Friday, November 30, 2012

IPad Siri?

I noticed that a new IOS upgrade was available for my IPad and my daughter asked me if I wanted to try Siri along with it. I said, "Yes" because I wanted to play with it. Though I had an Iphone4 before I accidentally ran it through the washing machine in my jeans, I never had an IPhone Siri and wanted to see what Siri would be like on an Ipad. At first, I didn't understand why it didn't work at first. Later, when I turned it off I found out why after playing with it when it began to start working.(It is the way it interfaces with Servers. If you don't leave it on all the time it doesn't work right right away ever time). Once I loaded Siri (I turned off the Siri Locator because I like my privacy first). Then Siri said to turn it back on because it didn't know who I was. So, I named myself "Home" to see how it operated so it called me "home" for a while. Then my son who understood Siri's programming better said, "Why don't you just let it call you Fred and renamed me "Fred" so Siri could call me Fred. I found it interesting but then I found I couldn't push the home button and get to the home page and the settings button, so I found it sort of cumbersome for me in this sense. Also, I didn't care for the female voice in "American English" because SIRI sort of sounded angry like a dominatrix or something. I tried Canadian English and this was a little better but I like the British Guy accent the best of any English accent because the American dominatrix voice I felt like I wanted to punch her in the face. So, I wouldn't want that person (if it was a real person in my life at all).  Finally, I realized it wasn't something useful for me in the way I liked to function at least the way it is set up now. Also, it mainly existed I realized to suck all the information it could out of me like who were the people I knew and where did I go. So, SIRI's whole existence was to steal my privacy.

So, basically SIRI also followed the basic rule of the Internet which is: "Anything that is free on the Internet usually exists in order to steal all your privacy and personal information including everything to do with your livelihood" And SIRI proved to me that SIRI was no exception to this rule.

So, Siri I realized is right up there with Facebook and all the other free programs in taking every single piece of information about you and using it forever and never giving it back to you.

And what I think is sad is most people under 30 to 35 years of age think this is okay and then wonder why they can't get a job? Did they ever think that these programs are one reason they can't get a job? This isn't hard for me to see, but then I was raised in the 1950s where people fought tooth and nail to protect every single iota of their privacy. And they had lives and Jobs and businesses because they protected their privacy from all intruders.

I'm sorry to be so cynical but the other rule in life also applies here, "Anything that is too good to be true usually is".

Syrian Autonomous Killer Robots?

I just heard a very disturbing report from CNN on TV. First, Arwa Damon came on through her satellite phone telling everyone that she was in Allepo, Syria and that suddenly all the cell phones and internet had gone down in Syria. Next, CNN goes on about Killer Autonomous robots, for example, in Syria. It makes me wonder if something like Google's driverless car technology and a video game program that kills anything that moves has found it's way into Syria in order to heartlessly eliminate people in cities throughout Syria by the Assad Government? The autonomous program of actually building a human like terminator isn't feasible, but an SUV, a tank, a Humvee,  helicopter  armed without a pilot or driver sent on a suicide mission to kill as many people as possible heartlessly in any given area could happen and might be right now while all cell phone traffic is down and all internet is down in Syria today. And the other alternative used in movies since the 1960s and 1970s is remote controlled vehicles on land or air which is a technology easily available to all nations at this point.

Since there are some things that no army will choose to do no matter how bad they or their families are threatened, the only way for Syria to increase the level of genocidal atrocities on Sunni families and their children would be with Autonomous robotic vehicles like CNN is reporting about in an abstract sort of way today.

To understand just how desperate Assad's Government is, I was reading the other day about how Sunni Muslim homes are now buldozed out of existence wherever the government can get away with it without their people being killed and their bulldozers taken away by rebels.

1995 Flooding in Northern California

There was a time (I believe it was 1995) when there was no way by land to drive away from this area for about 1 weeks time because all the roads in or out of this area were either underwater or had collapsed from the rain and were impassable. There were Mercedes cars floating in underground garages, flooded restaurants and homes and main bridges washed out to sea. One older two lane bridge people watched as the trees built up underneath it and eventually lifted the cement bridge up and washed it out to sea never to be seen again except perhaps by SCUBA divers. I don't think we have seen anything like this since then but the succession of storms this time sort of gives me a bad feeling, especially after Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast.

Note: Flash flood warnings have been issued for this and several other adjoining and nearby counties telling people not to cross flooded intersections or flooded streams and rivers with their vehicles or on foot.They are also warning people to look for undermined roads from all the water that could collapse roads in the mountain ranges. One inch an hour of rain has been falling in nearby mountains which is very serious when this happens because of flash floods.

Since we haven't had anything like this for over 150 years (1862) we possibly could be in for it again one of these years (possibly even this one).

Great Flood of 1862 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Obama has made promises to protect Healthcare

Both the Republicans and the Democrats have made promises to their bases. The Republicans have made promises to the Military not to cut defense and leave the nation vulnerable. Obama has made promises to those who elected him not to cut healthcare. As a result, the likehood we will go over the fiscal cliff at this point is somewhere between 60 to 70% I would say at this point. No matter how you look at it this will likely be a disaster for both healthcare and military funding anyway you slice it. There are no good decisions only necessary ones.

The reality is: "You either tell everyone to go die that has a healthcare need or to tell the military they can't have enough money to protect us."

Either way it is unacceptable to the base of one party or another. I'm thinking we are going over the cliff because no one can afford to budge and face a re-election. This appears to be a fact of life now.

I think after we go over the fiscal cliff that healthcare will likely be protected because that is where the votes are the strongest in this nation. So, maybe this is the Obama strategy to protect healthcare we must go over the fiscal cliff to prevent rioting in the streets if healthcare goes away.

