Sunday, February 18, 2007

ALL SORTSA STUFF

Been busy lately. But I have enjoyed the rambunctious and intellectually stimulating discussions going on, down below in the commentary layer. You are the brightest bunch on the internet!

Hence, let me toss in a batch of news items for you to chew on, before I get around to another contrarian rant! ;-)

In an article for The Edge, Chris Anderson writes: "Percentage of males estimated to have died in violence in hunter gatherer societies? Approximately 30%. Percentage of males who died in violence in the 20th century complete with two world wars and a couple of nukes? Approximately 1%. Trends for violent deaths so far in the 21st century? Falling. Sharply.” (Let me add that the distinction sharpens when you pan ACROSS the 20th century, with the steepest drop of all time happening in the 1950s though 1990s.)

Then there is the possibility that we are RIGHT NOW experiencing not one aha moment but two of them -- in the Great Big War On Cancer -- similar to the one when Jonas Salk announced the polio vaccine. A moment everybody, forever after, remembered. Well, it’d be nice. http://physorg.com/news87565573.html

The government's ability to understand and predict hurricanes, drought and climate changes of all kinds is in danger because of deep cuts facing many Earth satellite programs and major delays in launching some of its most important new instruments. A two-year study by the National Academy of Sciences determined that NASA's earth science budget has declined by 30% since 2000. It stands to fall further as funding shifts to plans for a manned mission to the moon and Mars

A study has found that people who are temperamentally pessimistic are more likely to die of heart disease and other causes than those who are by nature optimistic. Yup, and Nobel Prizes add 2 years to the winner’s life. So do Academy Awards. I need more Hugos I guess. (Still, didn't I say that personality matters? Often much more than our surface ideologies and rationalizations.)

Green architecture has become glamorous, and even economical. The cycle of innovation for sustainable building technologies is now staggeringly short, given how long it takes to complete a building. We are close to the tipping point at which green design becomes the default option for smart building.

Oh, and the latest news. What is the state in the Union with the highest energy efficiency? Flamboyant and individualistic California! More proof that the positive sum game is possible. Combine reasonable legislation and honest government with moderately higher energy costs and a business environment that is unafraid of challenges, and you get good energy economy PLUS a good economy. Some regulation to help our descendants, WHILE encouraging flagrant individualistic eccentricity. Modernism is alive. I only wish we had a presidential candidate to offer the rest of you.

This has been the biggest pleasant surprise of the century so far. Signs of an economic boom are everywhere in India's cities. If trends continue, India's economy may then surpass the US and be second only to China's by mid-century. Within 15 years Indians should, on average, be four times richer than today, buying five times as many cars, and the country will burn three times as much crude oil to power its growth, putting yet more strain on the world's resources.

Computer experts have traced a $1 million online bank heist in Sweden to a Russian hacker known only by his colorful sobriquet - the Corpse - in one of the more brazen Internet banking crimes of recent memory. As the extent of the fraud became known this week at the Scandinavian bank involved, attention shifted to the Russian-made virus behind the crime and the darker world of Russian programming, where talented minds still struggle to find legitimate outlets for the computer skills.

People may not perform selfless acts just for an emotional reward, a new brain study suggests. Instead, they may do good because they're acutely tuned into the needs and actions of others. Scientists say a piece of the brain linked to perceiving others' intentions shows more activity in unselfish vs. selfish types.

A new, major environmental report highlights a growing disconnect between the power of global risks to cause major systemic disruption and our ability to mitigate them. Many of the 23 core global risks explored in the report have worsened over the last 12 months, despite growing awareness of their potential impacts, according to the report. In addition to specific risk mitigation measures, institutional innovations may be needed to create effective responses to a complex risk landscape.

By the end of this year, the contents of all 1,800 courses taught at MIT will be available online to anyone in the world. Learners won't have to register for the classes, and everyone is accepted. The OpenCourseWare movement, begun at MIT in 2002, has now spread to some 120 other universities.

Chew on that... and more soon.

33 comments:

ERic said...

I don't recall if this website has been posted by anyone. I just finished reading Transparent Society, and this seems like it *might* fit in that category of scrutiny of corporations by individuals:

Do the Right Thing

Haven't examined it thoroughly yet. On a quick glance, it seems a bit primitive and generic in it's critiques and weighting. Nevertheless, seems like yet one more step in a positive direction for whistleblowers.

Rob Perkins said...

That MIT thing is fantastic.

