Archive for April, 2007

Your world lies waiting in public Databases

Monday, April 30th, 2007

– Recently, Samadhisoft (this Blog) and Immigration Orange, cross linked. This kind of cross linkage is important because it increases readership for everyone and it plays strongly to the idea that data should be set free by opening as many pathways for it as we can.

– These cross linkages have additional benefits as well. I generally cruise the Blogs this Blog’s cross linked with periodically to see what they are Blogging about. We tend to focus in the same general areas of interest but the world is big and sometimes they pick up on something I’ve missed and vice-versa.

– Well, today, I found a real plum over at Kyle de Beausset’s Blog, Immigration Orange. It’s an absolutely must see video about the data that lies hidden in the world’s publically owned and paid for databases. Some of the graphics are stunning – not for their beauty but, rather, for their implications and the insights they give into our world.

– Great stuff! Thanks, Kyle!


To Immigration Orange’s version:

Or to the presentation at Technology, Entertainment and Design:

– Note: I had the actual presentation here for awhile but it is pretty large and loaded slowly so I took it down. Follow the links, above, and you will find it.



Iran ban on ‘Western’ hairstyles

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Iranian police have warned barbers not to give men western hair styles or use make up on them.

The move is part of an unusually fierce crackdown on what is known locally as bad hijab, or un-Islamic clothing, that this year is also targeting men.

Hair stylists have been warned that they could lose their licenses if they do not comply.

However, police have denied a report that they have ordered barbers not to serve customers wearing ties.


Police say that as well as avoiding western hairstyles and make up, barbers should not pluck customers’ eyebrows.

Some young boys in Iran sport very wild hair styles , using gel to make their long hair stand on end in a fashion not seen in other countries.

Meanwhile newspapers in Iran have quoted the police as saying that 16,000 women and 500 men have been cautioned in the last week over their improper clothing.


070427 – Friday – The train ride to Hell

Friday, April 27th, 2007

In the five plus years I’ve been talking about the Perfect Storm concept, I’ve often told a story I call The Train to Hell story. It’s a simile, but I find it’s useful when people tell me that things are going to be alright because everyday more and more people are becoming concerned about the environment. It explains clearly how things can be getting better – and why that’s just not enough. As you read this, think of it as a dream story – something someone might relate to you just after they’ve woken up.

So imagine we’re on a train and we’re rolling across the flat countryside at high speed in a straight line. Ahead, the tracks lead right to the edge of a very deep cliff and then they just end. If the train doesn’t stop before we arrive at the cliff, we’re all going over the edge together and it is going to be very bad indeed.

The train has one of those cords you pull to signal that the train should make an emergency stop. This cord works a bit differently, however. With this cord, how well it works depends on how many people are pulling on it.

Now, some folks have leaned way out the windows or maybe even climbed atop the train and they’ve seen the cliff coming and they can also see what’s going to happen if we don’t stop. Now they’re down in the cabin pulling on the cord and talking to everyone around them trying to convince them that there’s a big problem up ahead and they too should start pulling the cord. Some folks, a few, believe them and help with the cord. A few more lean way out the window and see that they are right and they begin to lend a hand as well.

But most folks listen for a moment, glance out the windows casually and don’t see anything so they go on about their business. After all, train rides are fun.

Now, I’m on the train and I’m helping with the cord but I’m worried that not many people are. I tell my friend who is also pulling the cord about my concern and he says, “Hey, don’t worry. Look, more and more people all the time are joining us and helping with the cord.

Unfortunately, I’ve done a calculation. Even with more new people adding their efforts all the time and even with the train’s increasing rate of slowing, I can see it’s just not going to be enough to stop us before we go over the edge. The new folks are adding in too slowly and the rate we are approaching the cliff’s edge is much too fast.

I tell my friend we may not have time to try to convince people to help by reason or example. But he says it is critically important that everyone makes the decision to help on their own. We cannot interfere in another person’s decisions and in the exercise of their free will.

I look out the window and I’m thinking, “What will the nicety of respecting their free will gain either them or us if we all go over the edge together?

At some point, a problem can become so critical that it must begin to percolate up through the levels of one’s priorities until it reaches a level where decisions can be made that can effectively deal with the problem. If we are not willing to rearrange our priorities in favor of survival and defer, instead, to the considerations of lesser levels and priorities, then we are quite likely not to survive.

So where’s the limit? Should we avoid taking action because we might get our clothes dirty and they are expensive? Should we avoid taking action because we might have to speak loudly and forcefully and that’s unseemly? Should we not act to save all of us because we might have to force some of us to help against their will?

There’s a similar riddle which concerns a rowboat with a few too many people in it out on the open sea. It bears thinking through.

These are not easy questions but, unfortunately, we’ve put ourselves into the position of having to answer them.