It's Raining Cats and Dogs and Sideways

Earlier this week I wrote about the branches blowing off of trees and blowing down the street and pine needles building up on the roads here in coastal Northern California. In the middle of last night the rain started beating down hard on my skylight above the bed in my bedroom. I could hear the wind and rain also hitting the side of the house as well. I could also hear a lot of arguing as my teenage daughter got ready for school. My wife said she went out to the car with an umbrella and the sideways rain turned the umbrella inside out. I looked out and my weight lifting set that I keep on my redwood deck in the back yard had it's plastic cover and tarp blown off even though I put two chairs on top to keep this from happening. One of the chairs had blown off in the high wind. Luckily, I had already taken all the lawn chairs and outdoor tables and other things off the redwood deck so it wouldn't break the window doors leading out to the redwood deck in the high wind going sideways.

The weatherman said earlier this week that they were worried about flooding all over northern California as several storms starting earlier this week could bring 10 inches within a week. I haven't heard of flooding yet. And because of where my house is neither flooding or big waves will be a problem where I live unless a small dam over tops or something like that and I think it's too early in the year for that. I'm glad I have a great place to get in from all the rain and storm. So far the power hasn't gone out yet and I'm hopeful that it won't. I filled up the gas tank in my motorhome in case the power goes out so I can turn on the gasoline electric generator (an Onan)in there to keep my refrigerator, one or more lights on and my internet wifi going from 8am until 9pm at night. I have a 100 foot electrical cord and I use a power strip to plug in the refrigerator and a lamp and I move my wifi router and modem to the kitchen to plug in when the power goes out.
Though our forced air heat goes out when the power goes we have a gas stove that can be lit with matches and a gas fireplace to light our firewood in an emergency. So, we'll see what the weather brings.

Later: St. Helena, California has already received 9 inches of rain with more storms to come.

When Flying with a heart problem

I was thinking that since standard weather reports as far as I know don't tell you about whether your flight will be hit with solar flares during the solar maximum it might be good to look at:

so before you get on your flight you can see if any solar flares are hitting or will hit the magnetosphere of  earth while you are flying. Especially, if you have some sort of heart condition you might want to know about what is going on before board your plane so you don't get "surprised" like I did flying home on the 8th of October. Especially during the next year or two (I think the maximum is something like may 2013. It's sort of like being concerned about Hurricane season during a time of the year, except that it's once every 11 years for the sun. But, this solar maximum is at least 2 years long. So, especially during this time be careful flying with some kind of already diagnosed heart problem.

But, by reading the daily reports of you can have more confidence that your health isn't being degraded by exposure to solar Flares hitting the magnetosphere while you are up there too. You really only need to look the website the night before the day you fly or just before you head off for the airport as to what exactly is hitting the magnetosphere right then. So, at least then you can be reassured that at least that hazard has been removed as a possibility of affecting your health.

"Heart problems often occur or begin during the EMPs (electromagnetic pulses) of magnetic storms while flying" So, if you know you have a heart problem already, you can always make the choice of When you will choose to fly. 

Also, I'm talking about flying between 20,000 to 40,000 feet in altitude or above. I don't think flying under 10,000 feet to 12,000 feet would make much difference if you were in a small private plane. However, I haven't researched this, regarding a small plane this just seems logical to me. 


Thursday, November 29, 2012

IBMs Watson Computer to take on Cancer

2/01/2012 @ 2:19PM |6,888 views

IBM's Watson, Cedars-Sinai and WellPoint Take On Cancer




WellPoint and IBM are working with oncology experts at the Cedars Sinai Cancer Institute in Los Angeles to educate Watson as a physician’s assistant. Watson, an IBM computing system proved on Jeopardy! that a computer can collect and understand vast amounts of information and provide answers.
That was fine for a game show — now Watson is being put to work digesting millions of pages of research, incorporating the best clinical practices and monitoring the outcomes to assist physicians in treating cancer patients.
“This is an opportunity to use supercomputing powers to bring vast amounts of data to the practicing physicians while making it understandable,” said Dr. Harlan Levine, executive vice president for comprehensive health solutions at WellPoint, the health benefits company. Watson can assimilate two million pages of information every three seconds.
WellPoint and IBM agreed to start with oncology because it is so complex and has so many opportunities to use supercomputing to improve the quality and consistency of health care.
“Oncology is a very complex field. The amount of information in medicine in general doubles every five years. In oncology the amount new information emerging is particularly prolific. It’s a hard area in which to keep up to date.”
Manoj Saxena, general manager for IBM Watson Solutions, explained the scale of the challenge physicians face.
“We know of 12,000 diseases, information in medicine is doubling every five years, and 81 percent of the physicians surveyed by IBM said they spend less than five hours a month reading medical journals. It is humanly impossible to get all the research, impossible to take all that information and apply it at the time of diagnosis. We have heard numbers that approximately one in five diagnoses in the U.S. is inaccurate or incomplete.”
A lot of clinical practice is rooted in a physician’s original training, which may have been a decade or two ago, and differs from one region or one institution to another. The most up-to-date are probably the physicians working in an academic medical center.
Saxena offered an example of how Watson might pull together an odd collection of information for a physician:
A patient In Texas calls his clinic to say he has the flu. Watson looks up his record and says he does this every year at this time and it turns out to be ragweed allergy. And newspapers in his part of Texas have reported a ragweed outbreak. The physician can decide to prescribe some allergy medicine.
In medical payments, Watson can look at the diagnosis, medical tests, treatments and billing and flag suspicious payment patterns.
“Eighteen percent of GDP in the U.S. is health care, and by some estimates up to $600 billion is wasted, added Saxena. “As we dig into cancer we find tens of billions that can be saved just by streamlining care with more accurate and more repeatable procedures just based on things we already know. In time, I think we will look back at medicine and draw a line at Jeopardy!
“The opportunity to use supercomputing powers to bring in vast amounts of data and make it understandable to the practicing physicians and do it consistently, accurately and quickly offers a tremendous opportunity to improve the status quo,” explained Levine. “It’s like having 1,000 consulting physicians backing up the clinician, whether the clinician is located in an academic center in a regional medical center or a community hospital, he added.
Because Watson is capable of learning, it will incorporate new data and the evolving thinking of clinicians. As cases progress, Watson will upload the patient data along with new research.
The computer will be able to draw together all of a patient’s electronic health records and sift through them for pertinent information. WellPoint is also building a longitudinal record based on data that sits in different physicians’ offices and combining the individual records with medical literature and guidelines and claims in the company’s database to develop recommendations for the clinician.
“With real life experience observing how cancer progresses over time, it can see not just what the literature recommends but the progression of the conditions so it can offer the most support possible to the clinician,” he added. “We are in a partnership with clinical experts to help us teach Watson not only content but how to think like a clinician, how to assimilate data the way a clinician should in practice.”

