Archive for September, 2009
Iran is always a hot topic and always in the news especially with the United Nations meeting and G20 in Pittsburgh this week. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered his speech to the UN in a prime time forum and everyone walked out. Why is that? Well Iran is having issues in a lot of areas right now. People in Iran believe Ahmadinejad fixed the recent presidential election, Iran doesn’t comply with the UN on many fronts, and there is no separation of religion and state. Recently, it was just discovered that Iran had a secret nuclear facility not reported to the IAEA and several world leaders thought the G20 would be a great time to address the issue. Watch this video to see Ahmadinejad’s reaction.
So why is the world scared of Iran developing nuclear technology? It doesn’t have anything to do with electricity, it has to do with weapons, nuclear weapons. This is where the issue of separating church and state comes into play. First, Ahmadinejad doesn’t believe that the holocaust happened, which is purely anti-Semitism. There are many videos including the recent speech at the UN where you can hear the words coming from Ahmadinejad. There is also another word you’ll always hear from Ahmadinejad and that is “Imam” and that word should scare you. It is also in reference to Imam Mahdi or the 12th Imam, which is the messiah Iran’s leaders believe will return if they cause havoc to Israel and United States. They don’t have to defeat Israel and the US, just cause cosmic chaos. Basically, the Iranian government believes in Armageddon and has a strategy to bring it about. There are hot lines, TV shows, etc. Just do a few Google searches or read these articles: 1, 2, or 3. How can you negotiate with these religious beliefs, you can’t and that’s why the world is watching and focused on Iran.
A great show about the history or Iran and the relations between the US is being replayed again on National Geographic on Saturday October 3rd at 5PM. If you want to learn more about Iran, Iran and the West is a great show from NatGeo.
I would like to pose a question, why rush while driving and do you really save that much time? I think people rush more because of habit than any other reason. Rushing and aggressive behavior becomes a driving style and doesn’t always end up serving a purpose. Some of us are just built to try and get things done as quickly as possible and with all the responsibilities of life, driving and getting from point A to B just becomes another one of those tasks that we need to accomplish quickly so we can go on to the next task.
If you do a little research (article 1, 2) you’ll see that aggressive driving and speeding are major contributors to accidents. So does rushing actually get you to your destination faster? I think the answer is maybe. You might be able to shave a few seconds on short, every day trips. But with the prevalence of stop lights, driving aggressively could potentially take longer and use up more gas. I often find that people gravitate to the fast lane and that the slow lane can often be just as fast and I don’t have people tailgating. So on a long trip, rushing might save you time if you don’t stop anywhere. If I drove slower then you, but my stop was 10 minutes shorter, we’d probably arrive at our destinations at the same time with all things being equal.
If you are an aggressive driver that always finds yourself rushing and getting stressed out, look at a clock and see how much time you’re really saving. Then ask yourself if that time is worth all the stress and risks of aggressive tailgating, flashing lights, rude gestures, deliberately preventing another driver from moving their vehicle, verbal abuse, physical assaults, disregarding traffic signals, changing lanes frequently or in an unsafe manner, and failure to yield the right of way.
AAA says us car accidents cost us $164.2 billion and cost each one of us $1000 per year. There are more than 6,000,000 car accidents every year with someone dying in a car every 12 minutes. Maybe rushing and driving aggressively isn’t so appealing after all considering the risk, stress, and how it hits our bank accounts. If we all calmed down a little on the roads, they would be a much safer place for all of us.
Chess is one of the most popular games in the world today and has origins from India and Southern Europe century’s ago. I’ve recently noticed more and more people playing the game. Chess is definitely back in style. Try it at your next party or family gathering. If casinos could monetize it, chess would probably become more popular than Texas hold’em.
Chess is very inexpensive to purchase at your local store or it can be played for free online. I have used CHESSHere.com and recommend it if you like to play online.
For those trying to quit tobacco, whether it be cigarettes or smokeless, here is a simple and cost effective solution, peppermints. Smoking or chewing tobacco has one big thing in common above and beyond just the nicotine, your mouth. The tobacco for some people can really be more about doing something with the mouth then the smoke or nicotine like a pacifier or pen that you chew on. If that is the case for you, try a peppermint to keep your mouth busy during the time you would normally be using tobacco and if not try this solution anyways. Peppermints do have sugar, but for the most part they are cheap and often times even free if you go to the right restaurant. Peppermints are a perfect, non-additive solution to quit for good. Once you’ve gone a few weeks without chewing or smoking, simply wean yourself off of the peppermints and consider yourself a non-smoker.
We’ve all seen the gum, the pills, the patch, and now the water vapor. Well peppermints won’t give you crazy dreams or other side effects, unless you go overboard and get a tooth cavity. And while the new water vapor solutions might not be as bad for you or as smelly, it still reinforces the same behavior and can be a much more costly solution.
Whatever you choose, don’t quit quiting and kick the habit… you’ll be glad you did and proud of the accomplishment. Avoid cancer, bad breath, smelly clothes, yellow teeth, receding gum lines, yellow walls, second hand smoke, house fires, burn holes, and save a ton of money on tobacco and healthcare.
Here is a stroke of genius for you… a professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, Luis von Ahn (biglou), developed the CAPTCHA and now had developed the reCAPTCHA to help stop SPAM on the Web and digitize books. Have you ever filled out a form on the Internet and then had to type a word or phrase from a distorted image to submit the form? Well that distorted and annoying image of a word, phrase, or numbers is called a CAPTCHA. CAPTCHAs stop computers from filling out forms thousands of times automatically and help web developers detect a human submitting real information vs. a spammer using a script to create thousands of fake submissions. After inventing the CAPTCHA and realizing how much time we were actually wasting on these distorted annoying images, Luis von Ahn set out to do something productive with that time, digitize books. Here is what one looks like:
One of these words is known so it can be checked against what you typed in order to determine that you are human. The second word is not known and will be presented to many people and confirmed against all the responses to digitize a book and help assist an optical computer recognition program that couldn’t read the word or numbers and needs a little help from us humans. Very cool, very innovative and every webmaster should use this over any other CAPTCHA tool out there as it helps solve a problem and is very easy to integrate.
CAPTCHA = Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart
reCAPTCHA also helps protect your email address on the Web by forcing someone to answer a CAPTCHA before revealing the email address to a human instead of some computer spider seeking to send you SPAM. The program is called Mailhide and is also strongly recommended.
Luis was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship ( “genius award”) in 2006 and is the recipient of a Microsoft New Faculty Fellowship. He has also been named one of the 50 Best Brains in Science by Discover Magazine, and has made it to numerous recognition lists that include Popular Science Magazine’s Brilliant 10, Silicon.com’s 50 Most Influential People in Technology, and Technology Review’s TR35: Young Innovators Under 35. So basically he is a smart dude doing innovative things and helping to make the world better and more efficient.
Finally, his GWAP site uses games to tag images, sounds, videos, etc. to help search engines provide more accurate results with this new Web content and is worthwhile to look at as well.