I was actually surprised to see this printed on a mainstream site, especially an investment publication.
Charismatic president Hugo Chavez, 58, died of respiratory complications caused by pelvic cancer on Tuesday evening in Venezuela.
Or did he?
The announcement of Chavez’s death came hours after vice president, and now interim president Nicolas Maduro, met with Venezuela’s top political leaders and military brass to discuss the president’s ever-worsening health condition. At the time, Maduro apparently suggested that someone may have deliberately infected Chavez with cancer or some other agent that made him deteriorate, according to CNN. Maduro went so far as to call Chavez’s death an assassination, according to The Washington Post.
Stories of Chavez being essentially poisoned by the CIA have been around since his first tumor was reported back in 2011. Even controversial drama-loving Chavez himself wondered out loud if it were possible. To which the U.S State Department public affairs staff responded with a “that’s reprehensible”. What else are they going to say? You caught us?
For the sake of argument, we can say Maduro said no such thing about Chavez. Does one actually get injected with cancer? I mean, even if you did, your immune system would have to already be compromised already. We have cancer cells floating in our bodies all the time. They get destroyed, hopefully, on a daily basis.
But since Chavez announced he was heading to Havana for cancer treatment, conspiracies of a U.S. involvement began immediately. Chavez egged them on, if not outright got them rolling.
For those who can understand Spanish, this video of Chavez talking to the military questioned whether the U.S. was infecting rival leaders in Latin America with cancer. He said he found it an odd coincidence that major leaders south of the border, from Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to Dilma Rousseff, his handpicked successor, to the president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, all got cancer around the same time. And now…it was Chavez’s turn.
“I find it very strange. It is hard to explain,” he says in the video.
Of course, most of this has fallen on deaf ears. Even the video itself got under 10,000 viewers. And Hugo Chavez is, since Lula left office, the most famous politician in Latin America. He”s far from an unknown. The conspiracy angle has not caught fire.
The death of Chavez did not really rally the left outside of his home base. In Latin America, Lula was seen as the more charismatic, if not more practical leader of South America. Chavez was a firebrand, stoking Cold War rhetoric with Washington. As Latin American politics goes, Chavez was the anti-American.
So it is not surprising that here at home, the harshest critics of good, old fashion Yankee imperialism came out Wednesday in notes circulating in email in-boxes nationwide that Chavez may have been the victim of a U.S. plot to get rid of him once and for all. And while the left in the United States send out Viva Chavez, Viva La Revolucion kudos to the most reviled leader in Washington other than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the right wing, in their usual lust for kindness, is busy expression their sheer joy that the man is gone.
The Daily Caller wrote in an op ed by Christopher Bedford that “No, the U.S. didn’t kill Chavez. But we should have.”
Tea Party Republicans called him a tyrant, expressed relief that he was no longer a “force” to reckon with. Force quotes are mine, not his. Because, really, was Chavez a force to reckon with anywhere outside of Venezuela?
Meanwhile, there is a relative calm in Venezuela according to press reports and investment sources on the ground in Caracas. The market expects Maduro to be elected within 30 days.
Unless the CIA gives him cancer.
To see this printed in Forbes goes to show that even if there’s a hedge of truth to the “cancer” meme, the attitude of the public is “meh” and “What’s the deal ?” “The U.S. Government assassinates people on a daily basis.”
And goes to show how over-rated Chavez was to begin with.
The Pentagon wants to make perfectly clear that every time one of its flying robots releases its lethal payload, it’s the result of a decision made by an accountable human being in a lawful chain of command. Human rights groups and nervous citizens fear that technological advances in autonomy will slowly lead to the day when robots make that critical decision for themselves. But according to a new policy directive issued by a top Pentagon official, there shall be no SkyNet, thank you very much.
Here’s what happened while you were preparing for Thanksgiving: Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter signed, on November 21, a series of instructions to “minimize the probability and consequences of failures” in autonomous or semi-autonomous armed robots “that could lead to unintended engagements,” starting at the design stage (.pdf, thanks to Cryptome.org). Translated from the bureaucrat, the Pentagon wants to make sure that there isn’t a circumstance when one of the military’s many Predators, Reapers, drone-like missiles or other deadly robots effectively automatizes the decision to harm a human being.
