Tuesday 15 December 2009

A very brief introduction to European Feudalism

European feudalism developed out of expediency in the times of the fall of Rome. Germanic tribes were divided from each other and nations did not exist, but territories were occupied by groups of people with warrior kings at their heads. Tribal migrations and pillaging warrior bands created a European scene marked by danger and strife. The majority of people lived off the land as farmers, and even the higher ranks of society were farmers. In the time of Roman rule, those under Roman authority also had Roman support, but the collapse of the Roman Empire reversed the scene so that Rome no longer protected people from Germanic tribes, but instead Rome was invaded by Germanic tribes. This changed the power base of the continent.

Warriors gained power by gaining support from warrior-farmers, and these warriors became tribal leaders and kings. Multiple tribes could unite, and even multiple kings united under high kings (Ireland is notorious for its plethora of kings with stratified rank). Warrior leaders obtained their followings and maintained personal security forces by gift-giving; silver, gold, weapons, and even food were generously released from the leader's possession to his comrades. This wealth needed to have an avenue of supply, and although food could be sourced from the landholdings of the leader, the primary supplier of the treasure used by leaders to buy support was the victims of plundering raids. These raids targeted the less defended villages because of the danger of equal combat in battle. The strong preying upon the weak was a defining characteristic of the early medieval European pillage and gift economy; in light of these practices, it is apparent why the stage was set for the mutual dependency relationship of reciprocal vassalage.

Feudalism developed as a means of survival. The lower ranks of society needed land and protection, and the higher ranks of society needed labourers and soldiers. Without land, a person could not farm and would starve; without labour, a landowner could not run a farm and would have no food production. Without a warrior leader, villagers could not form an organised militia and would rout easily when attacked. The European mainland nobility came from the ranks of former Roman military commanders, or were non-Roman warrior leaders, and therefore understood combat and fighting forces; they knew how to fight, but needed soldiers. Although these warrior leaders often had personal followings of household troops, the forces were small and not adequate for defence against major assaults, but were only sufficient for contending with pesky neighbouring warrior leaders. The feudal system started as a simple co-operation movement of people uniting for survival.

Mutual obligation between the people in the feudal relationship provided for the needs of both parties. As Europe became more unified, countries emerged. Kings owned the territories they controlled, and as their influence grew so did their landholdings. For these kings, who emerged out of the petty warrior kings of the past, officers were essential. Officers were needed for an army, and an army was needed to keep the kingdom. Officers were also needed to enforce the kings control over the regions of the kingdom, otherwise the king's court was all that empowered rule, and so the king's influence only lasted and extended to the locations and times of the royal court's residence. Lords emerged out of the warrior leaders of the past, and became leaders of manorial estates that took the form of plantations. These lords needed landholdings for their farms and peasantry, and the king needed taxes; if the king did not receive taxes, he would confiscate the land, which he thought belonged to him, and give it to a loyal lord. Lords also needed protection from the armies of other kings. This became a multi-levelled system of service and land giving. Kings lent land to lords, who in turn lent the land to peasants. Peasants promised service to lords, who in turn promised service to kings. This basic system became more complicated as time went on, with added ranks and variations, but remained the same structural essence.

The feudal system was very much like the modern system of employment, in which employers need employees under them for work to be accomplished, and employees need employers over them to supply them with work, both seeking the other out because of mutual need. In feudalism, nobles needed vassals and sought them out, and vassals needed nobles and sought them out, entering the relationship out of desire for the benefits contained therein. The most important aspect of European feudal life was the reciprocal relationship of mutual need. The lives of the serfs may have been miserable, but they were less miserable than they would have been if they were out of the feudal relationship. Manorial villages provided community and protection for everyone. The feudal system was because of survival expediency.

Feudalism originally was not a form of slavery and oppression (as understood by people of today, mostly influenced by France and very late Medieval and Renaissance times as viewed through the chronological bias lens of later eras trying to make their own time look better by changing the image of earlier years, a form of propaganda generated by Enlightenment persons) but was a system designed to protect people by forming a syndicate; the peasants were given land and protection from the lord, and the lord was given labour and military service from the peasants. The term "lord" comes from "hlāfweard" meaning "loaf-ward", or the keeper of the bread; the meaning of "lord" displays the concept of provision and generosity being the defining attributes and honour of rulers. This feudal system provided for the vital needs of the people and supplied protection, and protection was an important concern in a violent age with many marauding tribes pillaging and plundering and exacting treasures from their neighbours. Feudalism originated from freemen voluntarily becoming peasants under more powerful local chieftains (voluntary is a loose term, for circumstances and the land possessions of the chieftains, coupled with the political instability and violent hazards, gave them no other option).

