Friday, January 11, 2008


------ First a brief political riff then science and stuff -----

As some of you know, I have given up wishing for somebody ideal and decided to choose from the menu being offered.

And while I hold some respect and hopes for Hillary Clinton, and will support her if she is the nominee of Enlightenment America (not just the Democratic Party) -- that's just the point. She won't be viewed that way. As the candidate of America vs the enemies (domestic) who have seized control of the GOP and distorted it into a tool to ruin our country from within.

Alas, Hillary's biggest negative is huge. The pure & simple fact that she'd energize a demoralized opposition and draw ten million extra Republicans to the polls. That more than decides me -- I have to back Obama.

There are other reasons, of course. Have a look at this brief interview in the Globalist. Anybody who says the following simply gets it.

"The disappointment that so many around the world feel toward America right now is only a testament to the high expectations they hold for us."

Darn tootin. He also hints, with words like “competence” at what ought to be the main - and killer - issue of this campaign. The Bushite war against the apolitical but highly skilled men and women of the civil service, the intelligence and law communities, the US Officer Corps, science and every variety of professionalism.

I retain a simmering worry about how little we know about Obama. He can reassure people like me - if he’s nominated - by showing us the calibre of folks he’ll surround himself with. Especially in choosing a running mate. My bias toward General Clarke is a small matter. Our need to see the best up there. That’s crucial.

Even his chief drawback... being so new... suggests that he may also be clean. One hopes.

Still... there’s his name ... or names... so MANY ways that his name(s) just scream no writer would dare make up this stuff!

On the Republican side? I’ll send a little $ to Ron Paul, for the sake of the 30% of him that’s right and brave and sane. Huckabee’s got about that same 30% that’s honest and personable and sincere. Too bad they are both 70% stark, jibbering crazy.

As for all the rest of em? I drowzily dream of our Governator showing up at the GOP convention dressed and equipped like in some of his movies. Well, it’s a fantasy. Like in the movie, “If.” BTW I don’t really mean that. But then there’s another dream, one in which the ghosts of Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Barry Goldwater come back and exorcise today’s infected, were-elephant, driving out the gang of demons and monsters, like Gandalf striking Saruman out of Theoden....


I know that some of you are deeply involved in Wikis. Blake Stacey suggested that I post a few dozen of the long- simmering chapters of my (huge) dormant nonfiction book online, as wikis. I like the idea of posting several dozen Wiki pages, each consisting of one of my proposed chapters, and letting all sorts of folks comment, suggest inserts, offer corrections. Alas, the problems are:

1) Where and who/how to set it up
2) How to limit/authorize changes
3) finding the time to manage it all and gradually take a final shape.

I have long believed that wikis are a subset of "collaborationware" which should offer a general suite of host-option tools, letting contributors append comments or post-its or actual changes, depending upon their authorization/reputation level. With all sorts
of color-coding and other options. (In fact, my Holocene patent would seem highly applicable... but enough of that.)


Bandit wrote in with ”I know a few fans/geeks who might seriously "swing" this way. I saw a picture of a Japanese Sex doll recently (doing research :^) and it took a close look to realize it was a doll.” Love and Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships, by David Levy.

Comment: This is how aliens will eliminate humanity. First this... then holodecks. No male human will ever be seen again.

Something both cool and hot: Small, decentralized water treatment plants with an autonomous power supply transform salty seawater or brackish water into pure drinking water

Josh D sent in the wowzer of a paradigm breaker: ”A researcher in Vienna, Austria, trained dogs to sort photographs into two categories: pictures of other dogs and pictures of landscapes. This is big news because it means that dogs not only recognize what's happening in symbolic visual representations (photos) but can also figure out how to translate an abstract concept ("dog") into a category of pictures. Previously, nobody thought dogs could categorize photographs or even abstract concepts other than "food" and "enemy." (Fascinating! But note, this news is from a personal blog, unattributed and unverified. The reference to my Uplift series is appreciated. But one ponders that HG Wells and Boule and Cordwainer Smith showed uplifted creatures enslaved. Just to be different, I do not. ;-)

... Intrade is The Prediction Market where members can buy and sell "shares" in financial, political, weather and other important subjects. You can trade using real US$ and you can learn to trade using virtual Intrade I$. Intrade and the predictive information generated by our members have been featured on CNBC, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox, Fortune & others. Alas, PMs did very badly re the New Hampshire primary. A topic of much discussion. I’ve long had my own perspective on Predictions Registries.

