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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

News of Interest for 11/28/06

Why the U.S. Loses ‘Small Wars’
"If history is any gauge, the US will lose the current conflict in Iraq. Since the end of World War II, major US use of force against substantially weaker enemies – Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, for example – have ended poorly. The last remaining superpower is not alone in this phenomenon of strong armies losing to lesser foes: the American colonists beat the British, the Vietnamese forced France to leave Indochina and Afghanistan’s Mujahadeen drove the Soviets from their country."
Weapon Of Mass Destruction
"The AK-47 has become the world's most prolific and effective combat weapon, a device so cheap and simple that it can be bought in many countries for less than the cost of a live chicken. Depicted on the flag and currency of several countries, waved by guerrillas and rebels everywhere, the AK is responsible for about a quarter-million deaths every year. It is the firearm of choice for at least 50 legitimate standing armies and countless fighting forces from Africa and the Middle East to Central America and Los Angeles. It has become a cultural icon, its signature form -- that banana-shaped magazine -- defining in our consciousness the contours of a deadly weapon."
Computer Detects Anger Before Fights Break Out
"Here's how it works. A single analysis computer accepts sensor input from a variety of locations. Once the software detects a verbally aggressive human voice, it activates the camera associated with that sensor, bringing it to a security guard's attention. This helps cut down on the number of people needed to monitor CCTVs."
US Bioelectromagnetic Weapons Research
"Could new weapons stun or paralyze with a beam of radio energy? I have discussed proposals for ‘bioelectromagnetic wepaonry’ in DefenceTech before, here and here, but for the first time details are emerging of Air Force-sponsored work in this field."
Police want power to crack down on offensive demo chants and slogans
"The country's biggest force, the Metropolitan police, is to lobby the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, because officers believe that large sections of the population have become increasingly politicised, and there is a growing sense that the current restrictions on demonstrations are too light."
A Smarter Computer to Pick Stocks
'Ray Kurzweil, an inventor and new hedge fund manager, is describing the future of stock-picking, and it isn’t human. “Artificial intelligence is becoming so deeply integrated into our economic ecostructure that some day computers will exceed human intelligence,” Mr. Kurzweil tells a room of investors who oversee enormous pools of capital. “Machines can observe billions of market transactions to see patterns we could never see.”'
Dreams in the Dark at the Drive-Through Window
"But consider the life inside that window on Loop 12 in West Dallas. There is a woman with children and no health insurance, undereducated, a foot soldier in the army of the working poor. The fry cook sneezes on the meat patties. Cigarettes go half smoked. Cameras spy on the employees. Customers throw their fries and soft drinks sometimes because they think it’s funny."
Outside the Xbox
'"A game is a game is a game," says Smith, who is an administrative associate at the American Chemical Society. "I don't understand why everybody's spending so much money and sweating over the PS3s and the Wiis. Especially when they could still spend hours playing their old NESes."'


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