Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bulletins from the Transparency Front


1) Toronto researcher Steve Mann, who was one of the earliest pioneers of wearable computing and augmented reality (AR), and who co-coined the term “sousveillance,” was physically assaulted by employees of a Paris McDonald’s restaurant during a recent family vacation, for the crime of wearing AR visual aids akin to Google’s Project Glass.  We are indeed in an era of rough transition.

2) CBS tours the newly opened Nazi archives on the Holocaust which have been (unbelievably) closed until now.  Now, miles and miles of documents constitute a stunning blow to the denialist cult.  Well... one of the denialist cults.  The drought destroying crops all over the world may budge a few climate denialists.  But then, there are still some who deny tobacco is anything but good for you.

3) More on those terahertz laser scanners that do chemical spectroscopy on materials and vapors around you, without exposing you to ionizing X-Rays or (disturbingly) ever letting you know you are being scanned. This is not an imaging device, but a tool for reading absorbance spectra at the high microwave, low infrared range. “This kind of picosecond laser reads the environment in real-time. That gunpowder residue on your hand from hunting the other day, cannabis smoke particles in your hair, or even a bit of (explosive-boosting) nitrate fertilizer stuck to your shoe could trigger this scanner.

Will that cause an entirely new set of headaches for airline passengers?”  But get used to the new world.  And push for the ability to look back.  To get this for ourselves.

4)  This month, if everything goes according to schedule, your Internet Service Provider may begin monitoring your account, just to make sure you aren't doing anything wrong with it -- like sharing copyrighted movie or music files. Violations may result in an escalating scale from warnings to termination of service.

5) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) secretly spied on E-mails of its own scientists - who were filing whistle blower complaints. Disturbing? Yes, but my perspective is unusual.  I see it as a case of everything working as it should.  Looking back at power worked.  This time.

6) A report from Wired: Saying it wanted to help to protect dissidents who appear in videos shared on YouTube, Google launched a tool Wednesday that can blur their faces in footage uploaded to its servers. Now mind you, this is a stopgap measure.  As more cameras swarm, the bad news is that this won't work for long.  The good news?  If we all can use those cams, then lying - even by the mighty - will get a lot harder. And abusing witnesses won't be a workable option anymore.

=== Politics redux (get used to it) ===

Somewhat turgid, overblown and self-righteous, an article by Sara Robinson on AlterNet nevertheless takes a look at the present Culture War that’s tearing America apart and calls it what it is.  What I have long realized that it is.  Nothing less than Phase Three of the American Civil War.
In fact, I would couch things slightly less radically than  Robinson does in: "Conservative Southern Values Revived: How a Brutal Strain of American Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America: America didn't used to be run like an old Southern slave plantation, but we're headed that way now. How did that happen?"
Nevertheless, let’s be plain, her essential point about the divide between two styles of American aristocracy, one represented by Gates and Buffett and the other by those wanting an old fashioned feudalism to return, is the core conflict tearing the United States apart at present.

Moreover, this phase of the Civil War must end the way the others did --

-- by the blue Union being awakened, roused perhaps by polemical exaggerations like Robinson’s. Into realizing What Fox has accomplished -- what southern yellow papers did at the command of slave-holding elites in 1860 -- destroying any hope of negotiation.

All that is left is for Blue America to win.  Simply - and for the sake of freedom and progress and the Great Experiment - win.

=== Some (mostly) science miscellany ===

A fascinating breakthrough in producing graphene transistors. Will this result in computers based on graphene rather than silicon chips?

University of Granada researchers have developed an “artificial cerebellum” that controls a robotic arm with human-like precision.

The University of Nottingham has begun the search for a new class of injectable materials that will stimulate stem cells to regenerate damaged tissue in degenerative and age-related disorders of the bone, muscle and heart.  This is part of a huge new development in rediscovering the regenerative capability most mammals appear to have abandoned millions of years ago.

For more see Juan Enriquez's TED talk...