See how the latest Mars probe lost its launch window because of bureaucratic conflict of interest. All right, part of the War on Science and the War on Competence may be due to moronic ineptitude. But please keep on your second shelf the other blatantly consistent possibility. That all of this is according to plan. ...

 ... In a laboratory in Switzerland, a group of neuroscientists is developing a mammalian brain - in silicon. The researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), in collaboration with IBM, have just completed the first phase of an ambitious project to reproduce a fully functioning brain on a supercomputer. By strange coincidence, their lab happens to lie on the same shores of Lake Geneva where Mary Shelley dreamt up her creation, Dr Frankenstein. The neocortical column is the most recently evolved part of our brain and is responsible for such things as reasoning and self-awareness. It was a quantum leap in evolution. The human brain contains a thousand times more neocortical columns than a rat's brain, but there is very little difference, biologically speaking, between a rat's brain and our own. Build one column, and you can effectively build the entire neocortex - if you have the computational power. Although a neocortical column is only 2 millimetres long and half a millimetre in diameter, it contains 10,000 neurons and 30m synapses. The machine that simulates this column is an IBM Blue Gene/L supercomputer is capable of speeds of 18.7 trillion calculations per second. It has 8,000 processors and is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world.

If true, this is big news. “The Atlanta-based independent inventor of the Super Soaker squirt gun (a true technological milestone) says he can achieve a conversion efficiency rate that tops 60 percent with a new solid-state heat engine. It represents a breakthrough new way to turn heat into power. “

==== AND MORE MISC! ===

Time gives its “Top 10 for 2007” in 50 categories.

Professor Andrew White, from UQ's Centre for Quantum Computer Technology together with colleagues from the University of Toronto in Canada, said by manipulating quantum mechanically entangled photons – the fundamental particles of light – the prime factors of the number 15 were calculated. ...

A Japanese company has unveiled a new device that will allow people "speak" through their ear so they can use their mobile telephones in noisy places. The device - named "e-Mimi-kun" (good ear boy) - doubles as an earphone and a microphone by detecting air vibrations inside the ear, developer NS-ELEX Co. said. The earpiece and an accompanying device can be connected to a mobile phone, or wirelessly to a Bluetooth handset, so that users no longer have to cover their mouths when speaking in a loud environment, the company said. ...

This is a hypothetical news clip from 2017 which suggests one of the directions in which the internet may grow – by inventing a method whereby the Internet could take advantage of the same processes that the human mind employs during sleep (and while awake) to process and organize the experiences of the day into memory hierarchies. ...

Toshiba Corp.'s Super Charge ion Battery, or SCiB, can recharge to 90 percent of its full capacity in less than five minutes and has a life cycle of more than 10 years.

“Whitehouse Sharply Criticizes Bush Administration's Assertion of Executive Power” – (Senator Whitehouse press release – December 7, Say What? Read the headline a couple of times. This senator is gonna cause a LOT of confusing moments. 2007)

"Solar minimum is upon us," says solar physicist David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center. Many forecasters believe Solar Cycle 24 will be big and intense. Peaking in 2011 or 2012, the cycle to come could have significant impacts on telecommunications, air traffic, power grids and GPS systems. Aha! Just in time for the 2012 “millennium madness” that seems to be scheduled, according to everything from Mayan calendars to Heinlein’s future history...

Someone report on this? I do not vouch for it! John Lenard Walson has discovered a new way to extend the capabilities of small telescopes and has been able to achieve optical resolutions - at almost the diffraction limit - not commonly achievable. With this new-found ability, he has proceeded to videotape, night and day, many strange and heretofore unseen objects in earth orbit. The resulting astrophotographic video footage has revealed a raft of machines, hardware, satellites, spacecraft and possibly space ships which otherwise appear as 'stars'...if they appear at all. There are, indeed, hundreds of satellites in Earth orbit. However, the images he has captured are clearly of large and sizeable machines which have not been seen before.

The Economist's food price index is higher today than at any time since it was created in 1845. Even in real terms, prices have jumped by 75% since 2005. That is because “agflation” is underpinned by long-running changes in diet that accompany the growing wealth of emerging economies. But the rise in prices is also the self-inflicted result of America's reckless ethanol subsidies. This year biofuels will take a third of America's (record) maize harvest.

