Though blog readership jumped, the percentage of online Americans who write blogs grew only slightly — to 7 percent in November, up from 5 percent early in the year. Blog creators tend to be male, affluent, well-educated and young; 70 percent of them have high-speed connections at home, and 82 percent have been online at least six years.Blog Creation, Readership Rises in 2004
Despite the attention to blogging, a large number of Americans remain clueless — only 38 percent of Internet users know what a blog is: online agglomerations of ideas, information and links, usually presented with the most recent postings on top, and often offering a mechanism for visitors to post comments.
Software tools developed in recent years have made blogs easier to create and maintain.
Newer technology, known as Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, make it easier to read blogs. RSS software regularly pulls headlines from news sites and Web journals and presents them within e-mail software, Web browsers or standalone programs known as readers. The Pew study found that 5 percent of online Americans use them.
The survey, based on random telephone calls with 1,861 Internet users conducted Nov 4-30, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. The RSS question was based on a smaller sample of 537 Internet users and has an error margin of 4 percentage points.
Humming sex toy shuts Australian airport. Taiwanese man tries to convert lions to Jesus, gets bitten.
Talking toilet orders German men to sit down. Chinese get busy signal on Beijing suicide line.
Judging by the bizarre headlines that greeted readers around the world, 2004 was a bumper year for the weird and wacky.
Canadian guide dog barred for only answering its master's commands in French. Japanese boy writes apology in blood for dozing in class.
The list is endless, living proof that truth is all too often stranger than fiction.
It is a little-publicized fact that police have arrested more terrorists than military operations have captured or killed. Police in more than 100 countries have arrested more than 3,000 suspects linked to al-Qaeda, while the military has captured some 650 enemy combatants.Who or what is to blame? Look inside to see.
In Asia, police forces have detained far more terrorists than the military forces have detained, but most U.S. security aid is given in the form of military assistance. For example, in 2003, the United States provided $20 million of military assistance to the Philippines while giving only $2 million for law enforcement development.
There has recently been a huge media feeding frenzy on the prospect of laser devices being used to blind pilots of commercial airliners. The reports note that no damage was done to the crew, and the planes landed safely.I can't argue with his logic.
There is an assumption that lasers are being used to blind pilots. The type of laser that could blind two pilots would, first, have to be highly sophisticated and expensive and, second, would have to hit the cockpit from the front of the aircraft. A difficult feat on an object moving over 300 miles per hour.
The recent events involved lasers pointed from the ground up. At over 8000 feet.
A laser is just like any other light source. It expands to infinity, unless the light source is restricted and confined. It is not uncommon these days for people, especially hunters, to have laser range finders. The least expensive will accurately provide a range up to 400 meters with a margin of error of 3 meters. Laser rangefinders used by hunters can reach 1200 meters, with expense multiplying at each interval.
An aircraft at 8500 feet is a different class of laser. To monitor a stationary target at the range would require a device that costs over $7000. A moving target, like an aircraft, moves us over $10,000.
I am not going to post the sites that have hardware that can track a plane over 3000 meters. Suffice it to say that there are many. Which brings us to the point of this article.
Lasers are not being used to blind pilots. Lasers are being used to measure straight line distance from the ground to an aircraft aircraft at its most vulnerable state - landing. An aircraft on takeoff would be a more difficult target - maximum power and maximum climb. But a landing ship slows down to a speed just short of a stall and follows a prescribed path of flight.
The information regarding an aircraft’s peak vulnerability would be invaluable. Documenting landing approaches and and straight line distances would be highly useful in target acquisition. That information is critical regarding available weapons systems.
Amidst intensifying acts of violence and many calls to postpone the elections, preparations for the balloting in Iraq scheduled for January 30 have been proceeding unabated. By the deadline of December 15, 107 lists carrying the names of 7200 candidates for the 275 seats in the National Assembly were submitted and approved by the High Commission for Elections. The lists represent 73 single political parties, 25 independent candidates, and 9 lists of various coalitions or combinations of political parties.Here's a very nice chart he drew to help you imagine all that:
In addition to the lists for the national assembly, 382 lists with 7850 candidates have been submitted for the election of members of the 18 provincial councils (41 members for each council with the exception of Baghdad, which will elect 51 members). Finally, 499 candidates - submitted either on a joint list of the two major Kurdish parties or on a list of one of the 17 smaller Kurdish parties - will be competing for the 111 seats in the Kurdish National Council (independent Kurdish parliament).
The U.N. Secretary General's special representative to Iraq, Ashraf Kadi, has declared that the logistical arrangements necessary for conducting credible Iraqi elections on January 30 are in place. However, unlike the cases of Afghanistan and East Timor where the United Nations ran the elections, in Iraq the responsibility for running the elections rests with the country's High Commission for Elections.
