Friday, November 09, 2007

Techno-misc!

Continuing to post mostly items from the world:

At the sublime end of the YouTube Pehnomenon, have a look at The Hub which is the next phase in my favorite charity - Project Witness and its effort to use transparency to change the world. http://hub.witness.org/ Founder Peter Gabriel calls it “the first online global platform that offers you the tools you need to use media for advocacy - enabling you and millions of others worldwide to use camcorders, cell phones and cameras to upload, share, and discuss your human rights-related footage, as well as organize campaigns to create change.” Participate... or at least spread word.

Of course, there’s also fun stuff at the other end. An absolutely must-see YouTube by some British comedians offering biting insights into the financial scandals.

Almost as entertaining is another YouTube posting, Showing David Brin & Michael Whelan being wished fond farewell at closing ceremenies of Nippon2007, the World Science Fiction Convention in Yokohama. Heaps of fun. People were very nice, indeed. My speech at Opening Ceremonies would seem to imply I speak better Japanese than I do!

Case Western Reserve University researchers have bred a line of "mighty mice" (PEPCK-Cmus mice) that have the capability of running five to six kilometers at a speed of 20 meters per minute on a treadmill for up to six hours before stopping."They are metabolically similar to Lance Armstrong biking up the Pyrenees; they utilize mainly fatty acids for energy and produce very little lactic acid.".... These genetically engineered mice also eat 60 percent more than controls, but remain fitter, trimmer and live and breed longer than wild mice in a control group. Some female PEPCK-Cmus mice have had offspring at 2.5 years of age.... Most mice do not reproduce after they are one year old.... PEPCK-Cmus mice are seven times more active in their home cages than controls; in addition, the mice were also markedly more aggressive.

The transgenic mice, which now number nearly 500, were derived from six founder lines that contain a chimeric gene in which a copy of the cDNA for PEPCK-C was linked to the skeletal actin gene promoter, containing the 3'-end of the bovine growth hormone gene. The skeletal actin gene promoter directs expression of PEPCK-C exclusively to skeletal muscle. Various lines of PEPCK-Cmus mice expressed PEPCK-C at different levels, but one very active line of PEPCK-Cmus mice had levels of PEPCK-C activity of 9 units/gram skeletal muscle, compared to only 0.08 units/gram in the muscles of control animals.

This new mouse line also has an increased content of mitochondria and high concentrations of triglycerides in their skeletal muscles, which also contributed to the increased metabolic rate and longevity of the animals. "It is remarkable that the over-expression of a single enzyme involved in a metabolic pathway should result in such a profound alteration in the phenotype of the mouse," Hakimi and Hanson said.

Comment: This is the first animal genetic engineering that I have seen, that seems very likely to tempt rich parents and secretive techies to try on humans soon. And yet, in my trademark response to othjer mice-generated wonders -- like caloric-restriction leading to much greater lifespans -- I have to say that they may merely have found a “switch” that humans have already flicked, in the last million years in order to become the lavishly exaggerated creatures that we are, with three-times longer lifespans (more precisely, three times more heartbeats) and prodigiously expensive brains.

Look, mutations probably flick this mouse switch often, in nature. That is probably WHY it is so easily switched on, in the lab! In times of sudden and lush plenty, a mutant mouse with this trait can dominate all others and breed like md. But, once the prosperity crashes, so will this mouse, who cannot eke along on low calories. And so will all of his offspring who express the gene. BUT, those who express all his other genes (including genes preparatory or helpful to this one) WILL survive and remain hidden in the mouse population... till the next time of super-plenty.

Oh, the “Beyond Belief” conference was interesting, weird, irksome. A couple of Nobelists and Daniel Dennett ranted against God... talk about expressing a sense of privileged invulnerability that is a direct product of lavishly safe circumstances! There were many other talks that seemed less tendentiously and ironically sanctimonious, regarding the (far better) sub-theme of “Enlightenment 2.0: preserving and enhancing the Enlightenment.” I concentrated on that part, emphasizing that this is the moment when enemies of the Enlightenment HAVE TO act, or else see it become a permanent stable condition, perpetuated by super-educated and confident and knowing citizens who live under conditions of permanent and lavish plenty.

MORE:

UK scientists have been granted £2.5 million to invent a nanomachine that can build materials molecule by molecule. Such a robot doesn't -- and may never -- exist, though it has been imagined for over half a century. But this autumn, researchers across the UK are starting work towards it, following the funding of three research projects by the Engineering and physical sciences research council. As a member of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, I will be (with my colleagues) be following this closely.

