reasons, a fixation on product pricing, and assumptions about capabilities.

The OLPC and its founder, MIT iconoclast Nicholas Negroponte was in a segment of "60 Minutes." The segment unduly focused on the OLPC's XO laptop (more commonly although not completely accurately known as the $100 laptop) and the organization's goal to provide inexpensive computing resources to children in the developing world.

First Intel and then Dell has taken potshots at the project. Intel has since gotten on board.

The XO system is close to its final release state and although on paper the posted specifications of the XO seem underpowered: a midrange AMD processor, 256MB of RAM, and a small, flash-based drive. The XO is actually a powerful system.

The display technology is innovative and is readable even in bright sunlight, and its environmentally conscious power management and provision capabilities to its wireless mesh capabilities allow an entire village of children to connect. The XO will have a huge impact on the lives of the children who use it. I know countless kids who could use it now.

The compact laptop technology is ahead of the curve which should usher in a competitive wave of more efficient and capable mobile systems.

The laptop is a helpful marriage of Linux-based Sugar software that runs on the XO laptop. The basic programs in Sugar are simplified versions of ordinary desktop tools such as word processors, including though a collaboration environment.

Graphic source: OLPC

This is a product that looks like a toy but it is not. In the hands of impoverished children, this can be an effective digital tool that helps to close the digital divide. Hopefully, Dell's objection is not only that OLPC is a competitor of theirs.

Graphic source: Wikipedia, showing the mesh mode in Sugar software which makes it possible to interact with other users and systems on the XO's wire mesh network.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Is Aunt Betty on MySpace These Days? is a new people-focused search engine that aims to compile profiles based on info from social networking sites. I'm looking for Aunt Betty but I don't think she's on MySpace.

CEO Jaideep Singh claims the search will include every person in the world within the next nine months. A search will provide biographical information including age, city of residence and job title as well as tagged descriptions and images aimed at providing a complete picture of a person. It ranks search results based on the amount and relevance of information.

Come to think of it, maybe that's how we can find Osama.

Is a USB Port Good for Anything Other Than a Massage?

Computerworld ran an interesting survey on USB ports and their accessories. A USB port is handy even if you don't need a massage or a beverage heater, or cooler. All three devices are available though if you would like.

Hello? Is this Johnny's Teacher?

Source: Center For the Digital Future

According to the Center For the Digital Future, teachers have embraced newer ways of communicating with constituents. More so than government officials and health care professionals, teachers in K-12 situations use electronic means of communication. Before the Internet, teachers rarely had telephones in their classrooms, and most communication between teachers and parents occurred through infrequent conferences or notes carried by the student.

Today over half (50.3%) of all Internet users have used email to communicate directly with teachers.

Reach out and a teacher will be there.

Another Blow to Microsoft and Digital Rights

Computerworld ran a story from the IDG News Service about a hacker who released a way to strip DRM (Digital Rights Management) from streaming Netflix Inc. movies. This is another blow to Microsoft's technology designed to prevent people from saving the content. Many hackers object to the design of DRM which limits how music and movies can be used. Netflix's Watch Now service allows people to watch movies and TV shows immediately on their computer. Users can watch a certain number of hours of streamed content per month depending on their subscription.

However, hacker Dizzie wrote on the Rorta hacking forum against Netflix and words of his exploit made the rounds of various blogs and Web sites.

The exploit is not for the unitiated since it is a detailed 14-step process that uses FairUse4WM, a program created by another hacker, to remove Microsoft's DRM from the content. The involved process removing the DRM may take several attempts, and the process does not remove the time limit imposed by Netflix on viewing the content.

Microsoft revised its DRM technology twice before to block the threat of FairUse4WM but last month hackers on the forum announced they defeated Microsoft's DRM again.

The violation of rights is clearly wrong but a large deal of the problem is the murkiness and inapplicability of current copyright law. The various less proprietary and more open copyright options that have emerged, are a step in the direction.

The shakeout is far from clear. Universal Music Group, the world's largest music label, sells songs DRM-free.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Challenge to FedEx and DHL, File Transmittal Services

It must be that setting up an FTP server on your home/work computers and providing your intended recipient with log-in information is really beyond the grasp of most computer users.

As a challenge then to the big mailing companies, FedEx or DHL, some companies have an online alternative for the really big, or digital files.

