2/15/2006

Open Source Laptops ?

"Open Hardware - SUN opens up UltraSPARC processors
Open Source (wiki) | Innovation (wiki) - urs @ 18:12:38
Just recently I played with the open hardware idea when blogging about the $100 laptop. Now, SUN has opened up their UltraSPARC T1 processor design [1,2]. Of course, it is a long way from Verilog to the final chip. But at least for Universities it is an intersting opportunity.

At the Ingenieurschule Biel we used to work with Verilog and VHDL [3] and then implemented alorightms and microprocessor cores etc. in FPGA chips, as it has e.g. been done for the the so called 'Gecko' project [4]. Verilog and FPGA are quite perfect for rapid prototyping and therefore of interest for research and development industries.

circle.ch :: Open Hardware - SUN opens up UltraSPARC processors

Human Language Popularity



Number of speakers
Number of web documents
Summary: top 14 (speakers and web documents)
Combination: native speakers times web documents
Number of speakers

source: Ethnologue on Tue 21 Oct 1997

The data comes from the entries in the ethnologue itself, not from the Top 100 list, whose numbers differ from those in the entries.

("1st" means native speakers; "1st or 2nd" means all speakers.)

language speakers (1st) (1st or 2nd)
---------- ----------------- ------------
(top 98:)
Mandarin 885 million
English 322 million 470 million
Spanish 266 million 362 million
Bengali 189 million 196 million
Hindi 182 million 418 million
Russian 170 million 288 million
Portuguese 170 million 182 million
Japanese 125 million
German 98 million 121 million
Wu 77 million
Javanese 76 million
Korean 75 million
Telugu 73 million
French 72 million 124 million
Vietnamese 67 million
Cantonese (Yue) 66 million
Marathi 65 million
Tamil 62 million 69 million
Turkish 59 million
Urdu 57 million
Min Nan 49 million
Gujarati 44 million
Polish 44 million
Egyptian 43 million
Ukrainian 41 million
Italian 40 million 63 million
Hunanese (Xiang) 36 million
Kannada 34 million 44 million
Malayalam 34 million
Hakka 34 million
Oriya 31 million
Western Panjabi 30 million
Western Farsi 27 million
Romanian 26 million
Eastern Panjabi 26 million
Bhojpuri 25 million
Maithili 24 million
Hausa 22 million 38 million
Burmese 22 million 31 million
Algerian 22 million
Thai 21 million
Gan 21 million
Dutch 21 million
Serbo-Croatian 21 million
Amharic 20 million 23 million
Awadhi 20 million
Yoruba 20 million
Moroccan 20 million
Sindhi 20 million
Saidi 19 million
Malay 18 million
Northern Uzbek 18 million
Indonesian 17 million 140 million
Igbo 17 million
Sudanese 16 million
Nepali 16 million
Siraiki 15 million
Northeastern Tai 15 million
Hungarian 15 million
Assamese 15 million
Cebuano 15 million
Levantine Arabic 15 million
Tagalog 15 million
South Azerbaijani 14 million
Haryanvi 13 million
Sinhala 13 million
Czech 12 million
Greek 12 million
Marwari 12 million
Deccan 11 million
Min Bei 11 million
Magahi 11 million
Chattisgarhi 11 million
Belorussian 10 million
Northern Zhuang 10 million
Eastern Pashto 10 million
Najdi 10 million
Lombard 9 million
Zulu 9 million
Bulgarian 9 million
Swedish 9 million
Rwanda 9 million
Western Pashto 8 million
Bundeli 8 million
Ilocano 8 million
Kazakh 8 million
Somali 8 million
Tatar 8 million
Southern Yemeni 7 million
Uyghur 7 million
Cambodian (Khmer) 7 million
Neapolitan-Calabrese 7 million
Akan 7 million
Eastern Farsi 7 million
Kurmanji 7 million
Shona 7 million
North Azerbaijani 7 million
Xhosa 7 million

(scattered others:)
Finnish 6 million
Danish 5 million
Norwegian 5 million
Hebrew 5 million
Lithuanian 4 million
Latvian 1.6 million
Estonian 1.1 million
Icelandic 0.25 million
Human Language Popularity

2/13/2006

Our Tribe
by: StealthBadger
[subscribe]
February 12, 2006 at 08:38:27 America/Chicago
( - promoted by Maryscott O'Connor)

[I was initially wondering whether or not to crosspost this here, when I started thinking of flamewars like the one that happened in Armando's GBCW here not too long ago. How to handle things when you come face-to-face with the truth that you can not reason with the unreasonable is a problem that will only grow more prevalent, not less, as the cultures of the world increasingly turn towards fundamentalism. This is my answer.]