Friday 27 November 2009

Hamlet: his problem

King: He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath found the head and source of all your son's distemper.
Queen: I doubt it is no other but the main, his father's death and our o'erhasty marriage.
Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2, lines 54-57

Hamlet had problems. He had internal and external conflicts, including difficulty in knowing who to trust. Can he trust the new king? Can he trust the apparition? Can he trust his friends? Can he even trust himself? Is he delusional or of sound mind? Did he of a truth experience conversation with the ghost of his father, or has his mind, or perhaps a villainous spirit, implanted these notions of a murderous explanation to king Hamlet's demise? Can he justly impregnate his uncle with the blame of murder? Is his own mother trustworthy, or has the hasty transfer of spouses displayed her true colours? Both the internal and external are combined in the dilemmic conundrum of Hamlet's social conversation during the navigation of the metaphysical labyrinth.

Junior Hamlet's father died; his uncle had both taken his father's crown and wife. Hamlet was displeased at the lack of a grieving period of proper duration. Hamlet's mother married too soon after Senior Hamlet's death. This swift marriage looked to Hamlet as a form of infidelity, a lack of dutiful love and devotion to the Late King Hamlet. This tragic, unsuspected death and impatient matrimonial union both in combination caused Hamlet to, in a form, lose his entire parental unit. Even before the spectral visitation, treachery was suspected, although not treacherous murder but a similitude of treachery on the part of those who's rightful occupation should have been mourning. Hamlet's father had been erased without warning, cause, or reason.

Oh, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! Oh, God! God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on 't, ah, fie! 'Tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed, things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
But two months dead! Nay, not so much, not two.
Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 2, lines 129-138.

The anguish of Hamlet's recent life happenings were complicated by the message delivered by none other than the phantasm of his father. The spirit informed Hamlet of its condemnation to purgatory and the suffering thereof, and gave reason for the recent death. Murder, foul and unnatural, untimely and traitorous; the mutineer the thief. King Hamlet was killed by his brother before his recent sins could be accounted for, and so lost life, kingdom, wife, and amnesty from purgatory. Grave tidings indeed, and much evil accusation on the head of young Hamlet's uncle.

Following the ghastly herald's visit Hamlet must, in the midst of the emotional storm caused by recent events of death, marriage, and haunting, resolve the puzzle laid before him by his father's spirit. Is the ghost worthy of trust? The ghost's authority and the validity of the tale are things Hamlet was unsure of, but had sincere suspicions upon. A test had to be devised for the purpose of proving the new information. Should the test reveal accuracy in the apparition's story, the riddle of right action becomes the argument of the mind.

Further complications were imposed on young Hamlet by the members of the royal court. The king and queen, as well as their courtiers, were concerned about Hamlet's depressed countenance and further alarmed when he behaved with a semblance of insanity. After the encounter with the ghost, Hamlet chose to act as if he had lost his wit so as to defend his purpose of espionage. Normal behaviour was reserved for Horatio, Hamlet's only trusted partner and fellow investigator. When alone or with his detective associate, Prince Hamlet lost his disguise, but in all other company a facade of madness was instilled. Thus perturbation marked the brains of Elsinore, giving hospitality to the guests scheme and plot. The king and his cohorts directed shenanigans to solve their problem of Hamlet.

Hamlet needed to retribute the assassination, but first the facts about the coup needed to be verified. Is Hamlet's uncle a treacherous killer? Guilt must find it out. For this purpose, Hamlet staged a theatrical display of regicide in order to gage the countenance of the king upon his observation of the spectacle. Hamlet needed to acquire a second opinion to insure the trial, but a single juror was all he could muster because his friend base was well nigh vacant, for his mother's defection and the presence of betrayal and intrigue left him quite alone to solve the matters, and Horatio was his only comrade. To forbid the existence of misinterpretation Hamlet employed Horatio's witness to appreciate the king's response to the entertainment. The enlisted ranks were small but adequate for the task, and guilt was found in the royal person.

Hamlet's problem of discovering the reason behind his father's death, and the guilty party, were solved without excess of difficulty, but his main problem was still at large. The major problem was what to do about the crime. The princely vigilante set about to avenge his father and sort out the mess, and complications and resolutions occupied the majority of Shakespeare's play, with the final action of Hamlet and his solution falling within the finale. There were other issues, but they are side or sub items adding flavour.

The business of Ophelia was a concern of Hamlet's, but not counted among his problems. His relationship with her was put on hold, and later ended. Hamlet's sincerity in regard to Ophelia may be postulated upon, and he did have love for her even if the quality of that love could be subpoenaed for doubt. When conversing with her under hidden watch, Hamlet admitted to loving her once, but also stated that he loved her not; later at her funeral he declared his past love for her. Her death and the accidental manslaughter of her father added to the complications, but Hamlet's problem was of his father's murder and the responses to his antics. The Ophelia affair was but a segment of the problem of the royal court's dealings with Hamlet, and the royal court's responses to the prince's behaviour was but a convelusion to the problem of the regicide.

Fortinbras and the Norweigan conflict was even more removed from young Hamlet. The murdered king had a war with Norway, and this lead to further military conflict between Norway and Denmark, but the international conflict was between people who were segregated from the immediate concerns of Hamlet with the exception of the king of Denmark, but the matter was only a distraction and not pertinent to the Danish prince affair. Norway was a part of the story but not of Hamlet's problems.

