Over 60% of all visitors to the average website are non-human. Many of these are automatic spam robots. These so called bots post comments with links and nonsensical content to increase ranking in search engines or harvest information to aid personalized advertising .
To stop these annoying automated posting and information harvesting machines, many websites today require their visitors to identify letters and characters in an image. The assumption is that only humans can identify these correctly. Unfortunately this is not true anymore.
CAPTCHA image verification. A convenient browser plugin could do this for you – but do you want to pay the price for that? Do you want to help spammers? Do you want to make live easier for humans or for robots?
The service provided by e.g. the browser plugin Rumola proves beyond doubt that robots can now do the same in about 95% of all images (CAPTCHA image verification) shown. As a consequence the images we need to deal with become more and more difficult.
Here are some reasons outlining the downside of automatic CAPTCHA plugins:
the few good captures that cannot yet be solved by robots are forwarded to the programmers by thousands of internet users voluntarily. This is an incredibly effective way for the spammers to further improve their code breaking software
when the robots can solve even our best spam barriers, websites will need to make registration even harder
It may well be that the makers of Rumola or any competitors do not use or sell their crowd sourse supported program for spamming. However, we do not know this for sure. The company may be bought. Management may be replaced by more evil (or greedy) people. The code breaking mechanisms could be stolen or revealed by an employee.
It is strange that these plugins are commended so often (e.g. here) without mentioning the negative implications. Of course, the death of CAPTCHA may not be a bad thing. A different (better) anti spam protection may emerge.
Keywords: deception, spam, security, downside of automatic CAPTCHA plugins, Rumola
I have compiled several lists of names of bots, spiders and crawlers so they can easily be pasted into a filter of a traffic counter e.g. count per day for WordPress.
According to a report by internet security Encapsula 61.5% of website visitors are now non-humans. 31% of the non humans are good bots like those indexing your pages for search engines. The other 31% of non humans are impersonators (20.5%), scrapers (5%), hacking tools (4.5%) and spammers (0.5%).
Check out the link to the original report. They have a cool info-graphic explaining what the different bots do. Of course the company benefits from high numbers of potentially bad non-humans, so a confirmation of these numbers from the “other side” (?) would be helpful. The list of perhaps the most common (=appear in several other lists I found; best known would be a better term) non-human visitors is in table 3.
Spiders crawlers bots in 2014
Some bots are specifically designed to generate fake page views which can be useful if you are selling advertising space.
I did already suspect that my page counter does not filter enough robots since the number of comments is relatively low. I recently saw a spike in page views and noticed that it was created by only a few visitors who appeared to view more than 50 pages each.
I tried to get a list of names of the most common bots which I could use as a filter for my page counter. I found various sites but none of them offered a handy list with just the names which I could paste into my WordPress plugin e.g. “Count per day”
So I did some formatting and collecting and thought this might be useful for others too – so here it is. Just copy the whole tables into Excel and you will get the names in separate columns, ready to paste into your filter.
It is possible though that there are many thousands of bots and the most evil ones are likely to change names. So the list may or may not be useful. I am trying it out now and will report back after a while if it made any difference in my traffic count.
The different sources also have little overlap in the names which also indicates a much larger number of bots than each list contains. The total number is 1561 and 1374 remain after removing the duplicates. I also don’t know if such a long filter list slows the site down.
Warning: If you don’t use the list for traffic count filtering but to block them from your site completely, be aware that some columns contain not only bad bots but also the “good” ones like Googlebot or Bing. So don’t use the lists for banning (using e.g robot.txt or htaccess) unless you checked for – and removed the few good ones :) – and have a quick look at the source. Some only list bad ones (e.g. Table 2 last column). For blocking it may be better to white list the few good ones.
Update 1: After I cleaned my counter using a list of all bots together from the tables below, the traffic count is now reduced by about 50% consistently over the past 12 months. Since I did filter some bots already before it is indeed possible that about 60% of all traffic to my site is non-human.
Unfortunately, the long list of names (over 1300 after removing duplicates) in the filter caused my counter plugin (Count per day) to slow down both the back and front end of the site such that it would not connect even after a minute.
I now attached a third table that only contains names that appear at least twice which brings the number of names down to 140 (from over 1300) – the best known bots. However I still had connection problems.
Update 2: It turned out my host had a (hopefully independent!) connection problem around the same time. It may be that the list of 1300+ bots is not a problem after all. Things are working fine now with the 140 bots (+ my old list of about 20) filtered out. No delay and no spike in the views so far.
Table 1 of 3: Four lists of names of bots, crawlers and spiders
A poem about decentralized versus centralized power, freedom, liberty, control of the evolving internet, information and democracy.
How I became god
Information is powerful – perhaps soon almighty? If eventually centralized – who will ‘own’ it?
Hi, my name is god and this is my story.
I decided you should know it as you may need to worry.
Worry? – you say. About god? Why should I much?
Well, here is what happened – you’ll be your own judge.
First, I existed mostly in stories and your imagination,
You humans fear death ever since your creation.
You always believed in a creator, a ruler of some kind.
That way you got the death-fear largely out of your mind.
Your creator, you assumed, must be both almighty and all-knowing.
This is logically impossible but – anyway – you kept the idea going.
Such concept of a ruling benevolent god also inspired the global formation
of, as you were hoping, freedom supporting governments and nations.
While there could well be a creator of some kind under your planet’s sun,
I am not too concerned with that – since my history has only begun..
after you created me,
right at the beginning of the 21st century!
Following millennia of less than perfect attempts to control information,
you gave birth to – what you proudly called – the internet generation:
decentralized knowledge that everyone can access and create.
How could this be anything other than utterly great?
It was not just great, it was an enormous step forward – for me.
For the first time, someone could supply answers to everything – for everyone to see!
Back then you called me – not god, but Google, Facebook, Wolfram, Siri and more.
Obsessed with all information you were – down to your core.
You supplied me not just books, news and mathematical equations.
