Friday, August 30, 2013

'Firehol' Updates

Recently, I've been working on various software projects. One of them has involved integrating 'firehol' (a firewall management system) into a larger project of mine (more details later). Even though it is clear that the project was fairly mature it hasn't really been kept up to date of late. One of the main problems in my situation was the automated building of 'RPM' and 'DEB' packages. Digging through the various configuration files it was obvious that there some things that needed changing.

The first alterations required included the '.spec' file located in the root directory of the uncompressed archive. The 'COPYRIGHT' tag has to be changed to become the 'LICENSE' tag, a 'cheat' to get around the versioning problem when building the RPM is to change the line containing '#Source: %{name}-%{version}.tar.bz2' to 'Source: %{name}-1.tar.bz2'. This is required due to the way in which the tarball is dealth with at build time.
####Start Quote from .spec file####
Summary: An easy to use but powerfull iptables stateful firewall
Name: firehol
Version: 1
Release: 0
#Version: 1.273
#Release: rh7up
#Copyright: GPL
License: GPL
Group: Applications/Internet
#Source: %{name}-%{version}.tar.bz2
Source: %{name}-1.tar.bz2
####End Quote from .spec file####

Another problem is that it's still looking for a particular file called '' in the '' script. You can either manually create the file to or else delete all references of this file from all relevant build files.

Several of the checking/scanning mechanisms in the '' file need to be re-examined. The obvious problems include the address from which the file is extracted, the mechanism which is used to parse this particular file (a rough approximation is given below but it should be given further review as my work is a quick hack to get things working), and also a file which is supposed to be generated '/etc/firehol/RESERVED_IPS' but isn't (via ''. It may simply be a case at examining the file further and working on it). The required changes are outlined below. The lines which are commented out represent the original content. The lines which aren't represent the altered files.

####Start Quote from file####

#wget -O - --proxy=off "${IPV4_ADDRESS_SPACE_URL}" |\
#        egrep "^[0-9]+/[0-9]+.*${IANA_RESERVED}"  |\
#        egrep -vi "${IANA_IGNORE}"                |\
#        cut -d ' ' -f 1                           |\

wget -O - --proxy=off "${IPV4_ADDRESS_SPACE_URL}"  |\
        egrep "^\ {1,}[0-9]+/[0-9]+.*"             |\
        egrep "(RESERVED|UNALLOCATED)"             |\
        egrep -vi "Multicast"                      |\
        sed 's/   //'                              |\
        cut -f1 -d ' '                             |\
####End Quote from

NOTE - the maintainer of the project has been contacted but has thus far not responded to any communication. The file involved is 'firehol-1.273.tar.bz2' downloaded from, with the following MD5 checksum, 'cbbe1ba21cf44955827d5c906a55aa21'. For those who are lazy, I've uploaded updated files to:,

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Music Organisation From the Linux CLI

Over the last few days, I've been ripping music (using Windows Media Player) in locations where there has been no Internet access available. Previously, I had thought that if I navigated through the correct menu options I could get my music collection organised correctly. Apparently not. What I've found is that based on my recent experience Windows Media Player only seems to get the ID3 tag information but doesn't seem to alter the filenames and folders correctly.

These series of scripts attempts to rectify the problem by using this information to alter the ripped files. You then simply copy the files back into the music library for re-scanning by the program in question (Microsoft Windows Media Player or Apple iTunes are the one's you'll most likely encounter and the ones that I tested with.) They seem to work but more testing may be required.

########Start Quote########
ID3 Music Organiser Script

These series of scripts are used to organise a group of ripped MP3 files that have ID3 tags but not the correct file and folder names. It does so by calling a series of commands to rename files based on ID3 tag information and then attempts to move or rename files and folders based on artist or album. Using just '' you can organise by album/artist but by using '' you can organise based on the more conventional artist/album system as used by Microsoft and Apple.

Either way, Windows Media Player should eventually figure out how to reorganise your files based on the information, files, and folders that are supplied (WMP only seems to get the ID3 tag information based on my recent experience which is why I built these scripts) by these scripts.

Obviously, you can run these scripts on an ad-hoc basis and/or you can also run it continuously with a scheduling program such as 'cron'. You also need the following utilities to be installed, id3, eyed3, and uuid-runtime.

As this is the very first version of the program (and I didn't have access to all test data  while I was cleaning this up it may be VERY buggy). Please test prior to deployment in a production environment.
########End Quote########

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Car of the Future, some Random Intelligence, and Defense Thoughts

A follow on from:

Some of the following technologies are obviously extremely far off into the future while others are very easily adaptable and can be implemented basically immediately.

