One of the best articles I’ve read on the math used to estimate Gulf Oil Spill quantities: Jenn Kepka’s “Putting the Gulf oil spill in perspective”, Salon.com, 5/28.
Some interesting commentary on Sotomayor and the First Amendment from Paul Levinson:
I haven’t had time yet to dig into Sotomayor on intellectual property, telecomm, and other information law issues, but this is discouraging.
Franken of course I have hopes for: After Fox News sued him for trademark infringement for putting its logo “Fair and Balanced” on the cover of his book (Lies and the Lying Liars Who tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right) Franken ought to have a good sense of why trademark fair use, at least, is important.
Yes, yes, the Inauguration is a big deal. And I am soooo glad that our long national nightmare is finally over.
There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our politics, fellow Horatios.
Recent physics results help stitch together a number of findings, unexplained phenomena, and the usual bizarre physics theories into something which I find both compelling and, frankly, a bit disturbing.
The gist is that the universe, as we know it, in its adorable 3-dimensionality, is really a projection of the 2-dimensional edge of the universe. No, seriously.
For many months, the GEO600 team-members had been scratching their heads over inexplicable noise that is plaguing their giant detector. Then, out of the blue, a researcher approached them with an explanation. In fact, he had even predicted the noise before he knew they were detecting it. According to Craig Hogan, a physicist at the Fermilab particle physics lab in Batavia, Illinois, GEO600 has stumbled upon the fundamental limit of space-time – the point where space-time stops behaving like the smooth continuum Einstein described and instead dissolves into “grains”, just as a newspaper photograph dissolves into dots as you zoom in. “It looks like GEO600 is being buffeted by the microscopic quantum convulsions of space-time,” says Hogan.
If this doesn’t blow your socks off, then Hogan, who has just been appointed director of Fermilab’s Center for Particle Astrophysics, has an even bigger shock in store: “If the GEO600 result is what I suspect it is, then we are all living in a giant cosmic hologram.”
The idea that we live in a hologram probably sounds absurd, but it is a natural extension of our best understanding of black holes, and something with a pretty firm theoretical footing. It has also been surprisingly helpful for physicists wrestling with theories of how the universe works at its most fundamental level.
The holograms you find on credit cards and banknotes are etched on two-dimensional plastic films. When light bounces off them, it recreates the appearance of a 3D image. In the 1990s physicists Leonard Susskind and Nobel prizewinner Gerard ‘t Hooft suggested that the same principle might apply to the universe as a whole. Our everyday experience might itself be a holographic projection of physical processes that take place on a distant, 2D surface.
Marcus Chown, “Our world may be a giant hologram”, New Scientist issue #2691 (Jan. 15, 2009).
You have to read the whole thing.
This is going to be rocking my brain for a long time to come.
hat-tip to larry shaw ….
It will begin including the following journals: Cosmos and History, Culture Machine, Fibreculture, Film-Philosophy, International Journal of Zizek Studies, Parrhesia and Vectors.
link from peter suber @ open access news
The current New Yorker (2008/5/12) is chock-full of good stuff:
* Malcolm Gladwell, In the Air, New Yorker. link from MC on closed mailing list
Invention is part of zeitgeist. Many people come up with the same ideas at the same moment — true in her field, my partner says, and it looks true from any study of the history of science.
Also I liked the section toward the end about how the practice of naming discoveries after the putative discoverer is silly at best.
* Tim Wu, Fan Feud, covering the J.K. Rowling / lexicon suit and hearing.
New Jersey’s Supreme Court has recognized that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their email communications — thus, law enforcement has to get a search warrant or grand jury subpoena. This was under the New Jersey Constitution and applies only to New Jersey. It’s the first major case finding a state constitutional privacy right in electronic records.
Although it feels weird to talk about Colombia without addressing the political issues, I nevertheless present this io9 link + pictures of a beautiful and strange library in Casanera.
That’s a paraphrase of what an Illinois state Rep. Monique Davis told a man who was protesting the state of Illinois’ $1M grant to a church. Read more at Eric Zorn’s Chicago Tribune blog.
link from an David S-J on an atheist mailing list
A friend‘s FaceBook entry pointed me to an amazing article in Bitch Magazine: “Hard Times” by Sarah Seltzer. Seltzer defines and describes the pattern and statistics of the reviews of books by women, describing both the gender disproportionality, and an editorial pattern of assigning writers who are likely to dismiss feminist works.
The awesomeness of Miro
Miro is the awesome successor to the Democracy TV player. It’s open source and supports open content. It’s being developed by the Participatory Culture Foundation, whose president, NAME, was recently interviewed at Groklaw.
