All those topics that i wish i had time to pursue more earnestly.
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Posts from — June 2006

Shutting Down Science

Shutting Down Science:
In January 2001 the New England Journal of Medicine published a study showing that reducing salt in the diet could lower blood pressure, even in people without hypertension. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which funded the study, quickly posted a press release on its Web site announcing the findings.

The Salt Institute, an industry group, was stung by the study’s results. Unable to challenge the data on scientific grounds, the institute found another way to attack them. It filed a petition under the Data Quality Act–a law ironically intended to ensure that regulations are based on solid science–arguing that the findings did not meet the act’s standards and that the heart institute had therefore broken the law by posting them…
this was dumb of them on both sides. one study does not a finding make and policy should not come from one finding.

June 29, 2006   2 Comments

Chinese, English speakers vary at math

Chinese, English speakers vary at math:
But native English speakers also showed activity in a language processing area of the brain, while native Chinese speakers used a brain region involved in the processing of visual information, according to the report in Tuesday’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

this lends something to the sapir-worf hypothesis…..

June 29, 2006   1 Comment

Man charged after videotaping police Man charged after videotaping police
NASHUA – A city man is charged with violating state wiretap laws by recording a detective on his home security camera, while the detective was investigating the man’s sons.Michael Gannon, 49, of 26 Morgan St., was arrested Tuesday night, after he brought a video to the police station to try to file a complaint against Detective Andrew Karlis, according to Gannon’s wife, Janet Gannon, and police reports filed in Nashua District Court.

this has better be canceled at the court level…

June 29, 2006   No Comments

Know your rights when you’ve been pulled over

Know your rights when you’ve been pulled over:
The Flex Your Rights Foundation has posted a 45-minute video on Google designed to help you understand your rights next time a cop pulls you over.

We’ve touched on the issue of how to handle police car searches once or twice before, but this video, apart from being fairly dorky, should help you get an idea of your rights on the road. Thanks Jason! — Adam Pash

be aware of your rights…. so you can reminisce when they are taken away…

June 29, 2006   No Comments

More Everyware

More Everyware:

How to design systems that respect prerogatives of civil liberties, privacy, etc.? AG suggests five ethical principles:
Default to harmlessness. Everyware “should default to a mode that ensures their users’ safety.” It’s beyond graceful degredation, because everyware takes so much responsibility upon itself to take care of people.
Be self-disclosing. You should be able to see what systems are operating in a space, both to geeks and to people who aren’t wired up. This requires “a new universal vocabulary of signs” for everyware; and the ability to look under the hood.
Be conservative of face. Everyware should not “unnecessarily embarrass, humiliate or shame their users.” Nor should it completely dissolve the boundaries of privacy that people expect.
Be conservative of time. Don’t “introduce undue complications into ordinary operations.” Having physical equivalents of Clippy the Office Assistant would be a pain.
Be deniable. Everyware “must offer users the ability to opt out, always and at any point.” If ubicomp systems offer some functionality and benefit, opting out should just turn those off. (How do you opt out of being photographed by surveillance cameras?)


I think these are fine principles for private-private relationships. I do not think they work for individual-state relationships. Also they seem to be a bit devoid of the economic relations in favor of social relations. Time for instance is as much an economic relation as a social relation.

June 28, 2006   No Comments

A Wikipedia Warning [2]

A Wikipedia Warning [2]:
In May Katherine Tredwell, a professor at the University of Oklahoma, nabbed 16 students who plagiarized sections of their final papers for a history of science course. Nine of those students, the professor found, had copied entries on Wikipedia virtually verbatim.

Since then, Ms. Tredwell has made it her mission to convince her colleagues that they must teach students how to use—and, in many cases, how not to use—the popular open-source encyclopedia. Devoting a class session to the dangers of Internet research is a good start, the professor told Oklahoma Daily. But she also recommends that professors give students small class assignments that ask them to use Wikipedia—and, hopefully, to see how easily information on the site can be altered or edited.

Should professors hold crash courses in Wikipedia at the start of every semester? Or is that a job best left to librarians speaking at campus-orientation sessions? —Brock Read


before wikipedia they were just using the web before using the web they were using paper encyclopedias and books. i don’t think that a ‘crash course’ in wikipedia will change anything. I do think that teaching students a bit of wisdom in general might be in order.