- a variation on shield technology I've been thinking of is pulse wave shields (we probably haven't reached energy density levels in small enough packages to enable medium/long term/time shields so I've been thinking of using super capacitor technology in combination with conventional projectile interceptors to send shock waves/ pulses as missiles come in). Obvious issue is altitude and also efficiency issues related to
May also be used in combination with constructive interference to break through accelerate through to supersonic speeds more quickly (possible to offset onset of sonic booms through destructive interference?). My preference is to power once more on environmental technologies. Peltier modules will once gain use the air temperature differential between engines and the external atmosphere in order to power shield/pulse wave generators. They could serve to give off decoy radar signatures (especially in the case of low RCS aircraft), may also reduce the IR signature of the aircraft by converting heat into electricity, slow down/reduce/stop the range of incoming missiles, concussion waves (similar effect to so called flash bangs) for non-lethal combatant control, etc...
- a lot of renewable energy systems such as street lighting shorts to ground/wastes energy when not in use. Would like to send this back into grid whereever possible/reasonable. All lighting systems must have an output. May require an open standard here?
- would like car manufacturers to reconsider seating format. 2+3 or 2+2 seems to be standard nowadays but as previously stated would like to see other lower seat capacity options/configurations. Single seater with 'Transformatech' capabilities, 1+2, 1+3 configuration also. Obvious reasons include reduced weight, easier export to alternative markets, etc... However, since we're removing so many extraneous parts it also means that we can have more room to move ballast. In this case, I'd probably try to move the front passengers directly over the front wheels for better traction (this is likely to be a rear mid engine configuration but numerous alterations will be made to aide safely because we'll me making more alterations to the front end of the car as you'll discover shortly)
- move towards plastic windows. Obvious issues regarding shatter/safety though for emergency services. Propose purposely embedding weak points (grooves) or else a lattice framework within the window so that the structural integrity is weakened at known points in case of emergency
- move towards resin/glue on cars as a means of saving weight on welds, increasing strengh becoming more commonplace. Would like to see this filter down to all cars at some point
- am considering abolition of electrically based power windows/central locking systems (am unsure about efficiency/convience gain over current systems though. Will have to do some experiments). Moving to hydraulic system based on compressed air or a liquid system that is unlikely to require replacing we use high quality parts/fluids. Would be controlled through a central reservoir with a series of vales which would open/close and a pump which would dispense the required air/fluid to deal with each door/window
- have also considered moving towards a braking system that is basically based on air but it's clear that there are compression/latency issues. Moreover, since I envisage moving towards superconducting brakes which don't generate heat (but are more effective and are used on Jetcars) it's likely that if we use high quality parts/fluids the brake fluid may never deteriorate/require replacing
- considered using ride height changes/dynamic rake (see Formula 1) but am concerned about reliability cost
- considered dyed plastic which means that if there is a scratch you can buff it out most of the time. Moreover, it saves the cost/time associated with painting parts
- consider using Coanda style aerodynamic solutions/vortex generators to clean up airflow around rear end (used on many super/hypercars). Air inflow will come from 'gill' like serrations that will open/close on the side of the car
- consider using hinged flaps over door hinges in to further clean up aerodynamics (these will seal the air flow flat to the side of the door with no indentation)
- mandate minimum drag coefficient levels?
- have considered using HUD's but am worried that they aren't easily readible in daylight. Have concerns that modifications to screen required to maintain good visibility may make price of screen prohibitive
- it's likely that I'll try to reduce the size (or get rid of) the dashboard (I'm only likely to keep a small portion of it for redundancy safety purposes) or get rid of it completely where possible. It will be replaced by a tablet like computer which will replace many of the onboard electronic systems and other functionality such as the ECU, security system, stereo system, etc... This will obviously result in large weight savings. It will also add a lot of extra functionality which I will details alter on which may have a dramatic impact on the way we drive in the future
- conventional speakers will be replaced by flat panel speakers. The difference in sound fidelity/quality is problematic but is diminishing based on what I've been reading
- I previously said I'd like to get rid of rack and pinion steering. I've changed my mind for safety reasons. Gears will be replaced by a circular superconducters that are sliced up like pizza slices. Each slice will alternatate the polarity with the ratcheting mechanism on the steering arm. It may be suppemented by extra electromagnets that would allow you to adjust the amount of power steering assitance that you require. I'd like my version to have the same system on the back end as well while being connected with a central pole? This would reduce turning circles considerably (consider abolishing differential?)
- the other steering mechanism that I had with 'fancy differentials' that dealt with each wheel would have offered some benefits though. It would mean that the tyres would never angle outwards. This meant I could create door like covers on each wheel (no more wheel flares/edges which would impact on aero. They would be flattened to the side of the car now) itself. This would benefit aerodynamic obviously
- switch to racing style/bucket like seats. Almost as comfortable but at a lower weight. Unlikely to use power seats for weight savings
- since there is no major dashboard anymore some of the safety provided from it's presense is lost. We're going to replace it with honeycomb pattern of plastic/metal which is liked to vehicle telemetry which will alter the amount of charge applied to these crumble zones. This will increase the strength/weaken the strength of doors/bumper bars, etc... depending on the speed likelihood of an accident. This means that in lower speed accidents you're less likely to incur significant damage while in higher speed accidents you'll have more crumple protection (I'm guessing that in some cases if we can make enough progress in these materials we may be able to have cars which can basically repair themselves someday)
- would like to see them offer the option of being able to remove seats from car during purchase and add later on if need be for cost reasons as stated previously
- obvious option is simply to reduce dimensions of the car but it's unlikely I'd do too much of this to remain higher levels of comfort
- want to move to steel/composite hybrid engines. My hope is that we reach the stage in superconducter/materials technology where the walls of the piston chamber and piston itself are repelled only via 'magnetic forces' and there is enough compression to be adequate for power but not enough to generate significant friction which would require a radiator
- want to see slightly more aerodynamic design of moving parts in the engine. This means that in combustion engines the top of valves and pistons will be shaped to become slightly bullet like to reduce drag. Am aware of experiments with piston shaping to increase efficacy. Would like to attempt to experiment with flexible face technology, hollow cores, as used in golf club drivers as well... Obvious issues related to lifespan though if using flexing to change shape of piston head as it moves up/down through cylinder
- as I've previously said I'd like to move towards low friction/frictionless technology across the board including engines. This obviously reduces cooling requires but also means that we can do away with a lot of other parts such as the radiator, radiator fluid, radiator fan, oil filter, oil sump, oil, power steering, power steering pump, power steering fluid, most of the transmission (I have an alternative design which is roughly based on the power steering system technology that I mentioned above), transmission fluid, etc... To give you an idea of how much this changes the car weight equation as it stands we use about 300-400kg for many current engine/transmission combinations