The first artificial molecules whose chirality (handedness) can be rapidly switched from a right-handed to a left-handed orientation with a beam of terahertz light has been developed by a multi-institutional team including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). This development holds potentially important possibilities for uses of terahertz technologies across a wide range of fields, including reduced energy use.

...amazing times...

39 comments:

sociotard said...

There has been an update on the Paris McDonalds issue. The employees maintain they were polite and respectful.

http://news.yahoo.com/mcdonalds-digital-specs-prompt-privacy-fears-143001375.html

sociotard said...

Dr. Brin, you never did specify how you think the "look back" principle could apply to the laser scanners. Could you elaborate?

Oh, in other news, as banks turn to AIs to do trading, governments are turning to AIs to hunt financial wrongdoing. I love the smell of an arms race in the morning.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528735.700-artificial-intelligence-to-sniff-out-bankers-scams.html

Mitchell J. Freedman said...

What concerns me, David, about the Civil War 3.0 is that the people who are on the Blue "side" don't have the guns. And I don't find the military personnel all that excited about the Blue "side."

I realize there was something akin to that in the start up to the hot Civil War in 1861, where Lincoln was searching through the cobwebs to find a general who was not pro-South. But this time, it feels even more challenging...

Andrew Kieran said...

All the guns in the lunatics arsenals won't do them any good if they're too backwards and paranoid to organise effectively. Over the long haul, I believe civilised societies will always win most wars as we maintain our supply lines and economic base better.

And speaking as an outsider, it seems to me the loonys make a thousand times more noise than is representative of them. The reason being they're unemployed and more concerned with screaming at strangers than getting anything done. The real work of society is done by people who quietly labour away in the background building new economies and institutions whilst the lunatics battle it out in the newspapers and radio shows.

sociotard said...

I think I'll look up this book. It is about smart-mobs. Well, it might have that Chrichton-esque "future tech is dangerous" vibe, but it still looks interesting.

http://www.amazon.com/New-Model-Army-Adam-Roberts/dp/0575083611/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342737211&sr=8-1&keywords=new+model+army

Tony Fisk said...

My tuppeth on laser scanner look-back:

1. you can hold interrogators to the same standards. ("I'm showing traces of cannabis? You're showing traces of methamphetamine and semtec!")

2. verification: ("My scanner's not showing anything?! Excuse me Sir, Could you check me with yours?") You can also double check your hygiene before going under scrutiny... you can do the same with RFID technology.

3. ...and there's that pesky amateur sleuth thing...

David Brin said...

Sociotard... we will get those scanners, too.

Mitchell said "What concerns me, David, about the Civil War 3.0 is that the people who are on the Blue "side" don't have the guns. And I don't find the military personnel all that excited about the Blue "side.""

Mitchell, like most liberals you seem to know nothing about the military. A big mistake. Yes, the ranks are heavily southern and gopper. But the generals and admirals are the third best-educated clade in American life. And they have never hated a president as much as they despised George W. Bush.

They will not betray their oaths for Rupert Murdoch and a bunch of Saudi princes.

====


Been refining my definition of the problem of libertarianism down to three sentences. What do you think?

Libertarianism SHOULD BE about recognizing that competition is the most creative force in the universe... it made us and the wonders of nature.  And the partners to competition... cooperation and compassion... already have plenty of people speaking up for them.  But without competition, we'd have no positive sum games like markets and democracy and science to make us all rich enough for compassion.

What libertarianism IS now is a cult that worships an idolatry of unlimited personal property... leading to the same kind of feudalism that existed in 99% of human cultures and that crushed the same competitive enterprise libertarians claim to love.

In other words... it now equates stupidity.  Which is a damn damn shame.

Robert said...

I was thinking of ways to defrag after the political season in 2012 and I will admit I've some whimsical wishing that Dr. Brin would go to Arisia in January 2013 (it's a science fiction convention in Boston, MA). Though I'm kinda lucky with the con; I live barely 30 minutes from the hotel/convention center where the con takes place... the last two years I've been psyched because I met a favorite cartoonist (Shaennon Garrity, who did the mad science webcomic Narbonic and is doing its semi-sequel Skin Horse), and Phil and Kaja Foglio. ^^;;

Rob H.