As a member of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, I help create position papers that peer ahear to the threats and promises of this rapidly advancing technological realm. Now you can read an important new book about the topic Military Nanotechnology: Potential Applications and Preventive Arms Control. See also a review.

Searching for God in the Brain Researchers are unearthing the roots of religious feeling in the neural commotion that accompanies the spiritual epiphanies of nuns, Buddhists and other people of faith.

The FUTURIST’s top ten forecasts for 2008.

While Popular Mechanics lists ten CUTTING EDGE BREAKTHROUGHS (some of these are WAY cool).

A composite plastic that's as strong as steel but lighter and transparent.

Malicious code could be embedded in online video players, according to a report on Internet threats released Tuesday by the Georgia Tech Information Security Center. One worm discovered in November 2006 launches a corrupt Web site without prompting after a user opens a media file in a player.

A new approach to "printing" living cells could make it easier to arrange them into precise structures without harming them.

The Arctic ice cap this summer dwindled to an extent unparalleled in a century or more.

Dusty Winds Bursting Out Of Black Holes May Have Seeded Planets, Life

A futuristic scheme to collect solar energy on satellites and beam it to Earth has gained a large supporter in the US military.

Virtual-worlds platform developer Multiverse Network is set to announce a partnership Tuesday that will allow anyone to create a new online interactive 3D environment with just about any model from Google's online repository of 3D models, its 3D Warehouse, as well as terrain from Google Earth.

Read “AI Meets the Metaverse: Teachable AI Agents Living in Virtual Worlds” by my friend Ben Goertzel “Online virtual worlds have the power to accelerate and catalyze the development of artificial general intelligence (AGI). As AGIs involved in this metaverse become progressively more intelligent from their interaction with the social network of human beings and reach human-level intelligence (the Singularity), they will already be part of the human social network. If we build them right and teach them right, they will greet us with open arms.”

Researchers have developed the world's first working radio system to use a nano-sized detector made of carbon nanotubes that receives radio waves wirelessly and demodulates them into sound signals.

44 comments:

Stefan Jones said...

Tangential to Beyond Belief:

A shitstorm I knew was coming is starting to blow.

The Christmas Season's big gorgeous fantasy film of the year is "The Golden Compass," based on the first book of a YA fantasy trilogy by Philip Pullman.

The controversy? Pullman is an atheist, and the bad guys in the story are the agents of a fantasy-world version of the Catholic church. And a claim in one of the alarmist emails going around is essentially true: The hero and heroine lead a revolt against heaven and do kill "God"* in Book Three.

Controversy aside: The trilogy is smart and intriguing, and celebrates grown-upness.

* Quotes important.

zorgon the malevolent said...

Are there still futurists? I thought they'd all turned into financial consultants. Or vice versa.

Alas, anything from www.kurweilai.lnet is pure twaddle and can be disregarded.

Further techno-tidbits: Malcolm Gladwell does a fine job debunking the alleged "science" of criminal profling. When subjected to double-blind tests, it turns out to be indistinguishable from the phony psychic's "cold reading":
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/11/12/071112fa_fact_gladwell?printab
le=true

Amusingly enough, snake oil might not have been worthless after all:
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa029&articleID=F7B4BAF7-E7F2-99DF-3870FFECA70C38C9

Sparrows prefer Bach to Schoenberg & can apparently reliably tell the difference:
http://www.therestisnoise.com/2007/10/sparrow-playlis.html

Online "AI" translator sparks diplomatic row:
http://www.itnews.com.au/News/64729,online-translator-sparks-diplomatic-row.
aspx

(More evidence that all Ray Kurzweil's claims are hogwash, as if you needed any more. Remember that the computer translation of the proverb "Out of sight, out of mind" is "BLIND AND INSANE.")

The best explanation I've seen for Benford's Law! Really elegantly done, and a superb discussion of elementary DSP concepts:
http://www.dspguide.com/ch34.htm

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/11/071107-russia-crater.html
Now, if only they can manage to locate the strange saucer-shaped craft at the very bottom of the crater... But it's important not to disturb the hibernation of the multitentacled three-eyed green creature sleeping inside... ("Who Goes there?" by John W. Campbell Jr.!)