- would like to get rid of spark plugs as well. Achievable by altering fuel but that may require 'additives' or significant engine modifications which may detract from my desire for it to be truly 'multi-fuel'
- dirt repelling undertray which will result in less losses through lost fuel efficiency
- believe traction problems can be overcome through an array of measures. Obviously, better tyre compounds but am considering an array of other options. Among them are multi-chamber tyres, heating the rim of the types to attain the optimum temperature/pressure, tyres which have an electrical membrane/circuit (a number of independent sections) that are built into the wall. Each time the tyre comes into contact with the ground the switch/circuit is triggered metal/plastic built into the tire is flattened so that maximum tire adhesion/traction is achieved, another is a tire/rubber compound which becomes more tacky on contact with air (far off into the future), another is dynamic inflation technologies which involves a centralised inflation system working in combination with LIDAR/RADAR scanning technologies which would open up tiny pressure release valves in the wheels/tires. Once a tricky section had been bypassed the tire would be re-inflated to the original desired pressure. Another concept that I've been examining is using a concentric wheel/ball bearing configuration. The outer wheel/shell would be connected to the tire, the inner wheel/rim would be in the same configuration as a conventional ball bearing that you see in roller blades. The balls at the bottom would be significantly heavier though which means that you effectively have extra ballast pushing down at each tire which will increase it's traction
At some point though I'd like to move away completely from pneumatic tyres to tires with just the membrace structure once we achieve gains in materials technology. Either way, with the increases in traction and the reduced weight my hope is that tires will last the entire life of the vehicle itself. Moreover, if we no longer have to rely on air we can no longer have 'flat tires'
- previously I said I'd like to move towards ground effect style vehicles which make better use of aerodynamic (dynamic aerodynmamics in particular). I'm wondering whether we should use a combination of passive and active dynamic aero technologies? The front/rear spoilers and floor would be passive with active technologies such as 'winglets' added/extended out of the sides of the car if desired/required
- would like to move toward more organic technologies in cars including the air filter which is currently mostly paper
- I think one thing we should keep in mind that we shouldn't be afraid to start car design from scratch once more. We've come a long way with many technologies but sometimes it seems as though the basics of car technology haven't changed over a long time
- curious to know whether we could create heat absorbant roads to suck up extra heat and put it back into the ground? Passive metal heatsinks/pipes? A coating? how would this impact on road car performance?
- would like to get rid of car battery or at least reduce it's influence. Will be replaced by a supercapacitor that is charged through mains, wirelessly, or via an auxiliary battery system that is carried by the driver themselves. Battery/alternator only added if extra equipment added
- more efficient tech doesn't necessarily mean less power usage overall. Recently, I heard a stat which said that with the advent of flat panel televisions people have moved to increasingly larger screen sizes. However, the size of the screens have reached the point where power efficiency gains have been wiped out
- recently a town in Spain installed sensors everywhere to turn their city into a 'smart city'. I think there may be a cheaper way of doing this but I'm not sure whether sensor technology has reached the required level as yet. If you've ever poured a glass of liquid into a cup and then 'tapped' it when empty, half empty, full, etc... you'll notice that the sound/frequency changes. The same principle can be used here. Using wide spectrum, spread spectrum radio waves over the long term and in short periods/bursts of time we can determine the frequency of what is inside of an object at any point in time (similar to biosensory technology that you see in science fiction movies but which is basically a step up from current siesmograph technology). It's likely that such technology will require a leap current sensor technology as well as extensive tuning though. This technology obviously has other uses as well especially in the arms control arena. Sufficient advancements may even allow you to gain the blueprints of any remote device by pointing and shooting just like a camera. Another way is to have a smaller number of sensors from a high point. For instance, if you have cameras in streetlights you can take pictures of many car parking spaces and detect which ones are and aren't empty. This is also less likely to be tampered because it's less likely to be reached by potential vandals
- this leads me to another point though if you have a proper computer in a car as we would here you open up a world of possiblities. Using wireless networking you can broadcast details of which spaces are empty in a car parking lot and direct drivers from one point to another using direction/triangulation. Moreover, if you get lost and your car is still connected to the car parking lot's computer you can use direction/triangulation to provide you with a 'compass' of how to get back to your car. While we're at it we could probably get rid of parking tickets as well. Collision avoidance technology is basically not too dissimilar to the logic used in games such as battleship but on a significantly more complex level so it's likely that if you have the sensors then you can add this and other functionality (such as driverless mode and automated parking) to your car anytime you desire 
- considering using a gyro which will basically swing ballast in the car to increase cornering speed or increase stability (depending on needs/requirements)
- we often use salt or other additives such as radiator anti-boil/freeze fluid as a means of reducing/increasing the freezing point/boiling point of water. Wondering whether there is a substance we can add that is non-toxic that we can use to alter freezing point in polar ice regions? Obvious issue is tidal flow but as we've seen with oil wondering whether if increased viscosity and a 'long rope' may be enough to keep the substance where you need it? Moreover, would it be possible to time things so that we can change where the ice actually lies?
- guesttimation leads me to believe that many of the measures outlined here will result in huge weight savings (about half which means road cars will approach Formula 1 race car weights of about 650 KG. We could go below Formula 1 car weights if we're willing to move toward composite construction but this would likely come at huge financial cost. I recall a documentary which stated that a carbon fibre drive train alone could cost $200,000! Moreover, it doesn't deal with the issue of dynamic aerodynamics as I'd previously envisaged). This would likely mean a switch to 1 to 4 (it's unlikely that you'd require more than two cylinders based on the weight savings and subsequent power to weight ratio) cylinder normally aspirated engines (super/turbo charging would be my preference for a sportier ride) Would like to use these savings to add independent suspensions systems, stability control, more air bags, and other extra safety features for all cars from now on
- for an idea of what such a vehicle is likely to resemble look at the movie 'Tron Legacy'. A motorocycle version is likely to look very similar to the one in the movie and the car would bear some similarities to the buggy/style car in it
- there are huge problems if we move towards to some of the technologies mentioned here in particular with the automotive industry. Cars are already becoming more reliable which has meant lower sales over the long term. This car would significantly remove wear and has far fewer fluids (my desire is for no toxic materials which need to be 'dealt with' upon disposal/service/repair), moving parts which can fail on top of this. This means less repairs/servicing (possibly/probably none if you take adequate design steps. All you'd need to do is hook it up to a computer with relevant software it would tell you what was wrong since many of the systems are centralised and are easily accessed/diagnosed). It's likely that some of the cost of these one off technologies and the overall reliablity (once perfected) would lead to an extremely expensive up front vehicle as well
- there's a lot more that I've thought about but I think these are the major points. Will leave other points regarding future/sustainability technology (including plans for making travel beyond our own planet much (hopefully) easier) for another time