The hardware and software controlling a deadly robot needs to come equipped with “safeties, anti-tamper mechanisms, and information assurance.” The design has got to have proper “human-machine interfaces and controls.” And, above all, it has to operate “consistent with commander and operator intentions and, if unable to do so, terminate engagements or seek additional human operator input before continuing the engagement.” If not, the Pentagon isn’t going to buy it or use it.
It’s reasonable to worry that advancements in robot autonomy are going to slowly push flesh-and-blood troops out of the role of deciding who to kill. To be sure, military autonomous systems aren’t nearly there yet. No Predator, for instance, can fire its Hellfire missile without a human directing it. But the military is wading its toe into murkier ethical and operational waters: The Navy’s experimental X-47B prototype will soon be able to land on an aircraft carrier with the barest of human directions. That’s still a long way from deciding on its own to release its weapons. But this is how a very deadly slope can slip.
It’s that sort of thing that worries Human Rights Watch, for instance. Last week, the organization, among the most influential non-governmental institutions in the world, issued a report warning that new developments in drone autonomy represented the demise of established “legal and non-legal checks on the killing of civilians.” Its solution: “prohibit the “development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons through an international legally binding instrument.”
Laudable impulse, wrong solution, writes Matthew Waxman. A former Defense Department official for detainee policy, Waxman and co-author Kenneth Anderson observe that technological advancements in robotic weapons autonomy is far from predictable, and the definition of “autonomy” is murky enough to make it unwise to tell the world that it has to curtail those advancements at an arbitrary point. Better, they write, for the U.S. to start an international conversation about how much autonomy on a killer robot is appropriate, so as to “embed evolving internal state standards into incrementally advancing automation.”
Waxman and Anderson should be pleased with Carter’s memo, since those standards are exactly what Carter wants the Pentagon to bake into its next drone arsenal. Before the Pentagon agrees to develop or buy new autonomous or somewhat autonomous weapons, a team of senior Pentagon officials and military officers will have to certify that the design itself “incorporates the necessary capabilities to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment in the use of force.” The machines and their software need to provide reliability assurances and failsafes to make sure that’s how they work in practice, too. And anyone operating any such deadly robot needs sufficient certification in both the system they’re using and the rule of law. The phrase “appropriate levels of human judgment” is frequently repeated, to make sure everyone gets the idea. (Now for the lawyers to argue about the meaning of “appropriate.”)
So much for SkyNet. But Carter’s directive blesses the forward march of autonomy in most everything military robots do that can’t kill you. It “[d]oes not apply to autonomous or semi-autonomous cyberspace systems for cyberspace operations; unarmed, unmanned platforms; unguided munitions; munitions manually guided by the operator (e.g., laser- or wire-guided munitions); mines; or unexploded explosive ordnance,” Carter writes.
Oh happy – happy, joy – joy. The semi-intelligent machines still needs a human in the loop to kill you, but doesn’t need one to spy on you.
Oh well, Big Brother still needs a body to put in jail to make the expense of robots worth their while I suppose…
According to biologist and science-fiction author Peter Watts, the dumping of a hundred tons of iron sulphate into the ocean off the islands of Haida Gwaii is a double edge sword and it could be working.
And most of all, nobody really cares.
[…]Proximately, the gambit seems to have paid off: the resulting bloom covered ten thousand square kilometers and greatly exceeds the penny-ante impact of more “legitimate” experiments. Whether it will actually increase salmon yield remains an open question, but it seems a reasonable expectation; the project was inspired by a paper in Fisheries Oceanography which connected the dots between volcanic ash-fall, diatom blooms, and record salmon catches. As to the potential long-term carbon-sequestration impact, nobody knows.