Some of us believe we can see the magnitude of the problems facing mankind and the entire biosphere at this point in history. But, most folks don’t believe there’s a problem at all. And many others acknowledge that there is but they are talking politely about it and trying to get more folks on board to deal with it by reason and example.

But the scientists are telling us clearly that we are very near the point where if we don’t act decisively, the Earth’s weather system’s are going to move into configurations we’ve never seen before and the results will be a very large disruption to civilization, the death of millions and millions of people and a massive die-off of species the likes of which hasn’t happened here since the comet smashed into the Yucatan 66 million years ago.

Meanwhile, the majority of the people in the most powerful nation on Earth don’t believe in the relevance of science or the reality of evolution. Some of the most powerful constructs mankind has ever conceived and unleashed, entities called corporations, which have power which exceeds many small and medium nation states, press on with their monomaniacal pursuit of money and power – as if there will be a place to spend the money and a place to wield the power in the future. Meanwhile, the majority of the world’s populations do not care for anything more distant or abstract than the probability that they will receive their next paycheck and be able to put food on the table.

Do you see the problem, Lambchop? It’s likely we’re going to be toast.

Evolution Less Accepted in U.S. Than Other Western Countries, Study Finds

Friday, April 27th, 2007

– The graph below speaks for itself. The United States, the most powerful nation in the world, a leader in science and technology for many many decades, the most forward thinking experiment in democracy in the world’s political history now stands on the brink of pissing it all away. We can and we will become a second rate nation at this rate. You cannot excel at science, technology and a vibrant democracy and think that religion should trump politics and science at the same time. It isn’t going to happen, folks. Read the chart – and then imagine the future.


The end of a great nation is here - can you see it?

This chart depicts the public acceptance of evolution theory in 34 countries in 2005. Adults were asked to respond to the statement: “Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.” The percentage of respondents who believed this to be true is marked in blue; those who believed it to be false, in red; and those who were not sure, in yellow.

A study of several such surveys taken since 1985 has found that the United States ranks next to last in acceptance of evolution theory among nations polled. Researchers point out that the number of Americans who are uncertain about the theory’s validity has increased over the past 20 years.

To the original…

Research Thx to the Sietch Blog

Ancient Mass Extinctions Caused by Cosmic Radiation, Scientists Say

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Cosmic rays produced at the edge of our galaxy have devastated life on Earth every 62 million years, researchers say.

The finding suggests that biodiversity has been strongly influenced by the motion of the solar system through the Milky Way and of the galaxy’s movement through intergalactic space.

Mikhail Medvedev and Adrian Melott, both of the University of Kansas, presented their new theory at a meeting of the American Physical Society earlier this month.

The theory offers the first explanation for a mysterious pattern previously noted in the fossil record.

“There are 62-million-year ups and downs in the number of marine animals over the last 550 million years,” Melott said.

Until now, however, even the scientists who first discovered the cyclical pattern had not been able to explain it. (Read related story: “Mystery Undersea Extinction Cycle Discovered” [March 9, 2005].)

A number of possible explanations had been considered—including volcanic activity, comet impacts, and changes in sea level—but none could account for the phenomenon’s regularity.

The Kansas researchers discovered that high rates of extinction in the cycle coincide almost perfectly with periodic “excursions” of the solar system outside the central plane of the Milky Way galaxy.


Rare Leopardess Killed — Only 6 Remain

Friday, April 27th, 2007

– Sometimes I think this planet would be better off without human beings. We are so vicious to the other poor animals who’ve had the misfortune to be here on Earth at the same time our species has ascended to global dominance.

– A while ago, I wrote about the elephants being slaughtered in Africa . Just the other evening, Sharon and I watched part of the beautiful series currently running on the Discovery Channel called Planet Earth and they had some first-time-ever video of the extremely rare Amur Leopards in the wild. Strange and beautiful creatures so worthy of our respect and admiration.

And now this article.

– It was utterly criminal to have killed one of these last few beautiful leopards. But it wasn’t enough – the bastards had to beat the animal as well.

– Yeah, I think humans – maybe most of us – may be the worst plague ever unleashed on this planet. I cried when I read this. Eden is slipping through our fingers and most of us are too stupid to know it’s even happening.


Amur leopard killed and beaten - only six females remain.

April 23, 2007—An Amur leopardess has been found dead a mere two days after a new census reported that just 25 to 34 Amur leopards remain alive in the wild—only 7 of them female.

The 77-pound (35-kilogram) cat, seen in this newly released photograph, was discovered on April 20 in Russia‘s Barsovy National Wildlife Refuge.

The animal had been shot in the back and beaten with a heavy object, according to the international conservation group WWF.

The killing of a reproductively capable female puts the threatened carnivore even further from the hundred or more individuals scientists say are needed to sustain its wild population.