June 28, 2006   No Comments

Julie Frost’s ‘Mvura’ Water Purifier Wins Design Award

Julie Frost’s ‘Mvura’ Water Purifier Wins Design Award:
The Mvura (African Shona for ‘water’) was one of the student exhibits at ChangeX, which we noted earlier this year. It has been granted Bronze Prize in the student category of the 2006 Australian Design Awards. Julie Frost identified that “1.2 billion people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water and 6, 000 children die every day from diseases that can be prevented by improved water and sanitation.” Her answer to this dilemma was to create a household water purifier that use pasteurization using direct solar heat to treat water. 15 litres of water is added to the drum, this can then be carried in traditional manner, on one’s head. Back at the village the drum opens out into a wide black disk, so water can be heated, in about two hours, to 65ºC. At this temperature harmful bacteria are said to be neutralised, and a soybean wax is used to indicated that the correct temp has been attained. Made from polyethylene, one of the more benign plastics, the drum is designed to be field maintainable. Cameron ’Design Like You Give Damn’ Sinclair and Victor ‘Design for the Real World’Papanek, would, I’m sure, be very proud of Julie’s endeavours. We need more like her. Other pics after the fold, and also at ::Australian Design Awards and ::University of NSW.

June 27, 2006   No Comments

New York Daily News – City News – He’s clinging to his clunker

New York Daily News – City News – He’s clinging to his clunker:
The Inwood resident has let his 1982 Honda Civic, bought brand new, sink into such an extreme state of rot that it has become a legend in the neighborhood where the Arkansas native has lived for 20 years.
“People actually recognize me in other sections of town because of the car,” he says. “The reactions range from laughter to anger to kindred spirits giving me the thumbs up, and everything in between.”
The car continues to run perfectly well despite 170,000 miles on its odometer, and taking as much punishment as New York can dish out.

this seems to be the ideal state of affairs…. drive it until it is dead.

June 26, 2006   No Comments

Republicans Have Lost the War on Terror; Democrats Will Win It

Republicans Have Lost the War on Terror; Democrats Will Win It:
Listen up, lily-livered Dems. Here are the details of how to counterattack and get out of the Republican box of, “You are for the war, or you are for defeat.” None of it is complicated:

1. The Republicans have weakened the United States and made us all less safe.
2. The Republicans have done this by starting a war in Iraq.

3. We are not in “a war on terror.” We are in a war on the murderers of 9/11.

4. The murderers of 9/11 were al Qaeda and its radical Islamic sympathizers.

5. Afghanistan was a good war because that is where the murderers of 9/11 were.

6. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and had no links to al Qaeda. Iraq was a nasty bad, evil regime — like many others around the globe. But attacking Iraq did not get us closer to killing or stopping al Qaeda.

7. So Iraq was an optional war. But even worse, the war in Iraq detracted our resources from the real battle — against the killers of 9/11.

8. In fact, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the consequent — and entirely predictable — dissolve into civil war and lawlessness has created in Iraq a recruiting hotbed for al Qaeda. In other words, our war in Iraq created an Iraq-based threat to America that never existed before.

9. The sectarian and ethnic division in Iraq, coupled with the warlike culture on all sides, assures that with the lid of dictatorship pulled away, there will be a long, bloody civil war. We can’t win a civil war in a strange country where not side wants us. Staying in means we lose. We can only win by pulling out.

10. In the Cold War, we defeated a much more dangerous enemy than al Qaeda. The Soviet Union was a thousand times stronger than al Qaeda is.

11. How did we win the Cold War, and how can we defeat al Qaeda? Containment. Tough, hard, patient work that takes generations. Surround the enemy, more or less, and let them see your system — for economic and democratic progress — work, so that the enemy can generate real change, that is, change from within.

12. Containment takes real tough people, strong enough to take a long view and not need to prance around the deck of an aircraft carrier. People like Eisenhower. Not impatient, unconfident bullies like W.

So no, Democrats, you are not “against the war on terror” if you vote to get out of Iraq eventually. In fact, that is a vote to start — five years too late to be sure, but better late than never — a real war on the murderers of 9/11.


I think this misses the point of what the republicans try to do. losing the war on terror or at least entering into a state of perpetual war production is ideal for the republicans. war production economies keep the people working on the war machine, removes the radical elements from your own society, removes democratic practices in favor of heirarchical control economies and in the end produces more war. This is the fundamental structure of what Ike called the Iron Triangle. It isn’t meant to produce peace. It is meant to produce profits for certain people.

June 25, 2006   No Comments

The Blogging Exam

The Blogging Exam:
“… that we have podcasting and blogging anyone can do it. You don’t need to be some rich person in New York, you can produce from your own home. It has also changed how we can learn in today’s society.”

Amen. Amen.


actually no… it hasn’t changed the way we learn… it has changed the tools through which we learn. humans learn… that is the fact of our lives. the ways we learn are plural and complicated by our modes of existence. I do not think that mediating learning changes learning though… It just changes your relationship to what is learned.

June 25, 2006   No Comments