Solar Megastorm Could Cripple Satellites for a Decade

The Hubble Space Telescope above Earth.
A satellite such as the Hubble Space Telescope (pictured) could be disabled by a solar megastorm.
Photograph courtesy NASA
Ker Than
Published September 20, 2011
Earth-orbiting satellites are designed to withstand the sun's explosions—but they may not be strong enough to ride out a solar "megastorm," a new study says.
If hit by a powerful onslaught of solar energy and particles, Earth's atmosphere would be flooded with high-energy electrons accelerated to nearly the speed of light, according to a new computer model.
This would hinder operations of low-Earth orbiting, or LEO, satellites. The satellites wouldn't immediately start falling out of the sky following a megastorm, but they would malfunction much faster than previous models suggested.
"What we concluded based on our calculations is that a very strong storm would decrease the lifetime of a typical LEO satellite by a factor of ten," said study leader Yuri Shprits, a geophysicist at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Though the results are still preliminary, Shprits predicts that a majority of the LEO satellite fleet could be lost within a few years of such an event.
What's more, the effect could last for up to a decade, the model showed.
(See "Solar Flare Sparks Biggest Eruption Ever Seen on Sun.")
Magnetic Waves Would Give Electrons a Boost
Satellite problems, and even failures, have been reported during solar storms before, but the danger usually passes within a few days.
A megastorm would be different, because electrons and other particles ejected by the sun would get accelerated after penetrating Earth's inner Van Allen radiation belts. (See pictures of solar eruptions.)
The Van Allen belts are two doughnut-shaped rings of charged particles—one nestled inside the other—that encircle our planet.
According to the computer model, solar electrons that reach the inner belt would get a burst of speed through interactions with traveling magnetic waves.
The model simulated a solar storm stronger than the so-called Halloween solar superstorms of 2003 and investigated what effect the resulting flux of electrons would have on LEO satellites.
Such "chorus waves" form in a region of space that lies just above the plasmasphere, a section of Earth's protective magnetic bubble filled with plasma, or electrically charged gas.
Normally, such electron acceleration is difficult or impossible because the plasmasphere's high plasma density prevents the chorus waves from efficiently interacting with particles.
But during a megastorm, the plasmasphere becomes severely eroded, thinning to the point that chorus waves interact with and accelerate electrons.
After several years, the inner-belt electron density would return to normal, the model suggests. Until that happens, though, satellites traversing the inner belt would be in danger of having their innards zapped by stray, high-energy electrons.
"It's hard and expensive to shield from them," Shprits said. "They penetrate shielding and get deposited in semiconductors, where they can create electrical surges that damage electronics."
Weather, communications, and military satellites are the most likely to be affected, because many of them pass through the inner belt, he added.
(Related: "As Sun Storms Ramp Up, Electric Grid Braces for Impact.")
Megastorms as Rare in Snow in LA
A solar megastorm has never been observed during the space age, although a solar storm that was triggered by a megaflare on the sun in 1859 and famously known as the Carrington Event is thought to have been powerful enough to qualify.
(Read what would happen if the Carrington Event happened today.)
Many scientists think it's only a matter of time before another megastorm erupts. Shprits compared the odds of another megastorm happening with the likelihood of snow in southern California. "It's rare, but it does happen," said Shprits, whose study was published recently in the journal Space Weather.
Richard Behnke, a space scientist at the National Science Foundation, said the new study could help  both improve space-climate forecasts and design mitigation strategies for satellites.
"If a solar [megastorm] were to occur, there is no doubt in my mind that there will be an extensive impact on satellite lifetimes," said Behnke, who was not involved in the study.
Janet Green, a researcher at the Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, called the new computer model a "very necessary first step" for planning and preparing for a solar megastorm.
The model shows "there is probably a threat to satellites during [megastorms]," Green said in an email. She cautioned, however, that the model is based on many assumptions and simplifications that will have to be tested further.
Study leader Shprits noted that NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probe mission, scheduled to launch in 2013, will help scientists better understand how radiation belt particles are energized and dissipated.
For more on solar flares, sunspots, and solar wind, read "The Sun—Living With a Stormy Star," from National Geographic magazine >>

end quote from:
"Solar Megastorm Could Cripple Satellites for a Decade."

This is the first I have heard the following from:
begin repeat quote from above:
"Though the results are still preliminary, Shprits predicts that a majority of the LEO satellite fleet could be lost within a few years of such an event.
What's more, the effect could last for up to a decade, the model showed." end quote from above.

So, what this means to me is that LEO satellites would have their lifetime reduced by a factor of 10. So, theoretically if a satellite was expected to last 10 years it's lifetime would be reduced to 1 year.

the other interesting fact is that a megastorm sounds like it is sort of like the way a tsunami works instead of a regular wave in the ocean where it stays at a really high level for a really long time. In this case the research indicates it would continue killing satellites for up to 10 years. In this case imagine an EMP burst that didn't just hit but stayed in it's effect at that level or higher or lower for 10 years. This combined with an already degraded magnetosphere this decade with holes in it would allow radiation constantly to enter earth and mutate everything living beneath any holes that existed with low level nuclear radiation similar to a nuclear meltdown like we had at Fukushima in 2011. Though many people are checking the radiation around Fukushima in the ground, the groundwater, the ocean, the fish and in other food grown nearby, is there anyone that is pointing their radiation detectors at the sky where they live when a Solar Storm hits earth to see how much radiation life forms are getting from the sky? This might be important when the combination of a magnetosphere hole and very high radiation intersected from the sun here on earth. It might be important to get some idea of the mutations to life forms in that area including humans. It is my understanding that most of these holes are nearer to the poles and often within the polar circles. However, more research likely needs to be done regarding this.

It also might be important to know how much extra radiation one gets when flying in a passenger jet during a time when Solar Storms hit earth. Another interesting thing might be: "How many people have heart problems or heart attacks or die from heart problems soon after flying?

I don't think the airlines would be liable for this because after all it is an "Act of God" in legal terminology. However, if people knew when solar storms are hitting and had a heart problem, they might choose to take another flight on another day and thereby stay alive longer. I think this will be a part of the experience of people flying within a few years.

Cloud Atlas: Afterthoughts

If you haven't already seen Cloud Atlas you probably shouldn't read this as I don't want to spoil it for you. So, this is written for those who have either seen it or don't intend to.

Cloud Atlas is a very important movie on a variety of fronts. I believe this is why it was made. It is an important movie for psychotherapists who use past and future life regressions as a way to heal their patients from their problems in the here and now. It is important in a human rights sense of understanding just how far we have come to get here where we are today here on earth. It is important regarding issues of the freedom to be a gay or a lesbian or a bi-sexual and how this often led to suicide in past eras as recently as the 1930s to the 1960s. And to say this problem has been eliminated (at least in a world wide sense is to be unrealistic even  today).

Although I would not wish upon anyone to be gay or lesbian I don't want to see them kill themselves because society won't accept them either. I think just accepting the fact that some people are born that way may be the single most important thing that needs to be said to everyone on earth.

Watching in that movie the young man sit in a large bathtub with his head low enough to keep the bullet from hitting anything or anyone else while he stuck the German Luger in his mouth and pulled the trigger said a lot to anyone watching the movie. And this was likely in the 1920s or 1930s in Europe, likely Germany.

Then, to watch the young black man stow away on the 1800s Sailing ship and have to demonstrate that he could lower the sails on the schooner, all the while the Captain of the ship had the first mate load a muzzle loader rifle to take aim at the man to kill him. Then the American Gentleman saved the Black man's life by pushing the barrel away just before the gun fired.

Then in the future Tom Hanks met Halle Barry on another planet and fell in love with her even though he was already married. And whether you see the death of his wife and friends and possibly some of his kids by marauders allowing him and his surviving daughter to be with Halle Barry Good or bad, I felt it was amazing that they made it to another safer planet to live out their lives all together.

When I remember lives I have lived in the past, present and future often it has the same kind of feel that this movie had. So, if you are someone who wants to remember your past lives in the past, present and future, watching this movie might trigger your memories. Just be sure you are prepared for what you might find:

If you give a prayer like: "Dear God: Please show me what I need to know about my lives in the past, present and future. Amen"

However, I like to also add to this: "Please don't show me violent deaths that might not be useful for me to know about unless you think it is important both of my own and my friends and relatives. Amen"

So, if you want to learn about your past lives in the past, present and future, watching "Cloud Atlas" just might trigger some of your memories. But then again, it is up to you.

Most Americans live within 50 miles of the Coastline

When you add to this fact that Greenland ice is melting at 5 times the rate of just a few years ago and that during this time they have dumped 26 Lake Tahoe's of water into the ocean (Lake Tahoe is pretty big and very deep). So, this is one of the many reasons (including the Arctic and Antarctica melting off that Hurricane Sandy could destroy or damage 300,000 homes recently. And as the rate of melting of ice continues I'm wondering at what point all ice melts off in the fall in the north and whenever it melts out in the south, what happens then? I think the most useful answer is that the air and water then begin to heat up in exponential ways which will increase storms, and droughts and winds exponentially too. And, likely because of this, eventually human populations will begin to decrease from this worldwide.

The basic facts in this blog article come directly from: NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams
today November 29th 2012

Apocalyptic thinking is a Self Fulfilling Prophecy?

My experience of people who think an apocalypse is coming is that often they do not survive to see it. The reason for this is people often get into a state of mind which is: "Oh. The Change is coming and we are all going to change and move into heaven either here on earth or we are all going to die and go to heaven together."

The real problem with this point of view is that it is sort of like believing in fairy tales, because when was the last time you saw God come down from heaven and take everyone away? That's right! You haven't seen it you have only read about things like this. And the problem is likely no one has ever seen this happen.

So, if no one has ever seen this happen and 90% of the people that ever lived on earth are alive right now, what is the chance that there is going to be an apocalypse?

I suppose if you were one of the 30,000 people who died in the Japanese Tsunami and Earthquake, or one of the 250,000 who died in the Christmas time Tsunami and Earthquake in 2004 you could say that these events were an apocalypse for the people who died.

And, as I felt the heaven realms come close to earth before the 2004 Earthquake in Indonesia which affected the entire pacific region I too, was scared the month before it occurred. However, I haven't heard anyone say that either of these events was an apocalypse although I'm sure there must be some who died thinking this was the apocalypse because if you have seen the videos of either of these events if they were not an apocalyptic experience I don't know what ever was.

So, back to my orignal premise that "Apocalyptic thinking is a Self Fulfilling prophesy". Often when people are thinking this way, they don't go to college, they don't start businesses, they often don't get married or have children because they believe it is all going to end soon.

And often it does end soon with them all alone or dying with a group of people by committing suicide like at Jonestown or something like this. So, is "Apocalyptic Thinking a Self Fulfilling Prophesy?" Yes. It can be for some people and then they are gone but not like they expected to be gone.

Tied to this kind of thinking is often a point of view that goes something like this: "God is going to heal me so I won't go to a doctor!" When I grew up since my religion my parents raised me in was similar to Christian Science in that often people with curable ailments died having this point of view.
So, as a kid who loved science like I did my thought was, "So, you are going to die rather than go see a doctor?" And my thought was: "These people are kind of nuts aren't they."

I had no problem with people praying and getting healed by God. That happened a lot too. However, my thought is "Not to go see a doctor or some kind of healer" strained the logic of my mind. However, in the 1950s many more people than now were not logical at all in their thinking. I guess I was just lucky my father was very intelligent and liked science too. However, when he got prostate cancer his choice (since he didn't like medical doctors just like his Dad and way back) he eventually died when it spread to other organs and eventually bone cancer because he went on a rice diet that he had heard cured some people. But, in the end he died too because he couldn't shift out of his "Preventative medical thinking" into "Hey. Let's just stay alive if we can!" thinking. I think this is just the kinds of effects many religious people can have on each other where they sometimes (in sincerity) cause each other's deaths without realizing it.

Other times I saw people want to go to heaven as a child and put their white dress suit on and go climb Mt. Shasta in the summer at midnight. Of course, at 8000 feet to 10,000 feet or higher it is going to go below freezing most nights and they were later found dead a few weeks later on the mountain. So, my experience with religious people in this sense has made me very cynical to say the least. It's not that I don't believe in God it is that I believe, "God helps those who help themselves". And often religious people do not have this practical logic in their lives to back them up to keep them from dying in unfortunate ways.

Economic Balance

I was thinking today that structurally the Fiscal Cliff actually started with the Bush Era Tax cuts. If Bush hadn't done that and then started two wars at the same time(which was an economically insane   situation and still is) we would not now be facing the fiscal cliff.

If you notice Bush II did not even speak at the Republican Convention. Though both Republicans and Democrats know everything I'm saying here too, both participated in this as well. So, it's not like either party can get off scot Free in this sense.

It would be like someone deciding to stop working (Bush Tax Cuts) and then hiring a bodyguard and deciding to live on their savings which might be just enough to make payments on the money they needed to borrow stay alive for maybe 10 years. Well, the ten years are up. Are we going to get a job or go bankrupt? This is what the Fiscal Cliff really is.

I had a friend in the 1980s who did something like this. He wanted to spend more time with his family and travel so around age 40 or 45 he just quit his job as an engineer and traveled for 5 years and ran up about 50 thousand dollars in debt. Now that might not seem like much money now, but then it was a whole lot. However, when he wanted to work again there was a recession so when he finally got a job his financial situation was worse. Then he bought a house and had problems with that. And then he got upset and had a heart attack and died and left his wife and children in a terrible mess. So, though sometimes one can jump out into space and the universe will catch you, sometimes no one catches you and you die and your wife and kids are left with a financial mess.

So, which is it going to be for the U.S. ? We are going to see probably in 2013 or after.

One of the Reasons the U.S. isn't competitive

Yes. The 34 dollars for everything made in the U.S. compared to 2 dollars for everything made in China is true and there likely is not anything that the U.S. can do about that fact or globalization or countries that can make things even cheaper than China can.

However, there are some things that we Can do something about. For example, one of the problems I see is monopolistic companies here in the U.S. that though they are competitive worldwide, they also stifle growth and competition here in the U.S.

So, I would call these Paradox companies. They are Monopolistic because they could not compete globally if they weren't in today's world. But at the same time they destroy competition here in the U.S. for jobs, inventors and people with start up companies. Who are some of these companies?
They are household words for all of us. Exxon-Mobile, Chevron, Wallmart, Target, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple, all the biggest names in the U.S.

So, let me repeat. What is good about them is international in nature and helps prevent them from being destroyed internationally. But, at the same time all these companies including Verizon, AT&T, etc. destroy local competition and ideas of Americans trying to get jobs and to compete for a livelihood.

When monopolies are allowed to run roughshod over the rights of American people for jobs and competition you have what we have now, an economy that looks more like the Great Depression than any time since then.

So, what is the solution? I think the solution is that America has to change to allow more ideas to flourish as economic solutions. If large corporations continue to be favored as having More rights than individuals to make a living here in the U.S. this problem will only continue.

I think a return to the Rugged individualism that I saw growing up in the 1950s that was a carry over from the 1800s and the settling of America we need to return to. Otherwise, our culture here in America will continue to flounder for 90% of Americans who will make (adjusted for inflation) less and less and less until our nation is completely full of Banana Republic status people with a 10% of corporate people and stockholders who are able to travel the world and live in style. Without more freedom of choice in regard to making a living a Banana Republic for the 90% is what we will have more nationwide. And unfortunately, with a 90% Banana Republic we will have a more dumbed down electorate who are not educated and not capable of the Critical thinking that sustains a democracy like we have had in place since 1776. And the real problem with this is what usually happens under those conditions: a Dictatorship where human rights are lost for a generation or more or longer.

Windows 8 Sales Hit 40 Million

Windows 8 Sales Hit 40 Million; Will App Developers Follow The ...

Huffington Post-by Jason Gilbert-1 hour ago
With 40 million licenses accounted for, Microsoft has a strong case with ... Has Microsoft's announcement of 40 million Windows 8 sales ...
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Windows 8 Sales Hit 40 Million; Will App Developers Follow The Money?

This week, Microsoft announced that it sold a truly bananas 40 million licenses of Windows 8 in the new operating system's first month of availability.
Even though some unknown portion of those sales are to manufacturers like Dell and Hewlett-Packard -- who then have to convince consumers to purchase their laptops, desktops, hybrids and whatnots -- and even though certain analysts insist that this marks a "disappointing" debut for the new Windows, 40 million licenses in one month is still an incredible number.
To put it in context, the most iPhones Apple has ever sold in three months is 37 million, upon the release of the iPhone 4S in late 2011. Microsoft just topped that, by one measure, in slightly more than 30 days.

The eternal battle between Apple and Microsoft notwithstanding, this means in a practical sense that there are already a whole bunch of PC users on Windows 8, with many more coming once Christmas shopping ramps up this December. It raises a key question: Will the existence of all these users convince developers to actually start writing apps for Windows 8?
Here's why I ask: I've been using Windows 8 computers as both primary and secondary devices for more than a month now. I've got a Microsoft Surface (with five different keyboards of many different colors, for some reason), as well as two touchscreen Windows 8 laptops, from Toshiba and Asus. I've found the experience on all three machines to be satisfactory and smooth overall. But if I had to pinpoint the most glaring problem with the operating system currently, it would be the relatively barren Windows app store, which sorely lacks apps built specifically for the new Windows.
The barren cupboard that is the Windows Store is especially troublesome on the Surface, which runs a tablet-optimized version of Windows 8 called Windows RT and which cannot run apps developed for older versions of Windows.
And that's trouble, my friends: For the Microsoft Surface, and other Windows 8 tablets, there's no Facebook, and no Twitter apps; no Spotify or Rdio or Rhapsody; no decent support for Gchat, or Google Reader, or Gmail; no Temple Run or Words with Friends or Draw Something. And not only are some of those mammoth, must-have apps still missing, but there's also no high-quality alternatives (think TweetDeck, or Sparrow, or HootSuite) to fill the voids left by those glaring absences.
All you have are the Microsoft-built alternatives, like Xbox Music and the People app, which just cannot deliver the same comprehensive experience as more focused applications.
Will this change soon? With 40 million licenses accounted for, Microsoft has a strong case with developers to get crack-a-lacking on Windows 8 apps. And yet as clear as that argument seems, whether developers will actually respond with well-written, robust programs remains murky.
The hesitance of developers to commit resources to Windows Phone seems relevant here. Talking to Microsoft executives about the infamous lack of quality apps for Windows Phone over the past couple years, they always remained privately confident that once Windows Phone picked up meaningful market share, the great apps would follow. Windows Phone has still yet to gain a foothold (in America, at least), and the app situation on Windows Phone, though improving, still lags far behind that of iOS and Android.
Now, on Windows 8, we have exactly what those executives had hoped for: a glut of new users on the operating system just waiting for apps to become available in the Windows Store. Even StatCounter's conservative estimate of 15 million users on Windows 8 represents a consequential base of credit card-carrying computer owners.
"Developers are generally rational folks," Ina Fried of AllThingsD wrote recently. "They have limited time, and tend to focus their energy where the eyeballs and dollars are."
Now that there are tens of millions of eyeballs on Windows 8 -- and potentially an equal number of dollars -- will the Windows Store overflow with new apps, as "rational" developers flock to an underserved, uncompetitive land of opportunity? Or will the Windows 8 app store remain, as it does on Windows Phone, the Achilles' heel of Microsoft's huge new venture, that one overwhelming drawback which prevents the next 40 million PC owners from hopping on the 8 train?

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Windows 8 Sales Hit 40 Million; Will App Developers Follow The ...

I wrote about the fact that Microsoft actually could pull off an operating system that is cross platform in the end likely better than either Apple or Android through Google could simply because they have been building operating systems ongoing since around 1980 with MSDOS and then Windows. So, the bulk of their net worth has been in developing operating systems. This isn't as true with Apple or with Google. Apple has been developing technology and developed the mouse and user interface and Google has mostly specialized in being better able to research and to find things online and other things related to this. And then Apple simplified Operating Systems in a Zen kind of way. But in so doing also limited the capacity for customization. Then Android from Google made a free operating system which gave people more customization possibilities but also complicated the situation a lot for many users. So, now you have Apple users who like simplicity without dealing with antivirus problems and you have Android users who like the complexity of their operating system because of all they can do with it. And now you have Windows 8 through Microsoft which is learning from Apple and Android and now creating an operating system that works cross platform that now apple and Android and Google will learn from and create next cross platform systems as well. So, it is all very remarkable the way it's all going on into the future. 


I think the real problem Window 8 has is that Windows everyone has had since the 1980s. Also, Windows has never been really sexy as an operating system maybe since Windows 95 which to me was the last really big change they made. 

However, Microsoft is big enough to wait for the App makers or pay or subcontract their own APP makers to make their product more sexy too. So, I think if you give Windows 8 or it's next versions about 5 years we might see a very different market than now.

For example, though Apple is well loved it has never really survived well without Steven Jobs at the helm. When he left for a while it almost went out of business. So, it is possible that Apple might not survive the next five years and might have a similar experience to the makers of Blackberry during the last few years until their latest great phone experience they are releasing soon (I think it is called Blackberry 10). So, it remains to be seen whether Apple will weather losing Steven Jobs or not over 5, 10 years or more? Whereas I think Android (if it isn't sued to much for copyright infringement) might go on indefinitely by concentrating on the customization market through apps and other things.

The reason we may go over the fiscal Cliff

How would you like to go back to the way things were in 1930,  how about 1929?

Almost anyone who actually thought about it much might say "No!"

However, what the fiscal cliff actually brings is something much closer to 1929 or 1930 than anything we have seen since.

The real reason for this is that the U.S. is over-regulated and uncompetitive on the world stage and we don't like it. So, elected officials say to themselves, "We can't sell this to the constituents!" So, the result is that both Republicans and Democrats cannot sell what is coming to the American People because "Who wants to return to 1930 before Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and a military that is as good as the one we have today?" Because that is what the fiscal cliff brings.

It is like saying to someone, "How would you like to trade your brand new Cadillac that you paid cash for for a Prius?" Most people would say , "NO." A few ecological people might say "Yes" but they would be in the minority because of the thousands of dollars they would lose in the process in giving up their Cadillac.

Note: By the way the only reason we aren't competitive is because it costs 34 dollars to make anything here in the U.S. compared to 2 dollars to make anything in China. (And some places it costs even less to make things than China). So, if you are a citizen of Earth do you want to pay 2 dollars for something or 34 dollars for something? Under these conditions we are not competitive on the world stage anymore and we don't want to admit it to our citizens so we are having a fiscal Cliff and having to give up our (Cadillacs for Priuses all around).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

If mortgage interest deduction Goes away in Fiscal Cliff

I was discussing with my wife today about the mortgage interest deduction. We both agreed if that is taken away during the fiscal Cliff negotiations most homes will stop selling because it is a major driver of people choosing to buy homes. If they cannot deduct the interest they pay on their mortgage from their taxes why should they get a mortgage and buy a home at all? Since many are still choosing not to buy homes because of the economy, and because homes and everything that is in them is a lot of the basis of our economy here in the U.S. this could have a much more serious effect on the U.S. economy than most people realize at this point.

Bowles thinks we are going over Fiscal Cliff

Bowles pessimistic about avoiding 'fiscal cliff'

Former co-chairman of the president's debt commission is discouraged by the slow pace of negotiations.

2:25PM EST November 28. 2012 - WASHINGTON -- Erskine Bowles, the former co-chairman of President Obama's debt commission, is pessimistic that Washington will avoid going over the "fiscal cliff" at the end of the year.
"I think the probability is we're going over the cliff," Bowles told reporters at a Wednesday roundtable hosted by The Christian Science Monitor.
To do so would be "insane," Bowles said. However, he forecast only a one-third probability that Obama and a divided Congress can agree on a budget deal that raises revenues and cuts spending. "One without the other won't work," he said.
VIDEO: Watch Erskine Bowles discuss the looming 'fiscal cliff'
Bowles said he was discouraged by the slow pace of the negotiations, the ongoing differences between the two parties and a dwindling legislative calendar.
MORE: Obama sells budget plan to middle class, business leaders
Former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., who chaired Obama's debt commission with Bowles, said he was discouraged by the cynicism in Washington and the role of outside interest groups. "The sad part is when you have leaders in both parties throwing out, casting out in to the waters the bait for the trout that says, 'Maybe it would help the Democrats that we go off the cliff' and the other side, 'Maybe it would help the Republicans if we go off the cliff' and I will tell you ladies and gentleman that is like betting your country," he said.
Simpson said it would take political courage for lawmakers to come to an agreement that threatens to anger powerful outside interests. "As long as we are in the thrall of [anti-tax advocate] Grover Norquist and the AARP it's going to be rough, long haul," he said.
Bowles attended a Tuesday meeting at the White House with Obama and business leaders. He said the president showed some flexibility in his insistence that tax rates on the wealthy revert back to Clinton-era rates."I didn't sense it, I heard it," he said.
"The White House really believes at its core that revenue ought to come from the wealthy," Bowles said, but added that the president is open to GOP proposals that also include revenue sources from closing loopholes and capping deductions as long as rates are in the mix. Bowles said it was clear that no deal could be reached unless Republicans relent on their opposition for individual rate increases for the wealthiest of Americans.
Only one House Republican, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., has publicly said that the GOP should accept a deal that extends the tax rates for 98% of Americans, according to a Politico report.
Bowles also met Wednesday with corporate executives and House Republican leaders to continue his efforts to reach a deal. "I'm for getting a deal done and getting it done today," he said. "I'm hopeful but, boy, I wouldn't put me down as optimistic."
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who attended the meeting, offered a more optimistic outlook for a deal following the confab, but he echoed Bowles' view that both parties will need to challenge orthodoxy. "Both sides need to compromise. It has to be a balanced approach. This is not a question of one side is right and one side is wrong, good versus evil. Both sides are right, both sides are trying to do whats in the best interest of the country as each of them see it," he said, "People have to yield on things that they are quite convicted about."

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Bowles pessimistic about avoiding 'fiscal cliff'

Actually this is very logical. Until we go over the fiscal cliff people all over the U.S. won't know how it actually will effect them. By actually doing it it will enrage the masses and force changes to everything legally. However, the real problem with this is that under a circumstance like this "Good Decisions" usually don't get made because decisions under pressure are often the wrong ones. However, as people are hit with the consequences (including the military) of actually going over the fiscal cliff, the rioting in the streets likely will commence, so it is difficult to see something good for anyone coming from this kind of exercise.


 However, just like the author of the above article said as long a Grover Norquist and the AARP are involved the way things are regarding special interests all over the place, neither the Democrats or the Republicans feel free to make the deals and compromises necessary to not fall off the cliff. If we fall off the cliff is that the end? It could be the end of the United States eventually by doing this because we haven't done something exactly like this before. The other possibility is that the U.S. could default on some or all of it's debts like many countries have done before. The problem with that is those nations aren't usually trusted by other nations who might lend more in the future for a long long time. So, there are many long term consequences to almost any decision made by anyone both to do something or to do nothing.


Republicans don't want austerity for Military

HOME /  Politics :  Who's winning, who's losing, and why.

Austerity, R.I.P.

Republicans are suddenly not so concerned about the debt.

F-35 joint-strike fighter
Prototype of the F-35 fighter, a subject of much debate in the defense budget
Photo courtesy Lockheed-Martin via Getty Images.
The seventh floor of the Newseum, Washington’s monument to the journalism trade, is a swank enough space for events and parties. Nice access to the roof. Clean escape route for caterers. More TV screens than you need unless you’re brainwashing some droogs.
I first visited the seventh floor in early 2010, when it was taken over for the launch of a new magazine, Fiscal Times. Funded in part by Pete Peterson, the former commerce secretary turned finger-in-every-pot austerity guru, the magazine had soft-launched with a series of pieces about the momentum for spending cuts. That night, as bartenders mixed our drinks, Peterson told us that the age of fiscal responsibility was at hand, and we’d all be there to cover it.
This Tuesday, I returned to the Newseum conference rooms to watch Republicans end the austerity movement. The Foreign Policy Initiative, a think tank that has been amplifying the voices of conservative hawks since 2009, gathered friends and media to talk about the challenges of the second Obama term. First among them: defense cuts, the ones in the “sequester” of the 2011 debt-limit deal. Republicans needed to stop them. Sen. Jon Kyl, the retiring GOP whip from Arizona, informed us that he’d been going back over his papers and rediscovering great wisdom.
“Ronald Reagan, he had a lot of great stuff,” said Kyl. “And one of the things he said was: You know, I’ve seen a lot of wars in my life. None of them were caused because we were too strong.”
And according to Kyl, America could not be strong if it allowed the sequester to bite down. The final debt deal, supported by a majority of Republicans and Democrats, offered Washington a choice between $1.2 trillion of cuts to spending and a supercommittee that would get a chance to develop smarter, less blunt cuts. The supercommittee failed, so those spending cuts—$600 billion each to defense and nondefense budgets over 10 years—are scheduled to start on Jan. 2, 2013.
It’s not perfect. Actually, more than that, the plan was designed to be lousy, so politicians would panic and find smarter cuts elsewhere in their budgets. But it’s austerity, and for three-odd years, conservatives have been telling us we need austerity. Any less would be “generational theft,” the government had to balance its budget just like any household or business—and so on. You remember Glenn Beck. You heard all of this.
Unfortunately, the country that conservatives want to govern can’t really be austere. “Part of the price of leadership is having an adequate defense to meet the commitments you have around the world,” said Kyl.
“I was chatting with people in the reception room, reminiscing,” said Bill Kristol, the Weekly Standard editor and FPI co-founder. “I was in government 20 years ago. We could not do the first Gulf War now.”
“Right!” said Kyl.
“Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on Aug. 1, 1990,” said Kristol. “We had 500,000 troops in Saudi Arabia Maybe we didn’t need 500,000, but it was a nice margin of comfort, and that war went pretty well, and it was a pretty good model. Maybe it ended a bit early, but that’s another story.”
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I remember reading a book in the 1970s that was predicting then according to Megatrends (which was the name of the book) that the Chinese would eclipse the U.S. Economically by 2050 but that even in 2050 no one would still have a military as formidable as the U.S. even then. But at the rate things are going (primarily because of 9-11 and the Bush Presidencies reactions to it) China may surpass us both economically and militarily by 2020. So, from my point of view the last 10 years have really changed the original predictions. However, is China stable economically and militarily? I would have to say "No". Otherwise, the richest Chinese would not all be moving to the U.S. and Europe so their money isn't taken away from them one way or another by the Chinese government or others. 

Stormy Northern California

I awoke this morning to a full blown storm, it was raining hard but not blowing that much yet. Now, the rains are lighter but the winds have picked up and there are 50 mph gusts and sometimes higher blowing branches off trees and down the street. No one appears to be on the road right now because of it. Since I live in a forest this is likely wise because trees and branches will be flying in this much wind. We are lucky the ground isn't saturated with water yet so less big trees (mostly pines) won't tend to come down as much. But since some of them have pitch canker what happens a lot in a wind like this is that they will break somewhere in the middle or split in two and come down and that can be serious too with a 50 to 100 foot tall tree. So, I walked around my property to make sure that no trees came down and caused damage to fences or other things. So, far there is just twigs and branches blowing down the street and pine needles and water mixing on the roads which will make it very slick for unwary drivers, which right now there aren't any.

My wife called me from another nearby area to tell me that there were multiple rainbows where she was. She asked me to go out and see if there were any here. I didn't expect any but as I walked out on the front porch there was one above the house across the street from us which was nice to see when walking outside. But it quickly faded away because the weather is pretty changable right now. So far so good. No damage to my property, fences or house. Amazing winds though. Some places are getting above 50 and on up to 50 to 75 mile per hour winds in gusts. That is sure to bring down more limbs and trees in this area.

I think we just got one of the 70 mph gusts because the house creaked from the pressure because it won't do that at lower winds than that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hurricane Sandy destroys 300,000 homes

Hurricane Sandy's Rising Costs -


Hurricane Sandy’s Rising Costs

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest request for federal aid to help New York recover from Hurricane Sandy presents a shattering picture of what a giant storm can do to a dense metropolitan area. The total price tag, he said, would be more than $42 billion: $33 billion to repair damaged housing and infrastructure and $9 billion to help protect transit systems, the power network and sewage treatment facilities from future storms.


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    This is a financial cost that only Washington can afford, but, given the worries about the deficit and the so-called fiscal cliff, this is a difficult time to be asking Congress for help. The task now is for Mr. Cuomo to join with other claimants — including Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who estimates the damage to his state at $29.4 billion — in a unified effort to persuade President Obama and Congress to support one or more supplemental appropriations by the end of the year. It would be folly to wait for the next Congress, when the sense of urgency would have faded.
    Mr. Cuomo has finally added important and much-needed detail to his earlier proposals for aid. He estimates, for example, that it will cost more than $5 billion to repair substations, tracks and equipment for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, as well as another $124 million to compensate the authority for lost revenues.
    Hospitals and other health facilities in New York will need more than $3 billion to restore services. More than 300,000 housing units were destroyed or damaged, costing $9.6 billion to replace or repair, with $3.1 billion of that in New York City alone. Government response efforts cost $1.6 billion, and businesses lost $6 billion.
    These numbers ought to impress even a tightfisted Congress. But perhaps the governor’s strongest argument is that, historically, Washington has not been miserly after major disasters. According to Albany’s estimates, Hurricane Katrina exacted $146 billion in damages, in today’s dollars; the federal government came up with more than $110 billion. The multiple disasters inflicted by Hurricane Sandy call for similar magnanimity. 

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    Hurricane Sandy's Rising Costs -


    I was listening to one of the weathermen from The Weather Channel talk about this. He was saying how Katrina was only 300 miles across. However, Hurricane Sandy was destroying homes across a 900 mile circle when it came on shore on New York and New Jersey as the epicenter of the Hurricane. This may wind up being much more costly in money to fix than Hurricane Katrina. However, luckily, this hurricane didn't have very many fatalities compared to Katrina either.