Posted by toadstar on 3:14 PM

Link Dump For 6/30/08:

I have a bunch of windows open and want to share some before I close them.

*Devo sues McDonalds for ripping off the rockin' Devo hat and putting it on some cheesy American Idol toy. My son has this one and that was the first thing I said-Devo! He has another one that has a mohawk and when you press down the mohawk it plays some crap version of 'God Save the Queen". Hopefully Uncle Johnny will sue them too.... The best part of the article and yet another reason for loving Devo (aside from their amazing cover of Satisfaction) is this quote:

"They didn't ask us anything. Plus, we don't like McDonald's, and we don't
like American Idol, so we're doubly offended."

And so are we.

* Neatorama brings us the Top 10 Strangest Anti-Terrorism Patents. Pictured above is one of my favorites, the rapid response patrol and antiterrorist vehicle. Is that awesome or what? I looks like something that Sgt. Bosco B.A. Baracus* and crew would whip up at the end of another exciting episode of The A-Team inorder to whoop up on the bad guys, save the village/town/hostle/whatever before collecting the money and running off into the sunset...

* I dub this the T-roll...

(edited to fix a link)

Posted by toadstar on 3:12 PM

The British War Against Photography:

The Register has an interesting article entitled 'The War on Photographers-You're All al Qaeda Suspects Now.' In which they talk about the recent upsurge in police and security personnel harassing people for taking pictures. All in the name of nation security. Similar instances have happened in the United States, but it seems to be occurring in the UK at an alarming rate.

There is a theory put forth by futurist Jamais Cascio called the Participatory Panopticon. Basically it answers the question, who watches the watchers. We do. Thanks to ever increasing digital media capacity and ubiquitous camera phones it is possible for us to record almost every aspect of our lives (and in the near future we will be able to). Not only that but with almost unlimited storage capacity, we are uploading our lives to the Internet. What happens when our lives are uploaded? Transparency. If I have an argument with my wife (which would never happen ;) ) she would have the ability to say "oh yes you did, look." and I would have no choice but to admit mea culpa.

Already you can see the affect of the participatory panopticon. At the 2004 Republican Convention hundreds were arrested for demonstrating. When in court the police showed videographic evidence of the protesters wrongdoings-the only problem was that the footage was doctored. Defendants were able to find footage shot by others at the demonstration on their camera phones and it showed no wrong doing. Most of the people arrested were let go.

So if the very tool that we are using to watch the watchers is perceived as being a tool of the terrorists how can the participatory panopticon carry on? If the police were able to stop people from taking pictures at the 2004 Convention, how many more people would be arrested, and how many would still be sitting in jail?

Posted by toadstar on 11:20 AM

Because I'm Feeling Lazy-A Link Dump:

*First the awesome. A 3D Holographic display. I've been waiting for one of those since I first saw Star Wars. Now all I need is my jet pack and flying car and I'm a happy boy.

*This makes me angry. I guess that the constitution and my civil rights are only worth $8359. Sweet. I wonder what the constitution has to say about it? Let's find out, US Constitution, Article 1, Section 9: No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed. Hmmmm...

And what is Barack Obama's position? Silence. I think that Wil Wheaton put it best when he said:

Wouldn't it be awesome if a senator who had expressed non-ambiguous
opposition to the Protect AT&T act in the past joined in the filibuster
against it?
Wouldn't it be even more awesome if the vast majority of that
senator's base -- oh hell, forget the base, let's open it up to the vast
majority of all Americans -- opposed amnesty for law-breaking telcos and
expanded spying powers for the White House, making this a slam dunk win for that
senator, giving him a chance to show some serious leadership?
Oh! Oh! Oh! And
wouldn't it be the most awesome EVER if that senator was running for president,
and could use this issue to show Americans that he was seriously committed to
changing the way things happen in Washington?!
Yeah, that sure sounds like a
perfect dream scenario, doesn't it?
Oh well. A guy can dream. Yeah . . . a
guy can dream.

(Here's t hoping that Wil is cooler than the AP, because that was more than five words.)

*Looks like you can expect more commercials on the AM/FM dial thanks to the US Senate. I wonder how much the musicians will actually make off of this. The RIAA must be getting desperate for money-maybe they need it to pay back all those court fees. You know, I know someone in the music industry he says that he makes money from touring, not albums, not radio, they make all their money going on tour. The RIAA just can't adjust to living in a post scarcity world (as far as music goes, we have a way to go before we have a post-scarcity society, but again a guy can dream.)

*This next one is an AP article, so I'm just going to paraphrase the headline-Some dude in Germany set fire to his car because he was mad about the cost of gas. Why don't you just take the bus like everyone else? I know that I have and now I have stories that begin with the phrase "there was this crackhead on the bus this morning...." Good times, good times.
(edited to correct a link. Twice...)

Posted by toadstar on 3:53 PM

Million Mile Mission:

As a science fiction writer/reader, I love space. I love it's limitless possibilities. I love it's infinite reach and beauty. So it goes that I'm real excited about all the renewed talk of space exploration. I am disappointed that we do not already have a colony on the moon, I am saddened to think that the last time we landed on the moon was 1976. It was like we said, been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

Today I found this article that both excites me and in a way depresses me. The exciting part is obviously a freakin mission to a freakin asteroid! I'm even more jazzed about landing on an asteroid, because I'm in the middle of reading 'River of Gods' by Ian McDonald (which I'm totally enjoying, I love watching all these puzzle pieces fall into place) which has people landing on asteroids (I don't want to give any of the book away, lets just say that if you have read it you'll be like oh, yea that is cool....).

But the part that depresses me is this:

Jones is part of an unofficial group of NASA actives and alums who have
been studying, mostly on their own time, the particulars—engineering
requirements, mission trajectories, scientific payoffs, and costs—of a human
trip to an asteroid. Like the Mars Underground, a larger group of enthusiasts
who for the past 20-plus years have been pushing for a voyage to Mars, the
asteroid agitators are trying to build support for a mission.

Shouldn't this be the job? Not the freetime hobby, but the job?

Charles Stross had an interesting blog post a little while ago, in which he put forth other ways that we could have spent the billions of dollars wasted in Iraq. One of his suggestions was to set up a colony on Mars:
Either way, the direct costs of the Iraq war exceed the maximum cost
estimate for a manned Mars expedition, infrastructure and all, by 20%. If we
take $20Bn as the cost per mission and $450Bn as the cost to develop the
technology to go there, the direct cost of the Iraq war would be sufficient to
develop a gold-plated Mars expeditionary capability and send six crews of
astronauts to Mars (and bring them back afterwards).
Going by Stiglitz's
indirect estimates, the picture is even more ludicrous; for $3Tn, assuming a
crew of four per expedition, $20Bn per flight, and a basic $450 start-up price,
you could send 510 astronauts to Mars. That's not a Mars exploration program,
that's a battalion! It's a small colony! Regular readers will be familiar with
my opinion of plans to colonize Mars ...

And finally, MarsPhoenix has posted that it has discovered ice on Mars. I would love to get a peek of that under a microscope.

Posted by toadstar on 2:33 PM

I'm Beginning to See the Light:

The dark cloud that has sat over my life for the past couple of months has started to move on and now I am being treated to a beautiful sunrise. My car is back (but now it's in pieces due to engine problems), my house is out of foreclosure, I've started to see a therapist and have started on some new meds. For the first time in a long time my cup is half full. Tomorrow is no longer dark and gloomy, it's filled with hope and joy and best of all I get to share it with my wife and kids.

I just opened a Twitter account, so if you want to follow me around, you can do so here.

Jackson Pollock by Miltos Manetas