I wonder what the cost will be (in time, proctored testing maybe, and certainly the attention of professors) to get accredited course credits for learning. Right now I'm enrolled in a degree-granting program through BYU which lets adult learners finish a bachelor's degree they started on campus. There's no required "log in and chat or post questions" element to these courses, since the residency requirement is already completed for such students.

I could easily see community college campuses incorporating OCW material as *required reading*, cheapening the cost of learning by removing the requirement to purchase a textbook!

Or, an accrediting board permitting a two-year residency PLUS OCW material as sufficient for a general studies degree, even further reducing the cost to get knowledge.

Way to go, Massachusetts!

Zech said...

Regarding the paragraph about California, how are they defining energy efficiency? Kilowatt hours per person? You didn't post a link for that paragraph, so I don't know.

Oh, and kudos to Califorinia for being one of those states to spend less federal money that it pays in federal taxes:
http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxdata/show/347.html
They get .79 for every dollar they pay, compared with Idaho's 1.28 per dollar.

Anonymous said...

David, you might enjoy reading Dark Nature by Lyall Watson. Chap's a top-notch observational naturalist, and I think you'll find his views on evil interesting.

Stefan Jones said...

Zech:

I don't know about efficiency, but CA is definitely #50 in electricity usage:

http://www.energy.ca.gov/electricity/us_percapita_electricity_2001.html

I first became aware of this when I lived in CA about six years ago, and it made me furious . . . because of all the damn nincompoop "conservative" and free-market pundits who were blaming the rolling blackouts on us hot tub-loving hippie freaks.

Well, actually, back then CA was only #49 in per-capita electrical usage! During the phony electrical shortages that earned big bucks for Enron and other parasitical energy traders, Californians were challenged to CUT their usage . . . and DID.

And yet, California still manages to be one of the wealthiest states. And you can bet that as oil gets scarce and the dangers of greenhouse warming become manifest, it will lead the nation in innovative ways to save energy and reduce pollution.

Zech said...

The reason I heard given by my conservative friends for the rolling blackouts was not overindulgent electricity usage, but over-restrictive environmental codes that discouraged new plants. I was told that an unusually high percentage of California electricity was generated out-of-state.

Blake Stacey said...

One aspect of OpenCourseWare which bothers me is a point their wobsite says right up front: "Does not provide access to MIT faculty". Part of this involves the difficulty of finding faculty who are able and willing to make teaching an online community part of their daily grind, but there's also a technical side to the problem. Our ability to discuss mathematics and physics online, for example, is distressingly rudimentary.

OdinsEye2k said...

Another thing about OpenCourseWare is that it seems to be somewhat incomplete (at least as of the year or two ago I delved into it). At the moment, it seems to be mostly exposing the websites used for course teachings rather than being a complete resource in and of itself.

The biggest problem is what I will call the "textbook exercise" problem. Theoretically, people could teach themselves subject matter out of textbooks (I've done some of it myself), but books lack the feedback necessary for really strong learning.

If textbooks have solution manuals, the problem is solved - try the exercise and see if your logic/answers match the book's. If there is wide divergence, need to check it out further.

But, so far, many of the OCW sites are like the books without manuals, and some are more like chapter sketches of the books.

I'm sure that OCW will improve, but there is still a very large difference between looking at OCW for a course and actually being at MIT - and not just the presence of fellow students and professors.

I guess what I am saying is that the goal is laudable - there's just going to be a lot of work to get from A to B. And a lot of it will probably revolve around how to acheive a good OCW without requiring a lot of uncharged labor by the professorship (or whipping the junior professors and post-docs even harder).

OdinsEye2k said...

And I just read the cancer piece ... FASCINATING. It's almost like the mitochondria were once in combat with the larger cells that consumed them. Captured entities, never quite vanquished as they are forced to provide cheap energy, rather extracting a price of life for their service.

Floyd Gilmore said...

One of the wonderful developments in regards to OpenCourseWare is the outreach by several major universities throughout the U.S. by posting many of their lecture series on their web servers then spinning them out via Apple's iTunes Store for free. Both audio only and video podcasts are now available.

Such sample course ware allows a potential student (or interested learner) to get a feel for what a specific college lecture series will be like. In some cases, entire series are available for the time you need to download the podcasts.

While not a true surrogate for full access to a professor, my very real university experience was tilted far more to dealing with teachers assistants than the professors. The few whom I did have multiple contacts with were well worth the effort. However, they were the exception.

