Life in the New Linkocracy – 2010-10-21

Creationism lives on in US public schools – via – Creationism, or “Intelligent Design” as it has more recently been rebranded, has no business being taught in our school systems alongside evolution.  The treatment of creationism as a legitimate scientific theory is an offence to scientific principle.  There is empirical data to back up evolutionary theory.  The collection and interpretation of that data is how the theory was developed in the first place.  There is no such support of “Intelligent Design” anywhere.  What people choose to teach their own children at home is their business, even if it’s hocus-pocus nonsense.  In a school system where other people’s children are being taught the same things only facts and theories that can be backed up with actual science should be taught.

First All-Digital Science Textbook Will Be Free – via – This is a fantastic idea that will unfortunately be extremely difficult to get off the ground.  Producing a book of this kind and keeping it up to date will undoubtedly prove to be extremely expensive, so “free” is unlikely to work.  Not to mention the resistance it will encounter from people responsible for choosing textbooks who have been getting kickbacks from publishing companies for years.  I hope this takes off, as it would remove a substantial financial burden from college and university students.  I spent less on the new laptop I bought a couple months ago than I spent on books in one semester when I was in college, and textbook prices don’t go anywhere but up.

Pilot refuses full-body scan, pat-down – via – All of the privacy issues aside, folks…he’s a pilot.  If he wants to take over the plane he’s already in the cockpit BEHIND A LOCKED FUCKING DOOR!

How to opt out of the TSA’s naked body scanners at the airport – via – This one is not so much a “how to” as it is a description of what happens when you decide not to subject yourself to the backscatter or millimetre wave x-ray machines and go for the “enhanced pat-down” the pilot in the previous article refused.

U.A.E. defends no-marks discipline ruling – via – In the United Arab Emirates, they can build the shit out of some skyscrapers, but their human rights policies are fucking stone age.  Considering it’s possible to break ribs and cause internal bleeding without ever leaving a visible external mark, the concept of being able to beat your wife or children as long as you don’t leave a mark is absurd.

Allow Students to Carry Guns on College Campuses? – via – “Freedom to be safe and secure is a fundamental human right.  If someone threatens to harm or kill you or your loved ones, you have the right to defend yourself.  Carrying a firearm aides in facilitating this self defence.” said the guy who lives in Canada, where law abiding citizens can only own handguns for target shooting and it is essentially impossible to get a concealed weapon permit.


Morality and the Apocalinks – 2010-10-19

Morality: Don’t be afraid – science can make us better – via – While I don’t agree with the insinuation made by the author that “economic prosperity” is a suitable moral guide, I do enjoy a good debate on the subject.  “Economic prosperity”, or as it’s better known, “Making a shit-ton of money” is one of the primary causes (if not the main cause) that people abandon morals that would otherwise preclude them from doing something.  I’d like to see more research on the “morality as an evolutionary response” theme mentioned in this article.  Better living through technology, I say!

Popular Facebook apps found to be collecting, selling user info – via – Surprise, surprise!  Most of those “FREE!” apps and games you’ve been using on Facebook have been mining and selling off your personal data.  Unfortunately most people would sell their soul for a free cheeseburger, so I don’t expect many people to care.

Surviving the Apocalypse Hollywood Style – via – Everything I know about surviving the end of the world I learned from movies.  This one breaks it down by sub-genre:  Virus/Nuclear, Natural Disaster, Alien Invasion, Authoritarian Distopia.  For anyone concerned, the Zombie Apocalypse falls under the Virus/Nuclear category.

Nine Inch Links – 2010-10-13

Interview: Trent Reznor discusses The Social Network soundtrack – via – Interviews with Trent Reznor are always interesting.  If you can get past the (very) many spelling and grammar mistakes in the transcript you won’t be disappointed with this one.  Among other things, the interview touches on the creative process of scoring the movie, the philosophy behind free (and pirated) music, and my personal favourite, the concept and implementation of Facebook itself.  It’s a bit out of context but here’s a quote – “I don’t think it’s actually executed that well.  The layout’s kind of foolish and the processing is terrible…he [Zuckerburg] was in the right place, at the right time, with a functional tool.”  Hit the link for the whole transcribed interview.