The saga of the Prince of Denmark bears many storylines. There are problems, solutions, conspiracies, concerns, and affairs, but most are decorations to Hamlet's problem of his father's death. And so, although garnished with many side and sub stories, it becomes apparent that the tale of Hamlet is that of a man plagued with the disease of family problems.

Thursday 6 August 2009


Just when you thought the guys from The Pirate Bay had given up and started kissing the entertainment industry's ass like everyone else, there came a glimmer of hope. The verdict of the trial hit hard, and the appeal is still a long ways off, but in the meantime, our friends at TPB are doing everything in their power to make life miserable for the corperate goons running the prosecution. Read the article! It's almost as brilliant as paying the entire fine in pennies delivered by dumptrucks. I commend these guys for their unbreakable spirit and their dedication to freedom of information and open networks.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

On Vigilante Justice

Police cannot be everywhere at the same time. They cannot see everything. They cannot always respond fast enough to solve a bad situation. They have been tasked with protecting the publice and punishing the perps; nevertheless, they are not superhuman. The existance of the police does not relieve us of our right to protect ourselves and the people around us. Government fanboys would have us call emergency services while our sisters and wives are raped, our cars are stolen, and our property vandalised. Personal responsibility would dictate that we respond with appropriate force to resolve the situation and, if possible, apprehend the transgressor. Every gun in a citizens pocket is like an additional cop on the streets. We are all enforcers of the law, and who would transgress that law knowing that they are surrounded by armed law enforcement wherever they go? If I see a man beating a weaker man, it is my duty as a fellow citizen and a member of our legal bund to aid the latter even if it means harming the former. If my property is being vandalized in a manner than transgresses the law, it is my right as a citizen to ensure that it is no longer vandalized. There is no limit to the force I can use, as long as it is necessary and not excessive. If I am robbed regularly and security systems and guard dogs have not been effective, then it is only right that I should be permitted to install pop-up machine guns in my lawn. This isn't taking the law into my own hands. The law is already in our hands, we have simply used them to create police departments and security firms. We have outsourced our duty to protect ourselves, yet we have not lost our right to do so.

Tuesday 21 July 2009

Breaking the Chains

Hello, if you are reading this, I consider you a friend. I know many of you from school, some from church, and others I have only met online. Firstly, I thank you for your friendship.


I am an atheist. Yes, you read correctly. This has been a long time coming, and I think it is finally time, that I make public the private doubts that have been building for several years now.

My experiences with Christianity as a child were quite varied. Unlike many of my friends, I did not grow up in a Christian home, and it was not until I was in elementary school that my mother regularly started attending church at the invitation of a friend. Though my father never attended church, I was often “dragged” along on these expeditions...rather unwillingly I might add. As with most kids, I was much more excited by box forts, sandboxes, and jungle gyms than by long boring talks about topics that no ordinary kid would find exciting. Nevertheless, as I grew older, I did so in the structure of Christianity, attending church, children's church, and for a few years a Christian school. I learned about all the different bible stories, learned songs about “father Abraham” and the wise man who build a house on a rock. I learned about morality and why we shouldn't take things without asking, hurt other people, or covet someone else's belongings. During these early years I did not really question what I was taught.

As I grew older, I spent time in various children's churches and youth groups. I participated in Awana at several churches, and went to a Christian summer camp with my school. During this time, I distinctly remember becoming confused about the concept of salvation. Why did I feel exactly the same when I was “saved” as before. I took up the amusing habit of “re-saving” myself on a regular basis just to be safe. Just before my last year of junior high, my father got out of the military and we moved to Colorado Springs. Immediately my mother found a church for us to attend and I have very fond memories of this time. I met many kind people, and my youth-group participated in a variety of enjoyable activities such as Christian concerts, trips to Elich Gardens, and game nights. After a few years of this the church broke up. I don't feel it necessary to go into the details here because they do not really pertain to the point of my story. Let it suffice for me to say that the breakup of the church was not planned and was a real upset for the members of that congregation.

By this point, I was pretty well integrated into the culture of the church. I had long since given up my habit of “re-saving” myself, and felt very secure in my “eternal destiny”. I never really questioned whether such a thing existed, I just knew that it worked for me. I had great friends, a good family life, I was happy, and I saw no reason to doubt or explore my options. After the breakup of our first church in Colorado Springs, we began to attend what was then known as the Mountain Springs Vineyard. It was a larger church than any of the churches we had previously attended, something I enjoyed, but later caused my mother to seek out smaller churches where she considered the people to be friendlier and more personal. By that time, I had become well rooted at MSC. I was a regular attendee at services, a happy member of the youth group, an occasional participant on mission trips, and I continued to grow in my dedication to the church and the biblical principals for which it stood. There was a time where I would attend church multiple times a week, staying for multiple services, participating in bible studies, doing street evangelism, and happily volunteering my time in the soundbooth, or wherever else I had an opportunity to help out. I believed wholeheartedly and saw myself being involved to the same degree for an infinite amount of time in the future. It was during this time period when I made many of my closest friendships, many of which survive to this day.