Stem cell injections allegedly restore lost memory: http://www.newscientist.com/channel/health/mg19626294.400-stem-cell-shots
-restore-lost-memory.html?feedId=online-news_rss20

Aussie scientists have decoded language of whales:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071108/sc_nm/australia_whales_dc

Now, if we can only uplift them, we'll be set for "Startide Rising"...

Gorgeous hi-def videos of the moon from a Japanese space probe:
http://www.jaxa.jp/press/2007/11/20071107_kaguya_e.html#pict01

And hi-res pics of Mars here:
http://www.danharlow.com/blog/2007/10/17/first-high-resolution-color-images-
from-mars/

Kept looking for Deja Thoris and synthetic men, but couldn't spot 'em. Presumably eaten by a banth.

Google currently organizes only 0.02% of the world's knowledge. We can only imagine what becomes possible once we've organized, oh, say, 75%:
http://www.knowledgebid.com/media/blog/google-225b-and-02-percent/#comment-5

New filament-less lightbulb invented, may last for decades, uses much less energy than conventional incandescent bulbs:
http://www.economist.com/science/tq/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9719129

Ancient sea mud records evidence of a supernova blast:
http://space.newscientist.com/article/mg19626285.000-ancient-sea-mud-record
s-supernova-blast.html?feedId=online-news_rss20

Tell that to the folks who pooh-pooh the idea of a manned space program!

You definitely know you're in the 21st century when you see an article like this:
http://www.nypost.com/seven/10282007/news/regionalnews/unreality_byte.htm

And speaking of organizing 75% of the world's information, most of which remains locked up in long-out-of-print journal articles stored away on dustry library stakcs...researchers have now found a way to flip a single electron spin selectively in one atom. Next step: make a recordable disc out of it.
http://www.physorg.com/news113146441.html

All the world's information on a single disc, 500 yottabytes (5 x 10^82) with 20% recordable disc space remaining. :-)

Tony Fisk said...

Zorgon, I'm impressed to hear that what we know will fit in 5E82 bits, which is just 500 times the number of subatomic particles in the observed universe, give or take a few games of trivial pursuit. (yotta is 1E24, I think you got confused on the wiki site with the neighbouring IEC yobi: 1E80 ;-)

Stefan, despite the enthusiastic urgings of my niece, I haven't read the Dark Materials trilogy. However, I have heard that the film has had all religious references pulled from it (which could add strength to your weather forecast). So, it sounds like, once again, it's left to the the much put upon polar bears to save us.

David Brin said...

Have a look at "pretend to be a time traveller Day" at:

http://forums.koalawallop.net/viewtopic.php?t=1719&sid=526fc02c4d2547ae29c8fdfb29ad97bb

Even creepier.

Take on a glazed look and "channel" for a few minutes, then shake yourself awake and pretend you haven't a clue what happened. You can channel anything from heavenly portents to future warnings. But... um... isn't it traditional?

Anonymous said...

Yobi- is not 1E80; yobi & yotta are only 17% different.

yottabyte = 10^24 bytes ~ 2^80 bytes

yobibyte = 2^80 bytes ~ 10^24 bytes

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tyler August said...

I was planning on joining in the time traveler madness, its wonderful to see it spread across the 'net.
Its been noted that if time travel ever was invented, this is the first day that a researcher could drop in without fear of terrible contamination. So watch the "pretend" time travelers carefully!
If they are never seen again, well...

The New Scientist article (indirectly) linked to about the SPSs gives a figure of ~100 rocket launches for the prototype power satellite. It behooves me to point out that the Aerojet/Truax Sea Dragon could do it in about 1/10th as many. And everyone knows it costs less to ship in bulk. (link for the SeaDragon: http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/searagon.htm)
A rocket built in a shipyard. This is how we cut costs, not NASA techs adjusting SSMEs with dental picks.

And I don't think you can fairly call BabelFish "AI"... even in quotation marks. It's a lookup-replace algorithm and a set of inter-language dictionaries. Which, for the record, does not do Hebrew translations, as the story Zorgon links to alleged.

zorgon the malevolent said...

Quite right, that was a type -- should've been 2 exp 82 bits. Still a lot but fortunately not more than the number of elementary particles in the universe.