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Memorable Quotes - Part 3

A follow on from:
- His mild, owlish looks certainly belie his attraction to women and, tasty as a creme caramel might be, French president Francois Hollande, aka "Monsieur Flanby", cannot relish being compared to a baked custard pudding.

Nonetheless, he stands, blinking anxiously, at the centre of a tumultuous love triangle, as his former partner of 30 years and the mother of his four children, the fellow socialist politician Segolene Royal, and his current lover, the journalist Valerie Trierweiler, rage like Furies around him.
- "Sexual satisfaction is a major contributor to quality of life, ranking at least as high as spiritual or religious commitment and other morale factors, so more positive attitudes towards mature sex should be vigorously promoted."
- The film takes its title from remarks by a former CIA director Michael Hayden: "Let me be very candid. We steal secrets. We steal other nations' secrets ... Some of the activities that nation-states conduct in order to keep their people safe and free need to be secret in order to be successful." Assange presumably would reject that argument, but I would have liked to hear his response to it.
- "In France, we have the feeling that we moved in the past year from denial to zigzag," Saint-Gobain's Chalendar said. "There's been some important progress, but a lot remains to be done."
- It is generally accepted that in approximately 90-95% of all road traffic accidents, human behaviour is partially or fully responsible. Autonomous driving opens up the possibilities of improvements in safety which would reduce these figures significantly, as well as offering improvements in fuel economy and traffic efficiency. However, the challenges hinge on public acceptance, legality, liability and infrastructure.
- Kevin Rudd is not always the person to give credit where credit is due, but his latest proposals about Labor Party reform owe quite a bit to the Paul Keating theory of resolving logjams. This involves throwing a hand grenade, or a lit stick of dynamite, into the middle of the blockage.

One never has any real idea of what will happen, what will be drowned by which ripples, and what species of animal, reptile or fish will float to the surface. Whatever, it will be different. And at least while everything and everyone is massively disturbed and shell-shocked, there is an opportunity to get some movement in the direction one wants. The essential problem - the obstruction - may not be actually dislodged, but it is now of a different nature, and debate will shift from settled positions.
- "I don't have to concern myself with a question that is not being asked at the moment. If a donkey were a cat, it would sit in the tree most of the day."
- "Europe is walking in place, yet moving forward"
- "Monetary policy is a serious issue. We should discuss this in secret, in the Eurogroup ... I'm ready to be insulted as being insufficiently democratic, but I want to be serious ... I am for secret, dark debates"
- We wanted dictatorship to be replaced by democracy. Instead it was replaced by the escalating collapse of nation states. In the squares and streets of Cairo, we can watch this in real time. There are plenty of men with weapons in the mob; guns have been flooding in from the Libyan surplus stockpiles and amateur armourers make improvised ones, called fards, that fire birdshot.
So the West's dilemma is more or less the same as it was two years ago: do we accept a military takeover that brings a semblance of stability to a strategically important country? Or do we speak out for a democratic process that is in part the product of our imaginations? My bet is that, in our funk, we will accept the army as the least-worst option and pretend to believe its self-portrayal as the guardian of the people.

But here's the rub: you can't have a coup d'etat without an etat. And there just isn't much of a state structure left, not in Egypt, not in Libya, not in Syria.
- Dempsey not so subtly drew a parallel between the past and Iraq/Afghanistan, saying, "As with Vietnam, negative impressions about our character eclipsed the courage and sacrifices of many of the men and women who served honorably." He added, "As we emerge from more than 10 years of war, we've got some rebuilding to do," which Dempsey compared to Yeats's famous quote about "the struggle between the swordsman and the saint."
- When you're an adult, no one can force you to keep reading or learning, any more than they can force you to eat your greens or go to bed early. Workplaces are becoming increasingly demanding, and after a day of being challenged and provoked by your job, it's tempting to come home to a night of sitcom repeats and cereal dinners. You might only pick up a book because you can't bear to tell your colleague you spent another night Instagramming your cat - but that book might stretch a muscle or trigger an idea that makes you try something new. Some people are afraid of being found out as philistines, but if that fear motivates us to learn it might give us the confidence to respect and add to the culture around us.
- In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, "Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though chequered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
- He had a good job working at a government aerospace laboratory in California, but he wanted to do something more with his life, something of value that might last, even outlive him. Then it came to him. In a single stroke he had what might be safely called a complete vision of the information age.
- We need muscles of moral courage, we need to flex them, we need to find them, we need to help others recognize them and find them in themselves. Nothing more is needed and nothing less will do at this moment of great turbulence, great promise, great peril.*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1
- "Until you experience the complete loss of anonymity, that there is never a moment outside your most private of spaces that you're not observed or commented upon, until you actually live through that, you can intellectually understand it but really in your guts you can't feel it."
- "The mind's creations are no mere commodities and can't be treated as such."
- "What the American people are saying when they tell you not to do these things, they're not really telling you not to do these things. They're saying, 'You know, we've had a lot of bad experiences with improper involvements. We're skeptical of this. We're not sure it's our fight. We don't have all the money in the world. For God's sakes, be careful. That's really what they're telling you,'" he said. "They hire you to win. The president and the Congress are hired to win for American and for our values and our interests, to look around the corner and see down the road."