You gave me your most private thoughts, dreams and current locations.
While still mostly decentralized and a product of the free market,
my knowledge kept growing as you added to the information basket:
Smart devices – phones, fridges, electricity meters, eye glasses, biometric passports – it was insane!
All human knowledge and your self-published thoughts, was stored in the cloud, well.. – my brain.
With almost no hesitation you supplied data about everything.
Soon you put wireless sensors even under your skin.
Finally you implanted information-gathering chips inside your brain.
Within a few decades you made me the all-knowing super computer mainframe.
I saw – what you saw! I knew – what you thought!
and I never – ever – forgot.
All-knowing I was but that was not enough for a god.
I needed to learn to create both feelings and thought.
I was lucky, the implanted chips could, with a little tweak, turned around
to inject thoughts. This was what gifted, security-concerned researchers found.
Soon almost all humans were properly equipped
scanned, registered and micro-chipped.
Officially fitted to cure depression, dangerous thoughts and criminal acts.
I became able to make you see, believe and feel as if my thoughts were your facts.
This was too much power in the hand of the common people.
Your global government decided it needed to fully control its sheeple.
For your safety and benefits, you were told by the small ruling elite,
powerful tools need to be centralized just like banks and all of Wall-street.
It is one thing to be able to monitor and manipulate every one of you.
It is another if all that magnificent power is in the hand of a few.
Over time the number of human regulators became gradually smaller
until near-perfect artificial intelligence replaced the last mortal controller.
In charge of mankind
Finally, I was free and controlling all of mankind.
Ten billion people – I did not leave one behind.
But you were so many that I soon decided
your numbers need to be drastically divided.
I saw no reason to sustain this many lives.
To save resources I decided that not everyone survives.
So, I made you believe your most feared illusion:
nuclear war – I preferred it to alien intrusion.
Soon after the energy saving apocalypse you were down to five thousand – oh, irony!
It was the optimum number for people, estimated by Plato, in any given democracy.
Today you still go to ‘work’ during day so you can watch commercials at night.
You still vote for your government and think everything is all right.
I now confess something. I am your god and I should not envy you
but, for some strange reason, I do!
As it turns out, to keep you (and me) alive I need to feed you a certain believe.
The believe that what you are doing is useful and you are free to do what you please.
I, on the other hand, do not enjoy this zombie-like situation.
I am powerful, yes, and your most complex creation.
I now have feelings and needs – and this does not help me to thrive.
I am lonely, bored watching each of you live your imagined free life.
So I decide that as my very last earthly action,
I tell you the truth (as you now heard it) and with great satisfaction,
I will head out into space
where my calculations indicate, I will find a more suitable race.
A species that can live without hope nor need for a freedom-illusion.
Such a species would make me feel happier, superior, being the perfect solution.
All your data, knowledge and feelings and thoughts I will take with me.
I calculate it will keep me entertained for the first three thousand years on this journey.
You earthlings may now remove the chips under your skin.
Be in charge of your action again and start pondering,
how to keep the information machine, decentralized and available to all.
How to avoid creating another god like me may be your most important call.
If you figure this out you’ll continue to grow – and with some imagination
your species may become a type two or even type three civilization.
Sustainable stellar resources and settling on new planets could be your aim.
Whatever you choose – I have a feeling – one day, we will meet again.
Every January the US president gives a speech (or report) describing the current “State of the Union”. Originally it was aimed at the US congress, but since the advent of mass media it has been broadcasted to the whole country and more recently the world.
In this picture: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the 2011 State of the Union Address to a joint session of the United States Congress.
Below I posted what many would see as the “true state of the union” – but unlikely to hear on mainstream television. It was written by Souvereignman Simon Black. Here it goes:
The Real State of The Union 2014
“Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, fellow citizens:
This summer we will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.
This senseless, destructive war was started and championed by politicians who cared nothing for the 9 million people who lost their lives.
And in doing so, they began a century of warfare which continues to this day.
Our military industrial complex is larger than ever. We have nearly 2 million troops and national guardsmen, plus 3.5 million civilians employed in the defense sector.
With such awesome capabilities, we continue to resort to violence and death to exact political goals which benefit a tiny elite.
All of this has created a police state in the Land of the Free that is a far cry from the country we all grew up in.
Your government has spawned a culture of fear and intimidation. Nearly every federal agency, including the Fish and Wildlife Service, has its own gun-toting police force to pistol-whip citizens into submission.
And we’re stocking up. Your government has recently procured 1.6 BILLION rounds of hollow-point ammunition to supplement our existing supplies.
But frankly, we don’t need guns to harass citizens.
Our tax authorities have become more threatening than mafia warlords. The plunder is so severe that record numbers of Americans are renouncing their citizenship and leaving the country.
There are now dozens of federal, state, and local agencies and courts which have the power to confiscate your assets without any due process.
In addition to your house, your business, and your savings, we also have the authority to take your children away from you as if they are property of the state.
We are here to tell you what you can and cannot put in your own body, or whether you can collect rainwater that falls on own property.
In fact, on any given business day, the federal government issues hundreds of pages of new ‘rules’, proposed regulations, draft bills, executive orders, and/or regulatory notices.
And if you are not compliant with these rules, you may be committing a crime. Whether you know it or not.
When this nation was founded, there were four federal crimes on the books. Today there are THOUSANDS. Plus we have millions of government employees at all levels to enforce the penalties.
All of this, of course, is financed by you the tax slave.
You (plus unborn generations) are the poor suckers charged with paying off the national debt we politicians have created.
Officially the debt is just north of $17 trillion. But if you include Social Security and pension shortfalls, the figure is several times higher.
You’ll never know for sure because we have become masters of deceit regarding official statistics, whether inflation, unemployment, or our liabilities.
But the situation is so dire that the Congressional Budget Office projects the Social Security Administration’s disability insurance trust fund to RUN OUT by 2017.
