Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani & TechNet, lying or clueless?

In this weeks EETimes there is an article on the presidential candidates, Tech off radar in ’08 race. In a photo caption they have this quote from Mitt Romney:

Reform Sarbanes-Oxley to aid small businesses

The text of the article repeats this sentiment.

Among the industry interest groups, TechNet‘s senior-executive membership has put forth perhaps the most detailed economic agenda. The group calls for reforming Sarbanes-Oxley to reduce the legislation’s unintended repercussions and compliance burdens, especially on small companies.

Both Giuliani and Romney call for reining in the excesses of Sarbanes-Oxley, particularly for small businesses.

Sarbanes-Oxley only applies to publicly traded companies, last time I looked there are no small businesses listed on the NYSE or NASDAQ. Therefore small businesses are not required to follow Sarbanes-Oxley. So obviously changing Sarbanes-Oxley is not going to help companies for whom it does not apply. I suppose it’s possible that Mitt, Rudy & TechNet are so clueless about business that they don’t actually know what a small business is but, they certainly don’t portray themselves that way. That quote seems to me like they are simply trying to muddy the waters to push for regulatory relief that benefits big businesses on the pretense of helping small businesses. If that’s their purpose then it’s just classic political lies. A rewording of the quote to, reform Sarbanes-Oxley to aid smaller public companies, would make this an honest sound bite and is what is currently being worked on in Congress.

My conclusion, Mitt, Rudy & TechNet are either clueless about real world businesses or they they are lying to muddy the waters. Either case means they can’t be trusted on this issue.

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Miro on OpenSuse a DLL Hell fix

A couple weeks ago I posted about switching to Miro the Internet TV program running on Linux from another app on WinXP. Well a day or two after I wrote that post, OpenSuse 10.3 had some mandatory updates. Miro was running at the time so I exited Miro and waited for the updates to finish. No reboot was requested so I clicked the Miro icon, a little processor usage then nothing. I rebooted, tried again and the problem remained, time to open a console to see what’s going on.

paulh@linux1:~> miro
/usr/lib/xulrunner-1.8.1.4
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "/usr/bin/miro.real", line 123, in <module>
startapp()
File "/usr/bin/miro.real", line 58, in startapp
import singleclick
File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/miro/singleclick.py", line 36, in <module>
import app
File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/miro/app.py", line 610, in <module>
import frontend
File "/usr/lib/python2.5/site-packages/miro/frontend.py", line 50, in <module>
import MozillaBrowser
ImportError: libgtkembedmoz.so: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

I see the last line and knowing there was just an OS update I immediately think DLL Hell. I know, most people only use that term for Windows *.DLL files but, I use it whenever I hit  a problem with shared code in any OS. Actually I can’t remember the last time I had to deal with DLL Hell in Windows or Linux. Both Microsoft and the Linux community have done a great job of eliminating dependency issues. Since I’m lazy when it comes to fixing PC problems these days I simply searched Google for ImportError: libgtkembedmoz.so. Many plausible looking solutions are in the results and I spend a bit of time trying out some of them but no luck.

When I get back to working on the problem a few days later I try out some more suggestions found on the net. Still no luck, no time left to play around that night and I want to see the new Cranky Geeks episode. Here’s where the cross platform feature of Miro pays off, I put it on the Media Center PC and tell Miro to use the Samba share for storage. I get my Cranky Geeks fix and plan to revisit the problem later.

Tonight I decide to try again but this time I actually read the whole console output instead of just the error line. There’s the answer in the first line, the OpenSuse package for Miro is looking for xulrunner-1.8.1.4 and I have xulrunner-1.8.1.10 and a symbolic link for xulrunner-1.8.1. I take the easy way out and just create a symlink for xulrunner-1.8.1.4 (ln -s /usr/lib/xulrunner-1.8.1.10 /usr/lib/xulrunner-1.8.1.4).  That does the trick and Miro launches again on OpenSuse. 🙂 I’m assuming the recent OS update upgraded xulrunner-1.8.1.4 to xulrunner-1.8.1.10.

I had seen a thread about this issue on the Miro forums before so I head over to post my fix. What do I find, pturner7 posted the following fix two days ago.

Looking in this folder /usr/lib/ reveals that I have xulrunner-1.8.1.10
To fix this, edit as root the file > /usr/bin/miro
Change both instances of /usr/lib/xulrunner-1.8.1.4 to /usr/lib/xulrunner-1.8.1.10 (or whatever version is residing there).
That should get it past the .so error.

The problem was that the OpenSuse package builder used a hard coded library reference in the startup script creating this DLL Hell.