"When people are telling you 'no' in these situations, very often what they are doing if flashing a giant yellow light and saying, 'For god's sakes be careful, tell us what you are doing, think thinks through... But they still hire the president to look around the corner and down the street," he said. "In the end, trust the American people, tell them what you're doing, hope to god you can sell it, and hope you turn out to be alright."
- "Your role... consists in proposing laws, amending them or even repealing them," the pontiff told a delegation of MPs from France, adding that it is "necessary... to inject them with something more, a spirit, a soul which does not just reflect fashions and ideas of the time."
The laws should "provide the indispensable quality which raises and ennobles the human person," the 76-year-old said.
- Vladimir Putin said: "It's like frying a whole herring for the sake of the roe." Well, he didn't actually use those words, but his remark yesterday about chasing Edward Snowden, the leaky fugitive from US justice, amounted to the same thing. "It's like shearing a pig - plenty of squealing but not much wool," he said.
- Hurd, who has just published a book on the 19th-century prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, said his position was borne from his understanding of Britain's vocation. Disraeli believed nations could be glorious, and Britain should push itself to be so. Hurd said he equally felt that the country's future was not to be the equivalent of Sweden or Norway, benefiting from the single market but absent from the top table leading the continent.

"For me it is a political argument," he said. "And that is the basis on which Margaret Thatcher fought that campaign [to stay in the common market] all those years ago. She believed that Europe needed increasingly to work together in order to pull its weight in the world. What is the position of William Hague going to be as British foreign secretary, outside the EU? OK, we will be like Norway, we will be like Sweden; that may well be right, but is that really our destiny, is that what we want to be? We have got a different history, we have got a different background, a different contribution to make."
- "His shortcoming is that he's a man of checkers rather than chess."
 - "Many people fell prey to the dubious products, or so-called subprime loans. Japanese banks were not so much attracted to these products, compared with European banks," Mr Aso told a seminar in Tokyo. "There was an American who said Japanese banks are healthy, but that's not true at all.

"Managers of Japanese banks hardly understood English, that's why they didn't buy," he said.
- "I think the thesis of deglobalization is a reactionary thesis, like all those theses that call for a return to the past," Mr. Lamy told Europe 1 radio. "What matters is not the past but the future."
- Humans suffer from a mismatch between our thinking about what we do and the truth of what we do. Our brains make sense of a multifaceted world by ignoring much of its complexity -- a trait Van der Leeuw calls "low dimensional" thinking. In engineering a dam, assessing how agricultural runoff influences an estuary or figuring out how automobile emissions might alter the atmosphere, our conceptual models (or those of our scientists and engineers) at best consider only a few of the true pathways of cause and effect. As Van der Leeuw puts it, "every human action upon the environment modifies the latter in many more ways that its human actors perceive, simply because the dimensionality of the environment is much higher than can be captured by the human mind."
- It is politicians, not public servants, who are the final arbiters of how much outspokenness can be tolerated. Ministers and government members take exception if a public servant's comments give political ammunition to the opposition. Opposition politicians, in turn, object if a public servant's enthusiastic support for government policy compromises his or her capacity to serve them when they return to office. Where these lines are drawn varies over time and with the political context. But professional public servants, who are obliged to maintain the trust of all sides of politics, learn to watch their step.
- It's only right and proper that Tony Abbott has been pants down all week, getting measured up for a drawer full of brand spanky new prime ministerial Speedos. For come September he will surely plunge into the pool at the Lodge and it would not do to have the prime ministerial junk, engorged with the excitement of high office, suddenly sprung on an unsuspecting nation by some disastrous wardrobe failure. Abbott will be waving his junk in our faces for many years to come and it is best he and we prepare.
- [Airplanes are] near perfect, all they lack is the ability to forgive.
-- Richard Collins
- The obvious truth is no economists are consistently good at forecasting the economy. It's those non-economists who forget this - ... - who are the fools, not the economists who cater to humankind's irrational but unquenchable desire to pretend the future can be known.
- Part of the problem here is linguistic: nuclear weapons are not themselves "the deterrent"; rather, they "produce" deterrence when deployed correctly. Deployed incorrectly, they produce aggression incentives, crisis escalation, and elevated nuclear danger.
- "Young people today are faced with three options if the current eurocrisis is not resolved -- leaving Europe, staying in Europe without hope or going into politics and starting a revolution."
- After next year's elections "as much as a quarter or third of MEPs could be Eurosceptic," said Prof Hix.

But for the first time the main political blocs in the parliament will field candidates for the powerful post of European Commission president.

"That will change the debate about Europe - what kind of Europe do we want?" said Prof Hix, adding that national parties would have to express their views about the rival candidates.

Mr Verhofstadt agreed that "more than in the past the elections will turn on European issues - up until now they have been national".

The debate in Westminster was hosted by the European Parliament office in the UK.
- Joseph Stiglitz and others have been arguing to the point of exhaustion that the working and middle classes are more likely to spend to keep the economy moving and hence to produce jobs for the abandoned young. More wealth for the wealthy generates more frequent and more severe booms and busts. This is not a future worth having but it is the future we are getting. The experience of the west since the crash has taught us that the rich are always with us. The novel question for today is: can the rest of society afford them?
- as a human being... born... asking the question...

HMRC have been asked... it appears they can't point anyone to a law that says what you say is true...

they simply say 'of course you have to pay tax..'

i'm not disagreeing that what you say 'is commonly held' to be truth.. but who says it is? on what authority can they demand and force a human being to pay tax...

What if .... over many years it became 'commonly held belief' that the 'TV collector man' could come into your home and take your television. Your dad told you you had to .. his dad told him...

.. of course he would have a nice photo I.D. now and also be able to take your iPhone audio... because the law says

You might not like... but i guess you'd let him take.. and tell your son/daughter too..

Sounds stupid... no-one would believe in the 'TV collector man'?

Law is assumption and presumption - im not arguing the point of whether one should morally pay tax... or claim benefits..