Provocative article about e-books here:
http://www.walrusmagazine.com/articles/2007.09-e-book-publishing/

Personally I don't buy the arguments. Random access by page-flipping will always be easier and quicker than scrolling or punching numbers on a keyboard. Like Heinlein's ridiculous dilating doors, e-books are not likely to catch on. A swinging door is so much simpler and cheaper, like a printer paper book, that it's just absurdly impractical to replace it with something more costly and much more complication and likely to break down. After all -- when was the last time you took a book down from the shelf and opened it up and saw nothing but page after page reading GENERAL FAILURE ERROR x7CFE -- ABORT, RETRY, IGNORE?

Anonymous said...

>Have a look at "pretend to be a time traveller Day" … Even creepier.

One of my co-workers (at Intel in Oregon) actually planned on taking part, but I talked some sense into him. Besides the mega-geekdom factor, I reminded him the absence of tourists from the future constitutes a strong argument against time travel (a variant of the Fermi paradox). And although Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity allows the concept theoretically, any possible "time travel" only allows the effect toward the future, never backwards.

It's right out of one of my favorite (and most readable) source books, GURPS Time Travel: The Scam. Therein are other interesting concepts, some both thought-provoking and interesting at the same time, like the easiest way to cause a paradox: meet yourself. Warn, give advice, and even argue with yourself.

No doubt the highly intelligent and opinionated visitors (and host) who post here would be just as exasperating with our alternate self, as with each other.

David Brin said...

Want to see genesis of the idea that aliens or time travelers could visit while pretending to be humans pretending to be aliens?

http://ieti.org/articles/brin.htm

Stefan Jones said...

I've long been of the opinion that the lack of really strange looking people in the crowds at the infamous Whale Explosion at an Oregon beach is proof enough that time travel is impossible.

Really, who could resist?

David Brin said...

And Woodstock would implode.

DemetriosX said...

Frankly, I always thought Woodstock might be evidence for time travel. I mean, they only sold what, 2000 tickets? And how many people have you met who were really there?

Anonymous said...

http://ieti.org/articles/brin.htm

David, I've read that before, and what always comes to mind is you would have made an outstanding contributor to GURPS Illuminati. In the space of just that, you parsed into the reader's mind (to name a few): space aliens sitting in judgment (milestones), duplicitous government collaboration, noninterference, interstellar politics (competition), automated beserker world destroyers, and even things like intergalactic media censorship of porn as possible conspiratorial reasons for the "lurkers" not making contact.

Now its all the Appeal to Mystery fallacy, and common sense would probably lean toward our media transmissions just being totally incomprehensible to an outside culture. (If we're lucky.) And they wouldn't have to set foot on Sol 3 to view it anyway.

Besides, if they really are here, their choice of Dennis Rodman as leader shows a pretty low level of sneakiness.

David Brin said...

If I am good at anything, it is trying to see the same question from as many different angles as possible.

Oh... two followups on the "Bill Clinton Gambit". Let me know if you think of any others... or if you come up with good citations for those that are already at:
http://www.davidbrin.com/ostrich2a.html

* What if Bill Clinton appointed, to head our nation's Department of Homeland Security, a partisan hack who spent many years working in and for the country that most of the 9/11 hijackers came from? Providing security for - among others - close relatives of Osama bin Laden? A man then accused of (and later indicted for) selling official favors to mob-connected figures? WOuld you have called that "scandalous? That is... if Bill Clinton did it? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Kerik

* What if a democratic administration handed almost a quarter of a million U.S. weapons over to a shady middle-eastern businessman, to be used in building up an Iraqi police force, only to let that crony turn the armory into “his own private arms bazaar, with the seeming approval of some American officials and executives, selling AK-47 assault rifles, Glock pistols and heavy machine guns to anyone with cash in hand,” including sectarian groups that later fought U.S., troops? http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/11/world/middleeast/11weapons.html?_r=1&ex=1352523600&en=1db64dba468d0d3c&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&oref=slogin

Tony Fisk said...

Speaking of Time Travel reminds me of a recent stunt pulled by the crew of 'Chasers War on Everything' (responsible for causing more of a laugh than they bargained for when they smuggled Osama Bin Laden through the security cordon surrounding the Asia-Pacific forum).

Confronting John Howard on his morning jog (regular as clockwork) one of them leapt from a Delorean convertible dressed as Back to the Future's Emmett Brown and attempted to get the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, to 'come back with him' so that he could 'go out on top', referring to recent speculation about whether the Prime Minister should have retired at the last election.

(These guys aren't actually to my taste. I'd prefer putting easter eggs on a video ;-)

Anonymous said...