In contrast, file transmittal services all let users send files of up to 100MB for free, and many will go higher. Driveway, whose motto is "Size really does matter," lets users send files up to 500MB for free. Pando has a 1GB limit for nonsubscribers, while Civil Netizen is currently the most generous, with a 4GB limit.

Iran's Blood for Oil

What Tehran and Baghdad have in common is trading for oil. Tehran and Baghdad are expected to agree on a deal on a pipeline soon to transfer crude oil to refineries in Iran from oilfields in Iraq.

I take it Iran is willing to trade blood for oil.

Meanwhile, many Iranian young people, especially women strive for their freedom.

You Can Trust Al-Jazeera . . . To Be Al-Jazeera

"Kidnapped workers building U.S. embassy in Baghdad" screams the Al-Jazeera headline so let us have a look at this shocking story. The story by Ahmed Abdullah states:

"An American civilian contractor revealed shocking evidence about how Filipino construction workers were tricked last year into building the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, according to an article on The Times Online. The 51 men were originally told that they’d travel to Dubai to construct hotels there, but instead found themselves in a Baghdad-bound plane!"

The story is based on the statement of Rory Mayberry testifying before a congressional committee.

The Filipinos were reportedly upset at being deceived but their protests were quelled by: "a gun-toting air steward [not named, emphasis mine] ordered them to sit down. . . . [and a] security guy [not named, emphasis mine] working for First Kuwaiti waved an MP5 [sub-machinegun] in the air that people settled down."

On the other hand, the same story ran on the AP by Teresa Cerojano, Associated Press Writer. The gun-toting enforcers are not mentioned and a reasonable person would conclude that the guns are a complete fabrication.

The upshot of the story is that a Philippine special envoy is traveling to the Middle East to investigate allegations that a Kuwaiti contractor took Filipino workers to Iraq without their knowledge to build the U.S. Embassy. The meat of the story is that Filipinos, contracted by the First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting Co., thought they were going to work in Dubai and ended up in Baghdad instead.

The story really involves the Filipoino workers and a Kuwaiti company.

You don't get that impression from Al-Jazeera with the shock tactic of the U.S. kidnapping people.

People believe what they want to believe. In fact, jobs in Iraq have been a boon for many Filipino workers.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Chatting with Alexander the Great

If you could chat with Alexander the Great, what would you say? We need more protection for those auxiliary troops don't you think? What is it with this hoplite innovation?

That possibility was not possible of course but a newly launched site allows front-line soldiers to submit combat technology ideas. allows anyone in the U.S. military to detail their need for combat tools.

The troop ideas are then evaluated by Gestalt, the technology consulting firm and government contractor that operates the site. Gestalt will either work to develop the tool itself or route the information to the best suited areas within the U.S. Department of Defense, stated William Loftus, Gestalt's president and CEO, in a story carried yesterday by Computerworld.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Wisdom of "George" on War

George Kennan (1904-2005)

The roots of American involvement in the Middle East go back so much deeper than the current contentious debates about "George," actually, the American people should be talking about George, but George Kennan, not Bush. Kennan is a key figure in the development of U.S. Cold War policy as the "father of containment" in the newly founded CIA in 1948.

Kennan saw a new type of warfare for Americans in the Post-War period.

The Problem

The inauguration of organized political warfare.


1. Political warfare is the logical application of Clausewitz's doctrine in time of peace. In broadest definition, political warfare is the employment of all the means at a nation's command, short of war, to achieve its national objectives. Such operations are both overt and covert. They range from such overt actions as political alliances, economic measures (as ERP--the Marshall Plan), and "white" propaganda to such covert operations as clandestine support of "friendly" foreign elements, "black" psychological warfare and even encouragement of underground resistance in hostile states.

2. The creation, success, and survival of the British Empire has been due in part to the British understanding and application of the principles of political warfare. Lenin so synthesized the teachings of Marx and Clausewitz that the Kremlin's conduct of political warfare has become the most refined and effective of any in history. We have been handicapped however by a popular attachment to the concept of a basic difference between peace and war, by a tendency to view war as a sort of sporting context outside of all political context, by a national tendency to seek for a political cure-all, and by a reluctance to recognize the realities of international relations--the perpetual rhythm of struggle, in and out of war.

3. This Government has, of course, in part consciously and in part unconsciously, been conducting political warfare. Aggressive Soviet political warfare has driven us overtly first to the Truman Doctrine, next to ERP, then to sponsorship of Western Union [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]. This was all political warfare and should be recognized as such.

4. Understanding the concept of political warfare, we should also recognize that there are two major types of political warfare--one overt and the other covert. Both, from their basic nature, should be directed and coordinated by the Department of State. Overt operations are, of course, the traditional policy activities of any foreign office enjoying positive leadership, whether or not they are recognized as political warfare. Covert operations are traditional in many European chancelleries but are relatively unfamiliar to this Government.

5. Having assumed greater international responsibilities than ever before in our history and having been engaged by the full might of the Kremlin's political warfare, we cannot afford to leave unmobilized our resources for covert political warfare. We cannot afford in the future, in perhaps more serious political crises, to scramble into impromptu covert operations [1 line of source text not declassified]. . . .

What is proposed here is an operation in the traditional American form: organized public support of resistance to tyranny in foreign countries. . . . Our proposal is that this tradition be revived specifically to further American national interests in the present crisis. . . .

d. Preventive Direct Action in Free Countries.

Purpose: Only in cases of critical necessity, to resort to direct action to prevent vital installations, other material, or personnel from being (1) sabotaged or liquidated or (2) captured intact by Kremlin agents or agencies.

Description: This covert operation involves, for example, (1) control over anti-sabotage activities in the Venezuelan oil fields, (2) American sabotage of Near Eastern oil installations on the verge of Soviet capture . . . .

Long before Bush, and years before the formulation of the overt Eisenhower Doctrine, the U.S. was in the Middle East in a new type of warfare in the Post-War period. Although the faces of the enemy may change, we are not facing the Soviets anymore, but the geographical area of contention, the Middle East, and the product, oil, is now a part of political warfare in American life. The troublesome aspect for Americans seems to lie in the fact that this warfare is overt, as opposed to George's covert operations in 1948. But the present George is following the broad outlines of American foreign policy that is decades old by this point.

269. Policy Planning Staff Memorandum

Washington, May 4, 1948.

Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 273, Records of the National Security Council, NSC 10/2. Top Secret. No drafting information appears on the source text. An earlier, similar version, April 30, is ibid., RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Policy Planning Staff Files 1944-47: Lot 64 D 563, Box
11. The Policy Planning Staff minutes for May 3 state: "There was a discussion of the Planning Staff Memorandum of April 30, 1948 on the inauguration of organized political warfare. This paper was generally approved and Mr. Kennan will present it tomorrow for discussion at a meeting of NSC consultants." (Ibid., Box 32)

Upcoming Attraction! See it now! History Made Dumber! "War Made Easy"

History Made Dumber is not the name of War Made Easy--a film which "reaches into the Orwellian memory hole to expose a 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after another from Vietnam to Iraq"--but perhaps it should be.

Based on the book by Norman Solomon, you may look in vain for any mention or sound bite of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter, or Ford but you will not see them or hear any references to them in this film. If I'm not mistaken they were American Presidents of the past 50 years. Nonetheless, bad boys LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton all have their cameos but the real targets are the Bushes, father and son.

As an attempt to review the past 50 years of American warmaking it fails miserably. It is tolerable if you like the sort of presentation that claims to be an expose of recent wars under the Bushes and to a lesser extent, Clinton. As a competitor to the Michael Moore style of film making it has the obligatory repetition of key quips, and quotes thought to be particularly germane and cutting.

One of the typical refrains is about the lack of WMDs as is to be expected. No reference is made to the other popular refrain at the time which was "No Blood for Oil," you don't hear that old canard much any more. And, the lack of expression is for good reason. Gas prices hit the highest level in American history. And, judging by the number of filmgoers who used cars, trucks, and SUVs to attend the same screening as I, the insatiable American thirst for oil is not abating.

If Americans were truly sincere about getting the U.S. out of Iraq, then they should sell their cars, and the next likely event to occur is that American politicians will stop the war drumbeats. In the meantime, as any president Republican or Democrat is bound by the Constitution, they will continue on the war course mapped out. Americans are tied to their inefficient internal combustion engines and American politicians are acting in the national interest, that is, keeping the flow of oil to the U.S.

In the film history is reviewed in the person of Senator Wayne Morse (D-Oregon) who is acclaimed as one of few American lawmakers who was brave enough to oppose the war in Vietnam. He makes a particularly embarrassing point about the President simply being "an administrator of the people's foreign policy."

God bless you Senator but not in my Constitution.

The film is on a bit better ground as an analysis of how the corporate media has echoed Washington's drumbeats during Persian Gulf I and II. The struggling print media, newspapers, are in dire straits and they are being eclipsed by digital communications, infotainment, the internet, and other new media. The new media is not directly as a result of government control but recent administrations have been savvy enough to adjust their message catered to the new media.

There are alternatives: turn off the TV, read bloggers, watch clips on YouTube, read foreign newspapers, catch Al-Jazeera, this works for me and I stay informed thusly.

The film is for the liberal choir exclusively so they can hum along to the old gospel song that gained some popularity during the Vietnam era, "Down by the Riverside," whose chorus echoes a heart-felt desire of people:

"I ain't gonna study war no more
I ain't gonna study war no more
Study war no more…"

C++ for Anyone from MIT

C++ is not exclusively for adult programmers but MIT has released programming for anyone through MIT's Media Lab. Researchers in the Lab's "Lifelong Kindergarten Group" created a program called Scratch, a graphical programming language geared to be programming learners, including children and teens.

A good introduction can be seen on how to create interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art with Scratch (

Google Educational Offerings

Campus Technology today released a story that Google is offering researchers a closer look at their search capabilities. Two new services are offered to the individauls in higher education--access to Web search and machine translations--as part of Google's University Research Programs effort. The program for investigation, "the University Research Program for Google Search," has merit if it can unleash the incredible data hidden via the web, and certainly Google is one company that has revealed the resources of the web more than any other entity.

The second service, Google Translate, seems less promising although I have not taken it for a spin just yet. I still have to get over my bad experience with DragonDictate, c. 1998, when I spent an inordinate amount of time teaching a recalcitrant program and computer how to talk like me. Come to think of it, that may have been the problem.

Monday, August 6, 2007

"I Wanna' Be Like Osama"

The 60th Edinburgh Festival Fringe is featuring "Osama the Musical" which is a:
"Sensational new musical comedy set to incite violent applause and a new cult following featuring insightful satirical sequences including "I Wanna' Be Like Osama. The West shall not be won (again) so long as we have a high-kicking chorus line!"

Those Irresistible Nerds

Graph source: Source: Robert Half Technology, May 2007

Mary Brandel published a story in the 6 August 2007 issue of Computerworld reviewing what technology skills are in short supply. The list of skills follow below: Machine learning, Mobile applications, Wireless networking, Project management, General networking, Network convergence, Open-source programming, Business intelligence, and Embedded security.

Nothing "GNU" (New) in China

Wikipedia representatives have stated that Inc., the largest search engine in China, may be their worst copyright violator. Baidu plagiarizes Wikipedia without attribution or honoring the GNU license.

The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. has never sued a copyright violator and the Foundation has no plans to sue Baidu but this looks like an attempt to shame the company into compliance. All Wikipedia needs is the company to respect its copyright license by simply attributing Wikipedia entries on Baidu Baike, the company's Chinese-language Web encyclopedia.

"They do not respect the license at all," said Florence Nibart-Devouard, chairman of the board of trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Pentagon Describes How to Combat IEDs

Speaking of worthwhile blogs to read, The Danger Room in fact carried a story about an excellent research paper--AN ASYMMETRIC THREAT INVOKES STRATEGIC LEADER INITIATIVE: THE JOINT IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE DEFEAT ORGANIZATION by WILLIAM G. ADAMSON, COL, USA, that is worthwhile reading.

The report has some good news and some bad news. The Pentagon is praised for its "resilience, learning and adapting to the IED threat." It credits JIEDDO's chief, retired General Montgommery Meigs, with "vision [and] leadership." And the paper notes that "casualty rates per IED attack are down, indicating that the cumulative effort of training, better protective equipment, and improved intelligence [have] had a positive effect."

On the other hand, what we hear in American journalism is true as well. The paper states that the American effort against improvised bombs has been an "unsatisfactory performance [with] an incomplete strategy." What's more, the JIEDDO-led struggle against the hand-made explosives has a "strategic flaw" that may keep the U.S. from ever gaining the upper hand on the bombers, Adamson notes: The lack of authority to knock bureaucratic heads. He recommends instead establishing a separate, Executive Branch agency with a "laser-like concentration on the hostile use of IEDs."

I'd like to be knocking some bureaucratic heads and it would be helpful if journalists would be carrying stories that reveal how insurgents can be effectively met, and defeated.

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Reading since summer 2006 (some of the classics are re-reads): including magazine subscriptions

  • Abbot, Edwin A., Flatland;
  • Accelerate: Technology Driving Business Performance;
  • ACM Queue: Architecting Tomorrow's Computing;
  • Adkins, Lesley and Roy A. Adkins, Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome;
  • Ali, Ayaan Hirsi, Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations;
  • Ali, Tariq, The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads, and Modernity;
  • Allawi, Ali A., The Crisis of Islamic Civilization;
  • Alperovitz, Gar, The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb;
  • American School & University: Shaping Facilities & Business Decisions;
  • Angelich, Jane, What's a Mother (in-Law) to Do?: 5 Essential Steps to Building a Loving Relationship with Your Son's New Wife;
  • Arad, Yitzchak, In the Shadow of the Red Banner: Soviet Jews in the War Against Nazi Germany;
  • Aristotle, Athenian Constitution. Eudemian Ethics. Virtues and Vices. (Loeb Classical Library No. 285);
  • Aristotle, Metaphysics: Books X-XIV, Oeconomica, Magna Moralia (The Loeb classical library);
  • Armstrong, Karen, A History of God;
  • Arrian: Anabasis of Alexander, Books I-IV (Loeb Classical Library No. 236);
  • Atkinson, Rick, The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (Liberation Trilogy);
  • Auletta, Ken, Googled: The End of the World As We Know It;
  • Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice;
  • Bacevich, Andrew, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism;
  • Baker, James A. III, and Lee H. Hamilton, The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward - A New Approach;
  • Barber, Benjamin R., Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism's Challenge to Democracy;
  • Barnett, Thomas P.M., Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating;
  • Barnett, Thomas P.M., The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century;
  • Barron, Robert, Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith;
  • Baseline: Where Leadership Meets Technology;
  • Baur, Michael, Bauer, Stephen, eds., The Beatles and Philosophy;
  • Beard, Charles Austin, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (Sony Reader);
  • Benjamin, Daniel & Steven Simon, The Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam's War Against America;
  • Bergen, Peter, The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader;
  • Berman, Paul, Terror and Liberalism;
  • Berman, Paul, The Flight of the Intellectuals: The Controversy Over Islamism and the Press;
  • Better Software: The Print Companion to;
  • Bleyer, Kevin, Me the People: One Man's Selfless Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America;
  • Boardman, Griffin, and Murray, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Roman World;
  • Bracken, Paul, The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics;
  • Bradley, James, with Ron Powers, Flags of Our Fathers;
  • Bronte, Charlotte, Jane Eyre;
  • Bronte, Emily, Wuthering Heights;
  • Brown, Ashley, War in Peace Volume 10 1974-1984: The Marshall Cavendish Encyclopedia of Postwar Conflict;
  • Brown, Ashley, War in Peace Volume 8 The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of Postwar Conflict;
  • Brown, Nathan J., When Victory Is Not an Option: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics;
  • Bryce, Robert, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence";
  • Bush, George W., Decision Points;
  • Bzdek, Vincent, The Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby and Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled;
  • Cahill, Thomas, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter;
  • Campus Facility Maintenance: Promoting a Healthy & Productive Learning Environment;
  • Campus Technology: Empowering the World of Higher Education;
  • Certification: Tools and Techniques for the IT Professional;
  • Channel Advisor: Business Insights for Solution Providers;
  • Chariton, Callirhoe (Loeb Classical Library);
  • Chief Learning Officer: Solutions for Enterprise Productivity;
  • Christ, Karl, The Romans: An Introduction to Their History and Civilization;
  • Cicero, De Senectute;
  • Cicero, The Republic, The Laws;
  • Cicero, The Verrine Orations I: Against Caecilius. Against Verres, Part I; Part II, Book 1 (Loeb Classical Library);
  • Cicero, The Verrine Orations I: Against Caecilius. Against Verres, Part I; Part II, Book 2 (Loeb Classical Library);