I have always been bad with numbers, so I don't know how many years passed, but at some point I began to feel myself distancing from the extremely church-integrated life I had led in the past. I stopped volunteering in the soundbooth, and I no longer helped with the junior high students on the weekend. Why this happened, I still don't entirely know. If I look back, it seemed like I was doing everything right, yet somehow I was drawn away. I still attended services, but I had become quite dissatisfied with the church and with Christianity in general. I recorded many of my thoughts from this time period in a notebook. I a bit of a poet, and find great joy in recording my thoughts and ideas in artistic form. Some of these writings are personal, but I don't usually mind sharing them when someone asks. It was during this time that I began to subconsciously realize that many of my views and ideas about life where poorly supported or altogether ridiculous and began to generate complex rationalizations for them. I never took seriously the possibility that I could just ditch them and follow the truth wherever it might lead me. This realization now stands in the center of my world-view and I have never found anyone who could sum it up as beautifully as the German philosopher and poet Frederich Nietzsche did in this poem “Mein Glück”Seit ich des Suchens müde ward,
erlernte ich das finden.
Einst heilt mir der wind Widerpart,
Jetzt segle ich mit allen Winden.

Since I tired of the search,
I learned to find.
Once the wind opposed me,
Now I sail with all winds.

I spent so many years of my life fighting the wind of logic. I sailed my ship of thought against the winds of reality and the stronger they grew, the harder I rowed. Now I am content to find and learn. I no longer oppose the wind, but rather allow logic to blow me in whatever direction I will find truth. Since I value logic so highly, I only think it fair that I should expound on it, and flesh out some of the reasoning behind my deconverion.

Logic is perhaps the most important thing in the world. It is the basis of human understanding, and thought. Try to have a thought or come up with an idea without using logic to some degree. The very process of language requires logic. Without logic, we are like lower animals, driven only by the most primal instincts, and incapable of complex thought or any form of understanding.

Oftentimes, people have told me that logic is flawed and that it cannot be trusted. What then are we to trust? Can we trust God? If so, what is the basis of our trust? One cannot honestly say that they arrive at their faith in God via the same logic they claim is flawed. This leaves us with two options. Firstly, there is the possibility that logic is not flawed and that if we follow it we will eventually arrive at the conclusion that God can be trusted. If this is true, then why is it that so many Christians cry foul when you ask the hard questions, ones without simple answers? The second option is that because our logic is flawed we can never know anything about anything including God. That doesn't work for me, and upon careful inspection I don't see how it can work for any rational person, but I don't intend to dissect everyone else's thought processes.

And now, I must become somewhat disorganized because the vast quantities of ideas and thoughts I am dealing with do not easily lent themselves to organization and categorization.

Magic, miracles, and the supernatural are often claimed when our understanding is incomplete. Yet it seems that time after time these superstitions have been replaced with understanding as our capability for reason grows. Once we thought that the world was flat; pending the invention of physics, the telescope, and modern cartography, we have come to the realization that our planet is a sphere. Once we thought that diseases were the result of demonic possession; now, thanks to modern medicine, we understand germs and viruses. Once we thought that the universe was static; then physics introduced us to the big bang and now we are discovering that reality may be even more extensive and far reaching than that, encompassing multiverses and the cyclic generation and destruction of universes over millions of years. Sea monsters were once considered a legitimate threat; but now no rational individual would tolerate such nonsense. Nevertheless, religion claims to be exempt from this, and as new discoveries are made, they are resisted for as long as possible, and then accepted only grudgingly and with many stipulations and modifications so as not to weaken related superstitions. Since logic is the basis of our minds I refuse to participate further in this willful delusion, even if I am in the smallest of minorities.

Religion often attaches itself to entirely non-religious and in the case of Christianity non-Biblically supported concepts and ideas. In many parts of the United States it is impossible to be against the death penalty and still be considered a “good Christian.” From the way people act, it seems absolutely certain that the Jesus was a rich white, pro-life, pro-death penalty, gun-toting, capitalist, anti-welfare, Republican. This is not up for debate.

The Religious exhibit more hypocrisy than any group on the planet. They consistently judge others, while secret practicing all the things they pretend to detest. Why is it that Christians, claim that Christian marriage is so different, yet they get divorced at the same rate as non-Christians? If God has truly placed two people together why is it that someone like Ted Haggard who vehemently preached against homosexuality turned out to be a closet homosexual and drug addict. I didn't sit there and watch him do what he did, but in the weeks of denial that followed, it was pretty easy to see through the bullshit and discover what was really going on.

