Thursday, January 31, 2008

You Have Two More Years To Earn a Million

The magician James Randi, aka The Amazing Randi, offered up $1,000,000.00 to anyone who can proove that they are psychic. The offer was made in 1964 and since has had over 1,000 people apply. They have to prove it in front of members of the James Randi Foundation. Every person who applied has been turned down because they couldn't prove it and no one has ever tried more than once. Everyone from spoon benders and water diviners have applied. The strangest among them is perhaps the woman who claimed that she could make men urinate. A male member of the foundation drank a glass of water and waited for her to make him urinate. She just left after 45 minutes and they have never seen her again.

No famous psychic has ever taken his challenge. No John Edwards or Sylvia Browne. He actually challenged Sylvia Browne on the Larry King Show in 2001 and she has yet to take it. Apparently, they argue over the protocol. To follow this saga see Randi's web site: . There seems to be no limit to the nonsense that people will be believe. All that is needed is a good marketing and you can sell anything.

Randi's challenge for the $1 million expires in 2010. So hurry up whack jobs ... time is running out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Asia and Automobiles

People in Asia don't have a love affair with cars like Americans do ... that is until now. Current projections show that China will have more cars than we do by 2020 and will have more road built by 2030. Why should we care? Well, one of the reason why oil was so cheap, until recently, was that the US used get oil cheap from China's reserve supply because they were not using it. Now that they do use it, less of that is available and probably will not be soon. Expect oil prices to get more and more expensive, the more dependent China gets on oil. Also, considering how many people there are in China, with them changing from bicycles to cars, don't expect air quality or carbon production to get better any time soon.

India's Tata Motors just announced a car, 4-seater, that will cost $2,500.00 retail. This is the cheapest car in the world and half the price of any car currently available in China. This of course, is exciting news anyone too poor to own a car, not too exciting about anyone concerned about the cost of oil or about global warming. This makes alternative energies that much more appealing.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Tamil Tigers are not a sports team

The Tamil Tigers aka (the LTTE for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) are a radical group in Sri Lanka. They have been trying to overthrow the government there since the 1970's. They are famous for, among other things, suicide bombings. In recent years, their number of suicide bombings exceed those of the Hezbollah and Hamas ... 168 of them from 1980 to 2000.

They are quite a nefarious group responsible for a massive ATM fraud scheme last year in New York City as well as another scheme in Australia where they pretended to be a Tsunami relief organization and defrauded many people from their money who thought that they were assisting people who needed it. They deal human trafficking, credit card fraud and illegal arms dealing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How Turing Died

Everyone reading this posting right now owes a bit of gratitude to Alan Turing not only because he is one of the mathematicians that helped create the modern computer (particular important regarding programming languages), he was one of the British cryptologists that decoded the code that the German Navy was using during WWII. The film Enigma is loosely based on him. The enigma machine is his baby.

I learn today of how he died. Like Snow White, he ate a cyanide apple, but his case he was not saved. In 1952 he caught someone breaking into his home. He reported the incident and as a part of the investigation, it was discovered that an ex-lover of his was involved. The police connected the dots and arrested him for gross indecency under section 11 of Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. After being found "guilty" he was given the choice between a year in jail or chemical castration. He chose the latter and received frequent hormone shots which prevented him from getting an erection and also, made his grow breasts. From here on end, he wasn't allowed to ever work on his cryptology work due his "criminal" record. Nice way to treat someone that helped us beat the Nazis.

Homosexuality was considered a criminal offense in Great Britain until 1967.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Kipling in Vermont

The Anglo-Indian writer, Rudyard Kipling, lived in Brattleboro Vermont for several years. This quiet life, with a few acres by the Connecticut River, allowed him to write some of his best, most famous work including Captains Courageous, Jungle Book and many of his poems including "Gunga Din." This also brought some famous folks to this tiny little town including Arthur Conan Doyle who brought his clubs and taught Kipling how to golf.

The house, Naulakha (which means 9,000 rubies in Hindi), remains standing today. I will have to remember this next time I drive through Brattleboro. What a beautiful town this.