Tuesday, February 07, 2006

More Items in the news...

See an interview on WorldChanging.com with Mike Treder & Chris Phoenix, the leaders of a task force group that I participate in, with the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology. These are very bright guys! (Showing a strong correlation of that trait with being bearded & balding, natch.) The interview was posted today by Jamais Cascio at the popular WorldChanging site.

From the Globalist, an exceptionally rich spate of interesting - if short - articles about the looming effects of globalization on world economies. With the rise of India as a giant in the services industry, equivalent to China’s role as mass producer of cheap products, there is now a question whether developed Western countries will much longer have anything at all to trade, a problem possibly reflected in stagnating wages and economic doldrums in Europe and North America.

* Exceptionally informative * Addressing a matter that was highlighted in the President’s SotU speech, will biofeuls really be the key to energy independence? In an oil-short world, what will be the economic and environmental effects of agriculture's emergence as a producer of transport fuels? Lester Brown examines the competitiveness and efficiency of different biofuels produced around the world and finds that agriculture's role in the global economy will only grow stronger in the future.

More misc items, mostly from the Arlington Institute...

Tokyo to Get World's First Maglev Elevator -- (CNN -- January 18, 2006)
The world's first elevators controlled by magnetic levitation will debut as early as 2008, a Tokyo-based company said Tuesday. Toshiba Elevator and Building Systems Corp. will employ so-called maglev technology, capable of suspending objects in mid-air through the combination of magnetic attraction and repulsion, to control the lifts, it said in a statement.

Who is Messing with Your Head? -- (New Scientist -- January 26, 2006)
For the past two years, a citizens' panel of 126 Europeans from different age groups and backgrounds has been considering the ethical dilemmas emerging from brain science research. They will be presenting their conclusions to the European Parliament. Topics include do we really want cognitive enhancement via surgery or medication, and if so how do we regulate it? It is already possible to detect a person's intention or perceptions regardless of whether they are aware of them, and even if they try to cover them up? How will we deal with issues such as privacy and responsibility? More fretful neo-luddism?

Scientists Predict What You'll Think of Next -- (Live Science -- January 18, 2006)
To recall memories, your brain travels back in time via the ultimate Google search, according to a new study in which scientists found they can monitor the activity and actually predict what you'll think of next. The work bolsters the validity of a longstanding hypothesis that the human brain takes itself back to the state it was in when a memory was first formed.

Strange New Object Found at Edge of Solar System -- (New Scientist -- January 18, 2006)
A large object has been found beyond Pluto traveling in an orbit tilted by 47 degrees to most other bodies in the solar system. Astronomers are at a loss to explain why the object's orbit is so off-kilter while being almost circular. Tentatively named 2004 XR190, the object appears to have a diameter of between 500 and 1000 kilometers, making it somewhere between a fifth and nearly half as wide as Pluto. It lies in a vast ring of icy bodies beyond Neptune called the Kuiper Belt, most of which orbit in nearly the same plane as Earth.

Is This Life? -- (The Scientist -- January 26, 2006)
The idea of creating life and thus peering into its possible origins, has always fascinated biologists. In the past decade individual labs have met each of these requirements but in quite different ways. Such an entity must meet 12 requirements for life, of which researchers have satisfied 10. With only two steps remaining, they might achieve a synthetic organism within this decade.

Note. Does this support “Intelligent Design” because it is clearly a case of ID in action? Or does it support Darwinism, because , if humans can do it, then it must be “easy”.... Or else, does it support a modified version of ID... that we are apprentices learning our craft? (More on this when I finally get to religion....

 U2 star Bono used the pulpit of today's National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., to lobby politicians on both sides of the aisle to devote more funds to helping the world's poor. Bono used a faith themed argument to encourage the U.S. to give "an additional one percent of the federal budget" to the poor. President George W. Bush spoke immediately after, saying "He's a doer. The thing about this good citizen of the world is he's used his position to get things done. You're an amazing guy, Bono."

Finally, Can someone find out more about the PAC that Wesley Clark has started, to help nine Iraq and Afgh veterans run for Congress as Democrats? (Versus one as a Republican. Someone report back to us about this.



Rob Perkins said...

"Note. Does this support “Intelligent Design” because it is clearly a case of ID in action? Or does it support Darwinism, because , if humans can do it, then it must be “easy”.... Or else, does it support a modified version of ID... that we are apprentices learning our craft?"

Well, I say, "yes. yes. and yes", but mostly a resounding "YES" to the third option. That's informed by my religion as much as anything.

Anonymous said...

Wesley Clark's band of brothers has a page here

There are 16 names on the first page... and my browser won't open the 2nd. 15 congress, 1 senate candidate. More power to them!

(The 'balding and bearded' comment makes me glad I'm growing a beard... I've got the balding part down already...)

On the subject of 'proxy power', I'm afraid I'm still a 'failure'... Took another box of books to the library, made a small donation to the Sierra Club, took in a pair of sailors for Super Bowl Sunday, and my wife has put our name in to take in another foster child, this one under the age of 5 and Spanish speaking. Must finish cleaning the spare bedroom before this weekend...