Comments closed 7/18/08 to slow the spam

Freedom of speech under attack by Joseph Chikelue Obi

The excellent blog at the quackometer site has had posts taken down by its ISP over a ridiculous legal threat from Joseph Chikelue Obi. This type of censorship based on ridiculous legal threats is a growing problem for freedom of speech on the Internet. Mr. Obi should publish a response to Le Canard Noir’s posts pointing out what he considers wrong instead of attempting to stifle the criticism with legal threats.

The only way to fight this trend is to repost the information in as many other places on the Internet as possible so that the person or organization using the threat will have to spend money to send take down letters to many ISP’s around the globe. There is an additional benefit in that search engines will see all the posts about Joseph Chikelue Obi and start offering up these copies of the original posts to people looking for information about this jerk. So, as Orac has respectfully requested I am putting the original Quackometer posts that Mr. Obi dislikes on my site.

The original Quackometer posts by Le Canard Noir:

Right Royal College of Pompous Quackery – Dublin, Thursday, September 28, 2006

I had to share this with you. Following on from my recent Quack Word ‘Doctor’ blog, I came across the Royal College of Alternative Medicine (RCAM) , a Dublin based – well, I’m not sure quite what it is…

What caught my eye was just the shameless aggrandisement of the site. It is quite hilarious, if not a little repetitive at times. Calling yourself ‘Doctor’ is somewhat pompous when all you have done is paid for some international postage. However, the man behind RCAM has absolutely no shame and titles himself as the:

Distinguished Provost of RCAM (Royal College of Alternative Medicine) Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi FRCAM(Dublin) FRIPH(UK) FACAM(USA) MICR(UK)

Wow! Probably, just Joe to his mates. Naturally, when you Google the qualification FRCAM(Dublin), there is only person who appears to revel in this achievement. I’ll leave the rest as an excercise for the reader.

The distinguished provost looks like he is just another pseudoscientific nutritionist, his spin being “Nutritional Immunomodulation”. This is obviously a lot more clever than Patrick Holfords mere ‘Optimum Nutrition’, but having only one ‘omnipill’ is probably a poorer commercial decision that Patrick’s vast range of supplements.

Obviously, Professor Obi has had a few problems with what probably amount to bewildering comments about his site as the legal threats and press releases concerning his ‘ethical’ responses to criticisms cover more space than anything else. ‘Ethical’ is a favourite word on the site.

The most recent press release states,

7th September 2006 : The Distinguished RCAM Provost, Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi FRCAM(Dublin) FRIPH(UK) FACAM(USA) MICR(UK) has formally accepted appointment as Chief Professorial Examiner for the Doctor of Science (DSc) programme in Evidence Based, Alternative Medicine (EBAM) of a highly respected International University in one of the British Commonwealth Protectorates.

This new qualification is primarily aimed at Medical Graduates, Physicians, Surgeons, Pharmacists, Dentists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Opticians, Wellness Consultants, Herbalists, Acupuncturists, Naturopaths , Healers, Podiatrists , Chiropodists , Scientists , Healers ,Therapists, Homeopaths, Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Nurses wishing to ethically upgrade their current Qualifications in Alternative Medicine over an exceedingly intensive 12 – 36 month period of study.

British Commonwealth Protectorates? Could that be Dublin?

I really have no idea what this organisation is all about. But it looks like it could be getting quite big soon…

RCAM currently has International Vacancies for One Million (1,000,000) ‘Foundation Fellows’ (‘Movers and Shakers’) ; who will independently play a highly pivotal role in diligently mentoring (and regulating) it’s future Global Membership.

So if you really think that you seriously have what it takes to become a ‘Leader’ in Alternative Medicine , then (perhaps) RCAM may definitely be exactly what the Doctor ordered for you.

One million. That’s a lot of quacks! And they are just to mentor (and regulate) the wider quack membership! This man has ambition.

The Big J really hates real doctors. This is his most recent press release…

RCAM would like to warmly commend the various Chieftans of the National Health Service of the United Kingdom for ethically and appropriately ignoring utterly misguided calls (from a rather amusing Group of thirteen Clinical Yestermen) to compel Hard-Working (and Tax-Paying) British Citizens to additionally pay for Life Enhancing Alternative Medicine Interventions out of their very own pockets – rather than get such treatments free via the NHS. RCAM would like to also categorically state that such exceedingly flawed ‘G-13? demands that the National Health Service of the United Kingdom expediently abandon Alternative Medicine altogether (in total favour of Conventional Medicine) be diplomatically treated with the very utmost contempt which such unguarded verbal flippance duly deserves ; as none of these 13 ‘Eminent UK Scientists’ behind such calls has professionally attained Globally Acceptable Fellowship Qualifications in Alternative Medicine and as such cannot be deemed competent enough to make such sweeping ‘Shilly-Shally’ statements about the noble independent specialty of Alternative Medicine.

