Saturday, October 01, 2011

On Licensing Journalists

== Public protection or guild protection? ==

After its crushing defeat in the last election, Britain's Labour Party is heaping on bad ideas. The latest? To license journalists via a professional body that could ban or "strike off" those who are accused of malpractice from practicing journalism in the future.

A horrific notion. I agree with Cory Doctorow, who writes, "Given that "journalism" presently encompasses "publishing accounts of things you've seen using the Internet" and "taking pictures of stuff and tweeting them" and "blogging" and "commenting on news stories," this proposal is even more insane than the traditional "journalist licenses" practiced in totalitarian nations."

Helen Lewis-Hasteley of the New Statesman notes, “If we look at the countries around the world where the government keeps such a register, I bet they're not the ones you'd regard as shining beacons of democracy and enlightenment. Who would administer the register?”

Now, a reflex reaction to tighten media regulation in response to the Rupert Murdoch scandals is obvious. But the relevant issue is to:

(1) prosecute crimes and civil damages according to existing statutes and

(2) make damn sure these nefarious actions reflect on Mudoch & co's public image. This might mean tweaking #1 to ensure no gag orders or confidentiality can prevent #2.

In other words, no victims settling for damages from Rupert, on condition of silence. There is a compelling public interest that all such cases be transparent, so their outcomes can affect the public's trust in clear violators of that trust. Some minor law tweaks, there. But urgent.

But licensing journalists is just blatant "guild-tending"... the left wing equivalent of right-wing oligarchy. A travesty and anti-transparency. And what of bloggers...are they next?

==Society & Issues==

Studies appraise why IQ varies around the globe. Controlling for the effects of education, national wealth, temperature, and distance from sub-Saharan Africa, infectious disease emerged as the best predictor. children infected with intestinal worms have lower IQ later in life. Another study found that regions in Mexico that were the target of eradication programs had higher average IQ than those that were not. See my posting: The Flynn Effect: Are We Getting Smarter?

See a fascinating article -- Radical Thinking to Recreate and Reimagine Our Cities --  about several world cities that defied expectations and remade themselves in wonderfully positive ways.

Following up on my extensive posting-essay about “seasteading” - Jason Sussberg made a short film about the Seasteading Institute.  It reveals the characters driving the effort... and shows their mix of both solid and extremely airy thinking. (Alas, without interviewing a single skeptic or question-asker.) There is a strong part of me that sympathizes and roots for them!  And another, mature portion that knows what the world is about and where it’s headed. (Still, you'll see Seasteading portrayed vividly in EXISTENCE!)

Airport security may soon have a new way to check your ID: watching the way you walk. It seems footsteps are as unique as fingerprints, and can identify people with 99.8 per cent accuracy. "It probably is possible to use this in a real-world security application," says one researcher. Lesson? Hiding is futile. Our only path is sousveillance. Looking back.

After the Great San Diego Blackout, a few thoughts on potential future power failures: Everybody needs a fully corded and non-powered phone! The more old-fashioned the better. If it has a power cord, it won't do. One that plugs into just the wall jack. For more: read what I told the Defense Dept about readiness in a robust society! This from an Glenn Reynolds: “when we lost power yesterday along with the rest of San Diego County. The electric eye-activated toilets and urinals in the new buildings were all nonfunctional, whereas the older models (with actual handles) in place in the older buildings worked fine. Exclusively installing toilets or sinks that don’t function without electricity in new buildings just seems like a bad idea.”

== Engineering the Earth ==

The General Accounting Office issued a report on varied proposals for GEOENGINEERING, which, in today’s context, stands for methods that humanity might use to assertively lessen the effects of global warming. “ Climate engineering technologies do not now offer a viable response to climate change. Experts advocating research to develop and evaluate the technologies believe research might provide an insurance policy against worst case scenarios—but caution that the misuse could bring new risks.” See the report’s abstract.

I don't disagree with the GAO’s overall conclusion... No proposed geoengineering endeavor scored higher than a 3 out of 9. Research must continue, but zealots should not be empowered when potential side effects are huge.  One experiment that clearly should proceed on an intermediate scale is to create “white cities”... by whitening rooftops in a few warm climate metropolitan areas and see if the effects are positive. Few conceivable downsides.

My biggest complaint? There is one proposed geoengineering project that gets short-shrift in every single appraisal I have seen, and this GAO report is no different. It is the only method that would directly imitate a natural process that is already known to remove megatons of carbon from the air, every year. A natural process that has no negative side effects but dozens of positive ones -- like helping to feed the world.  That process is Ocean Fertilization.