[Update II: Thanks to Paul Rosenberg for catching the fact that I'd cited the wrong title for Octavia Butler's novel.]

[Update: Crossposted at dKos. Please recommend there if you feel it appropriate.]

In the novel Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler, the central thematic conflict addressed in the story is the paradoxical existence within the human mind of both intelligence and a need for heirarchy. Simply put, when a need to fit into a structure and reason conflict, reason is not always going to win. When the heirarchal impulse dominates, the effect is almost certainly destructive to anything outside that group, and probably to any inside the group who do not sufficiently acquiesce to its control. The larger problem is that there is always more than one heirarchy, and heirarchies by definition seek to embrace and control as much as possible.

StealthBadger :: Our Tribe
When I read this, there was something I couldn't put my finger on that disquieted me about the words chosen, well-supported by the ambivalence with which she portrays the issue within her own writing. While putting together follow-on articles to Baseball, Kenjutsu, and Telling the Truth, the words to express my discomfort finally formed: it's not just heirarchy, it's the overwhelming power of "tribe," both in how we identify with our own group, and how we objectify others. But is there a way to describe the effects of this in rigorous, logical terms, or is this an ineffable part of being human which we can never understand?

I don't know about all of the things that go into it, but there's definitely one part that propagandists, confidence artists, and political consultants have known for years uncounted, and that is supported by research: our brains reward us on the neurochemical level for affirming our ties to our own tribe, and rejecting ties to others. From an article in the Washington Post:

The field of social psychology has long been focused on how social environments affect the way people behave. But social psychologists are people, too, and as the United States has become increasingly politically polarized, they have grown increasingly interested in examining what drives these sharp divides: red states vs. blue states; pro-Iraq war vs. anti-Iraq war; pro-same-sex marriage vs. anti-same-sex marriage. And they have begun to study political behavior using such specialized tools as sophisticated psychological tests and brain scans.

"In my own family, for example, there are stark differences, not just of opinion but very profound differences in how we view the world," said Brenda Major, a psychologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara and the president of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, which had a conference last week that showcased several provocative psychological studies about the nature of political belief.

The new interest has yielded some results that will themselves provoke partisan reactions: Studies presented at the conference, for example, produced evidence that emotions and implicit assumptions often influence why people choose their political affiliations, and that partisans stubbornly discount any information that challenges their preexisting beliefs. Emory University psychologist Drew Westen put self-identified Democratic and Republican partisans in brain scanners and asked them to evaluate negative information about various candidates. Both groups were quick to spot inconsistency and hypocrisy -- but only in candidates they opposed.

When presented with negative information about the candidates they liked, partisans of all stripes found ways to discount it, Westen said. When the unpalatable information was rejected, furthermore, the brain scans showed that volunteers gave themselves feel-good pats -- the scans showed that "reward centers" in volunteers' brains were activated. The psychologist observed that the way these subjects dealt with unwelcome information had curious parallels with drug addiction as addicts also reward themselves for wrong-headed behavior.

The rest of the article is devoted to another study that reveals empirically what anyone familiar with the Southern Strategy already knows, that the Republican party is more likely to appeal to those with more pronounced racial biases. Now one study does not make it truth, it will be interesting to see if the results can be reproduced. I would not be surprised if the conclusions were supported in further research, but there are bigger metaphysical fish to fry. At the risk of drawing the ire of a great many people, I must say that focusing on the second part of the article is to miss a huge part of why the Southern Strategy, Fox News, and even the trolls you get on political blogs all tie together, and how the way our minds work perpetuates these things.

When we see someone frothing at the mouth, pontificating almost without reference to the points being thrown back at them, what is really going on? When someone whose arguments have been pounded into scrap suddenly pauses and says with the slightest of smiles, "well I just don't believe it," what the hell just happened in that person's head? When someone who knows they're not going to convince you keeps pounding away without mercy or reason, what are they doing? What, besides adrenaline, causes some people to love heated dispute, and to actively seek it out? Why are people, and that includes you, sometimes driven to moments where you say "if only they could just see how wrong they are?" If you have been maddened by this before, and even later wondered at your own willingness to skip over a shaky bit of reasoning in order to state a conclusion that you're not completely comfortable with, and wondering why exactly you felt good about doing it at all, the answer is pretty simple: endorphins. Part of the package you get from being human is a system for rewarding group identification.