Factoid: The world's longest operating ships are six "PS-Class" container ships. Built at Denmark's Odense Steel Shipyards and launched by Maersk Shipping Lines between 2006 and 2007, these are Emma Maersk and its slightly younger sisters Evelyn, Eleanora, Estelle, Ebba and Elly Maersk. Each is 397 by 56 meters, or 1302 feet long by 185 wide. For perspective, this is about twice as wide and 60 percent longer than the unlucky Titanic, and almost 200 feet longer than any supertanker, aircraft carrier, or ocean liner now on the water. They require a crew of only 13 people, and can accommodate only 30 crew and other passengers in total. The six can carry up to 14,500 TEUs of cargo. (A TEU is a "twenty-foot equivalent unit," referring to a single metal container 20 feet long, eight feet wide and 8.5 feet high.) Maersk advertises this capacity as the amount of goods that would be carried on a 71-kilometer freight train. Too wide to fit through the Panama Canal until its re-digging is complete, the six travel between Asia and Europe.

A fascinating article in the New Yorker explores what we know about bonobos:

“Where, at the end of the twentieth century, could an optimist turn for reassurance about the foundations of human nature? The sixties were over. Goodall’s chimpanzees had gone to war. Scholars such as Lawrence Keeley, the author of “War Before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage” (1996), were excavating the role of warfare in our prehistoric past. And, as Wrangham and Peterson noted in “Demonic Males,” various nonindustrialized societies that were once seen as intrinsically peaceful had come to disappoint. Margaret Mead’s 1928 account of a South Pacific idyll, “Coming of Age in Samoa,” had been largely debunked by Derek Freeman, in 1983. The people identified as “the Gentle Tasaday”—the Philippine forest-dwellers made famous, in part, by Charles Lindbergh—had been redrawn as a small, odd community rather than as an isolated ancient tribe whose mores were illustrative. “The Harmless People,” as Elizabeth Marshall Thomas referred to the (!Kung bushmen) hunter-gatherers she studied in southern Africa, had turned out to have a murder rate higher than any American city. Although the picture was by no means accepted universally, it had become possible to see a clear line of thuggery from ape ancestry to human prehistory and on to Srebrenica. But, if de Waal’s findings were true, there was at least a hint of respite from the idea of ineluctable human aggression. If chimpanzees are from Hobbes, bonobos must be from Rousseau.”

nuff for now.

==Reminder that my latest involvement in a TV show, a 2 hour special for The History Channel, is: LIFE AFTER PEOPLE, which premieres Monday, JAN 21st at 9pm/8pm central.


Tony Fisk said...

On wikis:
1) Where and who/how to set it up
Two options I've used (I'll leave woozle etc. to comment on mediawiki etc.): is a very quick and not so dirty option. Give 'em a name, and your email address. Respond to the email you get, and that's it! does need to be downloaded and placed where your webserver can find it. After that, though, it just works out of the box (assuming your web server supports php). Plenty of cookbooks on setting authorisations, 'skins' etc.

2) How to limit/authorize changes
Usually standard features. pbwiki can make access to owner only (more sophisticated schemas come at a price)

pmwiki allows you to set passwords by editting a file.

Furthermore, change histories (seeing what's been changed by whom) are pretty standard as well.

3) finding the time to manage it all and gradually take a final shape.
Ah, should be no worse than typing this blog (actually less, because wiki structures just let you point to arguments you have already made rather than repeating them, again and again...!)

user comments are something wikis tend to miss out on (mediawiki has a discussion page feature?), but you can emulate them by having a companion blog with a simple placeholder posting for each page you want comments on.

Ah well, going away. See y'all later!

Naum said...

Obama is likely to field a tsunami of hate fling at him… …already the email bombs over how he's a Muslim, and the latest about how his church is racist, he was sworn in on the Koran…

Then there is the matter of his middle name… …which I hear already the right wing radio hosts using as if it was his first name…

David McCabe said...

Mmmmm.... collaborationware.

It's sort of fun to see the stupendous hacks that people such as the Wikipedians come up with to collaborate in a pure wiki system.

Corrected link on the internet dreaming.

Very nifty collection of links, Dr. Brin. The spaceship videos were very entertaining. Did you notice that he has also recorded sound? Yup. The spacecraft make a dark, quasi-musical thrumming; to go along with their looking like dragons.

Anonymous said...

The wiki can work if you have enough of a critical mass to attract it's own police, but you should look at Google Docs too - that allows post-it notes and has control over who can edit and who can grant editing privileges.