I pity the average undergraduate entering the process today. With cattle call lecture series that must be attended in a hall seating 500 bodies, half of whom are disinterested in what the lecturer is saying, the experience is sad.

I welcome the increase in the distribution of solid and meaningful discourse provided in the lectures via video podcast. The only down side to finding anything in the iTunes Store is a lack of linkage, plus the glut of competing content.

The following link is a general education link that will open in iTunes Store. Take a peek. You might find something of interest. Paste this link in your web browser and it should open iTunes (that is, if you have a current copy on your computer).

http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewGenre?id=1304

TwinBeam said...

Is the claimed energy efficiency for CA simply "energy per capita"? That measurement is largely determined by climate and mix of industry. CA's mild climate and light industry would be primary contributors.

It's measured a bit more elaborately - e.g how well insulated homes are, how efficient cars are, etc that'd be another thing.

I would actually expect New York to be rather efficient, given their concentrated urban population. Ah - see the charge Here

TwinBeam said...

The cancer story is great news - if it pans out. Long overdue progress - too many people I know have fallen to that disease. Odd how it wasn't the massive US govt run "cancer research" program that made the breakthrough...

Look how simple this molecule is. One might have hoped that somewhere in the massive cancer bureaucracy, we'd have had a brute force program to simply TRY every known and relatively simple compound against cancer.

But I guess the resulting research publication wouldn't have been very impressive: "Tested one million compounds, 999999 of them weren't cures for cancer" That approach would probably have been sneered at as "unscientific" - understanding cancer being far more important than curing it, after all.

reason said...

OdinsEye2k

good comment (and may even have some truth in it). The story is possibly the other way around, the body cells found an imperfect way around the mitochondrial defences.

It is a shame my father isn't around to hear this news as he was always fascinated by mitochondria

ERic said...

My favorite mitochondria story: Wrinkle in Time.

David Brin said...

Ah... but now we have to figure out those "midichlorian" parasitical symbiotes, that increased energy availability but vastly decrease IQ.

catfishncod said...

Twinbeam said: "One might have hoped that somewhere in the massive cancer bureaucracy, we'd have had a brute force program to simply TRY every known and relatively simple compound against cancer."

There is a section of the R&D departments of every major pharmaceutical devoted to exactly that brute-force strategy. I don't like it aesthetically, as it is inefficient, but it can be effective when you have a model system.

The problem with applying it to cancers is that you can't do that sort of scattershot approach in humans; it must be done in vitro or in animal models. And cancers are somewhat context-dependent; the current state of nutrient flow, of extracellular matrix, of nearby normal cells, changes the behavior and internal biochemistry of a cancer cell.

So while you can do this trick -- whose name is combinatorial-library high-throughput screening -- in some cases... that's no guarantee that it will work in the Real World. (Uninteresting scientific results are beside the point; searches like this run until you find something interesting or your backer runs out of money and/or patience.)

Blake Stacey said...

ERic, the Madeleine L'Engle novel featuring mitochondria is not A Wrinkle in Time but rather its sequel, A Swiftly Tilting Planet.

Blake Stacey said...

Also, Vernor Vinge has just given a talk at the Long Now Foundation entitled "What if the Singularity does not happen?" Worth perusing. . . .

SpeakerToManagers said...

If trends continue, India's economy may then surpass the US and be second only to China's by mid-century.

But the trends have to continue, which means that India has to
avoid inflation. Seem unlikely to me that they can do that for another 40 years. On the other hand, The US could get hurt very badly by oil shortages, and China is running into a demographic crisis: the population is graying rapidly because of the draconian birth control policies of the late 20th century, so maybe India won't have so far to catch up.

Doug S. said...

My own crackpot hypothesis:

Technological progress will end when the length of time required to learn enough to make a meaningful contribution approaches the length of time the human brain remains able to function at peak effectiveness. If you have to go to school for 50 years to be able to understand enough before you can add anything new, you're not going to have much advancement. (I imagine a similar situation must have occurred in the Uplift universe.)

Bill Cunningham said...

Regarding OCW -

I agree the main drawback is the lack of access to professors, TAs or any other knowledge expert - but it seems rather like asking too much to have the universities provide anything more interactive than videos and materials. It's a difficult enough job teaching the students on campus who are paying tuition, let alone the potentially tremendous audience worldwide audience accessing materials for free.