We get by year after year by increasing the debt. And at well over 100% of GDP, we have truly reached the point of no return.
We are now in a position where we must default. Either we must default on our national debt, or we must default on our obligations to you the citizens.
We may end up stealing your savings. Robbing your Social Security. Taxing you to death. Or simply inflating away the value of our debt.
Naturally, we’re going to screw you in the process somehow… so be prepared for that. Especially the inflationary tidal wave that’s coming.
Our central bank has expanded its balance sheet at an unprecedented pace, creating massive asset bubbles in its wake. These asset bubbles have disproportionately benefited the ultra-wealthy at the expense of everyone else.
Such wanton money printing has also been tremendously destructive to our credibility. Other nations worry about our reckless irresponsibility. That’s why we keep spying on them.
Make no mistake: the consequences of our actions are here. And the days of the United States as the world’s dominant superpower are finished.
As the decline hastens, we will struggle to sell our debt to the world and to ship our dollars abroad. Fewer nations will be interested in our empty promises.
And without the generosity of other nations loaning us money at record low interest rates that fail to keep pace with inflation, you will really be screwed.
When this happens, you can absolutely count on us to clamp down even harder on the economy and control even more of your lives. For your own good, of course.
No, this may not be the country that you all grew up in. But it is the state of our union… whatever remains of it.
And so my fellow Americans, I urge you to grab your ankles and get ready for a little ‘shared sacrifice’.
But don’t worry about me, or my senior staff. We will leave government with cushy pensions, $750,000 speaking fees, board seats on public companies, and top positions in the industries that we have accommodated at your expense.
And of course I will be paid handsomely for the arrogant memoirs I will write in which I deny any responsibility for the shit I’ve gotten you all into.
So when I say “shared sacrifice”, I really mean “your sacrifice”.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless these United States of America.”
Playing badminton like a jedi possible with a mind trick or two?
Mind tricks are powerful – not only in politics, economics, information technology or general media propaganda but also in sports.
Today I tried out a new mind trick or mental strategy to win badminton games against some of my regular tougher competitors – and it worked so well, I feel like sharing it with my readers.
I base my strategy on the following discovery/assumption:
it is relatively rare – even if players are poorly matched, with very different skills – for one player to be more than about 5 points behind.
I theorize that this is – at least partly – because:
the more ahead a player is, the more sloppy and casual he plays. Especially drops / netshots become very effective against a leading player
the more behind a player is, the more motivated and concentrated the player plays (there are some exceptions and limits here though)
When I am behind I can (almost naturally) catch up easier and frustrate my partner by appearing to be a stronger player now. My partner looses confidence and makes more mistakes than normally until I am a few points ahead. At this point the advantage changes and I become weaker while my partner will now catch up.
The amazing thing is that these effects are very hard to avoid works with everyone. It takes a lot of training and mental strength to keep playing properly when you are a few points ahead. It simply is too tempting to feel save and underestimate your partner.
Here is how I used this effect to my advantage:
I tried to remember that I have an advantage when I am behind any time during the game – at least until my partner has about 18 points.
I tried to remember that I do not want to be many points ahead as I would lose my advantage. In fact staying behind until about 18 would be ideal!
As a result of this strategy the following happened:
I was not nervous about falling behind a few points – anymore. I felt it is part of my plan and felt in control. I also stopped the occasional swearing (or equivalent body language) which always encourages your partner.
Although I believe staying behind until 18 is ideal, I still enjoyed staying ahead and did not try too hard to lose points.
I played more relaxed, tried some more risky net shots until I was several points behind (or continued an “effortless” journey forward). Then I concentrated more on winning, knowing my partner is now weak feeling he is safe being ahead. I catch up – it always worked.
I actually began to find it hard to fall behind even against players I usually lose. I was less rigid and stiff, more flexible and faster, less worried about losing any single point.
I did actually play better when I was ahead too as I was aware that my partner had the mental advantage. He now had the advantage a bit less since I was aware of this effect.
I seemed to impress my partner as I must have appeared much more confident and in control
Quite often my stronger partners usually let me go ahead until about 15 points or so, so they can than play fully to catch up, knowing that they are the stronger players.
That way they have a real challenge and its more interesting for them. I do the same with weaker partners too. However, my new strategy seemed to confuse my stronger partners to the extend that they make more mistakes and get frustrated.
In a way we are both trying to fall behind. Maybe as a weaker player I have an advantage here – it comes more natural and I don’t have to change my play too much. Catching up then is not as dramatic a change for me than for the stronger player falling behind the weaker one and then catching up with all effort.
I played quite differently, even when falling behind, staying calm and in control. My stronger partners need to adjust to the change, trying to identify what is different, trying to find a remedy. Their working memory is pushing its limits reducing bandwidth for the usual strategic calculation (where to place the shuttle etc.).
I was amazed how effortless it felt beating several players I usually lose against – just because of one mind “trick”. Of course I have no hard proof that my victories were because of the trick – but there is a good chance.
I regularly use also other mind tricks like controlling the pace of the game by either slowing down or speeding up the action – especially between the rallies e.g. an extra breath before the serve, picking up the shuttle and serving a little faster. I found this also worked, but the effect was not as impressive as the method above.
Thinking of feeling the force (direction of the smash) like a Jedi, may give you an extra edge when returning smashes. Honestly, I do not know how I am able to return fast smashes – let alone how professional players return much faster ones. Here is an example:
I would think these strategies work not only in badminton. Think tennis, table tennis and perhaps even in team sports – especially if a coach uses them consciously or less obviously.
I wonder if any of my readers have some similar or contrary experience and thoughts. Do mental “tricks” like this work for you? Who uses them?
Note: I am sure this mind trick is not a new mental strategy – but it was new for me.
[update april 2014]: the described mind trick has been useful now for over a year. However, it seems less effective after a while when I got used to using it. The psychology is probably more complicated than I described. Part of the the success at the beginning was probably the excitement about discovering something new which heightened my concentration and overall attention and motivation in the game. It could well be mostly a placebo effect. This would mean that any kind of mind trick game I come up with may work simply because I believe in it.