  • CIO Decisions: Aligning I.T. and Business in the MidMarket Enterprise;
  • CIO Insight: Best Practices for IT Business Leaders;
  • CIO: Business Technology Leadership;
  • Clay, Lucius Du Bignon, Decision in Germany;
  • Cohen, William S., Dragon Fire;
  • Colacello, Bob, Ronnie and Nancy: Their Path to the White House, 1911 to 1980;
  • Coll, Steve, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century;
  • Collins, Francis S., The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief ;
  • Colorni, Angelo, Israel for Beginners: A Field Guide for Encountering the Israelis in Their Natural Habitat;
  • Compliance & Technology;
  • Computerworld: The Voice of IT Management;
  • Connolly, Peter & Hazel Dodge, The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens & Rome;
  • Conti, Greg, Googling Security: How Much Does Google Know About You?;
  • Converge: Strategy and Leadership for Technology in Education;
  • Cowan, Ross, Roman Legionary 58 BC - AD 69;
  • Cowell, F. R., Life in Ancient Rome;
  • Creel, Richard, Religion and Doubt: Toward a Faith of Your Own;
  • Cross, Robin, General Editor, The Encyclopedia of Warfare: The Changing Nature of Warfare from Prehistory to Modern-day Armed Conflicts;
  • CSO: The Resource for Security Executives:
  • Cummins, Joseph, History's Greatest Wars: The Epic Conflicts that Shaped the Modern World;
  • D'Amato, Raffaele, Imperial Roman Naval Forces 31 BC-AD 500;
  • Dallek, Robert, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963;
  • Daly, Dennis, Sophocles' Ajax;
  • Dando-Collins, Stephen, Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth Legion and the Armies of Rome;
  • Darwish, Nonie, Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror;
  • Davis Hanson, Victor, Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome;
  • Dawkins, Richard, The Blind Watchmaker;
  • Dawkins, Richard, The God Delusion;
  • Dawkins, Richard, The Selfish Gene;
  • de Blij, Harm, Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America, Climate Change, The Rise of China, and Global Terrorism;
  • Defense Systems: Information Technology and Net-Centric Warfare;
  • Defense Systems: Strategic Intelligence for Info Centric Operations;
  • Defense Tech Briefs: Engineering Solutions for Military and Aerospace;
  • Dennett, Daniel C., Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon;
  • Dennett, Daniel C., Consciousness Explained;
  • Dennett, Daniel C., Darwin's Dangerous Idea;
  • Devries, Kelly, et. al., Battles of the Ancient World 1285 BC - AD 451 : From Kadesh to Catalaunian Field;
  • Dickens, Charles, Great Expectations;
  • Digital Communities: Building Twenty-First Century Communities;
  • Doctorow, E.L., Homer & Langley;
  • Dodds, E. R., The Greeks and the Irrational;
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor, The House of the Dead (Google Books, Sony e-Reader);
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor, The Idiot;
  • Douglass, Elisha P., Rebels and Democrats: The Struggle for Equal Political Rights and Majority Role During the American Revolution;
  • Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, The Hound of the Baskervilles & The Valley of Fear;
  • Dr. Dobb's Journal: The World of Software Development;
  • Drug Discovery News: Discovery/Development/Diagnostics/Delivery;
  • DT: Defense Technology International;
  • Dunbar, Richard, Alcatraz;
  • Education Channel Partner: News, Trends, and Analysis for K-20 Sales Professionals;
  • Edwards, Aton, Preparedness Now!;
  • EGM: Electronic Gaming Monthly, the No. 1 Videogame Magazine;
  • Ehrman, Bart D., Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scriptures and the Faiths We Never Knew;
  • Ehrman, Bart D., Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why;
  • Electronic Engineering Times: The Industry Newsweekly for the Creators of Technology;
  • Ellis, Joseph J., American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson;
  • Ellis, Joseph J., His Excellency: George Washington;
  • Emergency Management: Strategy & Leadership in Critical Times;
  • Emerson, Steven, American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us;
  • Erlewine, Robert, Monotheism and Tolerance: Recovering a Religion of Reason (Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion);
  • ESD: Embedded Systems Design;
  • Everitt, Anthony, Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor;
  • Everitt, Anthony, Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician;
  • eWeek: The Enterprise Newsweekly;
  • Federal Computer Week: Powering the Business of Government;
  • Ferguson, Niall, Civilization: The West and the Rest;
  • Ferguson, Niall, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power;
  • Ferguson, Niall, The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000;