I've been trying to do something to bridge the interactivity gap myself by starting a Physics related meetup in Los Angeles, where I live:

http://physics.meetup.com/57/?gj=sj5

I started reading Penrose's big book needed other people to bounce questions off of and/or share the burden of understanding stuff. The group I started meets once per month, and though it isn't focused specifically on the book I'm reading, it has proved to be a useful forum in which to ask questions and get clarification. It has attracted members who are knowledgeable in math and physics/chemistry.

So, I guess I'm saying I think we shouldn't be griping that the extremely generous offering of OCW lacks interactivity, but rather we should be figuring out ways to bridge that last mile ourselves.

If anyone here was interested in forming a question/answer board based around the sciences that might be open to posts by anyone (or maybe knows of a good one already), I'd be super glad to help set one up and/or hear about and participate in it.

RandomSequence said...

The main goal of open courseware is probably more as a resource for local instructors, than self-teaching. This'll be a huge boon to beginning professors, who usually take their first syllabus from whoever was teaching the course before them, who is not necessarily a master of pedagogy.

If you want a great course in physics, I love Feynman's lectures. Its the intro sequence, but is inclusive enough to cover graduate material in every section --- it's a beautiful textbook. Of course, it's never actually used as a textbook, because as Feynman says, he decided that he'd rather push the best, than rescue the worst. If only our educational system took a little bit of that attitude...

Bill Cunningham said...

I've been meaning to go through the Feynman Lectures. Next year, I guess...

Regarding the Viridian sexiness of new trends in architecture, here's a youtube of a concept tour of the hearst buliding in NY, mentioned in the article linked to above:



I wish it was more than just the lobby/mezzanine, and showed off more of the green features, but it's a pretty spiffy joint, no?

Bill Cunningham said...

Oops, didn't do the Youtube link properly, here it is:

Youtube of the Hearst building, NY

Rob Perkins said...

Guys, the L'Engle book which uses the word "mitochondria" is A Wind in the Door, the second in her moral fantasies. I think there are four books in that series, but the books are each much more self-contained than, say, the Harry Potter books.

Plus, they're pure fantasies. L'Engle promotes a certain moral stance, and a level of entertainment, with those stories, not anything close to rigorous science writing. "Mitochondria" in that book is nothing more than the milieu for the alien characters, who live on one.

ERic said...

Blake:

Oops.


...it has been a long time since I read them.

[sheepish grin]

ERic said...

Rob:

double oops.

And, yeah, I know it's fantasy. Nevertheless, I remember the book being a fun read.

...all those years ago when I read it, long enough that I didn't remember which one it was.

Zech said...

I found a cool link you guys might like:
http://www.flytheroad.com/
It's an enclosed motorcycle (lame) which uses a hybrid engine. It goes 100 Mph, 100 Mpg, and 0 to 60 in 6 seconds. They say they want to sell it for $20,000.

Yeah, I know, it had nothing to do with Brins blog, except for relating to environmentalism and technology. Sorry.

ColonelZen said...


I found a cool link you guys might like:
http://www.flytheroad.com/
It's an enclosed motorcycle (lame) which uses a hybrid engine. It goes 100 Mph, 100 Mpg, and 0 to 60 in 6 seconds. They say they want to sell it for $20,000.


Or you can get a real bike for about 1/3 the price. 640cc's are around 5k. I commute my 750 at about 50mpg whenever the weather is above 50 degrees F. A 250 isn't a whole lot of fun, but will come close to that 100mpg and for the lighter of build will at least get you there at $3-4k.

-- TWZ

darrell said...

I agree. That hybrid motorcycle really doesn't sound like much improvement for $20,000. My bike cost $10,000, goes 0-60 in less than 3 seconds, can reach about 196 mph, and, under normal road riding conditions, gets about 45 mpg. The mpg does drop pretty drastically under track conditions though.

Obviously my bike was not designed with economy in mind, but even so has pretty good stats. I would think that if you were to design a good performing bike with economy one of the main goals, the results would be pretty impressive. I don't know of any bikes that have been designed with economy in mind. Most are designed for maximum power possible out of the engine, and then "detuned" as little as possible in order to meet emissions requirements.

Anonymous said...

As Jared Diamond points out, the majority of deaths in hunter-gatherer societies result from the murder of suspected sorcerors.

When some random accident occurs in a hunter-gatherer society, it's apparently not enough to ascribe it to chance. Your child gets sick? Must be an evil sorceror. Find the sorceror and kill him.

Your wife miscarries? Find the evil sorceror who cast a spell on her and kill him. Your sister drowns while swimming acorss the river? Find the evil sorceror who used magic to kill her and murder him.