Alfred Differ said...

on wikis....


David Brin said...

adiffer... was that the sound of a volunteer?

dbt said...

Regarding holodecks and the like, there's always the possibility that things get better if men are otherwise occupied.

On the political front, I just can't trust Huckabee at all. He lets himself get pushed around by the wrong people way too easily, and the fact that he's selling (or was suckered by, neither option is good) the fairtax con isn't a good sign either.

- David Terrell

Anonymous said...

I read through the entire page on the supposed "spaceships" orbiting earth, and I'm fairly certain it's BS, or at least most of it is. I believe that he's found a way to get great images from his telescope, and that he's seen lots of junk up in orbit, but the supposed size comparisons are ridiculous. The ISS orbits at an average of 340 km above the earth, often higher. There's nothing to stop LEO debris from falling far lower into the Earth's gravity well, especially if it's nonfunctional it could easy get below 160 km and still be up there for a reasonable amount of time. He can't say how far away the objects are so the size comparisons are moot. Plus, a few of his images of "unknown" LEO-objects look a lot like discarded booster sections to me, I don't know at what orbit the Saturn V and other large craft jetissoned their secondary or tertiary boosters but I'm willing to bet a few of those are still in orbit. It's possible that a lot of the satelites are part of an american weapons system ... but it wouldn't be the great revelation that the author of that article seems to think it would be if the debris was revealed to be even orbital lasers.

And to top it off the video with "Actual Sounds From These Space Machines" is ridiculous. Sure if they're in LEO there's enough of an atmosphere to cause drag, but not enough to transmit sound! The only way he could have actually recorded sound from them is with a laser such as the ones used by special forces to spy on conversations through glass, but I doubt that any such device would function at a target 160 km away!

But the biggest reason not to take much of that article seriously, beyond all the inaccuracies, small and large, in the article: the website it's posted on.

Matt DeBlass said...

On Obama:
I've found myself leaning towards him for the simple reason that he, if you pardon my language, is the one who's going to piss off people the least.
In spite of some Neanderthal pundits trying to hook on some negative Muslim connections (because they can't just come out and call him an "n-word" anymore, at least not in public) he seems to be able to be the best bridge builder of all the candidates.

On fem-bots:
I was recently struck by the concept of "Guitar Hero." It used to be one of the only ways that certain guys would ever meet women was to play in a band, now they can play in a band without leaving behind their video game console...sad news for their reproductive potential.
It was probably developed by that same group of alien conquerors.

Alex Tolley said...

The Walson stuff is more than a little suspect. No info (even after a Google sarch) on what his technique is, what we are really seeing. The ISS and space shuttle examples are pretty poor, so what are we to make of the other random blobs and streaks. If his technique was any good, let's see something that is really recognizable as good quality - like shots of the moon which we could compare to known, high quality images.

Anonymous said...

Its too early in the day to get into political mode, but....

In our current unhealthy body politic nobody actually is running on the traditional "Here I stand" basis. Americans do not want to hear about difficult issues, and the candidates sure do not want to go near them. The media (I no longer differentiate between the news and entertainment divisions) should be encouraging serious debate, but instead goes for fluff and horseraces.

Essentially it comes down to the candidates projecting the message that "Hey, the world is a complex place, trust me to handle it".

H. Clinton is smart, her record in Congress suggests she is a prudent person, one even we conservatives could get along with. But fundamentally she is not trusted, not by either end of the political spectrum.

This may be unfair. But the fact is that not everyone holds the previous Clinton administration in high esteem, and the feeling is that H.Clinton's election would be 4/8 more years of the same.

So it will be Obama on the Dem. side I suspect. And he may do well. If he is wise he will give great thought to his VP choice and to his inner circle of advisors. Oh but that G. Bush had started out doing so!.

Too soon to comment on the GOP side.


Anonymous said...

Here's another story about electricity from waste heat. I'm not quite sure I understand the science here either even with this rough description in Nature. I was never very good at the electrical parts in physics.

I think I have to call shenanigans on the "spacecraft" photos too, they're so blurry they don't reveal anything, including scale. And the other contents of that site are kinda flaky too.

ChickJ said...

Sorry I can't ever vote for Clinton. Her experience is base on being married to a politician. She has no real life work.

On the other hand Obama, has been a colledge teacher, work as a community organizer, and a civil rights lawyer.