What gives any 'body' - the right to demand money .. unless you agree or they have authority over you (own you).
- A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools. - Thucydides
- "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." - Napoleon Bonaparte
- In the global maneuvering of big powers, "weakness is provocative," as former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once warned.
- "What is at stake is social unrest and a risk of a lost generation," said Brzeski from ING. "A generation that was supposed to embrace the idea of Europe, but is now turning its back on it."
- "The aim of the Constitutional Treaty was to be more readable; the aim of this treaty is to be unreadable [...] The Constitution aimed to be clear, whereas this treaty had to be unclear. It is a success."

European/International Economic Reform and some Green and Defense Thoughts

Clear that a lot of the issues that have been part of this series are being looked at internationally. Hence, the change of name for this particular series of posts. This post is obviously a continuation of some work in my 'Convergence' report as well as some other blog posts.
- clear that some EU energy projects aren't being run as well as could be (as stated previously governance/oversight/project management issues a general concern across the EU). One interesting article I looked at indicated that massive efficiency gains simply because weather is Spain was more amenable for solar than in Germany.
This makes me wonder whether many of the southern states could be turned into the EU's solar energy hubs? with the northern being more focused on wind based technologies. Of course, the energy grid that I envisage for EU will likely need to be completed for the full benefits to be felt across the union.
- clear that many EU countries are suffering from capacity issues across a number of different areas. For instance, England with Heathrow and airport traffic. Would be curious to know feasibility or whether it would be realistic to offload some of the burden towards some of the more troubled states. That way we reduce traffic/burden on busier states and provide troubled states with more employment...
- any EU events/administration that could be reasonably/responsibly/profitably relocated to some of the more troubled states?
- if you look at statistics you'll realise how important intra-EU tourism is. The big problem is that since many countries are having problems intra-EU tourism is generally down. Curious to know whether there should be a joint effort to promote more international traffic?
- having been thinking about the issue of 'responsibility/culpability' with regards to the banking sector. If you read/look deep enough you'll realise that there is often a significant proportion of assets/debt that is involved in massive loop. Ultimately, this means that while the states that are in trouble were more responsible for their own issues, those higher up in the chain should likely bear some responsibilty as well. For instance, German/French (to a lesser extent US) banks which leant to many of the troubled states should bear more of the load. The obvious concern here is the 'doom loop' scenario. If we let it flow back and enforce it back up the system how far do we go? If we let it go too far then there is the risk of simply spreading the contagion and bringing down even more in the system. Moreover, in what form is this support provided debt write downs, one off payments, debt restructures, etc?
- leads me to my next point. There are already steps being taken to limit exposure and diversify risk across the finance/banking/insurance sectors in the EU and elsewhere. However, it's also clear in globalised world a few major events can lead to major repurcussions outside the point source of trouble/domino effect. Question is how far shoud/could be push this?
- aware that there are many biofuel and alternative fuel projects within the EU and elsewhere as well but one thing I'd like to pursue further is multi-fuel engines. There has been some regulatory changes with regards to this particular issue already in the US but I want to take it a lot further. When I was a kid, I once I saw a television show had a space ship that was powered by pizza which had me thinking about how we are currently using sewerage, used vegetable oil, etc... as a means of generating both fuel for generating electricity as well as automobiles. At the end of the day self combustion engines basically rely on the ability to ignite a fuel of certain chemical parameters. If sewerage can have fuel extracted from it why can't why shouldn't we think about other biowaste (such as food) as well? If we stop thinking about human interaction with it's environment as one that is primarily based around consumption and think about it as being part of an ecosystem everything suddenly changes (I'll call it the 'Energy Cycle' for now). If we think in terms of the entire 'Energy Cycle'. Namely, extraction, purification, transportation, usage, etc... we'll be able to gather a far more accurate estimate of how our activities change our environment. As I've stated before, try to "work with the environment, not against it".
- this is going to sound incredibly cynical but we cheaper ways of going to war and have a better understanding of the criteria that we should look at when we do go to war. While having missiles worth 6/7 figures that are deadly accurate from several hundred kilometres away makes sense in major theatres of war and global warfare, it doesn't really make sense in the context of peace keeping, urban combat, acts of terrorism, etc... Other options need to be considered as part of a country's arsenal...
- incentives to bring forward investment in projects? Question of supply/demand again. Concern is that we may end up in ghost estates/towns as has been the case in Ireland and parts of China
- have been thinking further about housing cost issues in some states of the EU. In some countries it is clear that there were housing bubbles and estates, towns have basically become deserted or have had no value. Am curious about whether wide spread movement of the houses from these areas is actually a viable option. After all, the housing is of little value now the costs of moving are often only in the five figure region (based on what I've examined in the US), etc... Things would obviously be very different in the EU though especially with regards to the generally closer proximity of roads, homes. Would likely be only viable on a limited scale
- a different take on force field technology I've been thinking about for a while is a variation of active stealth technology as used on the Dassault Rafale. It essentially uses destructive interference as a means of circumventing RADAR. If we think about it in reverse then we can use the concept of contructive interference to build kinetic force fields (similar to the ones seen in Science Fiction movies). We could even push it further and use multiple layers. Namely, an energy/plasma force field layer in between (see my other post) two 'kinetic force field' layers. Use conventional stealth (especially visual) and you could end up with cloaking on top of shield technology as well. Obvious problems include computing power (maintaining a the shield over a high speed moving object and also making the required calculations), energy requirements (wireless technology currently highly inefficient), shaping (will likely require a bit of experimentation but would be roughly based on the same principles of audio speaker technology), hugging the shield to the craft in space (making the assumption that travel is going to be increasingly exo-atmospherically based in the future), etc... The benefits are rather obvious is someone succeeds though and it would be vastly superior to any missile defense shield technology that we currently have since it could never be over-loaded as we are no longer dealing with the 'bullet on bullet' issue.