Ocean fertilization involves adding micronutrients to the oceans to stimulate biological productivity, which removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, sequestering it as sediment in the deep ocean. This could also reverse a widespread decline in phytoplankton, the basis of oceanic food chains. Preliminary trials were highly localized, but indicated that the potential for iron-induced carbon sequestration may be lower than originally hoped – but this has not been systematically pursued.

Moreover, can anyone explain to me why the only ocean fertilization experiments were crude, blunt dumpings of powdered IRON? How does that emulate nature? Sure it's a critical bottleneck nutrient. Still, I've seen other proposals. Wave power one-way siphons to raise cool, nutrient rich bottom water above the thermocline. Or using wave power to drive bottom-stirrers, sending mud plumes rising just like happens off the great fisheries of Peru. (I described them in EARTH (1989). The energy profiles may or may not be efficient... we'll see... but no one can argue that those two don't emulate precisely the most healthy, wholesome and natural way that the Earth already pulls down megatons of CO2.

==Technology Updates==

One futuristic solution to our energy crisis? Shimizu, a Japanese company, proposes the LUNA RING, a belt of photovoltaic panels placed on the moon’s surface. To avoid launch costs, the solar panels would be constructed on moon, by remote-controlled robots, directly out of lunar soil (which is 23% silicon). Power will be beamed to receiving stations on Earth (220 terawatts annually). By treaty, any such project on the moon would belong to all nations. I know Dave Criswell who first offered this idea. If completed, the LUNA RING would represent the most grandiose engineering project in humanity's history. Not yet feasible, it requires some major breakthroughs. And, frankly, the math may not add up. But it's the kind of bold forward-looking thinking that at least stimulates the mind. It reminds us we're a bold race. A competing concept is Space Based Solar Power -- with panels placed in orbit around the earth.

A new version of Moore’s Law? Koomey’s Law states it’s energy efficiency of computers, not just processing power that doubles every 18 months. Particularly relevant as portable battery-powered portable devices fill our lives. (Brin's Corollary? CAMERAS get smaller/cheaper/faster/more numerous and mobile even faster than Moore's Law!)  What’s not keeping up?  Software.  Never has.  Maybe never will.

Exploiting a novel technique called phase discontinuity - etching gold nano-antennas onto silicon - researchers at Harvard have induced light rays to behave in a way that defies the centuries-old laws of reflection and refraction.  Read the sci fi of Wil McCarthy about "programmable matter".... this is a subset.

You can now hold your brain in the palm of your hand, with this portable brain scanner. For the first time, a scanner powered by a smartphone will let you monitor your neural signals on the go.  Quoth one bright commentator: “And, in the category of things that belong in the novel "Earth"...”


Finally got around to watching Limitless... one of the nifty crop of lower budget but highly intelligent science fiction films (e.g. Source Code) that managed to get produced in 2010, when the big studios were mostly churning out one remake and sequeal after another. I thought it was terrific! Snappy, crisply written, nicely textured and well-foreshadowed.  And just a bit optimistic... I liked that.  Oh, and note the hero is a sci fi author.  Been several of those lately. Maybe civilization is wising up!  (Oh, the screenwriter, Leslie Dixon, is a friend.  Proud of her.)

Do see an animated rendition of Tim Minchin's terrific Beat poem "Storm" about reality itself... and fighting back for enlightenment. Oh... see Minchin's other performances too.

Awesome anonymous paper sculptings!

Hmmm...Space Colony Earth claims to be planning the first interstellar mission form Earth, to travel beyond our solar system and contact alien civilizations. Their ship, Starship Ark intends to depart in 2017, to seek out strange new civilizations….. Nice clean dopey-dreamy fun. Or is this a promo for a game?

More on that Climate Denialist stuff soon. Meanwhile, remember, when some fool starts making crazy attacks on science, find the most SPECIFIC of his statements and then... demand that he put money on it!  Seriously.  Bets. Wagers. Like that doctor who offered $10,000 if Bachmann could find ONE child made retarded by the gardasil vaccine. One.

It needn't be so grand. Any amount will do.  Watch them backpedal and slide toward the door.  Cowards.


Anonymous said...

The Luna Ring is clever, but by my figuring, all of its component technologies invalidate the need to build such a titanic structure on the moon. If a given area of collector is 10x more efficient in space, but collectors on Earth only receives 4% of the power generated at the lunar end, you can do the same job with 60% less collector area on Earth, which works out to an Earthly equatorial ring 27 miles wide, which seems like the kind of area that could be appropriately chopped and squeezed into terrestrial or aquatic desert within interesting latitudes to prevent stepping on anything ecologically important- and any possible end-state autonomous panels-from-dirt technology is going to have ancestral tech generations that can do exactly the same thing with the help of human workers and extant supply chains. Maybe it's good for beaming power to the outer planets or spacecraft or the like, but I don't think it has much of a home market with transmission efficiencies like that.

sociotard said...