I hope he will surround himself with excellent people.

Anonymous said...

Here's a cool video from NASA: cameras on a solid rocket booster recording both video and audio, from apogee to splashdown. The first SRB splashes down and then a few seconds later you see the second one hit the water just a few hundred meters away!

Xactiphyn said...

My favorite international response to Obama was from South Africa:

Damn, I love Americans. Just when you’ve written them off as hopeless, as a nation in decline, they turn around and do something extraordinary, which tells you why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on earth.

Anonymous said...

(Zorgon the Malevolent again)

There's certainly been a big explosion of adulatory articles recently about Obama. For example:

(You might have to suffer through an ad to get access, but it's worth it.)

One of the most potent paeans is "Obama can end the culture war":

I'd be delighted if either Obama or Edwards or Kucinish got elected. Kucinich has pretty much been washed out, alas.

Like everyone else, I have grave reservations about Hillary. She not only voted for the war but kept voting to fund it...and she's a triangulator, like her husband and the whole DNC crowd who think they can finesse the culture war by giving the Repubs most of what they want. No, we've reached the point where you can't compromise anymore. When it comes to torture and repealing habeas corpus, that's where you have to draw the line -- and Hillary didn't. She just didn't.

Is it just my imagination, or is Obama the only adult in the group? Chronologically younger than all the others, he somehow seems much more mature. Where other candidates react to criticism with infantile hissy fits, Obama responds with grace and aplomb when heckled. That bodes well.

On the the science/tech front, here's a fascinating experiment that combines transparency with interactivity -- homeowners were given a "gateway" system that allowed appliances to sense stress on the power grid and change their behavior (i.e., reduce water temperature in the water heater, etc.) to compensate. The results were reportedly a rousing success:

Antimatter cloud in our galaxy mapped and it appears to be lopsided:

No one is sure what causes it yet, but the evidence appears to lean away from dark matter and toward black holes.

"Astronomers describe violent universe" -- the new vocabulary includes terms like "slow strangulation," "stripping," and "harassment" (LOL):

Professor Grigoriy Andrievsky has proposed that C60 Fullerenes might have been the templates used by very basic amino acids to form the first strands of life (DNA) in earth’s pre-mordial soup, billions of years ago. If true, this would go a long way toward filling the missing link in the origins of life on earth:

Alex Tolley said...

re: dogs sorting photos. haven't read the paper, only the abstract. However I wonder if the claims are true. Is it possible that the photographs are distinguishale by the presence of a strong, defined color and shape of the dog? To be sure that it is a dog that is being distinguished, I would liked to have seen evidence that the dogs could distinguish between pictures of dogs, cats and other similar mammals to be sure that they can correctly interpret images onb a photograph and are not using some other cue. In other words, we need to ensure this is not another "Clever Hans" mistake.

David Brin said...

Zorgon, great antimatter ref! The fullerenes explanation of pre-biotic life seems plausible. But so does Cairns Smith’s notion of templates in clay. Both?

Ah, but. While there’s plenty to object to about Hillary et al, let me reject the view that the DNC approach is to simply “give Republicans what they want.” May I remind that the ONE time the dems actually went with the DNC approach they gained power!” And the Republicans, in turn, went absolutley start frothing crazy in bilious hatred of Bill Clinton. The GOP got its chance - and thee dems LOST (Congressional) power - because Hillary sent them down the non-DNC road of seeking a vast new entitlement, instead of DNC style gradualism (insure the children first).

This robbed Bill of any chance to improve matters through legislation, so he simply governed well. Superbly well. And, may I add, all of his policies and approaches to governing, especially transparency and accountability, were diametrically opposite to everything the GOP now stands for. That’s opposite. He was not what “republicans want.”

True, the migration of the GOP into loony-ville has left the dems having to stand for ALL political virtues. Careing for the poor AND responsible fiscal policy. In effect, they ARE the reasonable body politic and debates over policy options must take place within the dem-party, then face rage from the House of Lords (the GOP).

Anonymous said...

(Zorgon again)

Here's an article reinforcing Dr. Brin's view of the unhealthy influence of Leo Strauss among neocons:

It's remarkable how little we hear from the press about Strauss's influence on the toads who infest the White House. Reporters seem to treat the neocons as though they materialized out of thin air, instead of from the long odious "will-to-power" antidemocratic tradition of Thrasymachus, Plato and Nietzsche.