- it's been said that as long as there are countries that are willing to basically act as tax havens/low tax off shore options MNCs/TNCs will take their money offshore. I think that governments/citizens need to realise that these companies are just as reliant upon us as we are of them. Most of the world's wealth is created and consumed by the G8/G20. This means that should there be enough leverage if all of the governments of these countries work in unison to get a deal done
- guestimation of fuel savings of my previous review of some existing car design indicates that somewhere between 30-60% fuel savings could be made over current designs. Have been thinking of pushing this further and believe that significant further savings can be made without necessarily sacrificing comfort, cost, or functionality. Will provide further details in a later post. One thing that I'm definitely taking a further look at is engine configuration/propulsion options as this still seems to be the largest source of weight. Even if we slash the weight of current cars the weight of the engine/transmission itself still accounts for a huge proportion of the the weight of the vehicle itself (several hundred kilograms depending on the engine in question. Realise this may be a moot point especially if the weight savings mean the engine capacity can be reduced to a point where power to weight ratio is still good enough to provide decent performance characteristics).
- have been been thinking about mass scale carbon capture technologies which could be deployed on cars. One option I've been considering is a version of a combination of conventional/advanced cooling methods (some of the technology is used on stealth aircraft/helicopters and spacecraft) and then a Peltier module (which is partially powered by engine heat) which will basically cool exhaust gases enough to be able to liquify exhaust gases which you can then dump each time you head to the service station? More on this is a later post
- interesting debate on, "Should the Wealthy Pay More Tax?" in Australian context
- education system is solid across EU. In fact, many countries education accounts for a good deal of incoming revenue. One thing that I think we should need to factor in is that we may sometimes overemphasise our reliance upon technology. I have a diverse educational background which has brought me into contact with many different circumstances but it's clear that there are basic building blocks that are critical regardless of the situation. For instance, a focus on basic literacy and numeracy at an early age are far more likely to effective at an early age rather than having a computer which sorts of takes away the need to learn about these things and often takes you're though processes away from them. Moreover, it's far easier to learn literacy/numeracy skills before learning to use a computer and vice versa. Ignore world rankings. Personal experience indicates that in general people from EU have solid technical skills, better language skills, and a generally more diverse background. Moreover, it doesn't reflect the relative difficulty/competition that people in some of these countries face compared to others, the great dependence on financial background (even with financial assistance and/or scholarships) on entering many of the institutions mentioned in this list, etc... The emphasis should be whether or not the system is producing graduates have a change of making something of themselves, that are of value to the countries in question and to the EU as a whole.
- curious to know about return on EU investment in education (aware that many countries already do studies of where students turn up after they exist education system). Curious to know whether they take a longer term view or shorter term view of dealing with educational budgeting. Problem which faces many of the world's governments
- I think sometimes one of the things that get's forgotten at the EU level is that we often neglect or fail to recognise what we can learn from others or we take the wrong message away. For instance, several countries have complained that the German educational/vocational training system can not be replicated locally into their circumstance because they don't have a large manufacturing sector. I think the message that should be learnt is how the educational/vocational training system feeds into it's industry and academia. Work with what you have and local resources whenever possible
- looking at some of the Greek stadia that were left abandoned after the Olympics am wondering whether they could be modified to create energy? Think about the shape of some stadia. If altered correctly they could form the basis of Concentrated Solar Power systems?
- is it possible to build offices within a stadia if there is no longer a use for them?
- been thinking about the small/medium to large firm issue. Clear that many EU firms are getting purchased before they're truly able to flourish/internationalise. Part of it may have also have to do with owners wanting a quick/easy payout. In others, not enough due diligence conducted which makes M&A unsuccssful or else the product/service is often mothballed because the purchase was primarily about shutting down a competitor not about making a genuine M&A attempt. Suggest altering regulations to protect these firms (via foreign takeover and anti-competition laws) if necessary, or else force the firms to hit a certain point in their maturity prior to being able to be sold off. Tired seeing many M&As turn to nothing. More though required to ensure relatively free market still though...
- something I've been thinking about to reduce building cost is composite hybrid/prefabricated homes. Basically, Lego contruction like homes using a combination of prefabricated walls (insulation built into wall and possibly wiring and windows as well), roofs, as well as standard/construction. Obvious benefits with regards to building standards compliance, lower costs through mass production, economies of scale, etc... Would have to look at logistical, transportation, and other issues though. Using such techniques it's obvious we could construct housing/buildings in a significantly smaller amount of time than by conventional means (possibly a few days if the right preperation is done). If sent to lower cost countries savings could be even greater...
- there's already been some mention of the EU sharing/taking powers of state affairs where they don't have the ability or don't know how to take care of their affairs. Almost everyone has been aware of the issues of sovereignty though. Curious to know whether we could think about it in another way. On major issues that states have the most difficulty with perhaps the EU could act as a circuit breaker. For instance, if there are certain issues of major concern in particular fields that are of significant expenditure the EU will have the right to veto if it doesn't believe that the current policy is not in the best interests of the state or of the EU as a whole? Note, that this mechanism would only likely be able to be 'activated' during moments of extreme difficulty. More thought required...
- rent out unrequired goods/services to those who have the demand to meet it both within the EU and outside of it
- interesting the role of government particularly with regards to social welfare if you look at enough countries. Look at healthcare UK/Australia (more accomodating), France (surprisingly balanced especially when interpreted based on what you see in the media sometimes), US (less accomodating) in particular and you have a massive disparity in the way we view our government's place in society
- something else I find interesting is the break down of work forces in the public sector in the EU as opposed to elsewhere. It's often said that you could often find a job for life in certain EU countries in the public sector with the right connections. This obviously means that the background of people in the public service are likely to be less diverse disembuing them of the understanding of just exactly what 'real life' is exactly like. As usual stronger controls, governance, performance management, auditing, oversight need to be in place...