Now the world’s rarest big cat, the Amur leopard once roamed across the Korean peninsula, in the Russian Far East, and in northeastern China. But human impacts have pulverized its population.

“This year’s census showed a desperate situation, with just seven female Amur leopards left in the wild and four rearing cubs,’ said Darron Collins, an expert in the species based at WWF’s Washington, D.C., office.

“Now we’ve lost a mature, reproductive leopardess and her potential cubs in a senseless killing.”

To the original…

Pollution ‘hits China’s farmland’

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

China’s a time bomb just ticking away. Their government has to walk several dangerous tightropes just to keep the place together:

One is between Capitalism and environmental destruction. Capitalism keeps China’s people under control because they feel that they are getting wealthier and have a future to look forward to. But the resulting environmental destruction is significant because it will ultimately produce a very ugly end to the party.

Another tightrope China walks is between the wealth of the coastal cities and the deep poverty of the inner regions of China. They’ve already instituted draconian measures to keep the folks down-on-ther-farms down there so that they can continue to grow food for the wealthy folks in the city but you can just imagine how popular that is. The tension between the haves and have nots in China draws tighter every year.

And then there’s the tension between how much central control the Communist Party can exert to control the society through control of information, human rights abuses, Internet blocking, religious persecution and one-party rule vs. how open and free running the place needs to be to realize the power of its booming Capitalistic expansion.

-The entire place is like a corporation growing at maximum speed. One mistake with, for example, the cash-flow calculations and the entire edifice could tumble. Heady but very dangerous stuff.

So, now add in the desertification destroying much of the country west of Beijing . Add in the Yangtze River, polluted beyond recovery , add in the story below about pollution hitting China’s farmlands.

Add in several other stories that have been posted here regarding China and her problems: .

Add them in – and ask how long do you think China can walk these highwires and what do you think will happen when they stumble?


More than 10% of China’s farm land is polluted, posing a “severe threat” to the nation’s food production, state media reports.

Arable land shrank by nearly 307,000 hectares (760,000 acres) in the first 10 months of 2006, government officials were quoted as saying.

Excessive fertiliser use, polluted water, heavy metals and solid wastes are to blame, the reports said.

Rapid economic growth has had a damaging impact on China’s environment.

Its cities, countryside, waterways and coastlines are among the most polluted in the world.

The Ministry of Land and Resources said agricultural land in China fell to 121.8 million hectares (300 million acres) by the end of October 2006 – a loss of 306,800 hectares since the start of the year.

Heavy metals alone contaminate 12m tonnes of grain each year, causing annual losses of 20bn yuan ($2.6bn), China’s Xinhua news agency quoted the ministry as saying.

Land and Resources Minister Sun Wensheng said agricultural land in China must not be allowed to fall below 120 million hectares.

“This is not only related to social and economic development, but is also vital to the long-term interests of the country,” he was quoted as saying.

China’s government has promised to spend heavily to clean up the country’s heavily polluted environment.

But clean-up efforts are often thwarted by lax enforcement of laws and administrative activity at a local level, correspondents say.

To the original story…

BlueHost – a most excellent company!

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

– The following is an E-mail I sent earlier today to Matt Heaton of This Samadhisoft Blog is hosted on BlueHost’s servers and in the year that I’ve been dealing with this company I have had nothing but admiration for how they do things.

– If, after reading this testamonial, you decide to check BlueHost out and perhaps signup, do me a favor and go to the BlueHost website using the small BlueHost ad you’ll find if you scroll down the right side of this page. On top of everything else they do that’s cool, they’ll credit me $65 if you sign up with them after accessing them through my ad. It’ll cost you nothing extra and I get $65 – now is that cool or what?



I’ve never written one of these before. Frankly, when it comes to computers and the Internet, I’m long-in-the-tooth and fairly hard to please. But, I’ve been with BlueHost now for nearly a year and I am still extremely impressed at the value and the service I get for my $6.95/month.

Just now, I talked with two of your technical folks on two calls 15 minutes apart and they were both quick to take my call and both very clear and knowledgeable as they helped me. And this has been my experience on every single tech call since day one with BlueHost.

I find working with your company far and away the best experience I’ve had with any similar company and maybe with any company I’ve ever worked with in any domain.

My fear is that something this good just can’t last in today’s dog-eat-dog capitalistic free-for-all. I fear that if BlueHost is this good, some big fish like Google or Microsoft will come and gobble them up and then turn their value and quality into the same everything-for-maximum-profit-and-minimum-effort pabulum that most of the market is full of. In this nightmare, your tech support will go to India where script-drones will deaden its sharp edges into utter mediocrity. Calls to tech-support will go into long queues where the unfortunate will be forced to listen to inane advertisements for services they don’t want or need. And any small change to DNS servers or whatever will incur a transaction charge like the banks require for every small thing and God help you if you ask for anything that a non-technical individual operating within their script can’t noodle out. Your $6.95/mo price will be adjusted upwards in search for the sweet-spot of maximum profit which must reside just below the nearest competitor’s price-point.