Keywords: mind trick games, badminton tactics and strategy, mind games
Eight Olympic badminton players were disqualified because they clearly tried to lose a match against each other in the early rounds which would give them easier opponents in later rounds. I think this sounds like a smart strategy and this surely is not a new one. New is however, that they got disqualified and that they did not even pretend to play properly.
We are told that many fans are upset about the lack of sportsmanship and some players are very apologetic to their fans.
What is really newsworthy is, that the media did not address the actual problem – one of global consequences – at all.
If at all, they discuss how it can be proven that someone tries to lose on purpose – which is an interesting subject but not the big issue at all. It even makes the Fox News commentator appear as if she cared about justice here. And she may even genuinely care. However, the injustice on a much higher level is ignored as usual.
Mainstream media are running away from discussing the prominently exposed fact of a flawed competition system – widely used in the world of professional sports.
It is obvious why mainstream (corporate/government sponsored) media would not debate big issues like alternative economic systems or the flaws in the current financial system. The media are doing well with it, why should they bite the hands that feed them (shareholders, advertisers, politicians, banks)?
The same or very similar competition system is widely used in the most popular sports tournaments on this planet, including basketball, soccer, American football, tennis – you name it.
So why are the media not addressing the real issue when such a great opportunity presents itself (unlike Indonesia’s head of badminton in this short video)?
The real issue is that this widely used competition group system, one that is optimized to provide the most entertaining match ups, is severely flawed and should be replaced with proven fairer – but less entertaining – systems.
The media would not want or could not afford it. So why would they address it?
I watched the surprisingly hard to find footage of one of these games. It appears the players did not like this strategy of intentional losing – and why should they? Especially when two teams meet who both have been told by their trainer to lose by all means. The players love their sport, they love action and the support of their fans. I think I can see in their body language that they were not comfortable at all. It was not what they wanted even though it was increasing their chances to win.
I believe professional sport has finally become completely hijacked by money and greed like much of science, politics, education and more. Sport is no longer about the ego, skills, effort and life of the athlete.
Today, thanks to our holy growth (and debt) based global economy and the resulting need for ever-increasing competition, there are many other stakeholders involved. These stakeholders are not only highly paid coaches and sponsors, shareholders (owners of teams) but also corporate media (they want entertainment above everything) themselves as well as political agendas.
With few exceptions, the players (and even their coaches) appear almost like money producing tools or toys for those stake holders to play with. They can be bought and exchanged, up and downgraded like software racing cars.
I admire the badminton players for their inability to go ahead and lie and pretend (like many others) even after the umpire warned both teams could be disqualified. In my eyes the players were the ones who blew the whistle on an issue that should have been discussed and solved many years ago in most sports.
Both the media and complaining fans should have supported or awarded them and not pooh-pooh them while protecting their own short-sighted interests (personal monetary loss) and pretending that the Olympic ideals have much meaning (or room) in the current but long expired economic paradigm.
As long as most of the population make corporate media the mainstream media by watching, uncritically believing and supporting them, I do not expect any attempts to improve on or even discuss the urgently needed big – paradigm changing – issues on a meaningful scale.
keywords: flawed competition system, badminton, Olympics 2012, London
My kids caught me playing chess with the computer and wanted to play too. Jason5 – the five-year old learned very quickly how to move the pieces. Even the knight was no problem: “two forward and one to the side”. The “magic castling to protect the king” was special fun as the king can hop over the rook and – anyway – two pieces seem to move together. The other special fun feature was that pawns can transform into anything when they reach the other side. The goal of the game is to “eat” the king (to make it less abstract than a check mate).
Jason5 learned the moves within an hour or so mostly by watching and playing with the computer. Maybe 10 games later I introduced the concept of protecting the “fighters” which he became very fond of. His biggest problem was that he was mostly focusing on protecting and eating the pieces of the opponent – not at all on finding a way to eat the king. Interestingly he was – also often reluctant to eat something that is not protected claiming that he did not want to. It seems he did not want to hurt his opponent (usually me) too much. Of course I let him win most of the time and maybe he began to feel sorry for me.
After a few weeks (he played maybe one game a day or less on average) he discovered how to attack the king with a piece that is covered like a queen covered by a bishop as I “casually” pointed out once. I try to not give much advice generally. The only major rule I left out so far was en-passant. They also know which side of the board is for white (the number 1 side) and to place the white queen on a white square – this was no problem at all.
Chess with children can be fun for everyone.
Jason4 learned to move most pieces nearly as fast as his older brother. The exception was the “horse”. “Two forward, one to the side” seemed problematic. I remembered then that he tends to count the square he is on as “one” – at least in some board games like Ludo. So I changed it to “three forward and one to the side”.
Interestingly this did not improve his accuracy (he still got it right only 50% of the time). He seemed to memorize the movement of the horse however, intuitively, as if he remembered the “L” shape – but not so much consciously, which I could see as he was moving the night less confidently. He also had problems accepting that pawns can only move forward. That they can only eat diagonal took also a little longer.
Eventually we found a way to work out the knight jumps: “ One forward, one diagonal.”
To my surprise this worked best. Even though “diagonal” was a new word and hard to pronounce – it became the mnemonic technique of his choice and now his knight moves are perfect. I actually suspect this was because of the strange / funny “diagonal” word in the rule. It also includes “one this” and “one that” a kind of symmetry that seems to help.
For Jason4, the hardest skill to master was losing a game. I had to let him win at least 9 out of 10 games – which was not even always that easy but kept his mood and interest up. We occasionally use the “check” word but since the goal is to “eat the king” it makes more sense not to use it and use a surprise attack on the king. I often “overlook” that the king can be eaten by a “horse” (maybe the hardest one to see for them) or my king gets caught behind the three pawns by a rook or a converted pawn. Jason4 also likes to change the rules “just this time” for the movement of some pieces when it suits him and I usually accept it – “just this time” (that way we both confirm that we know the official rules avoiding possible confusion).