Dwight Williams said...

I keep thinking about these laser-scan gadgets as the next step to the tricorder. The idea that everyone should be able to own - or at least be able to rent - one on short notice appeals to me for a number of reasons that Tony Fisk covers rather nicely.

Also: it could help with emergency first aid. No?

Tony Fisk said...

Just thought of another tricorder use...

"ALERT! The person in front of you is shedding H5N2 viral particles!"

(The logical/fanciful extension of *that* is for the lasers to start zapping said particles)

Tim H. said...

Interesting stuff, an anecdote, I was talking politics with a young Army officer and wondered if voting Democrat might not be the smartest career move, the officer confirmed that that was the case. The armed forces are large, so it doesn't mean your wrong, but it might be a bigger story. The debased libertarians we see these days only seem to want it for the .1%, if that many, possibly lacking the courage of their convictions? Last, that laser scanner might replace a lot of lab tests, how long 'til the AMA, or some other interest group tries to restrict it's medical use? Good thing I can zoom my screen, the new CAPTCHA is a PITA.

David Ivory said...

The TED talk - http://www.ted.com/speakers/juan_enriquez.html Yeah no - I don't buy it.

Evolution happens to populations and not individuals - they're just mutants. The term species describes two populations that are distinct and don't breed - even if individuals can. Ligers anyone? Evolution as a process also supposes a selective pressure - so the sexy geeks example is possible as that involves selection (mate choice) within a population (geeks).

The other examples of pressures (chemicals, fast food etc..) would be better termed mutagens that create mutants ready for selective pressures to be applied to them. In humans selective pressure are basically mate choice as most other selective pressures have been eliminated (predation, starvation, parasites, disease (at least up until procreation)).

So his argument is pretty muddled to my mind.

The final point, that humans can be thought of as Homo Evolutis (beings conscious of their own genetic nature and able to affect it) is more interesting. It is certainly reality now that with technology we can affect our genes, and it may be that some will allow their germ line to be mutated as well - and that might be seen simplistically as a form of evolution - but I would think that a better term would be forking.

Forking describes a process whereby one line of code is forked and becomes incompatible with another - and this being a non-natural process applied to individuals I don't really think the term evolution really applies - precisely because the forking process applies to individuals rather than populations. It won't be until large groups fork their genome in the same manner and form a cohesive population that we can say that evolution has taken place. Otherwise it really is just another form of cosmetic surgery.

Still they're interesting ideas - and ones that I consider in my own writing - which is why I have an opinion about it.

I cross-posted on Kurzweil as well - sorry - bad manners.

Ian said...

Is there a prize for Worst Science JReporting by a Major Newspaper?

If so here's a worthy candidate:

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/technology/sci-tech/super-earth-scientists-discover-life-supporting-planet-right-at-earths-front-door/story-fn5iztw3-1226430817117

Tacitus2 said...

I’ve been thinking for a while on David’s oft issued challenge regards Democrats and Republicans. It is usually framed along the lines of “find one unambiguous metric of national health that improves under Republican control”.

It has been a vexing question, and I have frankly felt that David was being unfair in judging it. But on further reflection I think the challenge has too many variables. Or to put it another way, there are too many plausible “outs” that an honest but partisan individual might not be able to see past.

Metric. This suggests something clearly measurable and by a fair standard. Given all the partisan junk out there you have to be above reproach in your data selection.

Unambiguous. It is always so easy to find excuses, or if you prefer, ambiguities. Reagan’s first three years data could be Carter’s fault and Obama’s could be G.W. Bush’s. Your party might control the White House but not Congress. Or perhaps just does not have enough control of Congress what with filibusters and such. And four, or even eight, years might not be enough time to see far sighted reforms bear fruit….or short sighted nonsense come home to roost.

And regards National Health, well, there are lots of things that just keep on improving regardless of the tenor of the administration. And others that seem to get worse. What exactly gives a nation health and how do you measure it?