When you affirm your beliefs (which ultimately in our inner world defines who is tribe and who is not), you feel a glow of warmth. When you reject someone else's that conflict with your own, you feel it too, in addition to whatever turmoil the discussion may have stirred up. When you are forced to be polite to someone who you feel is "other," it's a horribly disorienting thing. It literally feels good now and then to think in your heart that freepers are idiots, because you're affirming membership in your own tribe. It's not a simple thing, it's not by far the only thing that acts within us, but ignoring it is like pretending you don't blink. This isn't thought control, though through repetition and symbol abuse, it can certainly push your buttons. It isn't a tinfoil-hat theory, this is just part of how your head is put together. It isn't good or evil, but it isn't particularly well adapted to modern society.

It's also possible to fall into this trap more than once. Look at how many people ran from one self-help movement to another in the 70s. We have serial cultists, who after rejecting one "Revealed Truth," immediately run off for another one so they can once again experience the euphoria of affirmation. Few people know what this feels like compared to someone who's been in the military, where conformity, obedience, and group identification is what makes the Pentagon go 'round. These words and their irony keep coming back to haunt me, from a disabled vet of OIF who was speaking at a freeper rally: (note: I incorrectly quoted this on an earlier thread, apologies)

“We didn’t think about Bush or Halliburton. When bullets are coming at you, you think about the guy on your right, and the guy on your left, and that’s what I lost my legs for.”

It's not just when the bullets start coming at you, it's every day of your life. Our brains are wired to make our bonds with the group we belong to more important than anything else, which is what makes a sociopath so terrifying to society at large - whatever makes that connection give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside just isn't working.

So what can you do? If this is the way it works, then isn't any attempt to fight it doomed to failure? It's not like you can pull that part of your brain out, and there's certainly no way to counter it any more than you can "make" someone stop drinking, right?

Yes and no.

Yes, it's always there, but there are ways to turn it from a weakness into a strength without jumping feet-first into a moral slime-pit. The very, very first thing you need to do when confronted with this behavior is to get over yourself. Nothing productive is going to happen as long as you and whoever you're arguing with are feeding each other's endorphin/adrenaline habit. Second, recognize that you have no power in the situation over anyone or anything but yourself. On the other hand, unless you're strapped into a restraint chair in an interrogation room, no-one has any power over you that you do not give them. It's your mind, and it's morally wrong to give it away when all you get out of the deal is a little glandular excitement. Lastly, relax and breathe; you are safe. You are part of a group that recognizes its faults and seeks to overcome them. You are of the family that embraces mistakes as opportunities for learning. Your tradition is to value being correct more than being "right." Your people's passion is to be good, kind, and fair when nothing in the world forces them to do so. You are part of the reality-based community, and your tribe's wisdom is the Enlightenment.

Once you've gotten yourself under control, first find out if there is any common ground you can reach with the other person. Not just a common opinion, but some way in which you and they can look at each other as part of the same group. If not, then get out as quickly as possible, because nothing can be accomplished barring some accidental magical transformative moment. Perhaps someone else of your tribe can connect with them, all you can do is exacerbate the problem by reinforcing the divisions between you. Feel free to call them on exactly what they're doing, though - your tribe values truth.

If you find that common ground, see if you can expand it a little. Just a little. Don't push for too much, and don't expect anything later. See if you can stretch the boundaries of agreement just enough for someone else to have a better chance of reaching a little further later on. The goal is not to make them do or be anything, it is to have a conversation in which truth is agreed upon, even if that truth is that you don't know the answer to the question you face. Ultimately, their definitions of "us" and "them" are their own responsibility and no-one else's, all you can do is invite them to see you as one of the former, rather than the latter.

Don't get cocky, though, or you'll just start feeding that addiction again even as you spin your wheels rhetorically. Fortunately, your tribe is a demanding one, because you can never always be right. It's also accepting, it embraces everything from democracy to patriarchy-blaming to activism to scholarly research, just so long as you're keeping the faith. Even better, your tribe encourages this as part of its "revealed wisdom's" greatest lesson: it is far, far better to be learning, than to be right.
My Left Wing :: Our Tribe

2/12/2006

Blogger = Terrorist ? In Bushianity yes, if you blog against Bush

From the "I told you so" files on 2004

The systematic attack on the Internet has begun

The Dominion will NOT risk another close election. Blogs and the Internet virtually cancelled their mainstream media advantage..