>Would you have called that "scandalous? ... if Bill Clinton did it?

Perhaps, if only because – I didn't like him.

Politics is a dirty business. No administration is sans hypocrisy. Although I support our troops and the war in Iraq, I don't care for Bush. Ronald Reagan is the only politician I've ever liked or trusted.

>>or if you come up with good citations for those that are already at:
http://www.davidbrin.com/ostrich2a.html<<

The Hillary Clinton quote, "We just can't trust the American people to make these types of decisions...Government has to make these choices for people," comes from (liberal) author David Brock's The Seduction of Hillary Rodham. Her anti-1st Amendment sentiment, "We're all going to have to rethink how we deal with the Internet ... there are a number of serious issues without any kind of editing function or gate-keeping function," is via Reuters. Even Libertarians blasted her:

http://swmolibertarianparty.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_archive.html

Her (and her husbands) further opposition to the Constitutional rights of free Americans by trying to deny our right to bear arms needs no citation. Nothing has been more legally upheld than the 2nd Amendment, by both the courts and the voters. Yet Hillary still wants to take our rights away from us.

And I will never support anyone who wants to tear up the Bill of Rights.

Tony Fisk said...

Anonymous,

Would you ever support someone who *has* torn up the writ of Habeus Corpus? (a funny little term that predates the Bill of Rights by centuries and which stops overzealous authorities from throwing away the key when they lock up undesirables: remember that if you ever become undesirable and want a fair trial)

You may not like or support Clinton (Hilary or Bill), and that's perfectly OK.

Just don't make the mistake of reflexively supporting someone who is infinitely worse.

Anonymous said...

Would you ever support someone who *has* torn up the writ of Habeus Corpus?

Tony, you mean someone like Abraham Lincoln?

Habeas corpus is a matter for the Judicial Branch, not the Executive Branch, were the President takes a specific oath to protect the Constitution of the United States. Note that Lincoln totally suspended Habeas corpus (way, way more drastically than Bush) to save our country and preserve the Bill of Rights and US Constitution. And despite that, he's now considered one of our greatest leaders ever.

David Brin said...

A few samples of how far the Onion has come, lately.

http://www.theonion.com/content/video/in_the_know_should_americans?utm_source=videomrss_68210

http://www.theonion.com/content/video/mean_automakers_dash_nations_hope

Ah, anonymous is back, utterly ignoring matters of scale. Republicans vote overwhelmingly as a party and a movement, as a matter of basic policy, to tear up the Bill of Rights, and that's well, unfortunate... and balanced by one or two contextually ambiguous Hillary quotes. So they are ALL corrupt. (So he gets to fall back on holding his nose and voting Republican, after all.)

Bull. The Clintons REDUCED government secrecy and the neocons sent it skyrocketing higher than during the cold war. That is opposite in DIRECTION. It is a difference in fundamental quality, not quantity.

When one group cut secrecy, respected the professionals and left office without a SINGLE official of their administration indicted for malfeasance, then we have a right to turn to the people who screamed at them all those years and say "BULLSHIT" straight into their faces.

You had your chance. THIRTEEN YEARS to prove even a single one of your psycho-delusional paranoid hallucinations about the Clintons. For much of that time you guys controlled every single lever of power in the entire USA, spent billions searching, and proved nada. zilch..

No scientific theory would have withstood such disproof. No product would have survived the market place. But delusions? Yes. "Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, while expecting different results."

Oh, war? List even a single way in which Bush has been better at waging war than Clinton was. Even one.

Anonymous said...

>>Oh, war? List even a single way in which Bush has been better at waging war than Clinton was. Even one.<<

Bush stuck it out and won a hard faught ground war right in the center of the Middle East, while Bill "I loath the military" Clinton ran scared from a two-bit warlord in Somalia. What a pussy.

-Panzer

David Brin said...

Totally lame, as usual. Somalia wasn't a "war". It was escorting humanitarian aid while trying to (stupidly) arrest warlords without tanks (And les Aspin resigned for that mistake, as honorable men do.)

The Balkans was a war. With all war aims extremely clear, all of them achieved, QUICKLY, without affecting our alliances or popularity (exccept positively) or readiness or budget or national cohesion. Or even one American casualty.

Every single thing about the Iraq incursion was wrong from the beginning, from the lies it was based upon to the insanity of those who call it "important" without even being able to name a single "friend" over there who we are fighting for.