Anonymous said...

Oh my . . .

The 24 year old "commissar" vetting NASA employees' public statements?

He didn't actually finish college:


Now, there are certainly cases where brilliant people drop out of college and go on to successful careers and make world-shaking discoveries.

In this case, we've got someone getting a public appointment for working on a political campaign. Period.

He is, as one of the commentators on the blog put it . . .

. . . a Brownie.

Anonymous said...

"took in a pair of sailors for Super Bowl Sunday," "take in another foster child"

Failure? Dude, you're a mench.

David Brin said...

Ditto. Anyone who sends useful stuff to Hawker is given a bye on proxy power. He don't need no proxies.

Tony Fisk said...

These are very bright guys! (Showing a strong correlation of that trait with being bearded & balding, natch.)

Pity the very bright girls!
Does this mean that we guys have been shaving the wrong portion of our anatomy? (or did Einstein wear a wig?)

...And whether he’s believed or no, there’s one thing to remark,
That flowing beards are all the go way up in Ironbark.

- The Man From Ironbark, by 'Banjo' Patterson

Hirsutedness aside, my proxies are unoriginal and currently consist of:
- Medecin Sans Frontieres
- Amnesty International
- Greenpeace
- Planetary Society (Yes! They help keep NASA going, and it seems the folk at NASA sure need help at the moment!)

I probably have room in the budget for one more: Witness? ACF? EFF?

Totally left field, but I found it funny: you may or not have heard of the CSS Zen Garden. It's a cute site devoted to showing the power of cascading style sheets. One of the contributions uses a shortcoming of Internet Explorer to advantage. Click here to see it. OK? Now, if you were using Internet Explorer, try using some other browser (and use IE if you weren't doing so). Now what do you see?
(The girl in the box is allegorical)

Anonymous said...

Gee, does it count that when my cohusband was deployed to the Gulf, I kept the relationship between him and our wife from breaking down (primarily by pointing out where he wasn't being insulting, just a bad typist)?

No? Okay, then, I guess I'll have to try harder... :-)

Tony Fisk said...

EON time.

Brainstorming's always fun, and somebody's just pinned this article from NY Times up in the tea room at work: 'Better Bananas, Nicer Mosquitoes'

Now, I'm more than happy to rant about the perils of Microsoft (openness has an anti-meme, and don't mention COM in my presence if you want me to remain courteous).

But I'm not so switched that I'll deny that Bill is doing a good thing with the Gates foundation.

Which leaves Steve Ballmer...

Jai said...

The PAC that Wes Clark is advising is called the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America PAC and you can read all about it at http://www.iavapac.org/

Excellent organization. Please consider contributing.

Anonymous said...

Stefan, I know little Yiddish, but I thought a 'mench' was a bad thing...

Taking in sailors (or marines) for a day in this town is as easy as looking up the phone number to the USO/Armed Services YMCA. Couple extra bags of chips, a extra 6 pac of cola or two, vacuum the living room, and you're good (no alchohol, and tell them that before you pick them up). Thanksgiving and other holidays are harder, those kids can EAT.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, but I'll repeat what I said several thread ago... My wife does the work, I support her. She's my proxy.

"cohusband"? A working triad? Tell more... or don't, it's none of my (our) business.

And we all do our part... everyone here is a reader, right? Donate your used books to the local library/USO/YMCA... get a receipt if you wish. Ex-military that I am, I hope people voluteer at the USO or adopt a servicemen for holidays if they live close to a base. And most important: REGISTER to VOTE.

OK, I'll stop lecturing.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's spelled mensch?

Yes, that looks right.


Mensch (Yiddish מענטש; also mentsch, mentsh, mensh, or mench, plural - mentchen) is a German noun meaning a "human".

In Yiddish (from which the word has migrated into American English), mensch roughly means "a good person". A mensch is a particularly good person, like "a stand-up guy," a person with the qualities one would hope for in a dear friend or trusted colleague.

* * *

Just don't get a swelled head now.

Anonymous said...

Sunlight once again proves to be the best disinfectant.

A Young Bush Appointee Resigns His Post at NASA
George C. Deutsch, the young presidential appointee at NASA who told public affairs workers to limit reporters' access to a top climate scientist and told a Web designer to add the word "theory" at every mention of the Big Bang, resigned yesterday, agency officials said.

Mr. Deutsch's resignation came on the same day that officials at Texas A&M University confirmed that he did not graduate from there, as his résumé on file at the agency asserted.



Anonymous said...

Note. Does this support “Intelligent Design” because it is clearly a case of ID in action? Or does it support Darwinism, because , if humans can do it, then it must be “easy”.... Or else, does it support a modified version of ID... that we are apprentices learning our craft? (More on this when I finally get to religion....

Other than giving the IDers yet another strawman to take people in with, it is largely irrelevant. The ID hypothesis (and entirely discredited as proposed by its proponents) is that all living organisms are so complex that they must have happened by design. No one denies that stock-breeders and genetic engineers can have a huge impact on what is possible.

Tony Fisk said...