Outrageous School Punishments – 10 Examples of Punishment Gone Too Far – via – I’ve commented here before about disciplinary actions taken by school officials.  Here’s a list of 10 that are notable for how far overboard they went.  To reiterate what I’ve said before – Schools have no business interfering with what their students do outside of class time and off school property.  School officials have no right to physically repremand or punish a child.  Strip searches?  Nope.  Last but not least, this “Zero Tolerance” bullshit has to stop…see number 3 where a six-year old boy was suspended for making a gun shape with his thumb and index finger.

Race China to the Moon, Stop ‘1000 Pearl Harbors,’ Says Controversial Candidate – via – Yup, another interview but a completely different topic.  Here a political candidate argues the extremely alarmist idea that China could use Cuba to stage a second “Cuban Missile Crisis” resulting in the “1000 Pearl Harbors” from the title.  He also states that a new moon race is necessary to maintain technological superiority over China.  The bit about “1000 Pearl Harbors” goes too far, but I’m with him on the moon race part.  Diverting the money that would be necessary for such an undertaking into the branches of science involved would be hugely beneficial to everybody.  Think about it – A Second Space Age.  Why does it have to be a “race”, though?  The benefits of sharing the research burden with China seems to be a better plan.  Draw your researchers from the best and brightest of a larger candidate pool and split the costs between the two countries.  Even better, let any country that wants to shoulder some of the cost participate.  Science doesn’t care about borders.

Voodoo Software Removes Objects From Video In Real Time – via – Take a look at this video.  I’m still skeptical.  If it’s real you can never believe anything you see on TV ever again. The changes to the video shown wouldn’t be that impressive, except this apparently works in real time.  I need to see this for myself. Maybe they can use it on the “footage” from the new moon landings…

Just kidding.

Absolink Power Corrupts Absolinkly

New technologies confuse reality and fiction: Pope – via – I’ll admit at first I jumped to the conclusion that this was going to be the Pope railing against science.  I figured what it would boil down to was “reality is whatever the church tells you”.  To my surprise this was not the case at all.  In his statement, he cautions that technology can lead to “the risk of indifference towards real life.”  It’s hard to disagree with that statement.  While we’re still many years from virtual reality technology that’s passable as actual reality, the concept is sound.  I see it as a form of escapism.  Even today there are people who spend more time playing video games than doing any of their other daily activities.  Other people get lost for hours on end living vicariously through celebrities and their friends in social media circles.  However, I don’t think any of these people are “confused” on the line between real and virtual.  These technologies offer an escape from the monochromatic boredom of everyday life.  Where things will get interesting is when technology is actually able to simulate reality in a convincing way.  Then you’ll see people giving up on the real world to retreat into whatever virtual world they like.  What is the Matrix, indeed.

Robots Guarding US Nuclear Stockpile – via – Our robot overlords are almost upon us.  This is some pretty cool tech.  Between this and the cool shit Google has been driving around lately, pretty soon I shouldn’t have to deal with all you assholes cutting me off.

Ars Technica: Banned in Iran! – via (shocker!) – It looks like Iran’s government maybe didn’t like the reports Ars Technica was publishing on the Stuxnet infection wreaking havoc on Iranian computer networks.  It’s scary how a government with the proper infrastructure in place can effectively cut off whatever website or content they want without any notice.

Superhero or supervillain: Which lurks inside you? – via – Results from a study asking people if they would do good or evil if they were to one day find themselves with superpowers.  I like to think I would be a benevolent dictator.

The Link Is Half Empty

A radical pessimist’s guide to the next 10 years – via – Depressing, but lots of points in this list are probably pretty accurate.

How writing by hand makes kids smarter – via – Makes sense.

Couple sell their $6000 home to Apple for $1.7 million – via – Notice to Apple:  At this kind of mark-up, my house is for sale, too.

7 Essential Skills You Didn’t Learn in College – via – Save some time for this one.  It’s a bit long and has lots of links to supplementary information, too.