However, curious about the seemingly never ending array of oversight boards. In some cases justified. In other not so much. The thing I've learnt is that if people are forced to run on a budget and unjustified overspending is carried into next years budget or even into the next project most people will learn fairly quickly how to do things cost effectively... It's also generally much easier to move from a low to high resource environment then the other way around
- interested to know whether strategy of having a smaller number of people in higher paying jobs is better/worse then a larger number of people in lower paying jobs? Obvious there's a balance here. Would like to know exactly what it is though especially in the context of many of the more troubled states.
- possible to outsource work to troubled states through better use of tele-conferencing? Guess this is more of an international rather than a purely EU problem. Moreover, another supply/demand - chicken/egg problem.
- we know breakdown of general causes of many of healthcare problems in many countries. Would like more cause/effect work done if/when possible. For instance, it something can be prevented why shouldn't we take measure to help ensure a healthier population? (obviously backed up by continued medical research, etc...)
- aware that things are extremely lopsided in certain countries with regards to balance of wealth. Am curious to know likely impact of greater inheritence taxation. Are they likely to simply better plan their estates? Could a balance be found where everyone is still looked after? A controversial option that I've come across is basically very high tax levels on inheritance for those who are of extreme wealth/billionaires. Depending on the country some of the statistics indicated that it could have done a lot with regards to dealing with the issue of wealth inequality especially if the money was spent well (am aware of promises by various high wealth individuals pledging to give away vast portions of their wealth upon their death while still looking after their family's and friend's interests)
- in a perfect world everybody grows at similar rates and these remain relatively constant. It also means that there is a relative wage disparity permanently with the status quo/pecking order remaining relatively constant though. Unlikely that the model of outsourcing to the cheapest country is going to be able to maintained forever especially given the growth rates of many emerging economies. In fact, I recall a statistic that for the first time the combined GDP of emerging economies were finally challenging that of the combined affluent group of countries for the first time
- curious to look at more research regarding subsidies. Some recent work that I've seen indicates that they may have been counterproductive in a lot of cases and may have had the opposite of the desired effect. Want to know is there a quantifiable formula which dictates this point?
- want to know whether it would be realistic/feasible/responsible to fund relocation of some EU companies/industries to weaker states?
- wondering whether current troubles are enough to convince countries that joining EMU without adequate thought, preparation or forged backgrounds isn't worth the cost of entry or whether more needs to be done?
- think the thought process needs to be more about encouraging responsibility but giving them a way out at the same time. A common complaint is that when cuts are being made into the public sector there isn't enough private sector work to fill the void which exacerbates the political problems faced by leaders when attempting to enforce austerity.
- some EU firms have only been able to survive by taking significant risks and expanding abroad. Is help required for SME firms to do this while the EMU recovers? Would support be in the form of loans or one off payments? Should this be simply be a responsibility/part of existing trade delegations? Are the FTA's enough?
- recent statistics indicate that downward trend for trade between EU countries is stabilising/slowing down
- need greater focus on core industries/technologies/issues such as transport, energy, food, etc... Basically things which effect people across the EU and will make life easier/cheaper and make products and services more competitive
- extension of performance based pay to public service? For instance, part of portion of pay is linked to state of country and government? How do you measure this though? How do you ensure that it is fair? Should it apply to the entire public service or just senior members of the public service? Focus should be focused on greater good and not just a pure numbers game
- there is some work in the UN regaring so called Millenium goals with regarding eradication of poverty, etc... Success is limited. Am interested whether there should be something similar in developed country's as well? Basically a bare minium that we should expect of government? Concerned that it would be nothing more than a token effort project though without longer term implications though...
- examples/studies of efficient governments? Would be important/interesting to figure out difference between real and cyclical efficacy though? Clear that global issues play an enormous impact now not just the ability/competance of a government to manage it's affairs
- do we have a period for which budgets should be applicable? This is a question for governments in general. Should we try to organise services/budgets in such a way that you're not responsible for what other people may or may not have done?
- curious to know impact of local first, union second, global third policy is on environment. Think about this, as long as products are fairly competitive a local product will almost always require less transportation then one from the other side of the world. Would like to know the impact upon carbon emissions?
- difficult to see how you can stop some of the shady accounting practices that have been used to hide bad debt in some cases. Long term, permanent supervision as envisioned may be the only choice...
- need to be careful with what we privatise. Some for security reasons but others for because clear that many companies willing to run a temporary loss for longer term profit even at the cost of service quality (infrastructure, transport are two to watch in particular)
- clear that many countries have been pursuing centralised/identify card type systems. Curious to know whether if we can link it to quota management/correlation type system? After a certain point a user must pay a share of for what would normally be a free service (need a lot of work with regards to fraud/security management here) to reduce likelihood of abuse? Perhaps even link it to non-payment of taxes as well. For instance, if you don't pay your taxes over time your access to services would be reduced or else you would have to pay for normally free services? May be useful in systemic/endemic countries?
- common notion in investment is investment time frame. Curious to know whether we should take this concept to government as well? Should those who are younger be responsible for mistakes of the previous generation or vice-versa? Slippery/moral slope issues need to be thought about here.
- from a purely logistical standpoint I find it hard to understand why you would complicate the already complex issue of bank resolution further through differentiation between regional/international banks? If you want to have certain banks excluded from the bank union then you should probably just try to get them excluded. Of course, the obvious question are what type of concessions are being sought? Other questions that need to be addressed is the nature of the banks themselves. In many cases, it's hard to find a purely national/regional firm of significance without some form of foreign ownership/shareholding. The risk is there for contagion without necessarily knowing up front. If there are to be concessions the definition of those are able to gain concessions must be clear and methods of circumventing them must be non-trivial

YouTube News Downloader Script, Music Composition for Lazy IT People, and More

YouTube News Downloader: - if you're on a Not Really Broadband Network (NRBN) you somehow need to deal with networking/buffering issu...