Stefan, good news about the enthusiastic Mr. Deutsch. But, in the light of that inward looking NASA budget, I'd keep the 'roach alert going. After all, as a right wing fundamentalist type, would *you* like to hear about life on Europa?

And Francis, remember Clarke's third law?:
"Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic"... or ID.

Did I read these stats in the IAVAPAC principles section aright?:
"With 90% of our active duty Army committed in Iraq and our National Guard engaged as well, our nation is now less secure than prior to our invasion of Iraq."

... Oops! I just did a quick search on IAPAC and ended up at the Iranian American PAC. An iranian standing for the senate in Texas: courageous!

Now, here's something that demonstrates the downside of the 'inclusivity' strategy as discussed previously:
"US evangelicals seek green laws".
Seems like some cats have got into the herd.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Years ago Jesse Jackson tied environmentalism to religous values. "Neither the lion nor the lamb want acid rain on their backs." I'm okay with Evangelicals and Gaian worshipers trying to save the environment too.

As for my proxy power so far:

Donated blood to Stanford Medical Center (hey, it comes with a free semi-checkup and cholesterol test, plus free food; I can be greedy and altruistic at the same time!) and might donate platelets this weekend. Dammit Brin! You've infected me with ALAS!

Next month my protect membership expires and I have to renew; I might need you guys to keep me honest.

Lastly, when I mentioned monthly proxy updates/renewed calls, I was suggesting a new thread each month to keep this blog's audience focused. Just my two cents.

David Brin said...

Jon, I am happy to deputize good stuff to good guys. You and 1 or 2 others can be our proxy reminders! I will add "Oh yeah! Do that!" ;-)

Tony Fisk said...

I'm happy with green evangelicals, too. The point of the article is that *right wing* evangelicals are not!

Message to GOP:
If there's a bustle in your hedgerow
Don't be alarmed now
It's just a spring clean for the May Queen

Anonymous said...

Hey David

I don't know how much press the whole Danish cartoons vs Muslims story is getting in the US. But for the rest of the world, this is a very big deal. What sort of editorials or general reactions is happening in america? In Europe many have drawn a line in the sand and said this line we will not cross to the muslim world, it is becoming quite the showdown.

Simon Neville

Rob Perkins said...

"Green" Evangelicals are a welcome sight. Did you mean "cats in the herd" to depict a shivering of Evangelical unity? Or something else?

In great good proxy news, I learned several months ago that the Red Cross has changed its stupid policy into a non-stupid policy regarding BSE. In spite of a European sojourn of 22 months, they're now letting me give blood! 2 pints so far.

I was a bit taken aback at the kind of grumpy, bureaucratic, insistent scrutiny in a couple of minor points by the screening nurse. (Yes, I confirmed with the Red Cross later that those points were not at all connected with the gathering or testing of blood) But, I suppose one will find that sort of thing anyplace.

Tony Fisk said...

Sorry, my sense of humour can get a bit opaque sometimes.

I meant to refer to the GOP attempting to herd the cats they've included in their wide spreading umbrella. These 'green' evangelicals are definitely bucking the Neocon trend. (Hey George, about Kyoto?), and the their right wing brethren have been making noises about it.

(The Australian Labor Party also have an inclusive platform, and tend to be seen as faction riven as a result. The Liberals are a little more unified, but have a long standing coalition with the rural based National party. The relationship is so long standing that the relevance of the National Party as an independent entity is a hot topic at the moment)

I used to give blood, but haven't for a while (not being close to the main Red Cross site, and the travelling sites aren't well advertised) Since I gather they're rather partial to B-, I suppose I ought to...

Tony Fisk said...

Speaking of herding, I think Bush's recent announcement about the foiled terror attempt in Los Angeles in 2002 is an example of 'focussing' people on 'the real issues' (gimme more power!). I gather the LA mayor is unimpressed about finding out about this on the news. Hope he (Bush) doesn't resort to the unfoiled terror attempt in 2006!

I think an accompanying BBC report by Matthew Davis is perceptive, and raises something I've suspected for a while: if Osama Bin Laden were a registered US voter (it being a free country), who would he vote for? What sort of support could he provide?

FWIW I wrote a little ditty on this topic (see here, at the bottom. This stuff needs comic relief!)

Anonymous said...

George Deutsch, the political appointee put in charge of NASA public relations, who after a short career telling scientists to shut up if they knew what was good for them, recently had to resign because he lied on his resume. Now wants to clear his (ahem) good name:


In related news:

The grad student blogger who uncovered Deutsch's fudged credential has Contrary Brin on his blog roll.

Anonymous said...

reading the reports in the papers on LA i seem to notice - 1 no link to iraq, 2 multinational cooperation and policing was the key, three this happened 4 years ago and there seems to have been NO COMPELLING REASON TO KEEP IT SECRET - unless of course they were "plans" of the kind hat go wouldn't it be nice if we could....

jomama said...

I wonder how much Bono contributes to 'the world's poor'?

It's always easier tho, to let someone else do it.

Bush and Bono...those two whiz kids prolly can't even cook pancakes for themselves, let alone know what to do about anyone elses problems.