It would be nice if, in addition to pointing out Bachmann's stupidity/lunacy, bloggers also revealed when she had a reasonable point.

Yes, saying that gardasil causes autism was stupid, especially when she could have pointed out some of the rare-but-severe possible side effects.

Yet I haven't heard a single progressive blogger repeat her point about Perry getting kickbacks from the big pharma company that makes the stuff. That is unsettling, to me anyway.

Tim H. said...

OTEC could stir up nutrients, just have to get around engineering difficulties, like not being broken up by the ocean.

Acacia H. said...

Hey, anyone have any advice on how to get rid of a too-intelligent-for-its-own-good rat? The blighter can trigger and evade traps (and pooped on one of the traps to let me know of what it thought - it's smart and has a sense of humor), apparently triggered a second old-fashioned trap without trouble, and has recently learned to hide out-of-sight because I get more assertive at trying to kill it when I see it. In short, the damn thing is learning.

The irony being that in my paranormal ('hero') novel, one of the secondary characters can talk to (and control) rats; he's not introduced for some time, however. And now I've got a smart rat down stairs....

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Doonesbury has been running with the Perry-Pharma connection for days.

guthrie said...

New labour has been authoritarian for a long, long time.

It is also intellectually bankrupt, a good example being their leaders response to the condems increased university fees etc idea. Instead of showing some backbone, they suggest capping them at £6,000, i.e. splitting the difference between the old way of doing it (Put in by new labour) and the new even less friendly more expensive way of doing it. Instead of saying "Hey, the old way was fine, you useless people who are so useless that you had us vote on changing the system a year before your white paper came out on what the new system could be, so we're going to change it back."

The tories are too obsessed with destroying welfare spending and privatising everything right now to spend much time opressing people directly; they've even cut police budgets, secure in the knowledge that their kind of people don't live in high crime areas.

Tony Fisk said...

Going Helvetian: OccupyWallStreet

Paul451 said...

"blunt dumpings of powdered IRON? How does that emulate nature?"

Apparently much of the iron that naturally reaches the mid-ocean is from iron-rich dust blown from deserts. (Deserts on the land feed deserts in the sea. Cute, huh?)

Re: solar panels on moon

Wouldn't that leave the whole planet even more vulnerable to a single VeryBadThing, like a solar storm?

Re: worms and IQ.

Interesting that autoimmune disorders, asthma and the like, seem to have a reverse correlation. Ie, we can choose to have higher-IQ sickly children, or lower-IQ healthy children.

"It seems footsteps are as unique as fingerprints, and can identify people with 99.8 per cent accuracy."

Only for people cooperating with the system. Apparently things as simple as wearing different height shoes fools the system. (Or, longer term, asymmetrical exercise.)

"99.8 per cent accuracy"

In a million-passengers-a-day airport, you'll have 2,000 misidentifications. One every 45 seconds.

Re: Emergency wall-phone.
Not only is my "wallphone" electric, it runs VoIP over my broadband. So my phone-jack isn't analogue anyway. (Come to think about it, I don't even have a battery powered analogue radio. I am so screwed.)

Corey said...

I had seen the Storm video when it was first made via a Facebook friend, and found it rather brilliant.

I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Paul451 said...

Rob H,
"Hey, anyone have any advice on how to get rid of a too-intelligent-for-its-own-good rat? [...] In short, the damn thing is learning."

Leave out some basic size-appropriate tools. Once you see signs of use, slowly introduce a system of writing. Once you see signs that it's reading rather than eating you engineering texts, leave some Golden Age juvy science fiction lying around. (Perhaps printed to rat scale.) Then open a basement window towards your neighbours'.

Or, you know, Ratsak.

David Brin said...

Hey, anyone have any advice on how to get rid of a too-intelligent-for-its-own-good rat? [...] In short, the damn thing is learning."

Get a load of "Porfirio" the internet rat god in EXISTENCE!

Paul451 said...

Rob H,
Coincidentally, just read that rodent urine fluoresces under UV. Might point to where Rattus is hiding during the day.

At the very least it should utterly horrify the entire family.

(menow: Blogger hints at another solution.)

Tony Fisk said...

Would posters of 'The Grim Squeaker' help?

Stefan Jones said...

Meant to post this here:

Neal Stephenson's speech on Innovation Starvation.

'Shestive': When you feel impatient with the rituals of the high holy days. L'chaim!

Catfish N. Cod said...