Prepare to see "hacker" equated to terrorist, cybercrime elevated to big issue and the way they can shut up anyone they want.

Last month in 2006:
- Create an e-annoyance, go to jail
- Feds want records of Web searches

Now:
My Left Wing :: Bush Tags Bloggers As Terrorists

Homeland Security completed its “Cyber Storm” wargame to test how our government “would respond to devastating attacks over the Internet from anti-globalization activists, underground hackers and bloggers.” Given that homeland security ran the “wargame,” one may infer that the nature of the attacks by bloggers must be national security related. And, given that the major national security fear of our government is terrorists, then it looks like bloggers have made our government’s hit list of potential terrorists. But, what is the nature of this “terrorist crime” that was the subject of these wargames?

“Participants confirmed parts of the worldwide simulation challenged government officials and industry executives to respond to deliberate misinformation campaigns and activist calls by Internet bloggers, online diarists whose "Web logs" include political rantings and musings about current events.”

There are other indications that the Bush administration deems bloggers well within the reach of any definition of terrorist, if for no other reason than the crime of dissent and criticism. There are also indicators that relevant parties would be somewhat prepared to assist in the nabbing of terrorist bloggers:

(1) In what may have been a precursor to US bloggers, the US military and government apparently were not offended (at least did not take any publicly disclosed action to free the blogger) when an Iraqi blogger was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned for the crime of reading comments on another blogger’s website at a public café

(2) US plans to data mine blogs for stated purpose of finding terrorist information to connect the dots to prevent a terrorist attack:

“The U.S. government is developing a massive computer system that can collect huge amounts of data and, by linking far-flung information from blogs and e-mail to government records and intelligence reports, search for patterns of terrorist activity.”

(3) “The CIA is quietly funding federal research into surveillance of Internet chat rooms as part of an effort to identify possible terrorists, newly released documents reveal.”

(4) American Internet providers have assisted foreign countries to jail bloggers for substantive content posted on their blogs:

“Last December, Microsoft shut down the Web site of a dissident Chinese blogger. A few months earlier, Yahoo gave Beijing the name of a dissident Chinese journalist. He got ten years in jail for his Web postings. Ironically, Google's Chinese kowtow comes as the company is resisting efforts by the U.S. government for access to its records.”

(5) Indymedia was a subject of a secret, international terrorism investigation in which US government seized its hard drives. A Texas Internet company turned over hard drives pursuant to a court order under an international treaty governing crimes of terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering.

(6) The MSM has shown its willingness to paint bloggers and any lefty journalists as the domestic evil axis of treasonists so that the American people will understand the need to arrest bloggers to make this country safe from terrorists.


Frameshop: Dick Quixote

War In Iraq Leads Only To Deeper Problems, Quixotic Cheney Still Talks Of Secrets and Promises

In the past few weeks, a radical Islamic party was elected in the Palestinian Territories, the democratically elected government in Iraq has been show to be an increasingly clear ally of Iran, and a danish newspaper cartoon has produced an outpouring of organized and effective Muslim protest, galvanizing the Middle East against American and European interests. All this, and still Dick Cheney thinks the road to national security for America is to keep fighting the 'War on Terror' in Iraq.


America does not have any more time to waste with a Vice President fighting the fictions and phantoms of his own imagination.

As a nation, we face great dangers in the world and a real enemy in Al Qaeda. Our Military needs to engage these dangers in a serious and far reaching fight for national security. But no danger to America is greater than Dick Cheney--the man controlling our foreign policy who refuses to step beyond a war in his own imagination and lead this nation to a fight against our real enemies. Dick Cheney has become "Dick Quixote" and he is tilting at windmills to the detriment of America's security.

FRAMESHOP by Jeffrey Feldman

2/10/2006

Is it any wonder Bush has not found Osama yet ?

Bush is looking for Osama in your phone calls.
Is it any wonder he has not found him yet ?

4 years and 4 months later the man and his lieutenants are still at large, while Bush has spent the time sniffing around US phone calls, google web searches for porn, ...
What good did all this illegal spying and torturing do ?
Zippo, Nada, Zero.

