Before moving over to a whole list of non-political (and fascinating) scientific and technological links, I would like to mention one that is both political and historically interesting. Some of you may recall that, upon reflecting on the madness of the Straussian neocons, I would occasionally lapse into a sigh: ”Ah, Alcibiades...” referring to the infamous polemicist who talked the democracy of Athens into pursuing one arrogant blunder after another, leading ultimately to the destruction of humanity’s first great experiment in democracy.
The Iraq War and the Sicilian Campaign” by Brent Ranalli. A stunning example of how historical ignorance can doom great nations to repeat the same mistakes, over and over again. (And, incidentally, how Plato and his followers keep plaguing civilization, dragging us down.)
"The Google Touch Graph Browser reveals the interconnected network structure of websites by using Google's database of related sites." Actually, I find the results puzzling and not entirely consistent with other visit-tracking software. For example, my site’s top region of visitors (same as everybody else) happens to be northern Virginia. (Gee, I wonder who that might be.) This is not reflected in Google Touch. Still, another interesting tool. And proof that we have no hope NOT to be tracked - in future. Our only hope is to be citizens who are sovereign and powerful enough to have no reason to fear being tracked.
Glancingly related... Get a First Life -- "A One Page Satire of Second Life"
--On the transparency front (mentioned before): “WikiLeaks is designed to allow anyone to post documents on the web without fear of being traced. The creators of the site are thought to include political activists and open-source software engineers, though they are keeping their identities secret. Their goal is to ensure that whistle-blowers and journalists are not thrown into jail for emailing sensitive documents.” Now to move on to my proposed Henchman’s Law....
--And more on the proliferation of “eyes.” At the 211 ft tall Akron Airdock hangar that once housed a fleet of Goodyear blimps, the High Altitude Airship, or HAA, is being built by Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors. Try to get the useful bits from the following clip by a reporter who is obviously scientifically clueless:
“...$40 million contract from the Missile Defense Agency to build HAA in 2003. It is essentially another blimp. A giant one. Seventeen times the size of the Goodyear dirigible. It's designed to float 12 miles above the earth, far above planes and weather systems. It will be powered by solar energy, and will stay in a geocentric orbit for up to a year, undetectable by ground-based radar. You can't see it from the ground. But it can see you.”
According to a summary released by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, the HAA can watch over a circle of countryside 600 miles in diameter. That's everything between Toledo and New York City. And they want to build 11. With high-res cameras, that could mean constant surveillance of every square inch of American soil.”
And yes, Mr. Transparency is interested. In fact, see riffs on this in my next novel. (“Geosynchronous orbit”? Ooooog.)
In "Casino Royale," the latest James Bond movie, Bond is implanted with a microchip that allows headquarters to track his whereabouts and monitor his vital signs. If cybernetics experts are right, the day will come when most people are implanted with chips - and the real-life chips will do a lot more than Bond's does.
A proposal currently before congress would force bloggers and online grassroots activists to register and regularly report their activities to Congress. Keep an eye on this one.
--People who go on to have heart attacks have much shorter telomeres than those who remain healthy, a major new study has shown.
--How are memories formed? The question has perplexed scientists for years, but now it seems we're a step closer to solving it. The leading candidate is a process called long-term potentiation (LTP), in which the connections between individual brain cells get stronger the more often they are used, such as during learning.
Devin Murphy provided this one:
--SYDNEY (Reuters) - An anti-whaling group patrolling the Ross Sea off Antarctica has offered a $25,000 reward to any person or group that can provide coordinates of the Japanese whaling fleet operating in the area. The U.S.-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society announced the reward in the midst of its "Operation Leviathan" mission to disrupt Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean....
--Spam, spyware, and viruses will drive smart computer users to dumber appliances like BlackBerrys, iPods,and Xboxes, says Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford University. Themigration to closed systems will end innovation on the Internet, he claims.
--Researchers have developed an ultra-sensitive sensor that could potentially be housed in a handheld device. Within minutes, it can detect various viruses and measure their concentration. The sensor, which only requires a small sample of saliva, blood, or other body fluid, could be used to quickly screen people at hospitals and emergency clinics to control outbreaks of diseases such as SARS and the bird flu.
...enough for now...