  • Ferguson, Niall, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Decline of the West;
  • Feuerbach, Ludwig, The Essence of Christianity (Sony eReader);
  • Fields, Nic, The Roman Army of the Principate 27 BC-AD 117;
  • Fields, Nic, The Roman Army of the Punic Wars 264-146 BC;
  • Fields, Nic, The Roman Army: the Civil Wars 88-31 BC;
  • Finkel, Caroline, Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire;
  • Fisk, Robert, The Great War For Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East;
  • Forstchen, William R., One Second After;
  • Fox, Robin Lane, The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian;
  • Frazer, James George, The Golden Bough (Volume 3): A Study in Magic and Religion (Sony eReader);
  • Freeh, Louis J., My FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton, and Fighting the War on Terror;
  • Freeman, Charles, The Greek Achievement: The Foundations of the Western World;
  • Friedman, Thomas L. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century Further Updated and Expanded/Release 3.0;
  • Friedman, Thomas L., The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization;
  • Frontinus: Stratagems. Aqueducts of Rome. (Loeb Classical Library No. 174);
  • Fuller Focus: Fuller Theological Seminary;
  • Fuller, Graham E., A World Without Islam;
  • Gaubatz, P. David and Paul Sperry, Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America;
  • Ghattas, Kim, The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power;
  • Gibson, William, Neuromancer;
  • Gilmour, Michael J., Gods and Guitars: Seeking the Sacred in Post-1960s Popular Music;
  • Global Services: Strategies for Sourcing People, Processes, and Technologies;
  • Glucklich, Ariel, Dying for Heaven: Holy Pleasure and Suicide Bombers-Why the Best Qualities of Religion Are Also It's Most Dangerous;
  • Goldberg, Jonah, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning;
  • Goldin, Shmuel, Unlocking the Torah Text Vayikra (Leviticus);
  • Goldsworthy, Adrian, Caesar: Life of a Colossus;
  • Goldsworthy, Adrian, How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower;
  • Goodman, Lenn E., Creation and Evolution;
  • Goodwin, Doris Kearns, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln;
  • Gopp, Amy,, Split Ticket: Independent Faith in a Time of Partisan Politics (WTF: Where's the Faith?);
  • Gordon, Michael R., and Bernard E. Trainor, Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq;
  • Government Health IT: The Magazine of Public/private Health Care Convergence;
  • Government Technology's Emergency Management: Strategy & Leadership in Critical Times;
  • Government Technology: Solutions for State and Local Government in the Information Age;
  • Grant , Michael, The Climax of Rome: The Final Achievements of the Ancient World, AD 161 - 337;
  • Grant, Michael, The Classical Greeks;
  • Grumberg, Orna, and Helmut Veith, 25 Years of Model Checking: History, Achievements, Perspectives;
  • Halberstam, David, War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton, and the Generals;
  • Hammer, Reuven, Entering Torah Prefaces to the Weekly Torah Portion;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, An Autumn of War: What America Learned from September 11 and the War on Terrorism;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Between War and Peace: Lessons from Afghanistan to Iraq;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, How The Obama Administration Threatens Our National Security (Encounter Broadsides);
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Ripples of Battle: How Wars of the Past Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live, and How We Think;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, The End of Sparta: A Novel;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Wars of the Ancient Greeks;
  • Harnack, Adolf Von, History of Dogma, Volume 3 (Sony Reader);
  • Harris, Alex, Reputation At Risk: Reputation Report;
  • Harris, Sam, Letter to a Christian Nation;
  • Harris, Sam, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason;
  • Hayek, F. A., The Road to Serfdom;
  • Heilbroner, Robert L., and Lester Thurow, Economics Explained: Everything You Need to Know About How the Economy Works and Where It's Going;
  • Hempel, Sandra, The Strange Case of The Broad Street Pump: John Snow and the Mystery of Cholera;
  • Hinnells, John R., A Handbook of Ancient Religions;
  • Hitchens, Christopher, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything;
  • Hogg, Ian V., The Encyclopedia of Weaponry: The Development of Weaponry from Prehistory to 21st Century Warfare;
  • Hugo, Victor, The Hunchback of Notre Dame;
  • Humphrey, Caroline & Vitebsky, Piers, Sacred Architecture;