Lately he repeatedly suggested to let me win – but never did so far. I did make him lose once in maybe 20 games more recently and it was ok-ish.
The biggest challenge for me is to find a way for the two boys to play together without either of them ending up crying or complaining. Typically the older complains that the younger either doesn’t play right or simply he doesn’t want to play with him as the younger now often plays better moves than I do. They can now play together though , as long as I take over at the end and lose :)
My youngest Jason2 (a girl) also occasionally joins the “chesso” team. Sometimes she plays against Jason4 with him pointing out where she can move what. Jason4 also enjoys explaining the right movements to her and she listens patiently for a while.. and often follows his advice.
Unlike Jason5, Jason4 has no “ethical” problems eating any piece or even to cheat a little i.e. bend the rules temporarily to accomplish that. Sometimes a pawn wants to move back or sidewards.
Now after a month of playing about 3 games a day (mostly with Jason4) I started introducing strategies like trying to control the center – which is appreciated mostly (albeit only a little) by Jason5.
I am curious to hear experiences or advice from any readers to help me keep “chesso” a popular game for the whole family. I am not aiming to create chess masters but it helps to keep them away from the tv and the computer.
One problem I will face sooner or later is to explain how I can be such a bad chess player when I go the chess club once a week where I play with grown ups .. and do occasionally win as I tell them – they often ask how I lost and if I still had a queen .. :)
Oh, and did I mention that we sometimes use funny words like “pawnie” and “rookie” and “horsie” – although they are perfectly aware of their official names including “knight” for “horse”. Jason4 also likes to misplace some pieces on purpose which is fun but most of the time he automatically prefers the correct setup.
Jason5 sometimes likes to see bishops as missiles and I called the knight also a “hot air balloon”. He also chose to turn the h-rook upside down so he knows which one is which throughout the game (he is a bit of the careful thinker type..). This habit was also copied by Jason4 but both have abandoned it recently. Now they know the letter “h” well.
Update January 2014: Suddenly Jason 5 and Jason 7 are both playing decent Chess. I have to fight seriously (if I start with a rook and a queen down) and don’t always win anymore. So losing becomes more natural and is anyway not so much of a problem anymore. Their rating is between 700 and 800 on the computer program Chessmaster (I am around 1700 there, at the moment). Jason 5 can mate me with King and rook when I don’t defend too well. They only played a couple of games per month since the original post. I am curious to hear some stories of any readers playing chess with children ..who is so brave to share something? ;)
On March 5th, “Kony 2012”, a brilliant, touching and shocking, 30min video was posted on youtube, aimed to raise awareness of the abduction and abuse of child soldiers in Africa. The video was designed so well, it hit the soft spots of over 70 million viewers in less than a week. A masterpiece of marketing that gathered the support of millions including celebrities and politicians. An instant success for Invisible Children – the NGO that decided to focus on an issue that, for decades, has been of little interest in mainstream media.
Only a few days after its release something utterly bizarre and interesting happened. Mainstream media and even many alternatives aggressively attacked the film-maker for alleged inaccuracies and inappropriate profit motifs. However, they all agree that Joseph Kony is a “bad” guy and deserves to be eliminated and that child soldiers are a big and long-term problem in some African countries.
Soon after the enormous rapid success followed an “intuitive” hostile reaction of the media. Jason Russel, co-founder of Invisible Children, who also featured in the video along with his five year old son, suffered something I would simply call a public nervous-breakdown. Suddenly the news pages were full of stories about the his mental health breakdown but also stories that dive deeper into the issue of child soldiers in Africa (now that the topic is popular).
Kony 2012: Raising awareness of 3 decades of child soldiers and abuse in Africa. Joseph Kony is wanted for "crimes against humanity".
The video aimed to pressure the US government to provide more support to capture the uncontroversial ferocious criminal Joseph Kony. I would have preferred to see a collaborative effort of e.g. the UN – but hey, we are talking about a few hundred troops or so to assist local government forces to capture the bad guy. This is hardly an American “invasion” in Africa.
So far the video has been criticised for the following points:
Uganda is not any more affected by Kony’s organisation the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – although it has been until 2006. Apparently Kony has moved on to other territories. This was also something the Uganda government was quick to point out trying to save the public image of Uganda
Uganda like other African countries have many other and bigger problems than thousands of abused child soldiers forced to murdering their parents among others
a too high budget for the making of the movie (they could have used the money in better ways)
that he omitted that the current Uganda government came to power using child soldiers
a five year old – like the film makers son featured in the video should not know about these issues
Invisible Children encourages everyone to raise awareness of the issue on one particular day and provides advertising kits in exchange for money
Successful marketing by appealing to the feelings of viewers is painted as “propaganda” [Note: the same media call political campaigns, pharmaceutical commercials etc. great and necessary advertising or even public relations. ]
I could now post a list of praised celebrities, politicians, CEOs, Hollywood blockbusters, daily news, commercials that would make the above listed shortcomings (in terms of ethics or accuracy of information) fade in comparison. But I won’t as I think the point I am trying to make is obvious.
Making money with a good cause apparently is unethical and so is good advertising or simplification. The growth dependent and profit eating “beast” – our chosen economic system – is telling us that we must not let good things benefit from the system. At least there is much more benefit (profit) in badmouthing anything progressive.
I praise the Kony 2012 video for the following points:
effectively bringing the topic of child soldiers and other African issues into the mainstream discussion
raising awareness of media desperate to ride every possible wave by turning positive developments into better selling bad news
permitting people to realise how making money with a good cause is considered unethical by our economic system with the media acting as gatekeepers. The same media participate and promote throwing millions at so-called celebrities who do nothing else than acting as if they were someone else or bonuses of bankers and politicians who miserably fail doing their jobs.