Oh, and there is also the issue of insufficient modern data points. For Democratic administrations we have Clinton. It seems a little unfair to dredge up poor Carter, and of course any adverse data on Obama is probably the fault of Bush and the Koch brothers.

So I propose a slight variation on the challenge. You want to see what Democrats and Republicans do when granted sweeping power? (And this is the issue at hand in November). Look at the 50 states.

Data points aplenty. And there are long term strongholds for each party where they can do what seems good to them with little long term worry. I mean, a Scott Brown does not come along all that often…

And states have less opportunity to fudge the books, what with generally having to balance budgets and all.

I offer this data up in a multi part post simply to encourage discussion. You should check my sources, I will list them and consider them fair. You should argue for exceptions. Because there are some. It is pretty easy to balance a budget in oil rich North Dakota these days.

This data seems to me to be a better measure of that elusive national health. I can assure you, when we in medicine want to define how healthy a person is we look at a data set that defines the function of multiple sub systems. It is not terribly useful to define a person as being healthy because their kidney function is ok at a time when their EEG shows brain death! Think of 50 state data as a profile along the lines of heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol level, weight, blood oxygen levels. Sure you could look good in all these respects and still be sickly, but as proxy data, not bad if you have enough of it.

I am btw no Republican fan-boy. I know the peril inherent in the party that currently is a better match for conservatives. I am if you are interested not a member of either party, and what political contributions I make are all to the D side of things. (another story, another day).

Having just gone through the circus atmosphere of the Wisconsin recall elections I have come away with the sense that our national government is paralyzed. What hope and danger lies ahead will be from the ground up, from the 50 states.

Onward then…..

Tacitus

Tacitus2 said...

So, how do Republicans and Democrats do when given a relatively free hand? First you need to define party dominance. This is a current breakdown of political party strength. I have decided arbitrarily to define a “Donkey Index” showing the extent of power of the Democratic party in each state. You could do it the other way around just as easily.
I assign one point for governor, one for controlling each house of legislature and two points for having a majority of the population registered democratic. (I figure this way because folks like Gov. Christie have an eye on this when attempting reforms in a state where the majority are of the opposition party). So, 5 points is total Democratic control and 0 is an all Red state. These parameters change a little with each election, but in general more slowly than the White House and/or Congress flip.

Here is an analysis of current budget shortfalls by the 50 states. A few states lack data.

The 10 states with the biggest budget shortfalls (2012 deficit as % of 2011 budget) are NV, NJ, TX, CA, OR MN, LA, NY, CT, SC. They range from 45% shortfall to 17%. The “Donkey Index” is fairly blue at 3.1. Texas is a noteworthy outlier.

The 10 states with the smallest budget shortfalls (WY,WV,ND, MT,AK, AL, IN, IA, ID, MA) have shortfalls from 0% to 5.7%. Donkey Index is 1.8. This seems a significant number.

But darn it all those politicians are good at hiding stuff. Could it be that some states are staying afloat by shortchanging future expenses? I’m lookin’ at you Illinois!

Here is an analysis of future pension and retiree health care costs by the 50 states. It makes grim reading. Regards pension funding the 4 worst are CT, IL, KY, RI with a Donkey factor near true blue at 4.5. The 4 best are NC, SD, WA, WI with a nice bipartisan 2.5 D factor. Things are probably really worse, note the 1% rate of return for the goliath Calpers last year. (and yes, a 20% plus year before that….what brilliant management!).

If you look back at the graph of 50 state political power and go for the all blue and all red states…Guv, legislature, last pres election, both senators, then refer to the Pew study chart in the pension reference it gets really stark…

A green piggy bank means solid performance. Of the 8 total Dem states only Delaware gets a top mark in one of the two categories (pension and retiree health costs). Of the 11 totally Red states all get one top mark except for KS and MS. So, 6% vs 40% fiscal prudence.

Only one state gets a green piggybank in both categories. Wisconsin. Does that mean that the recent budget tussle was a success or that it was needless? Among the many hornet’s nests I anticipate poking, that one is fair game!