RCAM therefore publicly advises the General Public to lawfully go about their normal Wellness-Seeking Behaviour as usual – without any unwarranted prejudice or fear resulting from such highly self-serving, morally unethical , abjectly crude , totally unprofessional, utterly unstatesmanly, morbidly barbaric, wantonly uncivilized, profanely undemocratic and unspeakably sacrilegious perpetual affronts on the therapeutically formidable institution of Alternative Medicine.

Now, I do not have ‘Globally Acceptable Fellowship Qualifications’ in Santa Clause Studies to know he does not exist. But hey. I must be a morbidly barbaric and profanely undemocratic, unethical duck.

So, struggling around the acres of pomposity I find one place where Prof Joe might be making some money. You can call him to seek his wisdom, after pre-booking an hour’s slot (and handing over your credit card) for a mere 300 Euros. Alternatively, you can pay by the minute on the contact line for a trifling $10 per minute.

Its going to cost you $20 just for Joe to say Hello and to read out his numerous titles, qualifications and names. Not bad ‘ethical’ work.

Ethical Quackery, the Monarchy and Kate Moss – Thursday, October 12, 2006

No, this is not about our Defender of Quackery, our Quack-in-Chief His Royal Quackiness, Prince Charles, but about the Distinguished Provost of the Royal College of Alternative Medicine, Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi. And yes, it is just a rather lame story written solely to get a picture of Kate on my blog.

I’ve written a rather lazy blog on the distinguished professor before that was just a bit of a gawp at his quacktastic website and what looks like a health phone-line scam.

Well, I’ve done a little more digging with Google and it has revealed a few quack gems. It has been pretty hard work, since Google returns some 6,000 pages, the vast majority just appears to be Prof Obi’s self-promotion. However, if you persist in digging a few interesting facts turn up.

So, what has the little black duck found out about the “most Controversial Retired Physician and ‘A-List’ Medical Celebrity, Dr Joseph Chikelue Obi”?

Here we go…

1. The Irish Independent reports that his college does not exist at the Dublin address given on the web site. There’s a surprise! It’s just a front.

2. The Independent goes on. “In January 2003, he was suspended by for serious professional misconduct at South Tyneside District Hospital. Among the allegations made were that he failed to attend to patients, wrote strange notes about colleagues and at one point gave a dating agency phone number to a psychiatric patient.”

3. He was being investigated by the police for taking thousands of pounds of a 58 year old woman to in order to cure a long standing illness.

4. The GMC strike Dr Obi off their register for “serious professional misconduct”. So much for him being retired.

5. On another tack, Dr Obi has been involved in a little cyber-squatting. This looks as if it took place while he was a doctor – always after a few quid!

6. Since then, now self-titled Prof Obi, a few new avenues have been opened, including trying to entice Kate Moss away to one of his ‘safe-houses’ in Ireland. Hat’s off!

He is quoted as saying:

Under the European Convention on Human Rights, Miss Moss still has fundamental rights, just like anyone else out there, and as far as I am concerned, she is not guilty of anything until an Ethical Jury says so.

(I mentioned before that ‘ethical’ was one of his favourite words.)

7. Prof Obi has been developing a Penis Enlarger (watch out Kate) that his own Royal College has now endorsed.

8. At least one person (out of the targeted million) has paid Prof Obi the fees for his college to accredit them. Dr Michael Keet (8 Canards) of the Central London College of Reflexology handed over ‘hundreds‘. Do we feel sorry for out-quacked quacks? I guess we ought to.

9. For those of you wanting to see behind the grand titles and see the real human being, Joseph lists his interests as Comedy in London, Whole Food Nutrition and Christian Music. On this ‘Meetup’ site, he describes himself as “Just a very ordinary guy . . .”. That’s nice.

10. His name appears very often on the blog Abolish The General Medical Council (GMC), often reporting something he has got up to. The blog describes itself as:

An ethical blog for those who publicly feel that the General Medical Council (GMC) should be Statutorily Abolished in favour of a Medical Licensing Commission (MLC) to solely register and revalidate Doctors who practise Conventional Medicine in the UK. The Blog also recommends that the GMC/MLC hands all disciplinary functions over to an Independent Clinical Tribunal (ICT) in keeping with the EU Convention on Human Rights ; to avoid (both) Institutional Bias and Multiple Jeopardy.