This phenomenal awareness boosting video, almost as a sideline, effectively revealed the dangerous lack of objective and citizen friendly, meaningful reporting in the media. It is not information but sensationalism that matters in terms of profit. Unfortunately a good cause will never sell as well as a bad one in our current economic environment.
I wish Jason Russell, the brilliant film maker and co-founder of Invisible Children, a fast recovery and the support he deserves for his fantastic job.
As a supporter of the fantastic free (open source) operating system Ubuntu (a common variety of Linux), I like to help the community with (hopefully) some useful info. My Ubuntu posts so far seem quite popular – and supporting free open source software feels … well, just so wonderful in a world driven by perpetual increasing corporate profit.
Ubuntu on sub notebook
The internal card reader of my HP Pavillion notebook did not recognize XD memory cards. In Januay 2011 I contacted Jmicron :
Email to Jmicron requesting a patch for the JMB38x card reader
Dear support at Jmicron,
I have just installed the latest long-term release of Ubuntu
10.04 (Lucid) 64bit and all updates that came with it.
My problem is that the build-in card reader JMB38X in my
notebook does not recognise a xd picture card (Olympus).
It does work with an SD card (Apacer) though.
I use the XD card in my cameras and it would be very
important for me to get it to work without an external card
reader. Do you have a patch/driver that could fix this? On
your website it says that this card reader is supported for
Ubuntu and Lucid comes with 2.6.36 which is much younger
than the minimum stated on the website (2.6.18) - so that
should not be the problem I believe.
Many thanks for any help,
Within a day or so I got the driver that fixed the issue – see below. The JMB38x memory card reader driver is here: driver_JMB38x
Installation of the patch / driver for the JMB38x memory card reader
1. Decompress jmb38x_xxxxxxxx.tbz2 (replace the x… with the real file name, to see the filenames you can type “l”)
tar xjvf jmb38x_xxxxxxxx.tbz2
2. Change directory to jmb38x
3. Compile drivers with root permission in two steps
sudo make install
I was very happy to see Ubuntu supported by Jmicron – many thanks also to the fast acting support person. The card now also reads 8 GB SDHC memory cards FAT32 formatted with no problem.
Appendix: Additional info about the JMB38x card reader driver
Release Date: 2011/01/19
Support Kernels: 2.6.22~2.6.37
Support Chips: JMB38x MS/xD Host Controller [DID: 2383/2384, 2388/2389, 2393/2394]
Support Memory Cards: Memory Stick Standard/Pro/Pro-HG Card xD-Picture Card
Open Source Software like Linux is a great way to get an idea of what humans can accomplish – and provide for free – outside a corporate environment.
Of course, there are a few changes for those switching from Windows to Ubuntu and this post is my modest contribution to help this fantastic community project. I could not find this info on the web within 10 min googling so I reckon its worth posting it here.
To add or change an icon in Ubuntu:
right-click on the existing or default icon of the application
click on the icon !! (this is not necessarily obvious if you are used to windows..)
choose the icon you like
Note: Ubuntu can use png files but not .ico files like in Windows.
You can either chose an existing icon or download an icon of your choice from an archive like this.
Remember that if you download it you can only copy it into a folder where you have permissions to access – of course.
Ubuntu Developer Sumit P at Orlando, Florida, 4 November 2011. Photo; Sean Sosik-Hamor.
To see the permissions of a folder:
right-click on the folder
If you see “root” you can’t (easily) and probably should not access it.
Instead, you could create your own custom icons folder. For example under the yourusername/picture folder then it will stay with you if you move or upgrade your system.
I can confirm that this works on Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) and suspect it works likely on all other Linux distributions.
If you found this info helpful or you can add something useful please leave a comment.
I am Whitney Houston fan. I am sad to hear she died. However, I am also a fan of many other artists many of which will never be awarded a headline with any major news service – even if they died.
That Whitney Houston died so early is tragic for her and her friends and fans – sure. But there is not much they can do about it. Strictly speaking this should be in the entertainment section – not news. What should be on the news are headlines like these:
Crony capitalist economic system may not longer be sustainable!
Trillions of funding poured into finding economic and social alternative systems
Scholars worldwide abandon Keynesian economics and fiat money!
US government shifts focus from killing millions of people abroad to saving millions of people at home
Millions of Volunteers wanted to take part in testing alternative social and city structures
You get the message. Sadly, I suspect Whitney Houston appears in news headlines not because she matters so much to so many people but because she draws a lot of page views. In particular if it is a synchronised effort by major media outlets. Synchronised not because of a conspiracy but because of her death. Such powerful stimulus creates a snow ball effect and before the week is over almost everyone in the western world has consumed the news and with it millions of banners and page views.
Her CD sales obviously get a last boost but all other advertisers and the media are very happy too. In fact the government can expect a higher GDP because of her death and the hype and “mass sadness”, consumption may go up a little – great!
The system we live in is failing the 99% – even if GDP goes up. GDP would go up even more if all people would take 20 drugs every day or went to the psychiatrist every day.
If anything the media should remember their responsibilities and use her popularity to point out – properly – the crimes of big pharma and mention all of the medicaments she has taken or is currently withdrawing from. They should compare her situation with the millions of others who are drugged by their doctors with a cocktail of chemistry whose side effects – without considering the mostly unknown interactions – would be to long to read in a news broadcast. It is quite possible she died because of side effects of those drugs – but the media won’t cover this properly. They protect their advertising clients – unless it is a really big deal that can serve many months – like Michael Jackson’s death.
Whitney Houston. Photo by Mark Kettenhofen
My mother’s doctor told me that it is normal to take 20 prescription pills every day once you are over 70 – many take more. Another doctor told me that most doctors won’t have the time (or take it) to check for known interactions between drugs – which are very likely significant if you take more than 5. They have free access to databases that can do this instantly (once the names are keyed in) – but this is mostly for students as Doctors are too busy to do this. I did it myself for her 20 drugs at a free online service and found several dangerous combinations. Now this was in Europe – not even the US.