Tacitus
hope the links all work...

Robert said...

Thank you, Tacitus. I look forward to examining that data once I'm finished off by work today. Er, I mean once I finish work today. ^^;;

Rob H.

Jumper said...

Outstanding presentation, Tacitus. Thanks.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, you made two posts and the second was Great!

But first to deal with #1: you talk to me about moving the goalposts? I am willing to discuss the alternative approach that you raise, but it still leaves MY challenge standing.

There are dozens of "metrics of national health," from GDP & growth to % of people with health coverage to school test scores and so on. Given that all of them are at least a little ambiguous... and assigning blame or credit is VERY ambiguous, one might imagine it would be easy to come up with one or two such metrics and at least CLAIM - subject to argument - that : "it can be argued that this improvement (say, under Clinton) was a delayed reaction to Reaganomics."

But in fact, no one seems able to stand up and meet this challenge, even allowing for the slipperyness of the subject! No one bothers to defend GOP rule on an outcomes basis... which means that my challenge stands as a clear case of proof by failure to cite a single counter-example.

And mind you, even if a single counter-example could be found (if you pay me $1000 I will dredge and I promise I would find one!) - that would still leave us with the glaring fact that it's so bloody HARD to find one example of good results from GOP rule! This should be devastating! That is, if half our populace weren't in the middle of a flaming, schizophrenic snit.

--
As to your own counter proposal, well, I think it's fairly easily answered. Red America is, by and large, poorer, less well-educated, less productive, and more rife with disease than Blue America. Blue states have more urban problems and vastly more immigrants to process, yet they have lower rates of STDs, domestic violence, teen pregnancy and even teen sex. They provide more wealth and more taxes while accepting less federal dole than red states that are led by the GOP.

Oh and blues state citizens have been rebelling against the political caste's criminal enterprise called gerrymandering, while the redders seem completely content to have their votes robbed from them by gopper pols and their thoughts and country robbed by Rupert Murdoch and his saudi partners.

Um, haven't I just answered your challenge?

David Brin said...

Okay, the red ink analysis is pretty cool Tacitus! Attaboy! Excellent and very thought provoking.

Of course one needs to take into account that the solvent red states are nearly all very sparsely populated, Alaska is neck deep in oil money. And several of your "best" states receive tsunamies of federal money in farm aid and military expenditures.

Still, I'll score you a point there... in rough economic times, while the giant banks have been caught doing massive unregulated raids on pension funds and draining wealth offshore faster than it can be counted.

Meta thought. THIS is the kind of statistical swapping that would go on, with mutual respect and approval, if we had pragmatic politics in America. And without a doubt what killed it was Fox. THAT is why it is not politics, but civil war.

David Brin said...

Ooog... I was referred to this:

Bruce Gibney: The Potential of Failed Technology
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p24zJDV5_xc&feature=em-uploademail

I read the comments. What incredibly shallow responses to an incredibly shallow and silly YouTube rant.

The guy probably thinks he is channeling Adam Smith. And yes, Smith was harshly critical of most government supported monopolies or "patents"or noncompetitive supports and he spoke up for the creative power of competition - as libertarians should today.

But he also allowed for subsidies or protections when a craft or technology is new, or undeveloped, or new to the country in question. He was reasonable and practical...

... not purist-dogmatic-doctrinaire like this Gibney fellow, who blithely dismisses the government led R&D and subsidized product purchases that propelled most of the technologies we take for granted today. Indeed, I dream of a SECOND national Debt Clock next to the first, that would show what our debt would be if we, through our government, charged just a 5% businesslike royalty on jets, rockets, infrastructure, satellites, telecom, pharma the internet and so on.

So right now we subsidize solar a bit? WTF... every year the panels get better, more economies of scale kick in. Watch this truly awful person,

sociotard said...

Good gravy, "Chinese Patriotic" movies are just sureal. I don't mean the "love China" bit. That isn't hard to wrap my head around; I get that most people like their country.