Reville had this to say about DRM:
[Miro is] not [compatible with DRM], and we don’t support DRM. We think it’s a terrible technology for consumers. We think it’s terrible for the public. It restricts people’s free speech and copyright rights in a whole number of ways. And what’s really going to turn the tide … is that major media companies, like the major record labels, are realizing that when they put DRM on the media that they’re trying to sell, they sell less of it. … I think the television, movie and other video companies … will eventually realize that they’re limiting their own sales, and they’re not preventing any kind of unauthorized distribution by putting DRM onto their media.
… and followed it up with these comments on net neutrality and the impact on lawful activities of ISPs being pushed into network filtering or other non-neutral practices:
We think that net neutrality is vital to the health of the Internet and our hope is that, in the United States and globally, that that will become part of the law for ISPs, and there’s candidates like Barack Obama that have come out really clearly supporting that neutrality. As soon as you get into things like filtering, restricting what type of technologies people can use to share information, you’re going to start locking out speech, and you’re going to start shutting down important ways that people are talking to each other.
Miro, for instance, supports BitTorrent, which is known I think among most people as an unauthorized file sharing platform. But the way Miro uses it is people connect to channels in the Miro guide that are video offered by the publisher in BitTorrent format because it lets them deliver very high [quality] video at very, very low cost. And so you have channels like Democracy Now, for instance, that uses BitTorrent to distribute multi hundreds of megabyte video files every day, and instead of incurring massive bandwidth costs, they’re able to use BitTorrent to keep that price way down. Once you start restricting BitTorrent at the ISP level, that means that organizations like Democracy Now are no longer able to get that message out. It’s just that simple. …
This rant about sexism in open source communities brightened my day.
The large Australian book chain Angus & Robertson has apparently decided it would be a good idea to send invoices to small presses for the lower profit that A&R received from their books (described as a “profit gap”). Not only is this extortionate, clueless, and bad business management, it’s also hilarious reading.
- the Sydney Morning Herald published the original letter & a hilarious dressing down from one of the outraged recipients; Teresa Nielsen Hayden did an awesome annotation of both.
- The clueless chain bookstore company, aware that somewhere on the Internets they were getting some bad press, tries to insert their foot into their mouth more gracefully this time.
- A parody of their first attempt
(and of course boing boing covered it)
The Thai police are requiring delinquent or troublemaking cops to wear “hello kitty” armbands as a badge of shame. [nyt 8/7] i wonder if that would work here in the US ….
why? because i keep seeing interesting things but don’t have enough time to get all discursive on ‘em.
in the realm of stupid, check out ASCAP’s contribution to the “let’s teach our kids the copyright corporations’ view of copyright” animated video wars: “Donny the Downloader“.
spam subject of the day: apocalyptic daze dinnerware. i like it because, (A), how cool is the idea of an “apocalyptic daze”. and (B), it’s a modifier for dinnerware! like a cool new pattern from noritake.
Over on Dan Savage’s blog I caught this video with Australian comic John Safran sharing his thoughts on Mormon missionaries — and then making his point in person to assorted Salt Lake City residents by knocking on their doors to talk to them about atheism. Hilarious.
A perfect example of how copyright paranoia can be used as an excuse to stifle the very uses which copyright law ought to foster:
In an interesting twist on press subpoenas, Army prosecutors have subpoenaed journalists to get them to vouch for published quotes — not source information or unpublished information. [SFgate 12/18.] The prosecutors hope to use the quotes to prosecute First Lt. Ehren Watada, who denounced the war on Iraq as illegal and refused to deploy.
Sarah Olson, an Oakland journalist who wrote about Watada, said she had no legal grounds to refuse but she noted that “If conscientious objectors know that they can be prosecuted for speaking to the press and that the press will participate in their prosecution, it stands to reason that they would think twice before being public about their positions.”
The subpoena requires not just an attestation but participation in a January 2007 hearing and the court-martial of Lt. Watada, under penalty of contempt of the military tribunal. Olson and the other journalists subpoenaed can be put in jail for refusing to comply.
One of the statements that Lt. Watada is being charged for is:
As I read about the level of deception the Bush administration used to initiate and process this war, I was shocked. I became ashamed of wearing the uniform. How can we wear something with such a time-honored tradition, knowing we waged war based on a misrepresentation and lies?’
You can look at each little skid on a slippery slope individually and note that it’s not that big a deal.
Or at least those who stuck around for the drug tests. After Gainesville, Florida, implemented drug testing for its library volunteers, the number of volunteers, most of whom were senior citizens, dropped from 55 to 2.
Bill Maher gave this story the fisking it deserves, and radref at Radical Reference pointed me to it to begin with. Then I realized that, no, I had seen it before on sivacracy, but that portion of the tape got wiped.
I really had thought, somehow, that this country had turned the corner on ever-increasing numbers of ridiculous, pointless, and oppressive drug tests, but perhaps not.