FRAMESHOP by Jeffrey Feldman

Frameshop: To Reframe Debate, Say 'Secret Police'

Frameshop: To Reframe Debate, Say 'Secret Police'

Domestic Spying Scandal Reveals Bush's 'Chilling Vision' Of America Where 'Secret Police' 'Crack Down' On Citizens

Despite the spreading concern over the NSA domestic spying scandal and the PATRIOT Act, President Bush and his cabinet are winning the political debate. When Americans of all political stripes protest the 'violation of rights,' the President and his team respond that these programs have 'saved American lives.'

It is time for all of us to stop tiptoeing around the issue and use better words to frame this debate:

4 WAYS TO REFRAME NSA-PATRIOT DEBATE:

1. Secret Police ("...Bush has brought secret police to America...")
2. Chilling Vision ("...Cheney's chilling vision reminds me of East Germany...")
3. Fear Spreading ("...fear spreading to every corner of America...")
4. Crack Down ("...threatens to crack down on ordinary Americans...")

FRAMESHOP by Jeffrey Feldman

Prayer of Jabez Falls Short in Africa

Most theocons believe that "if we in pure heart ask God for a blessing - like Jabez on the bible - then God will bring wondrous gifts into our life" As the author below notes, this implies that poverty is a spiritual punishment and that an individual reciting the right prayer can transcend an AIDS epidemic or other tragedies. And Bush wants to use this approach for all the social programs in US. Sigh..

The Prayer of Jabez falls short in Africa
by David Batstone

The Prayer of Jabez is based on a passage out of the book of Chronicles, in which a devoted man named Jabez asks God for a favor: "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from hurt and harm!" The fact that God honors Jabez' prayer and blesses him with great riches indicates to Wilkinson a God-principle. If we in pure heart ask God for a blessing - and do so using the very words that Jabez prayed - then God will bring wondrous gifts into our life. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Wilkinson interprets the wild commercial success of his books (roughly 20 million copies sold combined) as yet another proof of the miraculous power of the Jabez prayer. In other words, it worked for Jabez, it worked for Wilkinson, and now it should work for you. With the fiasco in Africa now behind him - and the full Journal report makes clear that fiasco is the appropriate term - I wonder if Wilkinson has reconsidered his theology.

Maybe because I spent so many years in poor regions of the globe I could never accept the prayer-in-blessing-out approach to faithful living. Straight to the point, I have known too many devoted Christians for whom life did not bring them material blessing. Their children still died of infectious diseases that plagued their village. They could not avoid the violence that dictators and ideologues so often use to cow the powerless. Their territory did not expand because their only path for survival was a daily labor with their hands. Yet they did not lose faith, or cease praying for God's blessing.

As I ponder on their lives, I find a more fitting theology for God's presence and action in the world to be laid out in the book of Hebrews. There we are encouraged to have "faith in things not yet seen," and are offered models of individuals who tried to lead devoted lives that honor God. We read that some of them did receive great material blessings, while others ended up in the dens of lions or stoned due to their principled living. We learn, in other words, that God does hear their prayers and loves them profoundly, but it does not always bring them material riches or expanded territory.

Wilkinson's doctrine in fact implies that social structures are immaterial. An individual reciting the right prayer can transcend an AIDS epidemic in his or her village or escape being bought and sold into slavery (like 27 million people on this planet yet today). Perhaps now that Wilkinson has immersed himself in Africa, he better understands that the curse of poverty is not a spiritual punishment, or an indication of a lack of faith. To bring blessings to the orphans and widows of Africa, a dramatic shift in values - political, economic, and personal - will be required. And that challenge cannot be owned by Africans alone; it falls squarely on the shoulders of us in rich nations, who enjoy such great material "blessings."

Just like the next Bible reader, I could pick out individual passages that seem to suggest that God will give us whatever we desire as long as we ask for it with a pure heart. "You can even move this mountain" with such a prayer, as Jesus teaches his disciples in the gospels. I do not summarily discount these passages, nor do I assume that we should never pray for rain in a time of drought.

But the weight of the biblical message balances heavily toward a prayer life that yields courage, love, and compassion to do the will of God. The expectation of material gain and miraculous blessings may even distract us on that pilgrimage. The passage in Hebrews calls us, based on past heroes of the faith, "to run the race in front of us," confident that devoting our lives to God's work is all the reward we will ever need.
The Prayer of Jabez Falls Short in Africa - SojoMail 02.09.06