In fact, not only does nobody know, nobody even seems to give a shit. They’re too busy pointing fingers. Discovery News regards Russ George, the entrepreneur behind the project, as a “Geoengineering nut“. David Suzuki decries the effort as “stupid”. Scientists and lawyers fill endless column inches with quotes about bad experimental design and the breaking of international treaties. The UN is gravely concerned, and has granted the Harper governmentan actual award (“The Dodo”) for its role in this fiasco; the Harper government, those champions of the environment, has in turn condemned the entire affair and is “investigating” (although their misgivings have been a bit muted by credible reports that they knew about the project in advance and did nothing to stop it, which makes them complicit).
For my part, I’m not going to argue those who point out that the project was poorly planned, that phytoplankton blooms are often toxic, and that even when they aren’t local eutrophication often leads to anoxic “dead zones”. (Iwill observe that some of these charges tend to cancel each other out: you can’t both buy into Jay Cullen’s complaint that strong eddy circulation compromises experimental design while at the same time worrying aboutAlyssa Danigelis‘s specter of neurotoxic dead zones.) I have no trouble believing that Russ George isn’t interested in anything other than turning a fast buck (although if there are laws on the book that make it illegal to profit from climate-mitigation research, you have to wonder if its author had ever spent more than two minutes observing human behavior).
In terms of environmental damage, however, I can’t help noticing that right around the corner from Haida Gwaii, the city of Victoria BC flushes the raw sewage of eighty thousand people directly into the ocean. I can’t help noticing a thousand-square kilometer dead zone off the Oregon coast, or the seventeen-thousand-square-kilometer dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, or the continent-long daisy-chain of dead zones skipping merrily up the eastern seaboard. If I squint hard enough I can just barely keep myself from noticing the salmon farms along our coasts that not only generate their own local anoxic zones but which also spread disease, parasites, and bad genes to wild populations. (I trust I don’t have to remind you all of past and ongoing oil spills.) All of these impacts arise directly from human activity — and while few would claim to like any of these things, I find it curious that the one-time dumping of a load of nutrients into the open ocean would provoke such outrage while all these other, vastly more severe impacts get off with a shrug and a what-are-you-gonna-do?
The fact is, the Haida-Gwaii patch is vastly bigger than any similar project heretofore attempted. It’s way out intoHere There Be Dragons territory, and you know what? It’s a fucking data point.
Bad experimental design? Let me remind you of another badly-designed experiment: that time about a decade back when a bunch of religious fanatics ploughed into the World Trade Center to prove that their invisible sky fairy was tougher than ours. Those guys didn’t check their flight plans with the research community at all, but that didn’t stop the scientists from making some serious inroads into the impact of jet contrails on climate change. (Granted, that particular inroad turned out to be a dead end. That’s science for you.)
This is nature, damn it. It’s a complex metasystem, if you think it’s ever going to let you run a “controlled experiment” in the laboratory sense then I’ve got some voting machines in Ohio to sell you. If you make the perfect into the enemy of the potentially-adequate you’ll never stop running simulations, because there is no perfect. Meanwhile, outside the window, Nature’s rolling her own D20. One day she’s going to kick over that anthill you’ve been too chickenshit to poke at all this time, and then where you gonna be?
This plankton stuff is small potatoes anyway; you want something to get scared about, stop looking out to sea and look up instead. Climate change is hitting the poles and the tropics especially hard — and the tropics are just chock full of small poor countries already sinking, increasingly impatient as the so-called developedworld sits on its ass and mumbles oxymoronically about clean coal. I wouldn’t blame them in the least if they got tired of waiting and started their own stratospheric geoengineering program out of self-defense — and it would be kind of nice if we had a bit of real-world data on that front, too, before it happened.
Make as many caveats as you like. Be cautious in your extrapolations, by all means. Remember that correlation is not causation, keep alternative hypotheses firmly in mind, scrawl Nature Is Not A Petri Dish onto a piece of duct tape and stick it over the Far Side cartoons yellowing on the wall. Be Adaptive in your “Management”. But use the goddamned data you’ve got. Don’t piss and moan because someone without all your degrees, someone more interested in bucks than biology, went out and took the first step when you were too fucking timid. Do it better.
Forget the world at large; Russ George’s sins pale into insignificance even set next the city of Victoria. The difference is, we can learn from his.
We’ve already kicked the whole world off-balance. We’re running out of time to figure out which way it’s falling.