Christians embrace wholeheartedly the hierarchies in society which are alleged to give some men power over others and even go so far as to designate dissent as a “sin.” Groupthink is encouraged and individualism is frowned upon. Anyone who dares to step outside the norm or ask questions is immediately deemed a thought criminal. If anyone can be said to have thoroughly understood such things it would be George Orwell. His book 1984 seems to perfectly foreshadow the direction in which our country, and likely many other countries, are headed. Doublethink as Orwell called it is now commonplace. Everyday, people willfully delude themselves in order too escape the consequences of reality and the world they live in.

Rather than attempting to understand the true nature of morality, the religious subscribe to the idea of a cosmic hangman who sees every thought and action and will punish anyone who deviates from the laws and rules revealed by his “spokesmen.”

Rather than try to make the world we live in a better place, the religious find themselves wishing for Armageddon. If the whole world gets nuked because of some religious disagreement, they won't view that as a bad thing. Rather than practice love and tolerance, they have chosen to judge and hate. They wish for then “end-times” and many are actively attempting to expedite their arrival.

I've probably lost at least half of my readers by now, so I will forgo any further redress and begin to wrap things up. I quit. My decisions are based on logic and reason. I will not willfully delude myself, and I will not play the game simple for social expedience. I reject Christianity and choose instead to follow the truth wherever it might lead me. Unless they are scared that it cannot stand up to scrutiny, I think a real Christian should be OK with this. After all, if the truth is the truth, then surely the questions I ask, no matter how numerous or complex should eventually bring me to the point where I once again believe. I suppose this is a good place to insert one of my favorite quotes from my journal.

Unlike many people, I do not have the ability to repress true belief in order to obtain temporal comfort or social expedience. Many times have I longed for ignorance and the simplicity it brings – yet I have done so in vain. That which is thought cannot be unthought and that which seems true cannot be falsified by power of will.”

I hope that some of you will be able to see past our differences and that we will remain friends. I realize that many of you will be unwilling to do so. Nevertheless, I wish you the best.


P.S. I apologize for any grammatical errors. This was written all at once, and I did not do an awful lot of proofreading.

Sunday 19 April 2009

On Wireless Connectivity

Lets face it, as much as we love our country, we have fallen behind the frontrunners in regards to technology. America does lots of things very well. Our entertainment media is the envy of the world. Our East Coast market cities are the dream of many an immigrant. Our spacious countryside is a relief to those crammed on an island with millions of other people. Our technology however, especially in the field of wireless communications, could use some work.
Most of our problems stem from the lack of infastructure. Just recently we made the final switch between analogue and digital cell phone towers. Now that carriers are finally free of the burdensome task of maintaining analogue infustructure to match their new digital infastructure, perhaps there will be money for improvement. Carriers must not only placate the masses by providing enough speed and bandwidth for them to do all the stupid things the advertisments tell them they like doing, but they must look to the future, and build a network that will allow individuals and businesses to compete on an international level. By now internet should be the new radio. Personally, I already listen to web radio whenever I have a working connection. And there you have the problem. I do not always have a working internet connection on my phone or other devices. My phone has 3G in most of the city, but it is prohibitivly expensive. If I am downtown, at school, or at a coffeeshop, I have wifi access. If I am at home I can tether to the wall. Where is the standardized network that will unify our technical lives and provide connectivity without boarder or end?

While we are finally beginning to build out our 3G networks to smaller towns and cities, most of the world is putting together state of the art 4G networks! Even Russia is building a 4G network right now. Tell that to your grandfather and he might cry out of shame. Japan, perhaps one of the most advanced countries when it comes to technology, aided by their relatively small geographic footprint, and extremely dense population centers, has made video calling relatively standard and has wireless connection speeds that will make you wet yourself. Putting aside wireless for a second, Japan recently offered to consumers (not just built in a lab) fiber optic connections that would allow 1Gb/s synchronous traffic in the home. Thats 1Gig per second in, and one gig per second out, at the same time! You could send the entire contents of a typical american harddrive in about 2 and a half minutes. Back to the topic of 4G, Europe too has begun to build 4G networks. Our falling behind the curve is also part of the reason why we get older less capable devices. If you are interested in a good phone and have a few minutes search the web for my dream device: the Touch Pro HD. Available in Asia, Russia, and parts of Europe it has a screen with a pixel count comparable to that of a netbook. That's a laptop screen on a phone!

What can we do about it?

Step One: Open Networks
We must stop our restrictive practices of locking phones to carriers and limiting mobile access to the web. Additionally, all throttling of speeds on any internet protocol must be eliminated. Phones should be bought from the manufacturer, sim cards should be bought from the carrier.

Step Two: Standardised Networks
America has to standardise our networks. Currently most US carriers use GSM based phones, but a few carriers use CDMA. While CDMA has its benefits, it is not as open, it is owned by one specific company and it is not used in much of the world. Japan, Europe, and Russia all use GSM. So Verizon and Cricket: It's time to switch. Why is this so important? If all carriers are using the same standard, we can establish a better functioning and more robust wireless bandwidth marketplace. If one carrier does not want to build towers in a certain area, they can buy or trade for bandwidth from another carrier that does provide service in that area. Also, if a carrier experiences an unexpected amount of network usage that would exceed their ability to provide service, they can use bandwidth from another carrier who might be experiencing a less than average load. A unified protocol makes this standard. It also means that when we take our phones to another country, we have only to remove the sim card from our carrier and insert one from the foreign carrier.

Step Three: Charge for Data not Content
In the US a lot of carriers are trying to sell content. Their content is usually substandard, but it is pushed on the consumer by placing shortcuts all over the phone, and making it cheaper to access than other options event though it is inferior. This practice is in violation of the spirit of network neutrality and must end. If we want to move alongside th e technological leaders of this age, charges levied against consumers must be based on bandwidth consumed, not on content.

Step Four: Modern Networks
It's time to upgrade our 3G networks. I don't care if they are still selling iPhones. They won't work any worse than they do now. It is true that the iPhone fanatic in rural Montana might never get his 3G connection, but should we really impeded the progress of the nation while we extend 3G to areas like this where it may not even be profitable? Isn't that what all you hypercapitalists are always whining about? The profit is in the cities, it's time to upgrade the networks. We need to be on the edge. Let's analyse how the 4G transition is coming around the world. If it's just beginning, it's time to jump on board. If 5G standards are already available, it would be advisable to skip directly from 3 to 5. Yes, it will be expensive, but no one ever said being one of the best would be cheap.

A few stats:
4G Networks:
100 Mb/s moving at high speed
1 Gb/s stationary access
And thats about all you get, because everything else I could find was so ripe with technobabble even I couldn't understand it.

Image Credit: Flick'r User "Smith" under a Creative Commons Attribution Licence

Friday 13 March 2009

503 Billion Barrels of Oil on American Soil!

The U. S. Geological Service issued a report in April ('08) that only scientists and oil men knew was coming, but man was it big. It was a revised report (hadn't been updated since '95) on how much oil was in this area of the western 2/3 of North Dakota ; western South Dakota ; and extreme eastern Montana and check THIS out:

The Bakken is the largest domestic oil discovery since Alaska's Prudhoe Bay, and has the potential to eliminate all American dependence on foreign oil. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates it at 503 billion barrels.. Even if just 10% of the oil is recoverable at $107 a barrel, we're looking at a resource base worth more than $5.3 trillion. 'When I first briefed legislators on this, you could practically see their jaws hit the floor. They had no idea.' says Terry Johnson, the Montana Legislature's financial analyst.

This sizable find is now the highest-producing onshore oil field found in the past 56 years.” reports The Pittsburgh Post Gazette. It's a formation known as the Williston Basin, but is more commonly referred to as the 'Bakken.' And it stretches from Northern Montana, through North Dakota and into Canada. For years, U. S. oil exploration has been considered a dead end. Even the 'Big Oil' companies gave up searching for major oil wells decades ago. However, a recent technological breakthrough has opened up the Bakken's massive reserves.... and we now have access of up to 500 billion barrels. Because this is light, sweet oil, those billions of barrels will cost Americans just $16 PER BARREL! That's enough crude to fully fuel the American economy for 41 years straight.

And if THAT didn't throw you on the floor, then this next one should - because it's from TWO YEARS AGO!

U. S. Oil Discovery- Largest Reserve in the World! Stansberry Report Online - 4/20/2006.

Hidden 1,000 feet beneath the surface of the Rocky Mountains lies the largest untapped oil reserve in the world. It is more than 2 TRILLION barrels. On August 8, 2005 President Bush mandated its extraction. In three and a half years of high oil prices none has been extracted. With this mother load of oil why are we still fighting over off-shore drilling?

They reported this stunning news: We have more oil inside our borders, than all the other proven reserves on earth. Here are the official estimates:

- 8-times as much oil as Saudi Arabia
- 18-times as much oil as Iraq
- 21-times as much oil as Kuwait
- 22-times as much oil as Iran
- 500-times as much oil as Yemen
- and it's all right here in the Western United States .

HOW can this BE? HOW can we NOT BE extracting this? Because the environmentalists and others have blocked all efforts to help America become independent of foreign oil! Again, we are letting a small group of people dictate our lives and our economy....WHY? James Bartis, lead researcher with the study says we've got more oil in this very compact area than the entire middle east more than 2 TRILLION barrels untapped. That's more than all the proven oil reserves of crude oil in the world today, reports The Denver Post. Don't think 'OPEC' will drop its price - even with this find? Think again! It's all about the competitive marketplace, - it has to. Think OPEC just might be funding the environmentalists? Got your attention/ire up yet? While you're thinking about it, and hopefully more than a little angry, do this:

Pass this along. If you don't take a little time to do this, then you should not complain about gas prices, because by doing NOTHING, you've forfeited your right to complain.

By the way...this is all true. Check it out at the link below!
GOOGLE it or follow this link. It will blow your mind.
or http://www.theoildrum.com/node/3868

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Real Beer May be Real Bad for Local Economy

Greetings Coloradan!

I don’t really know where my readership, if indeed I have any, comes from, but even if you are not from Colorado you may still find this article interesting.
I am writing in response to the recent push to legalise the sale of “real beer,” that is beer with alcohol content in excess of three and two tenths percent by volume, in grocery stores, convenience stores, and other establishments which were previously restricted to the sale of “near beer,” beer with an alcohol content of no more than three and two tenths percent by volume. An oversimplified explanation of the conflict would be 7/11 vs. Local Liquor. Both sides of the argument have valid points,

Supporters of the current laws are most likely to cite protection of the local economy, protection of youth, and preservation of selection as their primary grounds for maintaining the current regulations. I would like to examine these claims one at a time. Colorado law is very strict about what liquor stores can and cannot do. Liquor stores may not carry most food products, must carefully control who they sell too, and were formally forced to remain closed on Sundays. Additionally, the ability of liquor stores to form chains is severely restricted. All these factors have worked together to create a locally owned liquor industry composed mostly of mom and pop style stores with a few larger stores mixed in. Some offer convenient locations; some offer unmatchable selections. Opponents of the repeal of our current laws fear that if grocery stores were permitted to sell full strength beer, it would cut into the profit margins of the local stores, and would also reduce the selection of beers available. While a grocery store is probably going to carry only Budweiser, Keystone Light (otherwise known as watered down piss), and Coors, a locally owned liquor store, which only sells alcohol, is far more likely to carry hard to find, local, and exotic products like Warsteiner, Phantom Canyon, Gruenfelder, Bristol, etc. Both the preservation of this selection and the protection of these local businesses are likely to benefit customers and independent businessmen in Colorado. Another argument likely to be cited by opponents of the change in our alcohol laws is that by increasing the amount of outlets licensed to sell real beer, we will be making it easier for underage drinkers to obtain alcohol. It is plain and evident to anyone who has not purposefully deluded themselves into believing otherwise, that the National Minimum Drinking Age Act is an utter, complete, ridiculous, and ludicrous failure. Rather than making things safer, the MLDA has had the effect of pushing teen drinking underground into more dangerous situations, and rather than teaching moderation and responsibility has enshrined alcohol as the “forbidden fruit” of twenty-first century America. There are very few countries with drinking ages near as high as ours, yet many of them have less of a problem with irresponsible consumption of alcohol than we do. I would argue that parents should set a positive example in their own drinking habits and raise their children to do the same. It should not be a crime to pour a twelve year old a glass of Champaign on New Year’s Eve. Every young person should experience puking their guts out into a toilet, or falling down a flight of stairs at least once in order to foster a respect for alcohol and the responsibility that comes with its consumption. So while these lobbyists may have other valid arguments, the protection of youth is absolutely invalid.

While supporters of the law cite their various grounds for it to be upheld, opponents are not without arguments of their own. Proponents of the liberalisation of Colorado’s alcohol laws are likely to cite increased competition and fair business practices in support of their position. The change in laws would also have the desirable effect of making alcohol more visible possibly diminishing its taboo status in American society which has contributed to our generally unhealthy view of its consumption, and the unhealthy patterns of consumption often prevalent among College Students and others. Proponents of the free market (don’t get me started) would likely argue that by repealing these blue laws, we will create more competition which would drive down the price of beer. They may be correct, but as previously stated, this would not be the only effect. Also, they allege that it is an injustice that the liquor companies are permitted to sell full strength beer while the grocery stores are restricted to near beer. This makes me wonder if they would support legislation permitting liquor stores to sell food and other items in addition to liquor.

The liberalisation of alcohol laws in Colorado is a complex issue, and the many faceted arguments do not lead to any concrete conclusion, but rather raise more questions and beg us to furthur examine the issues at hand. One thing is certain: the US as a whole needs to rethink its attitude toward the consumption of alcohol and bring it more into line with logic, and that of the rest of the world.

Photo Credit: piffy under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Friday 23 January 2009

Speed Doesn't Kill, Idiots Do: Why we need real drivers training. (An Intro)

Its been a while since I've made a longer post. I have decided to publish something that I wrote a while back. This is not new, but after looking through it I found that most of the ideas were still relevant.

Contrary to popular belief, even among traffic engineers, it is not speed that makes a driver dangerous, but a combination of other factors which may or may not include speed depending on the situation. From a purely scientific viewpoint, speed, until you reach the speed of light and cause strange things to start happening, is completely harmless. We are spinning through space at speeds so extreme we can hardly fathom what it would be like to pass an object at that speed. Some of us ride bullet trains or maglev trains that reach speeds as high as 360kph. Travellers ride on jets going down the runway at speeds faster than those most cars are capable of. Despite these many instances of speed people’s daily lives, the belief that “speed kills” is still widely held. If anything, all these examples of safe speeding should tell us that it is possible to design our cars and roads in a way that permits rapid and safe use as well.
In 1974 the Federal Government of the United States mandated that all states lower their speed limits to no more than 55 miles per hour. At that time, a lot of freeways were posted with limits similar to those found in rural western states today, namely 70-80 miles per hour. While proponents of lower speed limits cite the fact that traffic fatalities dropped after the implementation of the national speed limit, it is likely that the drop in fatalities was a result of several other factors.
- The gas crisis meant people couldn’t drive as much. No gas, less drivers, less accidents. That’s logical.
- Car technology has continuously evolved creating faster and safer vehicles.
-The 55 mile per hour speed limit was ignored on a widespread basis, and some states even aided scofflaws by capping tickets at 65 miles per hour enabling them to travel 75, twenty miles an hour over the speed limit, while only having to fear a 10 mile an hour ticket which had been reduced in price to about $5.
The police realized that they had better things to do than harass drivers who were driving a completely reasonable speed. If technology continues to evolve, and cars get safer, faster, and more efficient, why are we dropping speed limits and not raising them?
The biggest threat to road safety in the US is untrained, incapable, and intoxicated drivers. Our driver training programs are a joke. There are countless cases of people being taught about driving for a few hours one afternoon, going to the DMV, and passing the test. Drivers training should be an ordeal. It should be intense, difficult, and thorough. Not everyone will pass; as a matter of fact, some people will never be able to get their license, because some people are simply incapable of driving in a way that provides for the safe and rapid conveyance of traffic. Signing and striping should be standardised throughout the US. While it may not be immediately possible, US signage should be standardised to be similar to that of Europe, one of the most advanced, and car saturated locations in the world. Europe’s use of symbols rather than textual legends, and dedication to good traffic engineering and extensive public transit is an excellent example to much of the world. Additional examples are the UAE, Japan, and parts of China. Drivers should be required to recognise all signs and symbols, know the unsigned laws of the road. They could demonstrate their abilities with hours in a driving simulator that automatically records performance data. Emergency driving could be taught on a local racetrack.
Image Credit: jpctalbot under a creative commons licence.

Monday 19 January 2009


Sorry about my chicken theme

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Aristotle: It is the nature of chickens to cross roads.

Issac Newton: Chickens at rest tend to stay at rest, chickens in motion tend to cross roads.

Albert Einstein: Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road moved beneath the chicken depends on your frame of reference.

Werner Heisenberg: We are not sure which side of the road the chicken was on, but it was moving very fast.

Wolfgang Pauli: There already was a chicken on this side of the road.

Wednesday 7 January 2009

On the Practise of Animal Experimentation and Vivisection

While it may not be the same for everyone, there comes a time in the average person’s life when they are sitting on a bench in a park eating a double cheeseburger when a stray dog walks up with the saddest eyes every seen, staring deep into the person’s soul begging them to find an ounce of compassion. There are also times when we are bitten by mosquitoes, shat on by birds, or climbed on by ants; yet for some reason we do not feel emotion in these cases. What is the difference between the two? Why is it that the dog appears to have emotions while the ant, bee, or fruit fly does not?
Animals have been our test dummies for years. We use them to test new drugs, test cosmetics, experiment with new surgical procedures, etc. Many people have no problem with this; while many others, most notably members of organisations such as PETA, oppose such testing. Is our justification of animal testing linked to some concept of sentience and consciousness that separates man from beast? How do we decide what is ethical and what is not. Is it ethical to test a new cancer drug on a rat? How about a new shampoo? If a person opposes testing on canines, yet supports testing on insects and small mammals, from whence do they formulate their position?

Additionally: I have included a translated version for those readers who avoid standardised spellings:

On th Praktis ov Animl Ixperimentaeshn and Vivisekshn

Whiel it mae not bee th saem fr evrywun, thair kumz a tiem in th av'rij peursn'z lief when thae aar siting on a bench in a paark eeting a dubl cheeseburger when a strae dog wauks up with th sadist iez evry seen, stairing deep in t th peursn'z soel beging them t fiend an ouns ov kmpashn. Thair aar aulsoe tiemz when wee aar bitn bie mskeetoez, shat on bie beurdz, aur kliemd on bie ants; yet fr sum reezn wee doo not feel imoeshn in theez kaesiz. Whot iz th difr'ns bitween th too? Wie iz it that th dog apeerz t hav imoeshnz whiel th ant, bee, aur froot flie {duzdoez} not? Animlz hav bin our test dumyz fr yeerz. Wee {uesuez} them t test nue drugz, test kozmetiks, ixperimnt with nue seurjikl preuseejrz, etc. Meny peepl hav noe probl'm with this; whiel meny uthrz, moest noeteubly membrz ov aurg'niezaeshnz such az PETA, apoez such testing. Iz our justifikaeshn ov animl testing linkt t sum konsept ov sentience and konshsnes that {sep'reutssep'raets} man from beest? Hou doo wee disied whot iz ethikl and whot iz not. Iz it ethikl t test a nue kansr drug on a rat? Hou about a nue shampoo? If a peursn apoeziz testing on kaenienz, yet s'paurts testing on insekts and smaul mamlz, from whens doo thae faurmuelaet thair pzishn?