We are weaker every day. Poorer, more friendless, more divided, less ready for surprise attack and less technologically advanced.

One accomplishment - US military officers AND the people of the world hate the same bunch of guys! And MORE than 50% of the American people Strongly Disapprove of Bush. Unprecedented.

Wake up. Grow up.

Oh, stop picking one tiny point to disagree with. Answer the big stuff.

Stefan Jones said...

In a thread on another board thanking vets for their service, one poster whose brother has done two tours in Iraq wrote:

"If this war could have been won militarily, I know that people like my brother would have won it by now."

Exactly. There is more to fighting a war (as opposed to a battle) than having a good military. The leaders and strategic thinkers who are supposed to be supplying the other elements are energetically and determinedly incompetent.

Anonymous said...

>Totally lame, as usual. Somalia wasn't a "war" ... Every single thing about the Iraq incursion<

Ok, Bill Clinton ran chicken-shit from an incursion. Sir Robin. Man, good thing for Billy boy it wasn't a real war, or else he really would have grown a vagina but fast.

Look, I agree with a lot of what you wrote, but you're also missing something: I'd never vote for the Clintons just for the simple reason - I can't stand them. They're a couple of troglodytes. Of the two, Hillary is the more tolerable, probably because she has the balls of the family.

No doubt she would have stuck it out in Somalia.

-panzer

Tony Fisk said...

I think Abe set a bad example. (even if he was up against it at the time).

Meanwhile, I miss old Habeus to cover my back, and would feel a *lot* safer if he was returned to us.

Wouldn't you?

Somalia was initiated by Bush Snr in lame duck mode. (remember the ticker tape parade on the invasion beach in Dec, 1992? It set the tone, rather)

Meanwhile, back in Iraq:
'Never Going Home', inscribed on the roof of a very well used recon vehicle of the 101st. Hard fought, three years ago. Still hard fought, today.
("America in Iraq would be like a dinosaur in a tar pit": Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf)

War without end, war without point. Sensible pussies leave when they are not wanted any more.

Stefan Jones said...

DB, it probably isn't worth your time to argue with someone who thinks wars have something to do with balls and vaginas.

Anonymous said...

>>argue with someone who thinks wars have something to do with balls and vaginas.<<

Does leadership? Perhaps my use of age-old military slang eludes you. Yeah, Bill Clinton, the guy who "loathed" his own troops, dodged the draft, whom even David admits hired a completely and total incompetent person - Leslie Aspen, to be Secretary of Defense, and in his very first test as a military commander decided to retreat because it looked like it was going to be a tough fight.

Boy, now there's a guy who can inspire confidence in his troops!

-panzer

David Brin said...

Except you are totally wedged. I know more than thirty genrals and admirals. All of them respected Clinton. They all loathe Bush, with red-hot passion.

You writhe and spew. But you are screeching at a strawman and your own frantic delusions. They share no atoms or molecules with reality.

Behave, or the next time you do this, I'll simply cut the spew out with a mouse click.

zorgon the malevolent said...

Hey! Wait a minute! How do we know there haven't been any time-traveller tourists?

Remember: these putative time travellers would undoubtedly have time viewers or undetectable surveillance far in advace of ours. They'd be able to tell exactly when suspicious observers would be at a given place at a given time, and they'd be able to avoid 'em.

I imagine time travelling tourists would probably wear auomated earpieces that would give 'em instructions: "Turn right onto third street to avoid police coming in 2 minutes from the north. You will meet some boisterous drunks in another 300 yards who will ask you louad obnoxious questions, so reply by asking them if they've found Jesus and been baptized yet. That will drive them away. Make sure to avoid 5th avenue because of the surveillance cameras..."

Not to mention the possibility that time-travelling tourists have been discovered many times already -- but other time travellers simply went back in time and erased that time-line!

As for Dr. Brin's assertion "Totally lame, as usual. Somalia wasn't a "war". It was escorting humanitarian aid while trying to (stupidly) arrest warlords," alas this qualifies as pure sophistry.

Any significant military operation involving the U.S. army which incurs enemy or civilian or American casualities qualifies as a war. We can argue whether the word "war" fits conflicts since the 1970s. In general, there have been no major wars since the 1950s. Instead, there have been mostly a series of low-intensity 4GW conflicts. These are what "wars" look like in the 21st century. Massive casualties are possible in 21st C. 4GW conflicts, as Darfur and Zaire prove.