In short, the major cause of death in hunter-gatherer societies appears to be superstition.

It's interesting to note that far-right Repubs are now attempting to use the same tactics against people who espouse rationality, evidence and common sense. "Evil liberal college professors cast a spell over our children to make them disbelieve our traditional value -- we must find the evil sorcerors and destroy them."

How little things change...

Meanwhile, in the war between the future and the past, the forces of recidivism are eagerly killing themselves:

Isamic man murders own family for "being too Western"
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/02/21/nmuslim21.xml

Read "for being too modern."

With enemies like this, those of us who advocate the modern and the rational as opposed to the primitive and superstitious need only avoid destroying ourselves to win.

Alas, that might not be easy:
http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0312012

I have to say this one shocked me. Islamists murdering their families because their daughters want to become fashion designers? I expect that. Far-right Repub kooks so lost in self-deluded dementia they build "Creation museums" showing Adam and Eve riding to church on the backs of dinosaurs? Standard stuff. We get 10 of those before breakfast every day. But Brian David Josephson is a Nobel prize winner in physics. You would expect something more than mindless pseudoscientific twaddle from someone like that.

Apparently, not so. The brain rot that has infected the Repubs _and_ the Demos (with the left-wing mania against nuclear power and their mindless terror of genetically modified foods) now apepars to have percolated all the way into the hard science community.

We expect fringe-lunatic far-right creationists to be brainfries, and we also expect far-left hippie anti-nuclear activists to be a few cards short of a full deck. But when the high energy physics community starts going soft in the head and spouting mindless pseudoscience...well, at that point it's all up for Western culture, folks.

Sad to say, the rise of superstring "theory" suggests that the brain-rot that has infected so much of the rest of society, from the Singularity crackpots to the Chicago School of Economics kooks, may well be seeping into the hard science community. See for example the latest claims to the effect that "anything a high energy physicist does is physics," and therefore untestable idle speculations about a hypothetical multiverse must be good solid physics:

"Also at the AAAS meeting was yet another session on the wonders of the multiverse called “Multiverses, Dark Energy and Physics as an Environmental Science,” featuring the usual Stanford team of Linde and Susskind, with Lawrence Krauss brought in to provide a little bit of reality. Stanford has put out a press release promoting Andrei Linde’s talk at the meeting. Linde goes on about what he calls 10^1000 vacua, and how they are `an unexpected gift from string theory… an eternal feast where all possible dishes are served.' He seems to be positively gleeful about the `Alice’s Restaurant' aspect of this pseudo-science, where `you can get anything you want…'” -- Peter Woit

http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/

For those not in the know, the "multiverse" is the baseless idle speculation that there exist other universes beside our own. There may very well exist other universes: and who knows? It might even be fun to daydream about 'em. It might even prove diverting to write science fiction novels about 'em. Until we have hard evidence that there exist any such things as multiple universes, however, such vacuous idle speculations do not belong in physics papers -- any more than idle speculations about hypothetical pink unicorns living in the galaxy Andromeda belong in physics papers, or rapturous fantasies about fairies and elves in dimensions 17 through 1197. Physics boils down to testable hypotheses which can be disconfirmed by hard evidence.

When we abandon that hold on reality and start swooning about unsupportable empty daydreams which can never be disconfirmed by experiment, we've not only left physics behind...we've abandoned the very core of modern Western culture and returned to the Middle Ages.

Since this is basic and elementary and the foundation of modern Western civilization, various commenters will of course rush to deny it. That's the internet, isn't it? If someone points out that 2 + 2 = 4, a horde of do-nothing know-nothing commenters erupt from their seats to post thousands of comments explaining why it's not only obviously false, but a sign of brain damage to claim that 2 + 2 = 4 instead of the true value, 9.37251.

We can cut to the chase beforehand by debunking their provably false claims in advance:

"In order to act...in a human manner at all, two things are necessary: fact and thought. [Life] does not consist only of finding the facts; nor is it enough to think, however rationally. The processes...characteristic of human life...move by the union of empirical fact and rational thought, in a way which cannot be disentangled. There is...in all our lives, a continuous to and fro of actual discovery, then of thought about the implications of what we have discovered, and so back to the facts for testing and discovery -- a step by step of experiment and theory, left, right, left, right, for ever. (..) ...The Middle Ages were quite as logical in their speculations about nature as we are. It is not as rationalists that we have the advantage of them; our material successes stem from joining to their logic a ruthless appeal, at each bold deductive step, back to the hard empirical facts." [Bronowski, J. The Common Sense of Science. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 1966, pg. 36]

For an example of the typical Republican who clearly prefers the medieval worldview to a rational modern perspective in which evidence and logic determine our course of action, see:

http://www.shelleytherepublican.com/2006/08/28/the-truth-about-atheism-expos
ed.aspx

With enemies this ignorant, the only way the forces of modernization can lose is if we shoot ourselves in the head. Alas, as the superstring pseudoscience bandwagon continues to gather eager postgrad followers from prestigious universities, it looks like that's exactly what Western culture is doing.