MAJOR story on Transparency And Its Enemies:

Koch Brothers, exposed by Bloomberg

I'll take Bloomberg and Buffett over the Kochs, given my druthers.

muted: the response whenever the contradictions in proto-aristocratic propaganda and practice are revealed.

David Brin said...


Catfish N. Cod said...

But wait... there's more!

Look at that chart and notice how the mergers started right after "deregulation".

We DESPERATELY need a non-profit, or a wiki, or automated software, or all three, that do nothing but transparently clarify Who Owns What. To be truly effective, such an org would have to be apolitical -- work for it for your own reasons, but whether you think the Man is oppressing you or that markets work more efficiently with accurate data or that you want an investment guide, everyone wins with better vision.

Except, of course, cheaters, liars, thieves, and would-be aristocrats.

David Brin said...

Couldn't've said it better meself.

WHo owns what is the Big Thing that could transform the world.

Without one act of socialist confiscation or increased taxation, it would bring in so much revenue from cheaters that we could cut debt, increase services and probably slice regular tax rates.

The honest right has to support this. Smith and Hayek demand that only transparent markets are righteous-effective ones.

Stefan Jones said...

Border collie trains infant to be his ball-tossing minion:

Anonymous said...

Why would ocean-nutrient seeding be exempt from the Law of Unintended Consequences?


David Brin said...

Not guaranteed free, but if stirred up bottom mud creates the great fisheries that also pull down CO2, then isn't it a safe bet that some experiments that stiffing up bottom mud -- that you can stop at any time -- might be worth trying?

Corey said...

Brin's right

There's a lot we can do about AGW that has nothing to do with reducing GHG emissions, and as long as its reversible and cost effective (especially if it's stupidly simple), then hell, why not?

The scary ideas are the ones like sulphate aerosol geoengineering. You want to talk about being worried about the law of unintended consequences, in addition to the fact that we have no idea what effect that would have on global climate (there's a lot more to climate than simple forcings affecting temperature), what's really scary is that if we ever started and then realized we had to stop, we wouldn't be able to, because all the CO2 would still be there, so once all the aerosols quickly went away, the Earth would re-adjust itself in a cataclysmic year or two from our forced lower temperature to the CO2-driver higher temperature (a potential difference of three or four C if we're talking decades out), and basically wipe out life as we know it.

As with any issue, there are really good ideas, and then there are just cosmically stupid ideas.

Paul451 said...

Bit old now, but did anyone see the little spat between al Qaeda and Iran over Ahmadinejad's 9/11 conspiracy theory rants.

al Qaeda responded with a WTF in their english language magazine Inspire (WTF!)

"The Iranian government [...] does not believe that al Qaeda was behind 9/11 but rather, the U.S. government,[...] why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?" [...] Al Qaeda... succeeded in what Iran couldn't. Therefore it was necessary for the Iranians to discredit 9/11 and what better way to do so? Conspiracy theories."

Iran responded by saying, "reports released by al Qaeda are usually believed to be produced by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)."

I gotta say, while Iran does appear to be merely trying to undermine a perceived rival, the tactic is actually better than al Qaeda's. Apparently 9/11 conspiracy theories are popular amongst young muslims. If I were AQ, I'd branch off and pretend to form a "splinter group" ("The Real al Qaeda") to "confirm" the 9/11-CIA conspiracy theories and denounce the original AQ. It helps undermine the confidence of US citizens in their government, reduces future US support for wars in muslim nations, and wins immediate support of every idiot conspiracy theorist in the Islamic world.

No, correction, if I were the CIA, I'd do that. Create "The Real al Qaeda" to denounce and rival the "CIA-backed false al Qaeda", and recruit any number of radical muslims as naive agents.

(condrein: German word for the realisation that you can't spell Schadenfreude.)

Paul451 said...

I don't know if this relates to Neal Stephenson's "Innovation Starvation", but something about the fatalism in the bit I quote below made me sad.

Biologists realise that an ammonia eating bacteria produces a tiny amount of hydrazine as part of its metabolic process. Hydrazine is a hypergolic rocket propellant (mostly used in attitude thrusters.)

"The team's work initially piqued NASA's interest, but this faded when the US space agency learned that only small quantities of precious hydrazine are produced, "nothing like enough to get a rocket to Mars," said Jetten."

Somewhere in that bug there's an enzyme that makes rocket fuel for free. And they lost interest.

(huffi: Walked off in one)

Stefan Jones said...

Don't be so hard on NASA.

You need to feed those bacteria, keep them at the right temperature, and collect the hydrazine.

It could be that the yield of hydrazine is so low as to be uneconomical.

sociotard said...

I think his point was that understanding the metabolic process by which the bacteria create hydrazine could be understood, then used to make a catalyst or something that would make hydrazine more efficiently.