Whether one adheres to the concept of the Kardashev Scale of Civilizations or not, of which becoming a Class 1 depends on human beings being able to control all processes of the planet; environmental and energy-wise, it doesn’t matter because we already have started down that road according to Watts.
It depends on us now to balance out these forces before Nature itself will surely balance things out.
And leave us in the dust-bin of planetary history.
From Foreign Policy:
Last month, Small Wars Journal managing editor Robert Haddick asked whether new technology has rendered aircraft carriers obsolete. Well, not everyone thinks so, especially in science-fiction, where “flat tops” still rule in TV shows like Battlestar Galactica. So FP’s Michael Peck spoke with Chris Weuve, a naval analyst, former U.S. Naval War College research professor, and an ardent science-fiction fan about how naval warfare is portrayed in the literature and television of outer-space.
Foreign Policy: How has sci-fi incorporated the themes of wet-navy warfare? How have warships at sea influenced the depiction of warships in space?
Chris Weuve: There are a lot of naval metaphors that have made their way into SF. They are analogs, models of ways to think about naval combat. When people started writing about science-fiction combat, it was very easy to say that a spaceship is like a ship that floats on the water. So when people were looking for ways to think about, there was a tendency to use models they already understood. As navies have changed over time, that means there is a fair number of models that various science fiction authors can draw on. You have a model that resembles the Age of Sail, World War I or World War II surface action, or submarines, or fighters in space. Combine a couple of those, and you have aircraft carriers in space. I’m not one who gets hung up on the real physics because it is science fiction. But all of these models are based more upon historical analogs then analysis of the actual situation in space.
FP: Let’s reverse the question. Has sci-fi affected the way that our navies conduct warfare?
CW: This is a question that I occasionally think about. Many people point to the development of the shipboard Combat Information Center in World War II as being inspired by E.E. Doc Smith’s Lensman novels from the 1940s. Smith realized that with hundreds of ships over huge expanses, the mere act of coordinating them was problematic. I think there is a synergistic effect. I also know a number of naval officers who have admitted to me that the reason they joined the Navy was because Starfleet Command wasn’t hiring.
FP: How do these different space warfare models differ from their oceanic counterparts?
CW: Science fiction authors and moviemakers tend to gravitate towards historical models they — and their audience — understand. So, sometimes you end up with “submarines in space” — but a submarine is a vessel designed to hide under the water, which obscures your vision and forces you to use capricious sensors like sonar. Space, on the other hand, is wide open, and any ship putting out enough heat to keep its crew alive stands out from the background, if you have enough time to look. Other times we get “dreadnoughts in space,” with gunnery duels like Jutland — but again, hiding is hard, so this battle should take place at extreme range. Or you get “airplanes in space,” which largely ignores that airplanes work in the real world because they take advantage of the fact that air and sea have different attributes.
All of these models are fun, and some work better than others, but they all present space combat in a way that doesn’t really fit with the salient attributes of space. And lest I get a thousand emails from people who say I don’t understand how combat in their favorite universe works — yes, I do. My answers are necessarily approximations for this interview. Someday I should write a book.
The Apollo space missions to the Moon were the last Beyond Earth Orbit human explorations of Near space, the last being in 1972.
The main reasons being lack of public interest and funding, so any explorations beyond the Near Earth regions have been robotic due to their relative financial benefits and nobody worries much if a robot dies instead of a human being.
That issue might change in the future according to a paper written by Ian Crawford, a professor of planetary sciences at Birkbeck College (London):
…Out of necessity, all our missions to the outer system have been unmanned, but as we learn more about long-duration life-support and better propulsion systems, that may change. The question raised this past weekend in an essay in The Atlanticis whether it should.
Ian Crawford, a professor of planetary sciences at Birkbeck College (London) is the focus of the piece, which examines Crawford’s recent paper in Astronomy and Geophysics. It’s been easy to justify robotic exploration when we had no other choice, but Crawford believes not only that there is a place for humans in space, but that their presence is indispensable. All this at a time when even a return to the Moon seems beyond our budgets, and advanced robotics are thought by many in the space community to be the inevitable framework of all future exploration.
