• Blog Categories

  • del.icio.us links

Uh…yeah, OJ Did It.

Posted Date: November 30, 2007

Oh yeah, he definitely did, <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retrograde_amnesia&#8221; target=”_self”>retrograde amnesia</a> or not.&nbsp; <br><br><a href=”http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gwXXBU9-InHgXXvu-dN7FNTkDe_gD8T7RRNG0&#8243; target=”_self”>PDF is still available on piratesbay.org</a>, or at your local bookseller.<br><br>”It was like part of my life was missing—like there was some weird gap in my existence. But how could that be? I was standing right there. That was me, right?&nbsp; I again looked down at myself, at my blood-soaked clothes, and noticed the knife in my hand. The knife was covered in blood, as were my hand and wrist and half of my right forearm.”<br><br>”I guess people remember what they want to remember.”<br><br><br>

The Act of a True Patriot

No more National Security Letters!&nbsp; W00t!&nbsp; Federal court judge Victor Marrero struck down portions of the Patriot Act that were clearly unconstitutional.<br><br>National Security Letters were used by the FBI to get customer information from internet ISPs and telephone companies without a warrant.&nbsp;&nbsp; Anybody served with one of these notices was also given a “gag order”, meaning they could not talk to anybody about the order, including their own attorney.<br><br><a href=”http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070906-patriot-act-provision-struck-down-by-federal-court.html&#8221; target=”_self”>From the article</a>:<br>Although Marrero recognizes the importance of preserving national security, he asserts in his decision that “The Constitution was designed so that the dangers of any given moment would never suffice as justification for discarding fundamental individual liberties or circumscribing the judiciary’s unique role under our governmental system in protecting those liberties and upholding the rule of law.”<br><br>So eloquent; and so true.&nbsp; We are at war with an abstract noun (terror), how many other abstract nouns (liberty, justice, truth) are we willing to give up to win?&nbsp; We (most) all recognize that there is a problem with militant Islamo-fascism.&nbsp; We recognize that privacy rights may need to be redefined.&nbsp; But there are those that would violate our highest law to do this, and that is wrong.&nbsp; <br><br>The fact is, a Constitutional Amendment would be required to make current intelligence tactics legal; the current tactics are illegal even though they are supported by Congressional law and kept away from the Judicial Branch through “state secrets privilege”.<br><br>The concept of a law being illegal is clearly defined in the US, by the Constitution and the Balance of Powers it contains.&nbsp; This reminds me of the Israeli military concept of an “<a href=”http://www.commondreams.org/cgi-bin/print.cgi?file=/views02/0506-04.htm&#8221; target=”_self”>illegal command</a>” I read about in “Unspeakable Acts”, related to the “<a href=”http://www.wrmea.com/backissues/0789/8907039a.html&#8221; target=”_self”>The Night of the Broken Clubs</a><a href=”http://www.observer.com/node/42715&#8243; target=”_self”></a>”. (link leads to original account).<br><br>In military court, those who passed on the orders to break the arms and legs of innocent civilians were punished, as it was found that the orders clearly violated the basic morality of Jewish culture.<br><br>The thing is, this all started when Yitzhak Rabin said “We should break their arms and legs”.&nbsp;&nbsp; This statement was taken literally, and the orders were carried out, but Rabin &amp; Co. were never punished.&nbsp; In fact, this is the same Rabin who later won the Noble Peace Prize.<br><span style=”font-family: times new roman; font-size: 16px;”></span>

Notes from the Singularity

Posted Date: September 18, 2007 – Tuesday – 7:25 AM

“Robbie the Row-Boat’s great crisis of faith came when the coral reef woke up”

“She laughed. ‘No, I meant out there on the net. They must be online by now, right? They just woke up, so they’re probably doing all the noob stuff, flaming and downloading warez and so on.’

‘Perpetual September,’ Robbie said.


‘Back in the net’s prehistory it was mostly universities online, and every September a new cohort of students would come online and   make all those noob mistakes. Then this commercial service full of noobs called AOL interconnected with the net and all its users came online at once, faster than the net could absorb them, and they called it Perpetual September.’

‘You’re some kind of amateur historian, huh?'”

I, Row-Boat” (link to full story), by Cory Doctorow.

The excerpts above are from a short story by Cory Doctorow, my favorite of the new author-bloggers.   For those of you who don’t read science fiction (and that’s probably most of you), you should totally check out the short story.  If you do, let me know what you think!

This story pays homage to classic sci-fi, even the title is a reference to “I, Robot”, a famous collection of Robot stories by Isaac Asimov.  But the coldly scientific and clinical future of Asimov does not exist in Doctorow’s storytelling, or in most modern science fiction.

Minds represented in a flock of pigeons, barrier reefs become sentient and start flame wars on bulletin boards, weird Godelian proofs act as memetic viruses, virtual reality, really really weird virtual reality, spam bots develop into the first AI, sysadmins rule the world.

After all, science fiction is just tomorrow extrapolated from today.  In the US in the Fifties it was easy to believe in the triumph of science and civilization.  In the Sixties through Nineties things have changed quite a bit.  People developed a well placed mistrust against the inherently amoral principles of science, and also against the inherently immoral principles of power.

In the Naughts, science fiction continues to represent “tomorrow”, and it’s a messy, interesting future.  Moore’s Law.  The Hubbert Peak. The Internet.  Insolvency.  Memetics.  Climate Change. Fundamentalism.

Complexity, nonlinearity, uncertainty, computation; singularities, these dominate the science fiction of today.  Good stuff.

“Geoffrey/Grasper is their general. He knows every nook and cranny of the house. He knows better, too, than to play at memes and infinite loops and logic bombs with the pilgrim, who has had a billion years to refine his arsenal of general-purpose algorithmic weapons.

Instead, the Graspers instantiate physically.”
The House Beyond Your Sky” (link to full story), by Benjamin Rosenbaum