In other news:
Cracked has an article on 5 Sci-Fi Ad Techniques That Are About To Make Life Creepier. There's some great transparency issues in there.

Anonymous said...

Miscellenaneous? I've got to get a bigger dictionary...

Tony Fisk said...

What you've to realise about geo-engineering activities is that they aren't a solution (although the iron seeding does tackle the basic issue). Their main purpose would be to buy us time.

Sulphate aerosols is what volcanoes do. We know the side-effects (unpleasant things like acid rain) but they are 'reversible' (sulphates come out of the air fairly quickly)

What got my hair rising was the proposal to release bacteria to take out the methane from melting permafrosts.

Acacia H. said...

One of my internet associates pointed out that Hillary Clinton is setting herself up for a 2016 Presidential run. First up is distancing herself from Obama by stepping down as Secretary of State. Given the state of the Republican candidates, it is likely that Obama should prevail (especially if enough Democrats start running ads pointing out the obstructionism of Republicans which they can claim has caused a Double Dip Recession in all likelihood). And he'll struggle to try and fix things for four more years... and maybe even near the end we'll see the nation pull itself out of the recession despite the government.

Meanwhile, Clinton will be doing speaking tours and the like, building up a war chest, and setting the groundwork to a 2016 run. I'm not sure if there are any viable Democrats that could withstand the Clintons, so it all boils down to who the Republicans get in 2016 and if enough sane Republicans are left to salvage the party (there are a few hints that some Republicans want to try - Christie, for instance, had some fairly harsh words against the Tea Party fanatics and their ilk, and Huntsman has been doing his bit).

Rob H.

Jacob said...

I'm expecting Mike Huckabee to make a strong showing in 2016, but I don't want to think about the 2012 race yet. Its too early.

Tony Fisk said...

Methinks enough energy will be spent on 2012 to worry about 2016 yet.

sociotard said...

Well, she'll be 69 in 2016. Kinda old, really. But, she does have the spine for the job. Moreso than Obama, anyway.

Why do people say "grow some balls"? Balls are weak and sensitive. If you wanna be tough, grow a vagina. Those things can take a pounding ― Betty White

Tim H. said...

We'd be quite fortunate to get a 2016 candidate with the intestinal fortitude to cross major campaign donors when she had to, and the charisma to get away with it. On a more positive note, an interesting solar thermal concept is advancing.

LarryHart said...


One of my internet associates pointed out that Hillary Clinton is setting herself up for a 2016 Presidential run.

I'd vote for her.

One of the biggest reasons I was behind Obama in the 2008 primaries (besides him being from my home state) was that I didn't think Hillary could win in the general. Her showing in the primary kind of changed my mind. By the end of that long, drawn-out race, I was ready to back whichever of the two was the Democratic candidate.

sociotard said...

Well, that's one way to adjust the public's opinion on nuclear power . . .

Visitors Enjoy a Nuclear Amusement Park in Germany
The 190-foot-tall whirling aerial swing in the Wunderland Kalkar amusement park, near the German-Dutch border, claims an unusual distinction: It’s the only ride in the world constructed in a decommissioned nuclear cooling tower. (You can read our primer on nuclear power plants here.) In 1995, Dutch developer Hennie van der Most bought the defunct nuclear power plant from the German government. The site was supposed to house an SNR 300 fast breeder reactor, built from 1972 to 1985, but it never became fully operational.

After the sale, van der Most converted the plant site into a theme park and recreation center. Wunderland Kalkar sees an average of 600,000 visitors a year and boasts more than 40 attractions, including rock-climbing on the outer walls of the cooling tower.

Anonymous said...

"Geo-engineering" is inherently an uncontrolled experiment (until we find or build a spare Earth to use as a "control"). I think the GCM's are reliable enough to indicate we've got a serious problem brewing with the current uncontrolled experiment (burning our carbon too fast), but I wouldn't bet the farm (worse, all the farms) on projected effects of any extra perturbations.

Still, we may have screwed things up enough already that we'll have to try a few GeoEng tricks. Just keep 'em small, OK? and don't pretend they eliminate the need to kick our collective carbon habit.

"Save the Earth - it's our only source of chocolate"


Tony Fisk said...

RIP Steve Jobs

I reflect that this is sad news on two fronts

1. he was an innovator: well respected and liked (even if I, personally, was never too fond of Macs)

2. I learned of it while following the twitter stream for #occupywallstreet (protest now est. 50000). #stevejobs is trending, #occupywallstreet is not. Why is this?

sociotard said...

I always thought Jobs was the poster child for the "mutant level talent" theory. I mean, Apple had a lot of CEOs and managers, but it was only when Jobs was at the helm that they did amazing. That tells me that finding managment talent like Jobs' is hard.