It's that "Chinese Patriotic" movies admit that the ruler is a bad person, sometimes corrupt, power-mad, or even murderous. Then the hero has the chance to kill the ruler or betray them to rebels or something . . . but then the hero confesses that killing the ruler would introduce instability to the country, so for the good of China, the evil ruler must be spared.

It makes my Western head spin, it does.

Ian said...

Tacitus:

1. "The 10 states with the smallest budget shortfalls (WY,WV,ND, MT,AK, AL, IN, IA, ID, MA) have shortfalls from 0% to 5.7%."

Apart from Massachusetts, all those states are disproportionately rural with large agricultural and/or mining sectors. Since commodity prices have been near all-time records for the past several years, it's unsurprising that those states are doing relatively well.

2. You sort of allude ot this, but I attach little improtance to lurid claism of shortfalls 20 to 30 years in the future, especially when those claims are frequently based on unrealistically negative views of future long-term investment returns.

Additionally, these sort of shortfalls typically develop over years or decades and take equally long to fix. So I'd be skeptical that Wisconisn'd good perforamnce on that measure has much to with Governor Walker who's been in office less than two years at this point.

I'd like to know how the state rated before the took office.

Ian said...

Sociotard, other than Hero, which is now a decade old, I can't think of any Chinese movies that fit that description.

In fact, for historical movies that get released in China (i.e. mainland productons and Taiwanese and Hong Kong moveies that make it past the censors)it's almost obligatory to lionize rebels against corrupt Chinese rulers.

Robert said...

Here's a brief moment of "I wish more CEOs were like this" (and best of all, he's a Chinese CEO).

In short, the Lenova CEO got a $3 million dollar bonus and shared it with all 10,000 Lenova employees. While this bonus was only part of his overall pay which is around $14 million a year I believe (in options and other benefits), far too many CEOs would pocket that money and go.

So. Here's hoping some other CEOs decide to follow suit.

Rob H.

sociotard said...

I just got done watching "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame"

It stuck out at me because I wasn't expecting it to be a Chinese Patriotic film.

rewinn said...

Gibney amuses me. In my actual experience with installing photovoltaics, I didn't need a generator as cheap as coal; I just wanted something that I now own. It's one of those "Innovator's Dilemma" things (such as the conversion to PCs even while mainframes were more efficient on a per-computation basis); small, nimble installations may be more expensive on a per-unit basis, but they can gradually eat up the dinosaurs that depend on economies of scale.

I am now the proud owner of a 2.5kw power plant, which puts the south side of my roof to use (...previously it had no economic value to me except in keeping out the rain, which it still does.) From the local utilities POV, they now have the ability to buy an addition 2.5kw with zero capital expenditure on their part. Multiply that by a thousand such installations, and you might see some serious goodness!

The only way this could go pear-shaped on me would be for the price of energy to fail to go up. I evaluate that risk as "unlikely" because there are a whole lotta people trying to raise their standard of living in energy-intensive ways, but if the magic energy fairy keep prices stable, the cost to me is low because I'll benefit in other ways.

I'm sure a read economist could express the above in official language, but it works for me. I hope y'all will consider doing something similar.

I'm moving on to managing the water on my land next, using similar logic but of course different technologies.

mymatedave said...

When it comes to the culture war and and opponents to feudalism and the FoxNews approach, you also have to look at political creatures like David Brooks and his ilk, who always shut down criticisms by constantly saying "both sides do it."

Then you have the Sunday morning news shows who will generally feature republicans, centrists like Brooks and maybe a DNC operative but never a liberal apart from once or twice a year Paul Krugman who the host will ignore.

mymatedave said...

Sorry to chime in again, but for discussion of Brooks and the Sunday Political circus you could check driftglass.blogspot.com

He's a great US political writer and while he is admittedly partisan he never lies and like in maths class always shows his workings.

Rob said...

Rewinn, you're in Washington, right? If so, could you share some details about how you sourced, installed, and financed your solar panels?

I'm personally interested.