Fortunately, as J. Craig Venter (the guy who sequenced the human geome) has pointed out, Western culture appears to be moving toward evidence-based decision-making, as opposed to the current morass of mindless superstition favored in so many fields (even today). Brin is probably right -- the current rise of the kooks on the far right represents the last desperate gasp of the forces of spuerstition and regression against the relentless onslaught of rationaity and the scientific method.

Venter's optimistic outlook proves so encouraging it's worthwhile to quote it all:

Evidence-Based Decision Making Will Help Transform Society

by J. Craig Venter

"I am optimistic (and hopeful) that one of the key tenets of scientific investigation, `evidence-based decision making' will be extended to all aspects of modern society. Good experimental design works toward creating conditions that provide the most useful information on a given topic while attempting to eliminate, or at least limit, spurious, irrelevant artifacts from being generated that could falsely influence data interpretation. Data or information is collected until a threshold is exceeded permitting either conclusions to be drawn or at least development of a hypothesis that with further testing can be validated or falsified.

"Not all questions can be simply answered by just looking at the evidence because we are still at a very early stage in understanding the universe around us. For example, in attempting to understand how life began on our planet we can only guess based on certain assumptions whether it originated de novo here or arrived from another planet or a distant galaxy. We do know that a few hundred kilograms of material is exchanged annually between the Earth and Mars, and that new planets are discovered at an unprecedented pace. When we discover microbial life on Mars we will double the number of planets with known life while increasing the possibility of finding life elsewhere in the universe.

"For most scientists the evidence for evolution, regardless of its origins, has been overwhelming. The fossil record was sufficient evidence for most, but now with genome sequencing information from all branches of life, including from some of our closest relatives like Neanderthals, chimps and rhesus monkeys, the results should be clear cut for anyone whose thinking is not overly clouded by a `belief' system.

"In contrast we have newspapers, radio and television news stations owned by individuals or governments presenting subjective, selective subsets of information. As well, there are political campaigns and statements by those wishing to gain or retain power that can only be dismissed as `partisan.'

"We need to push harder for an education system that teaches evidence-based decision making while we hold our public leaders to a higher standard and less partisan behavior as we attempt to tackle some of the historically most difficult challenges facing the future of humanity."

from
http://edge.org/q2007/q07_9.html

Warren said...

Lacking an open thread and per Dr. Brin's request I'm passing along something that's been roiling the blogosphere a bit lately.

==

We know that the web is a big collaborative grab-bag of chaos and nuttiness, and that in some corners of it there exist shining examples of what happens when minds seek to work in concert. Open-source software is one example; collaborative knowledge pools such as Wikipedia another.

Recently there's been a response in something called Conservapedia
(www.conservapedia.com), an attempt by the far-right loonies in the US to
seize control over the intellectual freedom that thrives on the net.
Everything from evolution denial to human-rights importuning may be found there, in the name of forwarding "conservative" ideals -- and if you should happen to post something not precisely in line with their ideology, it will be trimmed or eliminated in minutes.

Conservapedia is hard to connect to right now; its servers are taking hits
all the time from gawkers. The question is not how soon it will self-destruct, but rather how long it will take before it descends into wretched self-parody like so much else the right wing has been spewing. In the world of free exchange, it will certainly find a niche -- but it will
never progress beyond being a fringe site run by lunatics.

Anonymous said...

Check out these links (Courtesy of Uncle Timmy's Revenge of Hump Day via Roger's Chronicles of the Dawn Patrol):
"ALGAE-BASED FUELS ARE BACK"
by John Gartner, Autopia, Monday, 5 February 2007 HTTP://BLOG.WIRED.COM/CARS/2007/02/ALGAEBASED_FUEL.HTML
And
"THE PROPHET OF GARBAGE" in Popular Science http://www.popsci.com/popsci/science/873aae7bf86c0110vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html