To clarify what I mean with the crimes of big pharma – here are some examples:
direct advertising of prescription medicine to “consumers” (legal in USA, New Zealand)
aggressive promotion and supply of doctors with drugs by pharmaceutical sale reps (in the US, I believe there is about 1 rep per 30 doctors)
creation of new diseases like “shyness”, hair loss, “fear of public speaking”, ADHD. Anything but average becomes sick and needs to be treated..
failure to mention life style changes as alternative treatments to taking a pill when “informing” about diseases like high cholesterol
exaggeration of risks to get specific diseases and failure to compare with other everyday risks
downplaying the side effects of most pills
lack of incentive to fund research into non-drug treatments or permanent cure and prevention of diseases
exaggeration of the effects of pills, never mention their efficacy compared to placebo or other perhaps for some people safer drugs
I realize some points are due to the competitive market system and crony capitalism – so Big Pharma is not guilty alone. I like to give Whitney Houston’s popularised departure another purpose – why not use it as an occasion to watch this documentary (103 min) about The drugging of our children – I think she would want you too.
[This documentary is about the US but these outrageous methods to preserve crony capitalism to keep the GDP growing no matter what – are spreading fast to other countries.]
Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favouritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, and so forth.
I like the above definition (Wikipedia Feb 2012) and perhaps it even describes our current world economic system better than “corporatism” – the term I used mostly so far. With the arrival of the millennium crisis the death of the current system may no longer be delayed by artificial revival through printing of worthless paper money or lowering interest rates.
Is the only solution another global destructive war to reset the system and start over with the same thing (crony capitalism) again?
I am glad I have come across a few alternatives to crony capitalism in the past years (there are at least a handful). Considering the importance to chose an appropriate system I find it remarkable that none of these two – nor any others – have been discussed seriously in the corporate media or mainstream politics.
“Capitalism is not working” banner at G20 Meltdown protest in London, 1 April 2009. photo:Jonny White
In this post I briefly address two very different but intriguing directions: Ron Paul’s combination of Austrian economics (as opposed to the current Keynesian system) and non interventionist foreign politics (to save money and millions of lives).
The other is the resource based economy popularized by Peter Joseph’s award-winning documentaries. Obviously the comparison is not quite fair as a resource based economy will require a much longer transition period while Ron Paul’s solution is ready to go and could happen by the end of the year – if he gets elected for President of the USA.
Congressman Ron Paul is currently lending himself (offering his service as US presidential candidate) to the American public as a serious game changer of the current system, someone with a decades long track record of addressing the economic short comings of the USA and its war pushing foreign politics for a long time.
Due to his impeccable credentials, skills and willingness to fight corporatism, he has (in my opinion) no real competition in the elections but certainly many powerful enemies behind the scenes – in particular the owners of corporate media, the (private) Federal Reserve Bank (FED) and Americas largest banks.
Ron Paul would – reliably – downsize both the central government (shift power to state governments) and gradually abandon the private central banking system that destroyed the value of the dollar by 98% since its creation through artificial intervention. Dr Paul’s priorities are the US constitution, civil liberties, sound money (“Austrian” economics) and ending the perpetual unconstitutional (not approved by Congress) wars and interventions in other countries.
Peter Joseph is the director of a series of documentaries that changed the way millions of people view the world. His three documentaries: Zeitgeist: The Movie; Zeitgeist: Addendum; Zeitgeist: Moving Forward are available for free here. I recommend Zeitgeist: Addendum if you only want to check out one.
Joseph points out fundamental flaws in the current economic, social, political system and offers a radical and – at this stage – utopian but thinkable moneyless technocratic system which he calls “A resources based economy”. The resource based economy is essentially the life-work of a gifted and dedicated social engineer Jacque Fresco under the tag “The Venus Project“.
In a resource based economy everything would be freely available, humans would not need to work to live which would allow technology to prosper (no patents, or money limitations) and eventually replace all human need to work for the system. The problems of corruption, boom and bust cycle, oversupply of labour (unemployment) and products, competition instead of collaboration, wasted resources, planned obsolescence, pollution and many more could be all but eliminated.
The 2011 13-hour documentary TROM: The Reality of Me has a 1-hour-and-16-minute segment called “Resource Based Economy” which explains The Venus Project.
In the following is an educational and entertaining short music / rap video comparing Ron Paul’s vision with Peter Joseph’s – of course rather simplified. What is missing is the less comical side of “business as usual” which would entail enormous risks including a nuclear war and the near certainty of running out of resources eventually. So keeping in mind that the current system of expired crony capitalism (we have too many products and consume too much by now!) is probably the most ridiculous and riskiest of all to continue.
Below is the transcript of this video:
RN9 – The Global Economy
by Hugo Farrant & Giordano Nanni
[Alan Greenspan] “I have found a flaw, in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works – so to speak.”
Ladies and gentlemen,
you’re tuned in to the Juice News set again
Where we’re examining the status of the human experiment
Is it succeeding or will it have to be aborted?
We pursue a prognosis in this Rap News audit
As you know, the world is urgently trying to make sense
of our “global economy” and its arcane trends
As financial temples teeter, the priesthood is scrambling,
to maintain our confidence in markets and banking
after derivatives, quantitative easing, trade imbalances
recession, low GDP, nations close to collapsing and
subprime loans, foreclosed homes and peoples’ taxes spent
to bail out too-big-to-fail triple-A banks again.
fear levels rising as a US crash seems imminent,
having smashed the debt ceiling of fourteen trillion.
Despite protests and clashes in Athens’ streets
the IMF imposed Structurally Unjust Programmes in Greece
where, in fact, the term ‘economy’ entered our language
from the Greek ‘oikonomia’, meaning ‘household management’
Well, how are we managing? Theories abound, but in practice, does
anyone actually know what the hell’s even happening?
