Oh Those Sneaky Chinese

Technology Review: Weather Engineering in China

To prevent rain over the roofless 91,000-seat Olympic stadium that Beijing natives have nicknamed the Bird’s Nest, the city’s branch of the national Weather Modification Office–itself a department of the larger China Meteorological Administration–has prepared a three-stage program for the 2008 Olympics this August.First, Beijing’s Weather Modification Office will track the region’s weather via satellites, planes, radar, and an IBM p575 supercomputer, purchased from Big Blue last year, that executes 9.8 trillion floating point operations per second. It models an area of 44,000 square kilometers (17,000 square miles) accurately enough to generate hourly forecasts for each kilometer.

These cats are really looking to show off their tech this summer.  I’m curious if it’s going to go as well as their occupation of Tibet. (snap!)

Perfection in Naming Rights

‘George W Bush Sewage Plant’ Proposed In San Francisco – Politics on The Huffington Post

“Looking to honor the forty-third President of the United States of America, George W. Bush, the recently formed Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco is looking to change the name of the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Facility. It seems the group would like to rename the SF Zoo adjacent facility to the ‘George W Bush Sewage Plant,’ SFist reports.

Considering the amount of feces he has contributed to the meatsack experience, I’d say this could be the most accurately named structure in the world.   We’re going to be dealing with his crap for years, if not decades, might as well build a plant for it.

Give Me Liberty and Give Me Death

GTA IV’s Liberty City Tourist Video | Game | Life from Wired.com

Plenty of you are already planning on visiting GTA IV’s Liberty City, but for those of you who aren’t, perhaps this tourist video may persuade you to change your mind.From the “warm, friendly people” (trying to kill you) to the “bold entrepreneurs” (also trying to kill you), Liberty City has something for everyone, or so says narrator Jeremy St. Ives.

The video is really just a GameStop advertisement entreating you to pre-order the game, but we’ll forgive that.

This is some good RPN training video.

Guess How He’s Getting Missile Space?

Bush sees NATO backing missile defense – Yahoo News

BUCHAREST, Romania – President Bush expressed confidence Wednesday that NATO will bolster its combat forces in Afghanistan and endorse a missile defense system for Europe that Russia has opposed.

I’m optimistic that this is a going to be a very successful summit,” Bush said, sitting alongside NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer hours before the 26-nation military alliance opened three days of meetings with a leaders’ dinner.

The summit has been troubled by divisions, most notably opposition from France and Germany to giving Ukraine and Georgia a plan for eventually joining NATO. Bush indicated that was an open question because any NATO member can block it.

It doesn’t say specifically what convinced them to give up space, but my guess would be that he stuck with the tried and true method giving a bunch of your money to the people on Georgia and Ukraine (“your” if you are a U.S. citizen).

I do kind of think it’s funny that the missile shield (Reagan’s “Star Wars” built to protect us from those crazy commies), is the think most likely to encourage people with missiles to start aiming them at us.  

The people most likely to attack the U.S. (previous post here) do not have anything approaching such tech. 

“If we do not defeat the terrorists in Afghanistan, we will face them on our own soil,” Bush said. “Innocent civilians in Europe and North America will pay the price.”

He said the missile defense system was critical to defending against a “real and, in my opinion, urgent” threat posed by nations such as Iran.

Ahh, can you taste the fear?  It is strong in this one.

How to Understand Better

Datawocky: More data usually beats better algorithms

More data usually beats better algorithmsI teach a class on Data Mining at Stanford. Students in my class are expected to do a project that does some non-trivial data mining. Many students opted to try their hand at the Netflix Challenge: to design a movie recommendations algorithm that does better than the one developed by Netflix.

Here’s how the competition works. Netflix has provided a large data set that tells you how nearly half a million people have rated about 18,000 movies. Based on these ratings, you are asked to predict the ratings of these users for movies in the set that they have not rated. The first team to beat the accuracy of Netflix’s proprietary algorithm by a certain margin wins a prize of $1 million!

Different student teams in my class adopted different approaches to the problem, using both published algorithms and novel ideas. Of these, the results from two of the teams illustrate a broader point. Team A came up with a very sophisticated algorithm using the Netflix data. Team B used a very simple algorithm, but they added in additional data beyond the Netflix set: information about movie genres from the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). Guess which team did better?

I think you can figure out that question if you read the subject heading…or the article itself.   This is why my experience as a robot, pirate, and ninja make my observations so damn prescient.

We Need to Ask McCain to Explain This

VQR » The Christian with Four Aces

“You need to be born again,” his mother told him, bombarding the couple with gospel tracts. At her urging, Robertson had dinner with an acquaintance of his mother, an itinerant evangelist named Cornelius Vanderbreggen, at an elegant restaurant in Philadelphia. Robertson was impressed. “I was used to the expensive bistros around New York, but that a faith missionary should say the Lord had led him to dine at this restaurant where the waiters wore white tie and tails was more than I could comprehend,” he wrote. “I thought that God’s people wore shabby clothes, baggy trousers, and suit coats that didn’t match. I thought they ate hamburger and boiled turnips.”By the next day, Robertson had undergone a conversion experience. “Dede, I’m saved!” he exclaimed to his wife. He took the nude down from the wall and put it out with the trash and, to Dede’s consternation, poured all their cognac down the drain. Although his wife was seven months pregnant, Robertson trekked off to a Christian summer camp in the Canadian woods to commune with God.

“Please come back. I need you desperately,” Dede pleaded in a note.

“I can’t leave. God will take care of you,” Robertson replied.

Robertson believes that one night in his cabin, as he lay on his cot, Satan spoke to him, trying to dissuade him from his path. But Robertson resisted.

Ahhh, nothing like abandoning a pregnant wife to figure out how to bilk money from believers to live a lavish lifestyle.

Pretty impressive if you ask me, and I’m a pirate.