Nyctotherion said...

@Sociotard:

I was guessing Hero as well, especially with the tag 'surreal'. I hated that ending, but the movie as a whole was so beautiful.

Strange thing is, my super-liberal Dad said he thought Jet Li was right, while I thought he betrayed his friends and country.

Paul451 said...

Interesting "art" from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.

http://spaceref.com/missions-and-programs/nasa/its-science-and-art-the-solar-data-van-gogh-effect.html

Interestingly, the "art" emerges spontaneously from trying to visualise the time-series data. It doesn't seem to have been an original intent. Sometimes science is just pretty.

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Robert said...

Given the recent unfortunate incident in Colorado, I've thought up of gun legislation that is give-and-take... and which I must admit might be acceptable to the NRA if they think about it rather than just react blindly. The concept is this: extra-large clips and assault rifles will be banned from civilian use with the possible exception of gun ranges that are operated in cooperation with the police department (ie, you can rent an extra-large clip for target practice or an assault rifle, but you're not going to own one).

In exchange, the federal government will allow unregulated ownership of bolt-action rifles in all states, regardless of existing gun ownership legislation. This means that if you live in Massachusetts which has very strict anti-gun laws... you now can own a bolt-action rifle without needing a gun license (though requiring someone to take a hunter-safety course prior to owning a rifle is logical and reasonable in my opinion).

This increases the liberties of gun owners in states that have cut into our Second Amendment rights while at the same time regulating the very guns used by criminals and terrorist elements.

Thoughts? And if it's a viable idea, can someone pass it to a Senator (or even Obama)?

Rob H.

Jumper said...

Robert, I think you should write a letter to your Senator and Representative. I do this sometimes. The more sober and sedate the letter, the higher chances it will be either read by (!) or read to, the politician. I have even received a phone call once from a staffer. (I seemed to have been prescient, and my advice made sense anyway.)

If the only communications they get are from angry and incoherent people, that's a shame.
I know from experience that sometimes democracy works.

Too bad the Senator was from the opposite party, or else I might have had a shot at a job!

rewinn said...

@Rob: I'm happy to share!

* Our contractor was Solterra Systems of Seattle http://www.solterrasystems.com/ . The contractor, Kevin, came out and did an analysis with a cute gadget that was basically a camera on a clipboard. Standing on the cardinal points of our roof, he photo'd the sky and the software sewed it together, analyzing the whole year's (estimated) sunlight, allowing for trees etc. This was fun!
* The panels were Made In America by Solar World http://www.solarworld-usa.com/
* The financing was by Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union: http://psccu.org/ They seem to like doing energy efficiency loans; I guess they have a pile of cash from people moving out of banks, and they have to invest it somewhere.

Good luck! Use my name freely (...although that may only get you coffee, which around here is like air ...) and please let me know how it goes.

rewinn said...

@Rob - looking back at your question - was that enough information? Mostly, what I did was fill out paperwork; all the labor was done by others. We fronted about $1,000 as a down payment since we didn't want to wait for the energy efficiency loan to be processed to get started; otherwise there was no up-front costs (and we could've gotten the $1k back by playing with the loan but decided not too).
Feel free to email me rewinn2003 @ yahoo.com if you want to discuss offlist. I don't mind discussing here but I don't know whether it fits (...annoying an author can get one stuck into his next novel ;-)

David Brin said...

Robert... re gun control. You raise almost exactly the same notion that I did here: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2007/01/brin-classics-jefferson-rifle.html

Offer the bolt-action rifle as sacred forever, in exchange for some sanity.

Rob, we had a similar site survey for our solar and talked out beighbors into letting us trope the top 20 feet off some trees. We went for the 20 year pre-paid lease. They have to maintain the panels and we can buy them "for what they are worth" in 20 years. Best deal, if you can self-finance the cost. Put in pool solar at the same time. Seems to work great.

David Brin said...

onward

Robert said...

I know, Dr. Brin. That's why I stole it (the idea about bolt-action rifles) from you. =^-^=

Rob H.