Tim H. said...

The Steve was one of the few CEOs worth the money. My impression was that making world-changing devices was just a bit more important than the money, funny how some of the most successful businesses have been run by people without formal business training.
"pretania", nation of fakers.

Paul451 said...

Tim H,
"The Steve was one of the few CEOs worth the money."

Wasn't he paid something like one-dollar-a-year base salary?

David Brin said...

He sure made my apple shares go up. And I've bought bunches of Apples. Wrote my 2nd novel on an Apple II with a serial number in 5 digits. (stolen alas.)

He fought for us cro-magnons who think with human logic and want machines to do what we want clearly, without releasing hundreds of little imps to pound your head with ball Pean hammers (the Microsoft approach...)

( I loathe Word so much that I do all my writing in 1997 Word Perfect for Macintosh and use an ancient mac because it won't run on Intel chips! Alas, I must do my final REWRITES in Word. What a torture device.)

Oh, by the way. Just finished the big rewrite... One hour before my birthday starts. Still must write an Afterword. But the beast is done. Finished. Over. Finito.

Hope you all will enjoy it.

Tony Fisk said...

Happy birthday, Dave. May you find a more worthy wording tool.

I look forward to reading the Beast (currently ploughing through what Martin referred to as 'Kong': having spent the last twelve years drinking himself across the Narrow Sea, the Imp is getting dried out.)

Meanwhile, try this experiment:
- Open two browser pages onto twitter
- search hashtags #ows (or #occupywallstreet) and #ThankyouSteve
- Leave them for a while, and note the number of tweets that build up
- Now look at which one's trending.

(Currently 479 vs 424. Yes, Steve is getting a few more tributes, but not that many more. I would expect both to be there, especially since the Steve trend is considered a record!)

Tony Fisk said...

Both are outstripping 'deep blue sea'

Paul451 said...

Research into drug-free anti-rejection techniques seems to be paying off for organ transplants.

'tis clever. They suppress the recipient's immune system, then flood them with immune cells from the donor. The thymus basically polls the immune cells to see if they recognise the intruder, and, since the introduced immune cells are in majority, they win.

And then the losing cells are destroyed. (Glenn Beck warned you! He warned you!) Which protects the transplanted organ. Once a new generation of immune cells develops, you can ease off the anti-rejection drugs.

(gensylim: Ask your doctor if Gensylim is right for you. gensylimmaycausenauseacomaanddeath)

guthrie said...

This looks interesting to me - "the network of corporate control"

Basically showing how closely intertwined the TNC's are. One of the commenters calls for radical transparency, which would I am sure fit in with the sousveillance promoted by our host.

TwinBeam said...

I've been away for about a week, but in scanning recent posts...

I'm rather surprised that there hasn't been any outrage expressed here about President Bush's illegal assassination of Al-Awlaki.

David Brin said...

I find the outrage over it because he's a US citizen to be contrived and dumb. If we're to be outraged over nonjudicial and non-combat killing, let it be in general.

I think this is on VERY shaky moral grounds. One step I would take is to publicly post the names of people who have self-described as enemies of the US. That isn't prima facie cause to kill them! But it puts an onus on them to at least publicly deny it.

If they don't, then they at least have self-placed in a general category that can then be augmented by further evidence. But war is not a court of law.

The glass is half full. war has become MORE like police work, by leaps and bounds.

David Brin said...

In the end, Steve Jobs's personal wealth wasn't all that impressive. Nearly all of it - $7billion - came from selling Pixar to Disney!

His estimated Apple wealth, just a billion! Because he sold all his apple shares in the 90s. If he had kept them, he'd be the 5th richest person alive, right now!

He took a $1 a year salary, like the Google guys. Dang, talk about the diametric opposite of Wall Street parasites!

guthrie said...

Argh, forgot the link...

soc said...

This is a post in the comments section of a podcast about Adam Smith over at the Guardian.

I thought some might find it interesting:

"The 'invisible hand' often turns out to be an invisible boot.

I want to back to Aristotle who in NICHOMACHEAN ETHICS made a distinction between Economics and CHRESMATICS. What ever is done for private gain without contributing at the same time to public gain falls under Chresmatics. For example, trading in derivatives or currency speculation is a chresmatical activity.

In fact, reflection shows that a good deal of what is taken to be economic activity is truly chresmatic.

Aristotle is much more lucid than Adam Smith"

sociotard said...

China's state TV accompanied coverage of the historic launch of the country's first space laboratory with a patriotic US song, America the Beautiful.

Oh and regarding Jobs, I found this amusing:
Westboro will picket his funeral. He had a huge platform; gave God no glory & taught sin,” Margie Phelps tweeted — from her iPhone.