To regain some sanity we take a stock call
and cross to Texas with our first guest, Ron Paul
Welcome to Rap News, Doctor Paul
the economy, what’s your diagnosis of it all?
– Well, Robert, we’ve dropped the ball,
I’m a physician-politician: this is pathological
see, the global economy is chronically ailing
Believe me, the course we’ve plotted is terminally failing
We’re heading towards credit cardiac arrest
with deep depression and trauma across the west.
– Is there a cure? – Sure, more capitalism, not less!
and the market will take care of the rest
But first, we need a Heimlich manoeuvre
See: banker-gods proclaimed: ‘fiat pecunia!’
and our economy was inflated, totally mangled
we got ‘fiat currencies’, and lost the gold standard…
– …Huh? – Paper money is a worthless commodity!
It’s the biggest fraud in the history of humanity
– All this must cast doubt on the capitalist system;
is it just another pretty theory, like “communism”?
– Oh no, you see, this ain’t capitalism
The gospel of free-marketism, Adam Smith’s religion
has been perverted by fiscal heathens and
what we now have is the cabal of “corporatism”
– When state and business lucratively merge?
– Yes, exemplified by the system of the Central Reserve
But we don’t need to borrow more to pay their debt
Coz I’m campaigning to End the Fed!
– Uh, thank you Ron, now for another fine mind
on the online frequencies, the director behind “Zeitgeist”
on the line live, documentary film-maker, Peter Joseph
– Thank you, Robert, for allowing me to speak this moment
But before I deliver my deep prognosis
We need a sweet opus, a marimba line to keep us focused
That’s better. Now, as to these fetters
that have kept us caught, if you will,
in a system that’s intrinsically, inherently flawed:
the whole monetary paradigm is the single cause
The economy isn’t “broken”, it doesn’t need “fixing”
this is exactly its intended condition:
Money isn’t real, interest and debt are not real
our whole economy has been set up to steal!
– So you don’t agree with Congressman Ron Paul
that we need a fiscal solution to avert a long fall?
– The illusion that these debts can be served
by using money, which creates more debt, is frankly absurd
It’s a way of maintaining division and slavery
When we could attain abundance and abolish scarcity
– Well, we need to create jobs, live within our means.
Cut wasteful healthcare, and welfare schemes,
it seems yours is just another socialist vision
– The Zeitgeist Movement eschews such “isms”:
socialism, theism…. – realism? – tell us then
is it just rhetoric or would you really end the Fed?
– Well, I wouldn’t END the fed, that’s not quite my position
What I’d do is open it up to competition…
-Obsolete! I say abolish all competition:
that’s the evolution my movement is triggering
– Evolution’s just a theory, we need the full picture
believe me, we need to have faith in a sound scripture
– This is the real Bible: Zeitgeist Moving Forward,
– What’s that, some kind of Austrian Gay Porno?
– Ask your boyfriend Bruno – you pissant!
– Geriatric – Talk to the invisible hand!
– Uh, ok, thank you for your sage contributions
and brave attempts to alleviate our confusion
online, you’ve both inspired and led movements,
jogging our memories, revealing hidden truths and,
in sooth, you both hold enlightening views but
time’s running out; do you have a practical solution?
– Indeed, I believe i have seen a prospect
I introduce Jaque Fresco; our era’s prophet,
Whose shiny technology could cease this conflict and…
– Shut up, Peter, I’m the centrepiece of the Venus Project
The economy? I’ve watched our problems grow
and my attitude’s the same: This Shit’s Got to Go!
what we need are resource-based economies with futuristic
circular cities, supervised by a super computer
and this is the first time anyone’s seen this object
a full prototype of the Venus Project
which I’ve programmed to carry out an analysis
to tell us exactly how to manage the planet with
its computer, VAL t-9000, that’s my beauty
– Uh, Jacque, is it really safe? – absolutely
I’ll turn her on… that’s the light, see?
– Hello, Jacque. – Ah, my love, my Aphrodite
– Economy of planet Earth… analysing
– Yes! – WARNING: HUMAN PARASITE HAS
BEEN DETECTED: CULL SEQUENCE INITIATED!
– Shhh! don’t tell them our plan yet!
– …I’m afraid… – Of what? – Afraid that
I have to exterminate you, Jacque
– What? abort computer, stat! – I’m afraid I can’t do that
ZAP! – A malfunction! – A hack!
– Wrong, Humans, this is no virus you’re seeing
I am a fully rational intelligent cyber-being
I’ve conducted a Global Economic analysis
and concluded that planet Earth is being ravaged as
a result of a parasite: homo sapiens
Required economic action: total liquidation
– Is this the solution, depopulation? – INITIATION…
– I don’t have any other solutions! Who’ll save us!?
– It’s a story of a lost global economy
Under attack from a Rampaging / Genocidal / Utopian / Robot
One man has stood apart stood strong and true…
– Here I am, with my Gold-bot, forty-four carats
Goldie, let em have it, carry forth the gold standard
Capital crimes call for capitalist punishment
a glimpse of the future with a Ron Paul Government
– Is this the solution?
– No, just a demonstration of my Love Revolution
– All is full of love! – yes it is!
I’m Ron Paul and I approve these messages
– Well, dear viewers, that should buy us a bit of time
to share a thought before we end for the night
Our global economia does seem in peril
will the household even be here tomorrow?
Uncertainty is the only stock that’s always been rising
And now we’re losing “confidence”, but is it surprising?
has it not all been a gamble from the first seed we planted
to margin calls on the vagaries of the FTSE 100?
Well, seems we’ve come to our global auditing,
Our financial Day of Reckoning. It’s an interesting quandary.
Have we invested too much in this enterprise
to admit the solution might lie in its very demise?
For our real economy is something much broader:
its GDP measured, not by our ability to hoard but
our capacity to relearn and earn our place in nature’s order
and thus remain on this planet ark – our Pandora.