Dr. Brin's rejoinder that our anonymous troll refuses to deal with the main points, however, is the kicker. OUr anonymous trolls is vainly attempting the "O.J. Defense," in which he picks insignificant holes in each of Dr. Brin's arguments and then triumphantly announces that since he's found trivial nitpicks with everything Dr. Brin says, none of Dr. Brin's arguments hold water. No, utterly wrong. Our anonymous troll is blowing smoke in order to distract us from the colossal Repub failure on every front -- morally, economically, militarily, intellectually, scientifically, politicallly. The Repubs have screwed up in every possible way a political party could screw up. The only thing they haven't done yet is put on commercials featuring Repub candidates biting the heads off puppy dogs in prime time. The way things are going, I expect to see those commercials any day now.

It's also amusing to see our anonymous (presumably neocon) troll
vainly trying to smear Bill Clinton by accusing him of cowardice: "Bill "I loath the military" Clinton ran scared from a two-bit warlord in Somalia. What a pussy."

Guess what? Cowardice is good. Running scared like a pussy is admirable -- as long as it accomplishes America's objectives and prevents pointless U.S. casualities.

I think we can see in the anonymous troll's uebermacho thinking the genesis of the entire problem with American foreign policy, and the neocons, and the Repub party, over the last 28 years. These fools think that it's more important to beat your chest and act like a macho fantasy-boy in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie than to get the job done. They're wrong. In foreign policy, getting the job done is what counts. Everything else is unimportant. If your enemies ridicule you but you accomplish your objectives, that's called "successful diplomacy." If your opponents giggle and snicker and deride you before the world press yet collapse into isolation and impotence, that's called "adroit use of realpolitik."

Bill Clinton deserves endless praise for "pussying out." Pussying out was exactly the right thing to do in Somalia. Bill Clinton shoud've run scared like a little girl much earlier, that's the only problem I can cite with Clinton's performance. In fact, what we need in U.S. foreign policy is a lot more possying out. The drunk-driving C student who currently infests the White House would have been infinitely better off if he'd pussied out before the Iraq debacle. We should've pussied out instead of invading Panama in 1989. Ronald Reagan ran scared like a little girl after terrorists blew up the Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon, and that was exaclty the right thing to do, and that decision to run scared like a little girl was a smart move and a wise foreign policy choice. America pussied out instead of nuking North Korea, and that was the smartest thing we could've done because now North Korea has agreed to give up its nuclear weapons program in return for good. Jimmy Carter pussied out instead of invading Iran in late 1970s, and that was a wise and brilliant decision that avoidded a huge bloodbath and ultimately secured the return of the U.S. hostages.

America needs to pussy out a lot more. We should set up an Institute of Pussying Out and staff with experts in running away and avoiding pointless bloodbaths, and they should give regular seminars titled "The Crucial Importance of Pussying Out" and "America's Successes From Running Scared Like A Little Girl: Toward A dialectical Epistemology of American Foreign Triumphs."

Pussying out is good when it gets the right results. Running like a little girl is exactly what you need to do if it gets the job done.

Anonymous said...

Zorgon, I bow before that impeccible logic and outrageously impressive juxtapositional trash-talking. (And I apologize for the previous name calling.) In that vein, like the US Marines at Chosin, I'm going to puss out of this incursion. Long week ahead. Peace out all.

>>Bill Clinton deserves endless praise for "pussying out." Pussying out was exactly the right thing to do in Somalia. Bill Clinton shoud've run scared like a little girl much earlier, that's the only problem I can cite with Clinton's performance. In fact, what we need in U.S. foreign policy is a lot more possying out. The drunk-driving C student who currently infests the White House would have been infinitely better off if he'd pussied out before the Iraq debacle. We should've pussied out instead of invading Panama in 1989. Ronald Reagan ran scared like a little girl after terrorists blew up the Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon, and that was exaclty the right thing to do, and that decision to run scared like a little girl was a smart move and a wise foreign policy choice. America pussied out instead of nuking North Korea, and that was the smartest thing we could've done because now North Korea has agreed to give up its nuclear weapons program in return for good. Jimmy Carter pussied out instead of invading Iran in late 1970s, and that was a wise and brilliant decision that avoidded a huge bloodbath and ultimately secured the return of the U.S. hostages.