I’m a bit cynical about some aspects of Capitalism. I don’t think that maxima of quality and value necessarily reside at the same location as the profit maxima. After all, the profit-centric idea of extracting the maximum of my money while serving me the minimum of service doesn’t exactly put me in mind of quality.

I don’t think that everything a corporation does should be judged by the single yardstick of what the investment returns are to the investors next quarter. I don’t think customer loyalty is something that should be distilled and optimized by legions of marketing psychologists working out how to dazzle and manipulate the unwise and the unaware subliminally.

In the past, some companies, IMHO, had a grip on the equations of quality and reputation. I’m thinking here of American Express and Hewlett-Packard. But, they both slipped under the waves beneath the guidance of profit-oriented marketing gurus. And look what’s become of Ted Turner’s CNN Headline News. It’s gone from being a national resource to becoming a Fox News clone with just a slightly different mini-skirt on. A lot of the malaise in the world and in America in particular is because of this ascendancy of the short term gains and goals over the long term consequences in all things.

But, I digress, so back to the point. In short, you are an utter phenomenon in the market and I can only hope you will last and endure. I’ve told a number of folks about your company and when I find myself describing everything one gets for the $6.95/mo., it sounds so unrealistic and over-the-top that I feel like most folks won’t believe me because it is all too good to be true.

You’ve got a very loyal customer here and I sincerely wish and hope that whatever vision of Capitalism and corporation building you subscribe to might get successfully propagated out into today’s markets which very badly need to hear it.

Feel free to use any and/or all of this testimonial as you like. I’m going to post this letter on my Blog as well.

With my very best wishes to you,

Dennis Gallagher

Antarctic Ice Streams Are No Bubbling Brook

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

– A lot of good material comes out of the Climate Progress Blog.   Here’s another piece I found over there that is well worth passing on.


Scientific and observational data from Antarctica are driving home the message that we have entered a period of consequences.

Most recently, scientists have discovered ice streams hiding bigger reservoirs of water in West Antarctica. The evidence has “major implications for glacial melt rates and associated sea-level rises“, and the rate of warming.

Equally frightening is that the ice streams feed into the Ross Ice Shelf, a major southern ice shelf whose melting would indicate “the end of the road” according to one scientist.


Scientists feel climate report is too weak

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

They take issue with how diplomats edited the latest warning on global warming and plan their own update.

BRUSSELS – Two distinctly different groups — data-driven scientists and nuanced offend-no-one diplomats — collided and then converged last week. At stake: a report on the future of the planet and the changes it faces with global warming.

An inside look at the last few hours of tense negotiations at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reveals how the diplomats won at the end thanks to persistence and deadlines. But scientists quietly note that they have the last say.

Diplomats from 115 countries and 52 scientists hashed out the most comprehensive and gloomiest warning yet about the possible effects of global warming, including increased flooding, hunger, drought, diseases and the extinction of species.

The 23-page summary certainly didn’t sound diplomatic. But it was too much so, scientists said.

In the past, scientists at these meetings felt that their warnings were conveyed, albeit slightly edited down. But several of them left Friday with the sense that they had lost control of their document. At one point, NASA’s Cynthia Rosenzweig filed a formal protest and left the building, only to return, make peace and talk in positive tones. Others talked about abandoning the process altogether.

“There was no split in the science — they were all mad,” said John Coequyt, who observed the closed-door negotiations for the environmental group Greenpeace.

The report doesn’t commit countries to action, like the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, but those involved agree that the science is accurate and that global warming is changing the planet and projected to get much worse.

Still, scientists have their fallback: a second summary that consists of 79 densely written, heavily footnoted pages.

The “technical summary,” which will eventually be released to the public but was obtained by the Associated Press, will not be edited by diplomats. The technical summary, Rosenzweig said, contains “the real facts.”

Some of its highlights, not included in the 23-page already-released summary:

• “More than one sixth of the world population live in glacier- or snowmelt-fed river basins and will be affected by decrease of water volume.” And depending on how much fossil fuels are burned in the future, “262-983 million people are likely to move into the water stressed-category” by 2050.

• Global warming could increase the number of hungry in the world in 2080 by anywhere between 140 million and 1 billion, depending on how much greenhouse gas is emitted over the next few decades.

• “Overall a 2- to 3-fold increase of population to be flooded is expected by 2080.”

• Malaria, diarrhea diseases, dengue fever, tick-borne diseases, heat-related deaths will all rise with global warming.

• In eastern North America, depending on fossil fuel emissions, smog will increase and there would be a 4.5 percent increase in smog-related deaths.

– Thx to the Climate Progress Blog for the link I traced to this story

– To the StarTribune article, itself: