Coffee, Dementia, and Other Ramblings

Here’s some news you can use:
“…scientists found that the subjects who had reported drinking three to five cups of coffee daily were 65 percent less likely to have developed dementia, compared with those who drank two cups or less.”
That “scientific report” prompted me to tell my wife that I needed to drink 5 cups of cold coffee a day to avoid dementia.
My wife’s quick answer: “Too bad it’s not retroactive.”

Susan Solomon: “Global Warming is Irreversible”

Now what?
Our carbon drain is clogged, and we’re going to drown in our own bathtub.
Here’s the bad news:
“People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide that the climate would go back to normal in 100 years or 200 years. What we’re showing here is that’s not right. It’s essentially an irreversible change that will last for more than a thousand years,” says Susan Solomon on NPR
Are you ready for long droughts and rising seas? While some environmentalists are worried about the extinction of polar bears and emperor penguins, or the dying oceans, I’m thinking about human extinction. As usual, the poor will be hit the hardest.
Poor Al Gore keeps trying to wake us up:

This is a national security issue which makes Al-Qaeda look like the Peanuts.
Meanwhile, the Republicans, led by Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are still on their “global warming is a hoax” bandwagon.

The Nazi Pope Shows his True Colors

This is just disgusting. More from Jesusland
Can the Catholic church be saved from itself? Not likely. YouTube or no YouTube, we’re not going to see Catholicism 2.0 anytime soon. As I’ve said before, if Jesus was around he’s kick these bozos out of the Temple…
BTW, isn’t it funny there are NO comments on any of the Vatican’s YouTube videos? That’s what they call an ecumenical dialog!

Here Comes the Tech Greenwave: Asus’ Bamboo PC

Asus Bamboo PC
The Asus Bamboo PC is here, supposedly.
Asus is advertising it, even linking to Amazon, where it seems like they’re not quite ready for it.
My cynical side sees this is the latest in the greenwashing movement in the high-tech industry. If they’re serious, however, I applaud them.
Here’s how ASUS puts it:
ASUS has created a strategy dubbed the “4 Green Home Runs” to deliver greener products for the consumer. The “Green Home Runs” are Green Design, Green Manufacturing, Green Procurement and Green Service and Marketing.
OK, let’s do it – a green value-chain! I just hope we don’t learn later that they’re clearing Giant Panda habitat to make PC covers.
Geek info: ASUS U6V-V1-Bamboo 12.1-Inch Laptop (2.53 GHz Intel T9400 Processor, 4 GB RAM, 320 GB Hard Drive, Nvidia 9300M GS Graphics, Vista Business)
BTW, Bamboo is pretty nifty and is definitely one of those “sustainable products for our future.”

BBC Documentary: What Now Mr. President? (Wake Up, Everybody!)

Here’s a documentary from the BBC’s Panorama.
Here’s how they pitch it:
“Barack Obama takes over as US President with a promise to dramatically change America and make it a fairer place. He is inheriting the worst economic crisis in almost a century, and a country so unequal that 23,000 people die every year because they cannot afford basic healthcare. To close the gap between rich and poor Obama will have to take on the might of the corporate world, which wields enormous influence in Washington. Can he change the world’s most powerful country, and should he?”



Question: ever wonder why this kind of a documentary never makes it to US television?
Wake Up, Everybody! Check out Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes:

The Two Sides of Google

Even as Jeff JarvisWhat Would Google Do? hits the market, there’s another side of Google we should be aware of.
Michael Arrington has posted a thread from former-Google employees talking about why they left. Sure, disgruntled employees are not always fair and balanced, but it’s interesting to learn that Google does have issues with management, bureaucracy, low pay, poor mentoring, and all the other foibles of corporate stupidity.
So what will Google do about it? Let’s watch.

War as a Catalyst for Innovation

One of the spin-offs from war is technology which leads to new products in the private sector. This is not a new phenomenon, simply the way it is.
For example, “a scientific method that has been used to track the source of illegal drugs, explosives, counterfeit bills and biological warfare agents may have some new uses: detecting rapidly growing cancers and studying obesity and eating disorders.” See story >>
But this story stopped me in my tracks.
The future of war is R2RC – Robot to Robot Combat.
Are you ready for this?
The result? War becomes even more abstracted, more marketable, and more tempting.

Video: Bill Gates on the Future of Aid

UPDATE: You can download the annual letter (PDF) here or read it online here >>
The Economist video interview with BG:

The interviewer has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, but Gates does a convincing job of focusing on the issues. I really think Gates has finally found his true calling.
Sign up for his annual letter >>

Friedman: “It’s five to midnight…”

Tom Friedman‘s latest:
“It’s five to midnight and before the clock strikes 12 all we need to do is rebuild Fatah, merge it with Hamas, elect an Israeli government that can freeze settlements, court Syria and engage Iran — while preventing it from going nuclear — just so we can get the parties to start talking.”
There’s no point blaming Dubya for the mess other than taking note of his administration’s deliberate incompetence. Obama’s appointment of former senator George Mitchell to head the peace initiative shows he’s serious.
In my opinion, the tragedy is that Israel is not ready for peace. Israel’s leaders are just as delusional as Dubya.
And no matter who wins the February election, we’re not going to see the end of settlements.
Friedman paints the picture of what Israel’s fate looks like: “…without a stable two-state solution, what you will have is an Israel hiding behind a high wall, defending itself from a Hamas-run failed state in Gaza, a Hezbollah-run failed state in south Lebanon and a Fatah-run failed state in Ramallah. Have a nice day.”
So where is Israel’s Obama? Will no one stand up for reality?

Shuo chang – Chinese Hip-Hop: The Birth of the Individual?


The NYTimes has an interesting story on the underground world of hip-hop in China >>
Wong Li, a 24-year-old from Dongbei, says in one of his freestyle raps:
If you don’t have a nice car or cash
You won’t get no honeys
Don’t you know China is only a heaven for rich old men
You know this world is full of corruption
Babies die from drinking milk.

He often performs in a downtown Beijing nightclub and uses Chinese proverbs in his lyrics to create social commentary.
Mr. Wong, who became interested in hip-hop when he heard Public Enemy in the mid-’90s, said rapping helps him deal with bitterness that comes with realizing he is one of the millions left out of China’s economic boom.
“All people care about is money,” he said. “If you don’t have money, you’re treated like garbage. And if you’re not local to the city you live in, people discriminate against you; they give you the worst jobs to do.”
It takes a revolution… to make a solution.

World Reaction to President Obama

FRANCE
President Nicolas Sarkozy
We are eager for him to get to work so that with him we can change the world.
GERMANY
Chancellor Angela Merkel
I want to say that I believe today is a very special day not only for the United States of America but also a special day for billions of people all over the world.
The fact that a colored president is being inaugurated and the fact the we a looking at an intensive transatlantic co-operation is something that not only moves the heads and thoughts but also the hearts. And I want to wish the new American President Barack Obama all the best, much strength and health and God’s blessing .And I want to say that Germany is prepared to liaise with him very intensely and very openly.
UNITED KINGDOM
Prime Minister Gordon Brown
The whole world is watching the inauguration of President Obama, witnessing a new chapter in both American history and the world’s history.He’s not only the first black American president but he sets out with the determination to solve the world’s problems.
RUSSIA
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov
We are ready for this. Our president confirmed this in a telephone conversation with Barack Obama straight after he was elected. I think there will be additional telephone – and not only telephone – contacts between our leaders.
SPAIN
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero
Obama gives us hope and his words put us on a better path for a smooth and fruitful relationship with the Spanish government. The arrival of Obama gives us an opportunity we won’t pass up.
JAPAN
Prime Minister Taro Aso
Japan and the United States are allies who share universal values and strategic interests. I am convinced that Japan and the United States, both in a position to lead the world, can build a better future by working together to share knowledge, willingness, passion and strategy. With this belief, I wish to join hands with President Obama in further strengthening the Japan-US alliance and striving for peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.
ITALY
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Many hopes and expectations have been piled on him, not just by the American people but also the rest of the world. The thing to do is to send him the most affectionate and cordial wishes so that he can fulfil these expectations.
VATICAN
Pope Benedict XVI
I pray that you will be confirmed in your resolve to promote understanding, co-operation and peace among the nations, so that all may share in the banquet of life which God wills to set for the whole human family.I offer cordial good wishes, together with the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you unfailing wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high responsibilities.
IRAN
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki
We prefer to wait and see what the practical policies of the American government will be.
PALESTINE
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
We wish him well and we look forward to active engagement on the part of his administration, in co-operation with important members of the international community.
GAZA
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum
He came with a change and he needs to change the foreign policy of the United States towards honouring the freedom rights and democratic rights of nations, he must support the freedom of our Palestinian people and their rights and conventions.
ISRAEL
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Obama has mobilised the greatest amount of good will and support in all walks of life. This mobilisation of good will is becoming his strength in its own right. And I think all of us expect to translate this occasion into a real opportunity to pacify, to meet, to have a dialogue and bring a solution of peace to all parties concerned.
VENEZUELA
President Hugo Chavez
Hopefully the arrival of a new president will mark a real change in relations between the United States and the countries of the Third World, one of respect for sovereignty and the freedom of the people. But nobody here should be under any illusions. This is the North American Empire we are talking about.
THAILAND
King Bhumibol Adulyadej
On the occasion of your assumption of the Office of the President of the United States of America, I am pleased to extend to your Excellency my sincere congratulations and best wishes for your success and happiness as well as for the greater progress and prosperity of the United States of America and her people.
AUSTRALIA
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
I look forward very much to working with President Obama, the next president of the United States. Because we have a huge challenge ahead and it begins by working together on the global financial crisis.
UNITED NATIONS
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
I sincerely hope that President Obama will make as a matter of priority these Middle Eastern policies. As a member of the Quartet, as the leader of the world, the United States has full responsibility to lead this peace process so that this two-state solution, Israel, Palestinians can live in peace and security side by side.
EU
President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso
We are living through challenging times. And the challenges we face have no respect for national frontiers. What we need is new global governance and a new basis for prosperity. I sincerely believe that Europe and the United States must work together and with our partners around the world to devise and implement this new agenda for globalization.

Videos: We Are One – A Celebration for the World at the Lincoln Memorial (with bonus reggae footage not seen anywhere else)

Who says we can’t free the people with music?
Welcome back, America! But before we begin, here’s a word from our hero:

Now, let’s celebrate!
U2:

Stevie Wonder, Shakira, Usher:

Will.I.Am, Herbie Hancock, Sheryl Crow:

Josh Groban, Heather Headley (introduced by Queen Latifah):

Bettye Lavette, Jon Bon Jovi:

Mary J. Blige:

Bruce Springsteen:

John Mellencamp:

Beyonce:

And now for a reggae surprise… These musicians didn’t make it to the party, but they have the right message.
Steel Pulse:

and

Mighty Sparrow:

Ziggy Marley:

Papa Michigan:

Cocoa Tea:

Mykal Rose:

Hope returns to the world…

Yah-soft or Micro-hoo?

Either way, we know Steve Ballmer will get Yahoo this time around.
So who will be the winner and heavyweight champion of search?
Still Google.

The Silence of Elie Wiesel

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
That’s what you said, Mr. Wiesel.
And now your silence on Gaza is deafening.
Not a word on your website, not an op-ed in the NYTimes, nothing.
Your vow to never speak ill of Israel is wrong, Mr. Wiesel.
Surely you cannot continue this silence as Israel descends into barbarism. Surely you cannot condone this oppression. Surely you cannot lose faith in what is right.
Please speak.

What’s Ginx?

Pierre “eBay” Omidyar’s new startup.
Ginx is a Twitter client that aims to provide Twitter users with a rich experience for sharing and discussing links. Ginx was created to enable people to become more actively engaged in the news and topics they care about.”
Read Omidyar’s press release >>

Google’s Larry Page Reveals his Success Secrets

This just came in on my N2N (nerd-to-nerd) network. I thought I’d share it w/ everyone. It’s titled: “Secrets of success from Google co-founder Larry Page.”
Here you go – take it as propaganda, if you want, but it is interesting all the same:
# If you have a product that’s really gaining a lot of usage, then it’s probably a good idea.
# When you grow, you continually have to invent new processes. We’ve done a pretty good job keeping up, but it’s an ongoing challenge.
# We built a business on the opposite message. We want you to come to Google and quickly find what you want. Then we’re happy to send you to the other sites. In fact, that’s the point. The portal strategy tries to own all of the information.
# Pretty early on, I saw a newspaper story about Googling dates. People were checking out who they were dating by Googling them. I think it’s a tremendous responsibility. If you think everybody is relying on us for information, you understand the responsibility. That’s mostly what I feel. You have to take that very seriously.
# Part of our brand is that we’re pretty understated in what we do. If you look at other technology companies, they might pre-announce things, and it will be a couple years before they really happen, and they don’t happen in the way they said they would.
# Through innovation and iteration, Google takes something that works well and improves upon it in unexpected ways.
# If you can run the company a bit more collaboratively, you get a better result, because you have more bandwidth and checking and balancing going on.
# The ‘be good’ concept also comes up when we design our products. We want them to have positive social effects. For example, we just released Gmail, a free e-mail service. We said, ‘We will not hold your e-mail hostage. ‘ We will make it possible for you to get your e-mail out of Gmail if you ever want to.
# The dotcom period was difficult for us. We were dismayed in that climate… We knew a lot of things people were doing weren’t sustainable, and that made it hard for us to operate. We couldn’t get good people for reasonable prices. We couldn’t get office space. It was a hypercompetitive time. We had the opportunity to invest in 100 or more companies and didn’t invest in any of them. I guess we lost a lot of money in the short term — but not in the long
term.
# Talented people are attracted to Google because we empower them to change the world. Google has large computational resources and distribution that enables individuals to make a difference.
# We don’t have as many managers as we should, but we would rather have too few than too many.
# We think we’re an important company, and we’re dedicated to doing this over the long term. We like being independent.
# Serving our end users is at the heart of what we do and remains our number one priority.
# It definitely helps to be really focused on what you are doing.
# My experience is that when people are trying to do ambitious things, they’re all worried about failing when they start. But all sorts of interesting things spin out that are of huge economic value. Also, in these kinds of projects, you get to work with the best people and have a very interesting time. They’re not really taking a risk, but they feel like they are.
# From its inception, Google has focused on providing the best user experience possible. While many companies claim to put their customers first, few are able to resist the temptation to make small sacrifices to increase shareholder value. Google has steadfastly refused to
make any change that does not offer a benefit to the users who come to the site.
# You (the Google user) want answers and you want them right now. Who are we to argue?
# Many leaders of big organizations don’t believe that change is possible. But if you look at history, things do change, and if your business is static, you’re likely to have issues.
# If we are not trusted, we have no business. We have such a lot to lose; we are forced to act in everyone’s interest.”
# I would rather have people think we’re confused than let our competitors know what we’re going to do.
# We chose it (the name Google) because we deal with huge amounts of data. Besides, it sounds really cool.
# The ultimate search engine… would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want.
# Our company relies on having the trust of our users and using that information for their benefit. That’s a very strong motivation for us. We’re committed to that. If you start to mandate how products are designed, I think that’s a really bad path to follow. I think instead we should have laws that protect the privacy of data, for example, from government requests and other kinds of requests.
# Many companies are under pressure to keep their earnings in line with analysts’ forecasts. Therefore, they often accept smaller, predictable earnings rather than larger and less predictable returns. Sergey and I feel this is harmful, and we intend to steer in the opposite direction.
# We think a lot about how to maintain our culture and the fun elements. I don’t know if other companies care as much about those things as we do. We spent a lot of time getting our offices right. We think it’s important to have a high density of people. People are packed together everywhere. We all share offices. We like this set of buildings because it’s more like a densely packed university campus than a typical suburban office park.
# We’re trying to use the web’s self-organizing properties to decide which things to present. We don’t want to be in the position of having to decide these things. We take the responsibility seriously. People depend on us.
# Google is organized around the ability to attract and leverage the talent of exceptional technologists and business people. We have been lucky to recruit many creative, principled and hard working stars. We hope to recruit many more in the future. We will reward
and treat them well.
# By always placing the interests of the user first, Google has built the most loyal audience on the web. And that growth has come not through TV ad campaigns, but through word of mouth from one satisfied user to another.
# You don’t want to be Tesla. He was one of the greatest inventors, but it’s a sad, sad story. He couldn’t commercialize anything, he could barely fund his own research. You’d want to be more like Edison. If you invent something, that doesn’t necessarily help anybody. You’ve got to actually get it into the world; you’ve got to produce, make money doing it so you can fund it.
# Invariably we try 10 things that don’t quite work out in order to do one thing that’s successful. And we learn a lot in doing the 10 things that didn’t quite work.
# We have a mantra: don’t be evil, which is to do the best things we know how for our users, for our customers, for everyone. So I think if we were known for that, it would be a wonderful thing.
# It is an advantage being young. You don’t have as many other responsibilities.
# If you have a great product that meets people’s needs, they start telling their friends, especially when it’s a search engine, which is something that everybody has to use. So we’ve actually been growing 20 per cent per month, compounded, for our whole history,
and without spending any significant money on advertising. It’s an incredible phenomenon.
# We were, I guess, lucky enough to be trying to be profitable long before it was fashionable, and that was a really good decision. I think it’s more luck than real insight on our parts, but Sergey and I really felt a lot better about having a business that could actually make money. So we figured that once we were at that stage then not much could hurt the company.
# We are focused on providing an environment where talented, hard working people are rewarded for their contributions to Google and for making the world a better place
# The amazing thing is that we’re part of people’s daily lives, like brushing their teeth. It’s just something they do throughout the day while working, buying things, deciding what to do after
work and much more. Google has been accepted as part of people’s lives. It’s quite remarkable. Most people spend most of their time getting information, so maybe it’s not a complete surprise that Google is successful.
# Our goal is to organize the world’s information and to make it universally accessible and useful. That’s our mission. When we started, we had about 30 million Web pages, which was quite large for the time — that was two years ago. Now, we have well over a billion Web pages. So that gives you some idea of how we’ve grown in content. So we try to make more and more stuff available to people. We try to, when you come to Google, fulfill that need that you have as quickly as possible.
# Because of our employee talent, Google is doing exciting work in nearly every area of computer science. Our main benefit is a workplace with important projects, where employees can contribute and grow.
# We’ve actually been very deliberate about making all of our decisions in a way that minimizes the risk that we will go out of business basically. We have pretty conservative financial planning. That turned out to be really smart, and we’ve had tremendous viral
growth anyway, so we haven’t really had any marketing expenses or things like that and we have huge volumes.
# The increasing volume of information is just more opportunity to build better answers to questions. The more information you have, the better.
# You can try to control people, or you can try to have a system that represents reality. I find that knowing what’s really happening is more important than trying to control people.
# In the same way Google puts users first when it comes to our online service, Google Inc. puts employees first when it comes to daily life in our Googleplex headquarters.
# Technology knowledge is going to drive wealth: people’s ability to deal with technology and to build interesting things.
# Always deliver more than expected.
# It is a tremendous responsibility for us to have all eyes focused on what we do and to give people exactly what they need when they ask for it.
# We believe it is easy to be penny wise and pound foolish with respect to benefits that can save employees considerable time and improve their health and productivity.
# Our opportunity and responsibility has continued to expand. It doesn’t feel all that different to me than it did a few years ago.
# The thing that matters is experience. We have lots of executives from failed companies; they learned a lot from these things. They say, ‘We can’t do that — we tried that and it didn’t work.’ So failure is useful.
# When you have basic technology you find interesting things to do with them, and if you’re lucky they’ll turn into something big.

War Crimes: Has Israel lost its way?

Some would argue that this is Israel’s way. So will it, and its leaders, have to face a war crimes tribunal?
Here are three specific reasons why the “war crimes” charge cannot be taken lightly:
Collective punishment: The entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.
Targeting civilians: The airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.
Disproportionate military response: The airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza’s elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.
Gideon Levy writes in Haaretz:
“Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni will stand at the forefront of the guilty. Two of them are candidates for prime minister, the third is a candidate for criminal indictment. It is inconceivable that they not be held to account for the bloodshed.”
Even Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal had an op-ed piece titled: Israel Is Committing War Crimes.
The Bush administration is to blame as well. Their non-engagement policy – to leave the Arabs and Israelis to work out issues on their own – has been a failure of leadership at the highest level. And Gaza is paying for it in blood.