Oooh. There is that word ‘ethical’ again. And ‘European Human Rights’. No name is given for the blog author but the avatar is a portrait of the queen. Another apparent obsession of Prof Obi – royalty. Could the author be none other than the Professor himself, a little agrieved for his ticking off? I hope you all click through to the blog. Maybe we will show up in his stats and whoever the writer is can get in contact and confirm one way or another.

I rather hope it is, as the final thing I turned up would just be fantastic…

11. Is the Distinguished Provost of the Royal College of Alternative Medicine, Professor Obi now selling ethical ring-tones? I do hope so.

Watch out Crazy Frog! Here comes the Crazy Provost…

CAM remedies can give you heavy metal poisoning

A comment over at Respectful Insolence led me to this post by Mike O’Risal and the Associated Press article that inspired it.

The AP article reports that:

Health departments around the country say traditional medicines used by many immigrants from Latin America, India and other parts of Asia are the second most common source of lead poisoning in the U.S. — surpassed only by lead paint — and may account for tens of thousands of such cases among children each year.

Dozens of adults and children have become gravely ill or died after taking lead-laden medicine over the past eight years, according to federal and local health officials.

Read the whole article for the details and remember, there are good reasons why the life expectancy of people is significantly higher in places that use modern, regulated, evidence based medicine.

Martin Luther King Day

Today we honor one of the greatest men of the 20th century, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I feel the best way to celebrate this day is to read some of his writings and listen to some of his speeches. Visit The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute to read some papers or see my previous post with selected quotes from the King papers, MLK Jr., Science, Darwin & Intelligent Design. GrrlScientist has posted two excellent MLK videos in honor of this holiday.

Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted): The Reason for this Holiday

Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted): I Have A Dream

Happy Birthday James Watt

James Watt was born on this day, January 19th, in 1736 at Greenock, Scotland. He was a mechanical engineer and inventor who’s steam engine was a key ingredient in the start of the Industrial Revolution. For this and his other contributions to science and technology the SI unit for power was named the watt in 1960. For more information check out the biographical reference links below. I think I’ll celebrate his birthday buy having a piece of PIE (sorry couldn’t resist the bad EE geek joke).

Biographies:
Wikipedia
James Watt by Andrew Carnegie
James Watt by Thomas H. Marshall
Birmingham Jewellery Quarter – More about James Watt
James Watt: Important Scots
BBC – History – James Watt
Watt letters collection at the Cornwall County Council

Embarrassing Engineers the next generation

This report in the Michigan Daily highlights one of the next generation of illogical and irrational engineers. The article starts out with this gem.

Engineering senior Israel Vicars didn’t think it was a coincidence when he walked by a drunken girl who had fallen over in a parking lot and desperately needed help.
Vicars attributes his ability to safely return the girl to her residence hall to the power of united prayer.

OK so did the praying levitate the girl and allow him to lightly push the girl back to her home. If that happened then there’s be a million dollar prize waiting for Israel Vicars if he can demonstrate the effect. Prayer sometimes has a good effect on the psychological state of some people whom practice it. However, no prayer has ever been shown to do anything in the physical world. Instead people like this guy use confirmation bias to claim that something wasn’t a coincidence or random chance it was their prayers that did it.

With sloppy thinking like this I shudder to think how this guy is going to handle real world engineering problems. I sincerely hope Israel Vicars doesn’t work on engineering projects that will waste my tax dollars or lead to safety problems due to his magical thinking.

Hat tip to: Pharyngula: Let’s all pick on the University of Michigan!

Absolute Zero

I just finished watching part one of the NOVA episode “Absolute Zero” on PBS last week. Check your local listings to see if you can catch it on a re-broadcast or you can watch the program online. Part two will broadcast on most stations on Tuesday the 15th and will be online on the 16th.

Generally I found the program exceptionally good, it covers the history of scientific thinking about hot and cold very well as well as showing the commercial uses. I have only two criticisms and they are so small they are really nitpicking. The first is that the narrator as well as Professor Hasok Chang, author of “Inventing Temperature, Measurement and Scientific Progress”, both use the obsolete units name centigrade. It probably just bugs me because I can still remember losing grade points in Mrs. Wolfs’ chemistry class for using centigrade instead of Celsius. The other criticism is the lack of clarity when in the part on Clarence Birdseye the narrator says, “temperature forty degrees below freezing”. I had to pause the playback and think for a minute wether they meant Celsius or Fahrenheit. My first thought was that they meant -40°C which equals -40°F but then I remembered that household freezers are around 0°F so, I think they meant -8°F (-22°C).

I encourage everyone to watch this fine program and please support your local PBS station so, they can keep bringing us the best science show evah, NOVA.