Tony Fisk said...

Stephen Fry has a great post on Steve Jobs (including a fascinating and true 'what if...' anecdote involving Tim Berners-Lee)

My own Apple moment came around the same time (or shortly after) David was writing his first story.

I was putting together my Honors thesis, which involved comparing the relative intensities of X-rays. Unfortunately, one peak I was after happened to overlap another peak and, while there were computer programs floating around that were able to determine the best fit, I was either unaware of them or unable to use them.

My final solution? To sit down in front of the res. college's newly acquired Apple II computer (after the pangolin/brick out players had left it), type in my data (the relevant bits), display the result graphically, and poke in parameters until I got two gaussian peaks that matched the spectrum.

It got me a few wry smiles at my presentation, but I don't think this would be an approved method today!

fornated: code that has been subjected to the unagile re-fracking technique of converting while into for loops

Stefan Jones said...

There are pictures on MSNBC of folks around the world leaving flowers in front of Apple Stores. How strange and wonderful.

The Pixar part of Job's contribution is important. It was more of a lab than a studio when he bought it from Lucasfilm. Some of the movies it has produced since then have been silly kidsplotation (Cars 2), but most are, as Jobs would say, insanely great, such as the breathtakingly sharp cosmic satire Wall-E, and the tribute to artistry Ratatouille.

Tony Fisk said...

Interstellar turbulence revealed

exesse: the perfume of indignation

rewinn said...

"...I'm rather surprised that there hasn't been any outrage expressed here about President Bush's illegal assassination of Al-Awlaki..."

I'm not.

A flip response would be that those of us who care about law have become so numbed by George W Bush's thousands of felony-murders (felony-murder: a death that occurs as a result of a felony; among other things, Bush violated 18 USC 1001) that we are no longer capable of outrage at yet one more killing.

But that's not really it. A more responsive reply is that most Americans have a sense that the killing of Al-Awlaki (and of bin Ladn before him) was a wise act, and simply don't want to think about whether the law permitted it or not.

However I, personally and as a student of law, express no outrage because the killings were clearly legal under the law of piracy. Al Qaeda is many things, and one of them is an organization that pirated air vessels. Pirates may be killed where found.


You can't torture pirates; the classical law of piracy does not admit inhumane treatment and in the current era, the torturer has become, like the pirate, the common enemy of all humankind. If you choose to imprison them, then you are not choosing to treat them as pirates, and must choose to treat them as POWs or as criminals; there are plenty of rules for each case. I would have vastly preferred that one or the other course were taken, but understand the practical issue involved and ... to directly meet @Twinbeam's challenge ... my preferences don't make anything illegal.

I understand that reasonable parties have expressed concern about what they call extra-judicial killings. It is impossible to credit such complaints unless they equally complain about extra-judicial killings of citizens and non-citizens; our Constitution limits Government power against citizens and non-citizens alike. However these honestly-structured complaints are mistaken with respect to Al Qaeda (whereas they would seem well-founded as against the Taliban) because the law of nations is explicitly incorporated into the Constitution, including the law of piracy.

There remains the political question of potential Executive overuse of this power; let us hope that future presidents do not mis-extend this power to software pirates or to political foes. However such concerns clearly do not apply to the current case and as for the rest, there is never any security other than vigilance.

We may or may not like this legal structure, but there is is.

Acacia H. said...

Not to mention it was President Obama who put him on the Kill List, not Bush. He was put on the Kill List after Obama became President. Bush may have instituted the policy, but it's Obama's finger on the trigger.

Rob H.

rewinn said...

@Robert - I'd assumed that @Twinbeam had just typo'd, and I maek enoghu of thoes taht I c'ant honetsly critize one. Or it may have been irony.

That said, it's certainly worth watching the growth of executive power, since history doesn't show a lot of people following George Washington's example of turning down the opportunity to be king.

Paul451 said...

"@Robert - I'd assumed that @Twinbeam had just typo'd,"

I took it as a dig at Obama. (Ie, the new boss is the same as the old boss.)

Acacia H. said...

Something just dawned on me about the ongoing Wall Street Protests (or maybe I should call them the 99% Protests?) - this is the uprising Karl Marx had talked about, of the proletariat vs. the Rich. Any time now we'll start seeing Republicans denouncing these protesters as Communists and Socialists and demanding police arrest them as traitors to the nation - at least, once Republicans realize what this is akin to.

More seriously, I am surprised that Republicans have tried to just sweep this under the rug. I think the 99% Protests have achieved critical mass. They're not going to just shut up and give up. So we're going to end up seeing one of two things happen: either law enforcement will be forced to crack down on the 99% Protests and things will get really ugly really fast... or Wall Street will try to wait them out until Old Man Winter forces the protesters to give up.

