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Indeed the stars in the sky and their constellations no longer shine

Free Getopt - BSD Licensed getopt.c
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:49 pm EDT, Apr  4, 2005

] A getopt library compatible with GNU-getopt, but
] distributed with a BSD license, and also supports
] DOS-style commandline parsing.

It's handy to get pointers to libraries like this.

Free Getopt - BSD Licensed getopt.c

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
Topic: Society 7:43 pm EDT, Apr  4, 2005

Tom Friedman's new book is in stores on April 5.

When scholars write the history of the world twenty years from now, and they come to the chapter "Y2K to March 2004," what will they say was the most crucial development? The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the Iraq war? Or the convergence of technology and events that allowed India, China, and so many other countries to become part of the global supply chain for services and manufacturing, creating an explosion of wealth in the middle classes of the world's two biggest nations, giving them a huge new stake in the success of globalization? And with this "flattening" of the globe, which requires us to run faster in order to stay in place, has the world gotten too small and too fast for human beings and their political systems to adjust in a stable manner?

In this brilliant new book, the award-winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman demystifies the brave new world for readers, allowing them to make sense of the often bewildering global scene unfolding before their eyes. With his inimitable ability to translate complex foreign policy and economic issues, Friedman explains how the flattening of the world happened at the dawn of the twenty-first century; what it means to countries, companies, communities, and individuals; and how governments and societies can, and must, adapt. The World Is Flat is the timely and essential update on globalization, its successes and discontents, powerfully illuminated by one of our most respected journalists.

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

Major Religions Ranked by Size
Topic: Religion 7:37 pm EDT, Apr  4, 2005

] Christianity: 2 billion
] Islam: 1.3 billion
] Hinduism: 900 million
] Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 850 million
] Buddhism: 360 million
] Chinese traditional religion: 225 million
] primal-indigenous: 150 million
] African Traditional & Diasporic: 95 million
] Sikhism: 23 million
] Juche: 19 million
] Spiritism: 14 million
] Judaism: 14 million
] Baha'i: 6 million
] Jainism: 4 million
] Shinto: 4 million

When reading these statistics, the number I found most surprising was the relative tininess of the world's Jewish population (14 million) in comparison with other major world religions (1 billion-plus). For some reason I'd thought it was a larger religion, perhaps because I know so many people of that faith. It made more sense as I dug deeper though, since approximately half of the world's Jews (about 6 million) live in the U.S., half in Israel, and the next largest percentage is listed simply as "Europe".

It puts some of the conflicts in the Middle East into a different perspective for me though. That the world's first two largest religions, Christianity and Islam, should seem to be so distracted -- even obsessed -- with a religion that is 1% of their size.

I also found interesting the listed quantity of non-religious people in the world, 850 million. Though it's worth keeping in mind that the number is probably somewhat skewed by the state-enforced atheism of China's 1+ billion inhabitants. With China included in the numbers, the world's population breaks down to about 80-85% religious, 15-20% atheist. Removing China from the mix though, a more common percentage around the world seems to be 97% religious, 3% non-religious. Perhaps 90-10, depending how agnostics are categorized.

Major Religions Ranked by Size

Faster XML ahead? | CNET
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:58 pm EST, Mar 26, 2005

] The possibility of the World Wide Web Consortium pursuing
] more efficient XML through a binary, rather than text,
] format is causing concerns over interoperability and
] questions about the future direction of XML.

Sound bites:
] XML is fast becoming a widely used way of formatting and
] saving business documents such as purchase orders. But
] for certain applications--sending data to set-top boxes,
] for instance, and offering interactive programs on cell
] phones--representing data using XML is simply too bulky,
] say proponents for more efficient XML.
] If XML were zippier, say some, cell phone companies, for
] example, could meet consumer demand for more complex
] programs. The Air Force, too, has expressed interest in
] using speedier XML formats for embedded computing
] applications, such as those found in fighter jets (click
] here for related PDF).
] A W3C committee recently recommended that the group
] address the problem by moving away from the traditional
] way of saving XML data--in text format--and instead
] create a standard for a binary format. W3C working group
] recommendations are generally taken up as formal
] standards efforts, which means the group is one step
] closer to a major change in the XML standard.

Faster XML ahead? | CNET

DoD Proposes Program to Remodel Defense Intelligence
Topic: Society 9:05 pm EST, Mar 26, 2005

The remodeling intends to eliminate barriers for the free flow of intelligence within the department to those who use it.

This means being able to move the data quickly both horizontally and vertically, and to make sure the people who are searching for data can access it no matter where they are in the system.

Officials said they do not believe they need to change any law, executive order or regulation to put these changes in place. They said they will continue to work with Congress as they move forward.

DoD Proposes Program to Remodel Defense Intelligence

Recommender Systems, Collaboration, and Social Good
Topic: Technology 8:56 pm EST, Mar 26, 2005

The whole intuitive idea is word of mouth.

Recommender Systems, Collaboration, and Social Good

Yorkshire Post Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More
Topic: Computers 6:15 am EST, Mar 15, 2005

] NOEL Sharkey is in the mood to debunk a few myths.
] The 56-year-old professor of computer science at
] Sheffield University is at the forefront of robotic
] technology in this country and there's a few things he
] wants to get off his chest.
] "Everybody wants to hear that robots are going to take
] over the world but it's not going to happen," he says.
] "You get a lot of scientists, particularly American
] scientists, saying that robotics is about at the level of
] the rat at the moment, I would say it's not anywhere near
] even a simple bacteria."

It's good to have pessimists.

Yorkshire Post Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More

PRESS RELEASE Connecting With Kids: A View Into the Future of Computer-Human Interaction and Education at CHI 2005: 2-7 April, Portland, Oregon
Topic: Human Computer Interaction 6:10 am EST, Mar 15, 2005

] 03/01/2005 -- As more technologies make their way into
] children's schools, homes, and public places, the
] challenge is to design technologies that can keep up with
] the energy of children. Today's children are mobile,
] active beings who take for granted IM, iPods, and the
] Internet. "The educational community has embraced the use
] of computers as teaching tools, yet many institutions
] will simply install 'what everyone else is using' without
] questioning how technology can best be used to enhance
] education," says Dr. Allison Druin, (University of
] Maryland) panelist at CHI 2005.

This looks like an interesting conference

PRESS RELEASE Connecting With Kids: A View Into the Future of Computer-Human Interaction and Education at CHI 2005: 2-7 April, Portland, Oregon

Duke News & Communications
Topic: Nano Tech 6:06 am EST, Mar 15, 2005

] Instead of waiting weeks for computers to grind out
] solutions to complex problems, scientists may someday get
] answers instantly thanks to a new type of "oracle"
] computer that will have all the answers built in, predict
] Duke University computer scientists and engineers. When a
] question is posed, the computer will provide the answer
] already paired with the question in the very structure of
] the computer's processing unit.

There are two significant ideas here. The quoted paragraph, and their approach of using DNA self-assembly to construct the computer.

Duke News & Communications

The Calvinist Manifesto
Topic: Society 12:53 pm EST, Mar 14, 2005

Francis Fukuyama has written this article for the Book Review in the Sunday New York Times.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the most famous sociological tract ever written, "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism," by Max Weber.

In the present decade, when cultures seem to be clashing and religion is frequently blamed for the failures of modernization and democracy in the Muslim world, Weber's book and ideas deserve a fresh look.

The Calvinist Manifesto

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