America needs to pussy out a lot more. We should set up an Institute of Pussying Out and staff with experts in running away and avoiding pointless bloodbaths, and they should give regular seminars titled "The Crucial Importance of Pussying Out" and "America's Successes From Running Scared Like A Little Girl<<

Tony Fisk said...

But Panzer, you can already get degrees in Pussying out.

Well, they're not called 'Pussying Out', exactly, more like 'Risk Management and Compliance'. I know, because my sister-in-law has just got one. She has three pussies, a notion which would probably blow whichever end of your spine you use for thinking.

(Oh! That was fun! Utterly pointless, but fun! Don't forget to check out my new profile when commenting.. especially the teeth :-)

zorgon the malevolent said...

The political sewage spill leaked over into the tech miscellany. So, to help wash that sludge away, here's more tech niftiness:

Deleting ultraconserved stretches of DNA from mice don't seem to have much effect! A real genetic head-scratcher:
http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2007/11/11/a_real_genetic_headscratcher.php

Mathematical analysis of rap music (highly amusing. Yeah, yeah, okay, so the tech connection is tenuous, but there is a little math!):
http://www.jamphat.com/rap/??/

Scottish scientists mimic bat echolocation techniques to refine new ways of finding tumors:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/7089820.stm

New findings suggest that Neanderthal women hunted big beasts along with Neanderthal men. Sort of throws all those evolutionary psychology "theories" into a cocked hat, doesn't it?
http://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2007/11/10/stone_age_feminism/

New study says oceans could absorb far more CO2! Yay! Maybe all we need to do is dump a few dozen freighters' worth of iron filings:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071111/sc_afp/scienceclimatewarmingocean

Anonymous said...

Pointing out what Clinton did in defense of Bush doesn't pass the EEBC test:
http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2005/06/elllllloooo-clinton.html

Klaus Walter said...

With regard to Lincoln's suspension of Habeas Corpus, it is worth looking at what's left of the Constitution.

"The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it" (U.S. Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 9)."

Lincoln's temporary suspension was Constitutional.

Klaus Walter said...

oh, scratch my comment; the suspension of habeas corpus resides in legislative power. Damn you, Mr. Lincoln :)

Nate said...

Time travelers might not have any better specifics about now than we have about the past, even the past in recent history. Like so. (The comic's creator is the guy who came up with pretend to be a Time Traveler day. It's a very wonderful comic.)

Hey Dr. Brin, are you part of the Writer's Guild strike, since they made a movie from the Postman?

Mark said...

When a time traveler arrives at her destination, the universe splits into two versions, one with the traveler and the other with the travelerless, "real" past. None of this paradox stuff has any real meaning.

I leave the calculation of how many parallel universes have been created and how many time travelers were in our past as project for the readers.

bw said...

Myostatin inhibitors are drugs that replicate the effect of one of the gene therapies for muscle enhancement. One would be able to take the drug for say a month and get larger muscles and then exercise to maintain them (easier than getting them to begin with.)

Similarly the endurance gene effect could be replicated or turned on and off so that when someone did not want to have higher risk for starvation then it could be turned off.

Tony Fisk said...

Just thought I'd post a quick plug for LiftPort. After a longish hiatus, they appear to be struggling on, with Michael Laine starting to post regular updates again. He wanted a bit of feedback on who's listening, so I thought I'd spread the word a bit.

Act as you see fit.

panzerjensen said...

>>I know, because my sister-in-law has just got one. She has three pussies,<<

I'd say she has four pussies in her family.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,

I don't believe that creation of the new 'unique' universe is centered on time-travel. Rather it is centered on choice. The choice to travel as opposed to not. Neither of which should claim to be original.

We are creating new universes which word we chose to read or not read. We can call ourselves unique simply because other verses chose differently. There are unique universes based on the number of words misspelled in this thread and an infinite number of parallel verses which aren't unique.

Time Travel isn't the creation/distinction event. Choice is.

Rocky Persaud said...

Aussies are talking about launching a mission to visit the Sun's corona... called Sundiver, of course.

Tony Fisk said...

Sundiver, eh? Well, well, I was wondering what I was going to do next year!

Meanwhile, Joe Straczyncki, hunkering down for the duration of the Writers' Strike, is discovering that other people have had far too much time on their hands as well, and is wondering 'What the hell this is?'

(Crop circles are ba-a-ck!)

SteveO said...

Tony,

Since it is on Nellis Air Force Range, I am assuming it is a training target. Nice find.