Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Revolt in Big Brother Africa, as the contestants decide they aren't given enough alcohol.

Pentagon's attrocity casino is an interesting idea. Test the oracle affect. Does a large number of people know more than it thinks?

"Research indicates that markets are extremely efficient, effective and timely aggregators of dispersed and even hidden information," it said in a statement."

It's at Future Map


I'd be interested in seeing the blogosphere's reaction. For example, a Technorati style search might be able to agregate opinions and make better predictions.

What about market irrationalities such as booms and busts. Won't we see a lot of me-too followers?

What if people start hiring gangsters to make terrorist events happen?
Microsoft believes Web search can be done much better than any Web search engine does it today. "Our research indicates that only 30% to 40% of the Web is indexed and that people's questions (to search engines) go unanswered half the time," Gurry said.


This is classic FUD. It's true of course, but Microsoft pronouncing this as though it's an oversight of current web-search technology, and implying they knolw how to do better, is barefaced cheek. But the fact is, Google has demonstrated that search engines are still hot, and Microsoft want to contest that space.

But Google is great because of it's web ethics, and you'll only beat them if you can improve on them in that space. Microsoft is smart and adaptable. I'd like to see them try.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Y'all know about Optimaes, right?

Well despite being into gift economies, now that I'm gloriously unemployed, I still need to eat. So, I was casually looking into the Amazon Honor System tip-jar thing but they only support US card holders.

So here's a suggestion for Amazon. Why not allow tip-jars to count towards books. Any dollars that are given to me turn up as discounts when I make my next order?

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Martin Wolf in yesterday's Financial Times pulled out some frightening statistics.

The OECD countries -- essentially the world's 30 richest nations -- spent $311 billion on domestic agricultural subsidies in 2001. They spent $52 billion on aid to all countries. The 2001 GDP of sub-Saharan Africa was $301 billion.

Worse, the annual dairy subsidy in the European Union in 2000 was $913 per cow. The average income in sub-Saharan Africa was $490 per capita. The EU's annual aid to sub-Saharan Africa was $8 per person.

These are truly shaming figures.

Davos Newbies

Friday, July 25, 2003

And this job is less real than Donald Rumsfeld's how, exactly?

Julian Dibbell
Analysis of the anti-war movement

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Having rampaged around the world inflicting unfair "free" trade on other countries, the US is quick to revert to protectionism when it feels it's economy threatened.

Is it good that the US legislators learn there are some advantages of restricting trade? Or another lousy example of "hypocrisy pays"?

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Hugo Young analyses the David Kelly suicide.

I think that Blair is in real trouble. The fact that he's now admitting the possibility that the war was launched because of an error (or wishful thinking on the part of the hawks), suggests he believes that the WMD story has basically lost any credibility and is indefensible. As Young points out, the main aim now is to shift attention onto trivia. Surely it can't really work? I'm never voting for Blair again, and I'm pretty sure that's a wide-spread feeling in the UK now. Time for the Labour Party to realize his repution is damaged beyond repair.

As for Kelly, I'm a bit suspicious. It's hard to imagine someone like him being driven to suicide after a couple of grillings and a bit of publicity? This is a guy who worked for the MoD at Porton Down, was head of micro-biology. (Doesn't that make him pretty much the British Rihab Taha al-Azawi al-Tikriti?) Don't they have some kind of profiling and screening for people to work in a job like that? Aren't these people made of sterner stuff? Or at least given some training in managing pressure? What if the Russians had tried to blackmail him?

So I wonder if there's something more. Was he, in fact, the mole? And more terrified of discovery after he'd lied to and convinced the select commities? Was he being blackmailed? Were other threats being made against him? Did he know something about the wrath of the secret services that we don't?

All good conspiracy theory stuff, of course.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

I find this disturbing. Not because the US gov. is trying to play the same trick of escalating scare stories against Syria. Surely the "crying wolf" effect is gonna set in, and claims are going to be disregarded.

No, it's this : A CIA report submitted to Congress in April contained more cautionary language. Noting that Syria and Russia have reached preliminary agreement on civilian nuclear cooperation, the CIA report said only, "In principal, broader access to Russian expertise provides opportunities for Syria to expand its indigenous capabilities, should it decide to pursue nuclear weapons."

Syria is suspect for even trying to increase it's access to civilian nuclear knowledge. Almost anything may have a security implication. Are the US now determined to prevent other countries acquiring knowledge and expertise in general, in case there are military applications? Is all genetic research suspect because it may lead to biological weapons? Would the US like to prevent the study of physics and chemistry in the rest of the world? IT is probably out as well.

Does a paranoid US security service now want to make war on foreign science?

(Or maybe they always thought like that and I didn't notice?)

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

I wonder if RageBoy is a Bright?

This is great : Let's do a little gedanken experiment here, shall we? OK, so you've gone into some x-random Starbucks and ordered a quad espresso and a piece of carrot cake, which looks pretty good because you're fucking starving. When the coffee's up, you bring your stuff over to a table, sit down and take a sip. Ah! The old drug-of-choice never fails to hit the spot. You pick up your fork and are about to dig in, when suddenly you realize the error of your ways. Sure, you have your cake. But now you want to eat it too. What is WRONG with you?

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Moving in together, or weblog consolidation is clearly the next big thing, as people discover that single-handedly maintaining a weblog is too much work. D-squared has joined Crooked Timber. Clay Shirkey and the SocialText people formed something at Corante.

I'm not sure whether this is a good thing. At first glance CT looks less compelling than D-squared Digest. Less voice. Though maybe it takes getting into. And I can't see Corante at all because aparently their server is under a DDOS attack.

But maybe this is just jealousy. In an earlier post I realized I was a good candidate for assimulation - but no-one's made me any offers yet :-(
I have more interesting things to do than track the WMD thing, but here's a useful roundup from the BBC The only really interesting question left is whether Bush and Blair will decide the danger of loss of face will outweigh the risk of faking the evidence.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

You know what? I'm impressed by the way Google is exploiting Blogger. The ads at the top of my blogs are becoming far more relevant. Today I noticed BeatBlog is accompanied by adverts for sample CDs and samplers. How did they work that out? From the contents of the page?
To a human it's obvious, but most of the words are rather colourful descriptions of my beats, not actually much talking about "samples" and the like. And there's now a big chunk of stuff about pornography, which clearly hasn't triggered XXX site ads.

I wonder if Google do some kind of second order relevance analysis. Just as PageRank works on pages linked to and from, does their ad-relevance analysis use the subject of pages linked from and to my blog?