If memory serves, didn't Isaac Asimov beat Cairns Smith to the punch with the clay template hypothesis for amino acids? I recall reading Asmiov speculate about that in one of his science articles, but can't remember which.

Anonymous said...

Obama has already shown good judgement in the team he already has, and that's been further demonstrated with the recent endorsements he's racking up.

He has a lot of good options for VP, chief among them:
Sen. James Webb, Virginia
Gov. Bill Richardson, New Mexico
Sen. Chris Dodd, CT.
Sen. Joe Biden, Delaware

But, of those Webb is the best option and good compatibility. Webb shores up the military experience as a Vietnam Marine vet, Secretary of Navy under Reagan, ex-Republican to win moderates, southern to appeal to southern votes, and puts Virginia in play which hasn't voted Democratic for president since 1964. Webb has also taken the lead in sensible opposition to the war and occupation of Iraq, as well as opposing the Kyl-Lieberman amendment on Iran.

sociotard said...

Concerned that the US government is wiretapping a little too often? Fear not, it's the free-market economy to the rescue!

FBI Wiretap Cut Off After Feds Fail To Pay Telecom Spying Bills

Anonymous said...

The link for the Mars probe thing is 404.

Dog of Justice said...

Have you seen David Friedman's commentable online draft of Future Imperfect? This seems close to what you are looking for.

Anonymous said...

(Zorgon again)

Joe "One last shot" Biden doesn't sound like a good choice as VP. In fact, he sounds like a dismal choice. The ignorant incompetent clown Joe Biden remains one of the main enablers for the ongoing Iraq debacle. Just like that criminally inept fool Tom Friedman, every time someone suggests that Iraq is a quagmire and we need to get the hell out, Biden chirps up and babbles, "We need to try one last shot." The thing is...this insufferable ingrate has been exhorting us to try "one last shot" in Iraq for the last 5 years. He's as bad as Tom Friedman's "the next 6 months are the critical period" -- every 6 months for the last 5 years.

Both Biden and Friedman are ignorant incompetent fools whose appalling ineptitude has enabled the destruction of Iraq, the collateral death of at least 600,000 Iraqs and the mutilation and maiming of several millions more (at least); the creation of at least 4.5 million impoverished Iraqi refugees -- many of them women, and now forced into lives of horrible prostitution because they can't survive any other way in countries like Syria which hate and despise them. world/middle_east/article2701324.ece

Not to mention 3,500 dead U.S. soldiers and somewhere north of 20,000 horribly mutilated U.S. servicemen, many suffering from severe brain damage due to explosive concussion from the new IEDs. article/2007/04/06/AR2007040601821_pf.html health/july-dec06/brain_09-14.html

Joe "One last shot" Biden has a lot to answer for. Putting him in the cabinet or into the VP slot is an outrage and IMHO shows very questionable judgement on Obama's part.

If there were real justice in America, both Joe Biden and Tom Friedman, along with Fareed Zakaria and Judith Miller would be stripped to their skivvies, pelted with garbage by jeering crowds, tarred, feathered, and run out of Washington on a rail. If we practiced ostracism as the Hellenes did, this Foetid Foursome would be my first choice for expulsion.

On a lighter note:

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you won't believe your eyes... Yes, folks, this is what we're up against. If you want a pure stereotaxic cross-section of the anti-modernist far-right mindset, here it is:

Anonymous said...

(Zorgon, logon blown)

The very thought of Joe "One last shot" Biden getting touted as Obama's VP filled me with such outrage and disgust that I finally collected all Biden's infamous "one last shot" quotes. As you can see, they go all the way back to 2003. It's 2008, folks.

Joe Biden, Imus, 8/17/06:

Because there's a civil war, and you got to -- if there's a civil war, Don, where you have the Mahdi army, as well as what they call the Badr Brigade, which is the Iranian-trained outfit that works for the -- that's the Shia outfit with the Dawa (inaudible) party. If those guys start shooting at the same time the insurgents are, all the king's horses and all the king's men aren't going to keep that country together again.
We've got one last shot here to separate these parties, and you have to do it politically. And if you don't do the kind of thing we did in Dayton when we settled the situation in Bosnia -- and I might add, no one died in the last (inaudible), no American has died, and now they're more of a united country -- if we don't do something like that, we will have traded a dictator for chaos on this guy's watch.