But not everyone agrees, even those close to our current robotic missions. Jared Keller, who wrote The Atlantic essay, dishes up a quote from Steve Squyres, who knows a bit about robotic exploration by virtue of his role as Principal Investigator for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers on Mars. Squyres points out that what a rover could do even on a perfect day on Mars would be the work of less than a minute for a trained astronaut. Crawford accepts the truth of this and goes on to question what robotic programming can accomplish:
“We may be able to make robots smarter, but they’ll never get to the point where they can make on the spot decisions in the field, where they can recognize things for being important even if you don’t expect them or anticipate them,” argues Crawford. “You can’t necessarily program a robot to recognize things out of the blue.”
Landing astronauts is something we’ve only done on the Moon, but the value of the experience is clear — we’ve had human decision-making at work on the surface, exploring six different sites (some of them with the lunar rover) and returning 382 kilograms of lunar material. The fact that we haven’t yet obtained samples from Mars doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do robotically, but a program of manned exploration clearly points to far more comprehensive surface study. Crawford points out that the diversity of returned samples is even more important on Mars, which is more geologically interesting than the Moon and offers a more complicated history.
Image: Apollo 15 carried out 18.5 hours of lunar extra-vehicular activity, the first of the “J missions,” where a greater emphasis was placed on scientific studies. The rover tracks and footprints around the area give an idea of the astronauts’ intense activity at the site. Credit: NASA.
Sending astronauts by necessity means returning a payload to Earth along with intelligently collected samples. From Crawford’s paper:
Robotic explorers, on the other hand, generally do not return (this is one reason why they are cheaper!) so nothing can come back with them. Even if robotic sample return missions are implemented, neither the quantity nor the diversity of these samples will be as high as would be achievable in the context of a human mission — again compare the 382 kg of samples (collected from over 2000 discrete locations) returned by Apollo, with the 0.32 kg (collected from three locations) brought back by the Luna sample return missions.
It’s hard to top a yield like that with any forseeable robotic effort. Adds Crawford:
The Apollo sample haul might also be compared with the ≤ 0.5 kg generally considered in the context of future robotic Mars sample return missions… Note that this comparison is not intended in any way to downplay the scientific importance of robotic Mars sample return, which will in any case be essential before human missions can responsibly be sent to Mars, but merely to point out the step change in sample availability (both in quantity and diversity) that may be expected when and if human missions are sent to the planet.
Large sample returns have generated, at least in the case of the Apollo missions, huge amounts of refereed scientific papers, especially when compared to the publications growing out of robotic landings. Crawford argues that it is the quantity and diversity of sample returns that have fueled the publications, and points out that all of this has occurred because of a mere 12.5 days total contact time on the lunar surface (and the actual EVA time was only 3.4 days at that). Compare this to the 436 active days on the surface for the Lunokhods and 5162 days for the Mars Exploration Rovers. Moreover, the Apollo publication rate is still rising. Quoting the paper again:
The lesson seems clear: if at some future date a series of Apollo-like human missions return to the Moon and/or are sent on to Mars, and if these are funded (as they will be) for a complex range of socio-political reasons, scientists will get more for our money piggy-backing science on them than we will get by relying on dedicated autonomous robotic vehicles which will, in any case, become increasingly unaffordable.
Will the Global Exploration Strategy laid out by the world’s space agencies in 2007 point us to a future in which international cooperation takes us back to the Moon and on to Mars? If so, science should be a major beneficiary as we learn things about the origin of the Solar System and its evolution that we would not learn remotely as well by using robotic spacecraft. So goes Crawford’s argument, and it’s a bracing tonic for those of us who grew up assuming that space exploration meant sending humans to targets throughout our Solar System and beyond. That robotic probes should precede them seems inevitable, but we have not yet reached the level of artificial intelligence that will let robots supercede humans in space.
Currently in mainstream space activities, commercial companies such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, Sierra Nevada, etc., are taking the lead in the future exploration of Near Space and the Solar System vice any future explorations by NASA, inspite of what parochial politicians in certain states try to do in Congress.