  • Huntington, Samuel P., The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order;
  • Info World: Information Technology News, Computer Networking & Security;
  • Information Week: Business Innovation Powered by Technology:
  • Infostor: The Leading Source for Enterprise Storage Professionals;
  • Infrastructure Insite: Bringing IT Together;
  • Insurance Technology: Business Innovation Powered by Technology;
  • Integrated Solutions: For Enterprise Content Management;
  • Intel Premier IT: Sharing Best Practices with the Information Technology Community;
  • Irwin, Robert, Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents;
  • Jeffrey, Grant R., The Global-Warming Deception: How a Secret Elite Plans to Bankrupt America and Steal Your Freedom;
  • Jewkes, Yvonne, and Majid Yar, Handbook of Internet Crime;
  • Johnson, Chalmers, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire;
  • Journal, The: Transforming Education Through Technology;
  • Judd, Denis, The Lion and the Tiger: The Rise and Fall of the British Raj, 1600-1947;
  • Kagan, Donald, The Peloponnesian War;
  • Kansas, Dave, The Wall Street Journal Guide to the End of Wall Street as We Know It: What You Need to Know About the Greatest Financial Crisis of Our Time--and How to Survive It;
  • Karsh, Efraim, Islamic Imperialism: A History;
  • Kasser, Rodolphe, The Gospel of Judas;
  • Katz, Solomon, The Decline of Rome and the Rise of Medieval Europe: (The Development of Western Civilization);
  • Keegan, John, Intelligence in War: The Value--and Limitations--of What the Military Can Learn About the Enemy;
  • Kenis, Leo, et. al., The Transformation of the Christian Churches in Western Europe 1945-2000 (Kadoc Studies on Religion, Culture and Society 6);
  • Kepel, Gilles, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam;
  • Kiplinger's: Personal Finance;
  • Klein, Naomi, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism;
  • KM World: Content, Document, and Knowledge Management;
  • Koestler, Arthur, Darkness at Noon: A Novel;
  • Kostova, Elizabeth, The Historian;
  • Kuttner, Robert, The Squandering of America: How the Failure of Our Politics Undermines Our Prosperity;
  • Lake, Kirsopp, The Text of the New Testament, Sony Reader;
  • Laur, Timothy M., Encyclopedia of Modern US Military Weapons ;
  • Leffler, Melvyn P., and Jeffrey W. Legro, To Lead the World: American Strategy After the Bush Doctrine;
  • Lendon, J. E., Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity;
  • Lenin, V. I., Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism;
  • Lennon, John J., There is Absolutely No Reason to Pay Too Much for College!;
  • Lewis, Bernard, The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror;
  • Lewis, Bernard, What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East;
  • Lifton, Robert J., Greg Mitchell, Hiroshima in America;
  • Limberis, Vasiliki M., Architects of Piety: The Cappadocian Fathers and the Cult of the Martyrs;
  • Lipsett, B. Diane, Desiring Conversion: Hermas, Thecla, Aseneth;
  • Livingston, Jessica, Founders At Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days;
  • Livy, Rome and the Mediterranean: Books XXXI-XLV of the History of Rome from its Foundation (Penguin Classics);
  • Louis J., Freeh, My FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton, and Fighting the War on Terror;
  • Mackay, Christopher S., Ancient Rome: A Military and Political History;
  • Majno, Guido, The Healing Hand: Man and Wound in the Ancient World;
  • Marcus, Greil,Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes;
  • Marshall-Cornwall, James, Napoleon as Military Commander;
  • Maughm, W. Somerset, Of Human Bondage;
  • McCluskey, Neal P., Feds in the Classroom: How Big Government Corrupts, Cripples, and Compromises American Education;
  • McCullough, David, 1776;
  • McCullough, David, John Adams;
  • McCullough, David, Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt;
  • McLynn, Frank, Marcus Aurelius: A Life;
  • McManus, John, Deadly Brotherhood, The: The American Combat Soldier in World War II ;
  • McMaster, H. R., Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam;
  • McNamara, Patrick, Science and the World's Religions Volume 1: Origins and Destinies (Brain, Behavior, and Evolution);
  • McNamara, Patrick, Science and the World's Religions Volume 2: Persons and Groups (Brain, Behavior, and Evolution);
  • McNamara, Patrick, Science and the World's Religions Volume 3: Religions and Controversies (Brain, Behavior, and Evolution);
  • Meacham, Jon, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House;
  • Mearsheimer, John J., and Stephen M. Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy;
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