Under the proportional representation system which was introduced to Iraq by the United Nations, the country will be treated as a single constituency, and each voter will cast one vote either for one of the twenty-five independent candidates or for a list representing one or more parties. While vigorous competition is expected during the elections, realistically only a few lists, in particular the Iraqi National Alliance list brokered by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the two joint Kurdish lists, and the list of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi are expected to win a substantial number of seats in the national assembly. For the others, success, if any, will be limited to the top tier of the list.Oh, how I hate this. No candidate will be directly accountable to voters who live in a particular place, because "the whole country is the constituency". Ugh. A recipe for chaos. Don't get me wrong, I'll take Italian or Israeli style electoral chaos and uncertainty over Saddam Hussein feeding people into the shredders any time. But why can't we have ruled out a few things that are known to be bad ideas in advance? Such as not making candidates accountable to the voters in a specific geographical home district?
December 29, 2004 -- MONDAY'S message from Osama bin Laden told us what he fears: a vote.Maybe he's a little generous about this "not having any basis in the Qur'an" business.
Condemning any Iraqi who goes to the polls as an infidel, the terror master hopes to derail the elections. He knows that every ballot cast is a defeat.
Anyone who dismisses the importance of the upcoming Iraqi elections need only listen to Monsieur bin Laden's urgent plea for a boycott. Osama praised the atrocities of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a hands-on executioner, and welcomed his collaboration in efforts to block the balloting.
Islamic terrorists distrust the common people. They dread the strength of those who might think for themselves. Convinced that men and women must be governed fiercely from above, the terrorists are the gory religious incarnation of thousands of years of tyranny. Their god is a savage dictator in the clouds.
Osama and Zarqawi share an understanding of their weakness. Given a choice, few men and women prefer to be oppressed. Elections are the best weapon humanity has developed against the age-old hierarchies that concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a few, letting grim old men exterminate simple joys.
The Islamic-extremist vision of a world governed by the harshest interpretation of their faith could not survive where people pick their own leaders. The terrorists know it. And they fear it. Like other self-appointed elites, they pretend to speak for the average man while despising him as unworthy of having a voice in his own affairs. (A reality-TV show about Islamic terrorism might be called "Intellectuals Gone Wild.")
Osama possesses no religious authority to condemn Iraqis for voting. Pretending to revere Islamic tradition, he and his fellow terrorists make up the rules as they go. The slaughter of the innocents, videotaped executions, kidnappings and the assassinations of political candidates have no basis in the Koran. Terrorist Islam is a primitive blood-cult.
That cult could not survive in a Middle East where elections became the norm.
The elections will be the most important test yet for the people of Iraq — Arabs, Kurds, Turcomans and others. We can't predict the outcome of the elections because the Iraqis themselves don't know what's going to happen.I know one thing. The night of the Iraqi election will be one of the most exciting of my life. There better be some serious coverage on the news networks, or I'll be quite piqued.
Will they turn out in masses, defying the prophets of doom as the Afghans did? Will they choose religious leaders over secular technocrats? Will elections be used to settle old scores or to make a new start?
How many Sunni Arabs will defy the terrorists and vote? How many Iraqis will die as they stand in line at the polling stations? Will other Arab governments — terrified of democracy themselves — condemn the results no matter how much courage Iraqis demonstrate? Will a successful election intensify the cruelty of the terrorists?
The only thing of which we may be certain is that our deadliest enemies are doing all they can to stop Iraq's elections. It's the one goal on which the various terrorist factions and insurgent groups agree. If we needed any further proof that our struggle against terror is about human freedom and the dignity of the common man and woman, our enemies are laying it in front of us.
Dan Rather and Peter Jennings, along with a U.S. Marine assigned to protect them, were hiking through the Iraqi desert one day when they were captured by terrorists. They were tied up, led to a village, and brought before the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al Qaeda leader in Iraq.
Zarqawi said, "I am familiar with your western custom of granting the condemned a last wish; so, before we kill and dismember you, do you have any last requests?"
Dan Rather said, "Well, I'm a Texan; so I'd like one last bowlful of hot spicy chili." Zarqawi nodded to an underling who left and returned with the chili. Rather ate it all and said, "Now I can die content."
Peter Jennings said, "I am Canadian, so I'd like to hear the song 'O Canada' one last time." Zarqawi nodded to a terrorist who had studied the Western world and knew the music. He returned with some rag-tag musicians and played the anthem. Jennings sighed and declared he could now die peacefully.
Zarqawi turned and said, "And now, Mr. U.S. Marine, what is your final wish?"
"Kick me in the ass," said the Marine.
"What?" asked Zarqawi. "Will you mock us in your last hour?"
"No, I'm not kidding. I want you to kick me in the ass," insisted the Marine. So the leader shoved him into the open, and kicked him in the ass.
The Marine went sprawling, but rolled to his knees, pulled out a 9mm pistol hidden in his cammies, and shot Zarqawi dead.
In the resulting confusion, he leapt to his knapsack, pulled out his M4 carbine, and sprayed the remaining terrorists with gunfire. In a flash, they were either dead or fleeing for their lives.
As the Marine was untying Rather and Jennings, they asked him, "Why didn't you just shoot them? Why did you ask them to kick you in the ass?"
"What," replied the Marine, "and have you assholes call me the aggressor?"