Of course this precludes any gains made by secret black projects in the military-industrial-complex in the area of any secret space programs.
Maybe that’s one of the reasons politicians aren’t too worried about sending manned NASA missions back to the Moon?
Many thanks to Paul Gilster and his great site Centauri Dreams.
Folks in government are calling China’s meteoric rise on the super-power stage a “sputnik moment” for the United States, especially since the introduction of their super-computer this year and the construction of their modern high speed rail service.
And although China’s currently the new leader in carbon emissions that aggravate the contested global warming effect, they are leading in finding new technologies that will eventually circumvent these problems.
Steven Chu, U.S. Energy Secretary, likened the milestones to a new U.S. “Sputnik moment”, which sparked the Space Race and the manned landing on the Moon in 1969:
A senior US official called China’s growing innovation a “Sputnik moment” that should spur the United States to ramp up investment in clean energy, despite a shift in Washington on climate change.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu likened a series of Chinese milestones — including the development of the world’s fastest supercomputer — to the Soviet Union’s landmark 1957 satellite that led the United States into the Space Race.
“America, I am optimistic, will wake up and see the opportunity. And when it does, it still has the greatest innovation machine in the world,” Chu said in a speech entitled “Our New Sputnik Moment.”
Chu said the United States still concentrated on research in areas such as computers, defense and pharmaceuticals but that its funding for energy innovation was paltry.
By contrast, China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon blamed for global warming, is working to build the world’s most expansive high-speed rail network and has developed technology for the highest-efficiency coal plants.
“America still has the opportunity to lead in a world that will need essentially a new industrial revolution to give us the energy we want inexpensively but carbon-free,” Chu said.
“But I think time is running out,” said Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist.
Chu, however, will enjoy little political leeway when he heads to Cancun, Mexico, where representatives of more than 190 countries on Monday opened two weeks of talks on drafting a new global treaty to stem climate change.
President Barack Obama last year went to the climate summit in Copenhagen where he pledged US action to curb carbon emissions along with assistance for poor countries hardest hit by rising temperatures.
The rival Republican Party, which swept November 2 congressional elections, is strongly opposed to a so-called “cap-and-trade” plan to require industry to cut carbon. Many Republicans argue that it is too costly in uncertain economic times, while some contest the science behind climate change.
Chu countered that climate action would benefit the economy by opening up a new field in green technology.
But Chu also defended potential costs. He likened climate skeptics to homeowners who are repeatedly told to change wiring but keep looking for electricians to tell them they do not need to.
“Do you actually go and you say, well, okay, that’s a threat but I think it’s more cost-effective — I just make sure my fire insurance is up-to-date?” he said.
Two recent studies found that China’s investment in green technology has outpaced that of the United States. But China has held firm in rejecting a treaty that would legally require it to cut carbon emissions.
The United States, backed by other developed nations, has insisted on a binding treaty, believing it is crucial to ensure global action — and to win over support in Washington.
The Kyoto Protocol, which the United States rejected, asks only wealthy nations to cut carbon emissions. The requirements run out at the end of 2012.
The dispute has been tense at times. At UN-backed talks in October, China’s chief climate negotiator, Su Wei, said the United States was like a “pig looking in a mirror” and finding itself beautiful.
Vaughan Turekian, chief international officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said that the political dynamics have barely changed more than a decade after the Kyoto negotiations.
“The current climate summit process is unlikely to produce a global treaty that includes the United States as a signatory, let alone one that would stand any chance of being ratified by 67 senators,” he said.
With a $700,000,000,000 Pentagon budget, 1,000 military bases worldwide, budget deficits as far as the eye can see and an ultra-conservative Congress just elected, I don’t see any infrastructure investments at all within the next two years, if at all.
Actually, I see more townships combining, taxes going up and local paved roads returning to graded gravel, like in the 1920s and 1930s.
We are a 21st Century Roman Empire in decline, slowly being put down by the corporate global governance system after having served its purpose.
No Sputnik moment here. Its time has past.