I don't see any political action happening. Republicans won't let anything go through, and I doubt Democrats will find common ground with Republicans, especially given how the Progressive Base has gotten up in arms now.

Rob H.

immob: new laws are passed making it a crime for one-person mobs to appear in public

Acacia H. said...

Oh, and back to science, here's an interesting article concerning the formation of the planet Uranus, which is now believed to have been struck by several Earth-sized objects to cause it to be on its side; this would have happened before its moons formed, otherwise they'd be going in the opposite direction.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

It's the "(Not the) End of the World Cruise!" Come with us to sea and celebrate the world Not coming to an end during the winter solstice in 2012 with parties, special guests & speakers, including astronaut Steve Hawley, Authors David Brin and Robert Sawyer, plus several scientists. Featuring snorkeling, costume party, fascinating talks, and a visit to the Mayan Tulum ruins on Dec. 21, 2012. Prices from $599 to $999 plus tax /person.

During the week that some think will be the world’s last (see note * at bottom), we’re offering a more enlightened, and enlightening, week-long cruise in the beautiful Caribbean. (Also, what better place to be, either way? ;-)

TwinBeam said...

Rewinn - perhaps you could list a few of the actions of Al-Awlaki that constituted piracy?

rewinn said...

@Twinbeam - ....perhaps you could list a few of the actions of Al-Awlaki that constituted piracy?

1. AA was a member of AQ (evidence: his own statements)

2. AQ was a pirate gang (...among other things....)


A pirate's surgeon or pamphleteer may be personally nonviolent but is a pirate none-the-less.
As I stated, IMO it would have been better to capture AA and bin Ladn and try them as common criminals or, if one insists upon calling this a war, then as POWs. (...POWs can be tried as criminals if they commit criminal acts...). And of course any expansion of the practice of executive power is dangerous; if @Twinbeam is suggesting that presidents should go on trial for ordering killings, then I am fine with that.

Let's start with the trial of George W Bush for ordering the killing of 4000+ Americans (and God knows how many Iraqis) as a foreseeable result of his clear violation of his obligation under 18 USC 1001 to furnish only truthful information to Congress. In practical terms, *that* is a far greater threat to our Constitutional order than the killing of a few pirates.

But to the extent that the question is one of "legality" and not wisdom nor politics, there really isn't an issue. If anyone thinks there is, please cite the relevant statute.

rewinn said...

"...any time now we'll start seeing Republicans denouncing these protesters as Communists...

Well, they're already calling them "mobs".

"...I don't see any political action happening...."

That raises some really interesting questions; assuming that major parties are deeply chained to the aristocracy of wealth (the GOP 100%, the Democrats only maybe 60%) it may be expected that neither party will be willing to meet the 99% needs. But there may be hope. The top 400 may have half the wealth and the 99% may have insignificant financial resources, but between them is a stratum ... the "Millionaires Not Billionaires" ... who may be starting to hurt because without customers, they can do no business. They, too, may be threatened by corruption on Wall Street, since they have to park their money *somewhere*, and unregulated financial markets have proven time and again to be the ruin of otherwise prudent businesscritters. There may yet be a fruitful alliance between small business and the unemployed, if only because the former need the latter to be healthy.

And what is new in history is the internet. We as a species are learning faster than before. Unfortunately, so is the Aristocracy.

David Brin said...

I'll be holding an open house meet-up in New York City on Monday, October 17, at around 8:30pm at O'Reilly's, 21 W 35th St.(upstairs: byo-drinks.)

An informal gathering of folks who love the future, sci fi or just lots of talk! (If you really like all those things, then check out the Singularity Summit I'm speaking-at:

I'll also be the Guest of Contraflow, the New Orleans science fiction convention ( November 4-6. What fun!

Tony Fisk said...

Follow #ows on twitter for any length of time, and you'll already see a few snarks about communists.

At this time, the '(not the) end of world' cruise sounds a bit like the bit in Heinlein's 'To Sail Beyond the Sunset', where Maureen Long and family cash in and go for a Carribbean cruise just as Wall St crashes.

Tony Fisk said...

In which it is shown that 'whiteshirts' are skilled in the art of Llap-Goch.

(You will also hear the sounds of other police jaws hitting the deck)

Anonymous said...

I'm rather surprised that there hasn't been any outrage expressed here about President Bush's illegal assassination of Al-Awlaki.


How is this different from all the other deaths Bush ordered?

Acacia H. said...

I think I've come across one of the most disturbing science fiction stories around - about the dangers of short-term time travel.

Rob H.