The latest issue of Baen’s UNIVERSE MAGAZINE is out, containing two big items from yours truly -- Part Five of my comedic serial “The Ancient Ones”... plus a fast-paced, action novella “The Smartest Mob.” The latter is an excerpt from my novel in progress, another lavish, near-future exploration, like EARTH. This one is the best portrayal of rapid, tech-empowered citizen action that you’ll see, this side of Vernor Vinge! Subscribe to the top online magazine ever!
Now click to the coolest bit of urban theater. Will somebody please tell the organizers that it is an almost perfect rendition of a scene from my short story "Coexistence"?
Some of the most influential leaders of the space community are quietly working to offer the next U.S. president an alternative to President Bush's "vision for space exploration" -- one that would delete a lunar base and move instead toward manned missions to asteroids, starting in about 2025, along with a renewed emphasis on Earth environmental spacecraft. Dang, is sanity popping out all over?
The latest in a long series of fascinating articles by sexual-anthropologist David Buss has just come out: “Women Want It All: Good Genes, Economic Investment, Parenting Proclivities, and Emotional Commitment," in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.
Bill Gates and ex-Microsoft executive Charles Simonyi have donated a combined $30 million to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which will feature the largest digital camera ever constructed. Scientists say it will provide a "color movie" of the universe. The donation will go partly to the construction of LSST's three giant mirrors, which will enable it to survey more of the sky faster than any other telescope. With its three-billion pixel camera, the telescope will produce 30 terabytes of images that will be immediately available to the public online. (Comet and asteroid hunt from your home!) The LSST requires huge amounts of data processing. Project leaders estimate it will generate 1.2 gigabytes per second, which is orders of magnitude more data than the most data-intense astronomical application available today.
Some misc interesting things...
Aliens spying on us from another star system might be able to discern continents and oceans on our planet by plotting the fluctuation in brightness as sunlight falls on different surface features such as forests, deserts and seas. http://www.space.com/searchforlife/080131-seti-galactic-wifi.html
Watching the Watchers: Why Surveillance Is a Two-Way Street: If governments and businesses can keep an eye on us in public spaces, we ought to be able to look back. http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/4237005.html
Meanwhile, the FBI is gearing up to create a massive computer database of people's physical characteristics, all part of an effort the bureau says to better identify criminals and terrorists. What on Earth makes the civil libertarians think they can stop this trend, by trying to outlaw or regulate it? Are they really that stupid, to think that you can order back the tide? In ten years, not one of them has ever been able to cite a single example, from history, when top elites allowed themselves to be blinded. Fortunately, there is another approach... if anybody will listen...
Speaking of surveillance... "Aliens spying on us from another star system might be able to discern continents and oceans on our planet, using technology barely more advanced than our own."
Currently, the largest conventional wind turbines in the world produce only five megawatts of power. However, one large maglev wind turbine could generate one gigawatt of clean power, enough to supply energy to 750,000 homes. It would also increase generation capacity by 20% over conventional wind turbines and decrease operational costs by 50%. If that isn’t enough, the maglev wind turbines will be operational for about 500 years!
Speaking of which, Britain is to launch a huge expansion of offshore wind-power with plans for thousands of turbines in the North Sea, Irish Sea and around the coast of Scotland. The scheme could see turbines so large that they would reach 850ft into the sky.
An exceptional article about bizarre and tragic events at the edges of artificial intelligence research. (I knew one of these guys.) "Two AI Pioneers. Two Bizarre Suicides. What Really Happened?"
And a brief political remise...
Tell your favorite ostriches they won’t be alone! Barack + GOP = ‘Obamacans’ -Some prominent Republicans have caught Obama fever.
A fascinating article about John McCain in The American Conservative raises a number of points. Yes, the article does a good job of laying out many less-than-well-balanced aspects of the mercurial Arizona Senator and some disturbing inconsistencies. All important stuff and we can hope it will come out, and make a difference, come November.
And yet, what is the Agenda of TAC? They have managed to gloss over vastly far worse madnesses before this, more towering hypocricies and camel-loads of lies, perpetrated by monsters they happen to like. One should be aware that they are probably gunning for McCain not because of the crazy items mentioned, but because of his other half. The half that is NOT mad, or hypocritical. The part that is an honest American, willing to look past Culture War and negotiate with moderate Americans of all stripes. Talk about irony. Talk about hypocrisy.
Finally... an alert...
Veering to to a journal at the opposite end of the spectrum, but revealing matters just-as-worrisome -- have a look at InfraGard -- the FBI’s program to develop a quasi-secret network of private businesses that are shielded from normal transparency by trade secrets laws, to assist in guarding national infrastructure... and to get oligarchic privilieges, in return. Yes, the Progressive is lefty and biased. But the facts, alone, are utterly chilling.
It makes you wonder:
1) Are distractions like this the reason why the professionals of the FBI have let us down? Running around frantically obsessing on an amorphous “terrorist” foe that virtually doesn’t exist.... and to the extent that it does, is controlled by friends of the administration and is being pumped up, around the world by administration actions? Where are the smart professionals who should be following REAL leads... e.g. between domestic power brokers and genuinely hostile foreign powers? Doing insipid BS like this?
2) Just how much of this can the next president dismantle? Constituencies and agendas and terrible momentum have already built. Things like InfraGard cannot be dismantled without accusations of tearing down our defense.
These is a way to neutralize the threat WHILE keeping the aspects of these things that actually do some good. It is called transparency. KEEP all these new, paranoid endeavors. But strip them bare. Make clear that there is no need for levels of secrecy far higher than we had when the enemy was a powerful and insidious Soviet KGB! The very nature of the “terror threat” is one that is best countered with light. Secrecy is pointless, meaningless, counter productive, stupid.
Ah, but secrecy and paranoia are the objectives of this entire exercise. They are the goals, not the means.