Joe Biden, 12/13/05 press conference:

The dividing line is whether or not, as in the case of Jack Murtha and me -- Jack Murtha, God love him, I think he believes that we have gone beyond the pale, that there is no reason to think the president is going to change course and the only rational position in the Hobson's choices we're left with is over time redeploy American forces because there's no winning strategy.

Joe Biden, Fox News, 11/21/2005:

WALLACE: As we've been saying, Democratic Congressman Jack Murtha this week called for bringing U.S. troops back home. Is that a good idea?

BIDEN: Not immediately, no. I can understand Jack's frustration. This is a guy who has concluded that so far we've handled this effort incompetently, but it seems to me that we have one last shot at getting this right.

Joe Biden, Charlie Rose show, June 21, 2005:

I personally think we should not set an exit date. I personally think we should take one last shot at trying to do this the right way. I think it still can be done, although more difficult.

Joe Biden, Face the Nation, 6/19/2005:

We need time. There's one last shot at getting this right in Iraq.

Joe Biden, Hardball, May 24, 2004:

We've made significant mistakes. Our one last shot to get this right, unite the world, convince the Iraqi people that this is not just a U.S. occupation, is June 30.

Biden 11/7/2003:

"I am convinced we have one last shot at bringing the world into Iraq," said Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee. "We must do everything in our power to seize it.
"I'd like to see President Bush go to Europe, call a summit and ask - ask - for more help. We might have to give up some more authority to get it. But as I keep saying, we've got to stop treating Iraq like some kind of prize."

David Brin said...

Dang, but this time you were REALLY effective, Zorgon. dang.

Joel said...

...How to limit/authorize changes...
...finding the time to manage it all and gradually take a final shape...

If you're doing either of these things as an individual, it isn't a Wiki.

In large communities it may be worthwhile to have a tiered system, where text that has been checked by trusted editors is given special treatment, but most of the attempts at this I've heard of have failed.

If you want to control its overall shape, I'd recommend a news box at the top of each page, which only you and a few trusted delegates can edit. It might say "this needs a grammar check" or so on. This can usually be done with "include" statements and protected pages, though I'm more familiar with mediawiki than other systems.

By the by, mediawiki now has a binary installer.

Joel said...

One more thing: licensing of contributions.

People are more willing to edit if they know that the whole thing will end up being free (in the sense of liberty, rather than gratuity...).

You're probably hoping to publish it, so may I suggest a dual license:

Creative commons non-commercial share-alike plus exclusive commercial rights licensed to David Brin, in exchange for attribution.

The attribution can just be an appendix with usernames of those who contributed. IANAL, but without it, there wouldn't be consideration on both sides of the license agreement.

Anonymous said...

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Breakdown Recovery

davepete said...

The Walson claims of videotaping orbital structures is without a doubt a hoax. Let's examine it a bit. First, he claims some kind of proprietary mechanism involving a telescope and video camera is being used. However, there are only a few ways to improve your ability to see faint objects short of simply using a larger telescope and gathering more light. You can try to use adaptive optics to remove the effects of the atmosphere, but with his stated equipment, we can most likely rule that out, since, to my knowledge, that requires some way to sense the distortions so they can be removed. So adaptive optics aside, the only thing left is using image processing of some kind to enhance an image. Walson might have found a way to digitally enhance telescopic images that is heretofore unknown, so that's a possiblilty. But let's consider. All one really needs to do to overcome this limitation and verify Walson's observations is to use a bigger telescope and point it in the right place. However, it may be possible Walson is already using the biggest telescope available to anyone for general purchase. Perhaps his technique requires that power, plus his own enhancements. Ok. Even if we give him that, the part of his claims that really shoots down any hint of credibility is the claim that he can HEAR these "ships" by pointing his satellite dish at them. First of all, satellite dishes gather electromagnetic waves, not sound waves. So, if he was going to make this work, there would have to be a mechanism IN SPACE which was converting the ship's sound waves to EM radiation, beaming that signal outward, then Walson would pick them up and reverse the conversion here on Earth. Not very likely, to say the least.

Then there is the last reason - there is no sound in space to be picked up! These "ships" would be able to generate sound internally, of course, but that sound can never propogate outside the ship. So, exactly what is Walson's satellite dish supposed to be picking up? It's hooey, folks. Pure and simple. He should've stuck to the video claims and left the sound part out. At least the video part might be theoretically possible, however unlikely. The audio part is simply not possible, at least not the way he's claiming to have done it.