The title of the article is “The Secret Map of Britain” and it’s not entirely what you think it is:
A recent thread at ATS caught my eye. It’s called Secret Map of Britain. Being an Anglophile as well as a conspiracy dude concerned that that wonderful set of islands is turning into a police state, I just had to read it, anticipating who knows what sort of cartographic wonder to be revealed.
This thread turned out to be an intro to the lead video of a most enjoyable documentary called Secret Map of Britain, made by a Mark Thomas, a fellow I’d not heard of, likely as I don’t watch telly anymore and am an American besides.
There are in fact some interesting cartographic items noted, same sort of thing we get over here. It’s not a conspiracy theory romp, there are nothing but factual fascinating stories. Secret bases, underground facilities, MI5, MI6 and more!
It is really more to do with the nature of secrecy in Britain in general; and a lot of items of interest to illustrate that are explored, well as much as can be accomplished with out getting themselves thrown in the slammer. It is also a real hoot to note the wonderfully polite security and police personnel they run into. That sure wouldn’t happen here!
One interesting story, denied flat out of course, is that an American bomber, apparently carrying nuclear weapons, crashed and burned at a US base in the UK. High level deposits of reactor-grade nasties are now spread around the area in question, the segment includes footage of soil testing and an interview with the most prominent victim to date.
I had never heard of many of the stories presented in this documentary, if you are in the UK I’d seriously suggest watching it, especially for the segment on your telephone service and info on how to get vital info out of your councils. If you’re not local I’d still suggest watching it as it’s really well done and this Mark Thomas is an excellent and entertaining guy.
The mention of a crashed nuclear bomb carrying aircraft perked my ears up because I have significant members of my immediate family in Britain, so I want to pick their brains about this.
I haven’t seen the documentary yet either and I definitely intend to, pronto.
I’m not an Anglophile like the author of the ‘what’s all this, then’ site, but it might behoove me to become one, at least for a time.
In my stories, the European Union forms a major portion of my fictional Northern Hemisphere Union of which the old UK has considerable influence along with the old elements of the United States. So the NHU has a major “anglophile” flavor to it.
*sigh* Another lead to track!
Last week I showed a couple of points against a technological singularity happening, but today I’ll show how a Singularity is being actively pursued by governments and corporations via the Internet.
From Red Ice Creations:
This is an interesting commercial for BBC’s “Superpower” about “The Extraordinary Power Of The Internet”. Showing how humanity is being turned into “Aliens”? It’s just one more tidbit of “Alien” entertainment that we’ve been getting lately.
Watch out they are Waging Peace!
It has been rumored the Internet started turning “self-aware” or attained consciousness 2-3 years ago and the very first thing it did was to camouflage itself from its main predator.
Which would make sense. Because if we can create it, we are the only ones to destroy it.
But that’s not the goal of the powers that be.
By now most folks have heard about the Google and Verizon deal to create a multi-tiered Internet and eliminate Net Neutrality. That news alone is disheartening.
Now there’s proof that Google is going to end street privacy, under the guise of ‘street mapping’:
Citing a German news report, Techeye.net reports that Google has purchased small UAV “microdrone” aircraft manufactured by Germany’s microdrone GmbH, perhaps for use to augment the company’s Street View mapping data. Techeye says:
The UAVs being flogged are mini helicopters with cameras attached that can be flown about all over the place. They’re quiet and resemble sci-fi UFOs for the vertically challenged alien.
They can fly up to 80km per hour, so Microdrone CEO Sven Juerss suggests they’ll be brilliant for mapping entire neighbourhoods really quickly and relatively cheaply.
Even before Google started data mining on open web networks itsStreet View operations were controversial, with Google Maps picking up on people who didn’t exactly want their faces plastered all over the internet. With the kind of high-angle aerial shots this sort of kit can achieve, it boggles the mind as to the sort of images that may be accidentally captured.
Our take: Skepticism is warranted, and outrage is probably premature.
Our understanding is that FAA certification procedures for civilian UAVs operating in domestic airspace are not yet in place, so it is not clear that the regular operation of such UAVs would be legal — never mind prudent from a privacy or public-relations point of view.
Meanwhile, the Techeye report, while fascinating, is also single-sourced, with the news of the UAV sale to Google coming from the manufacturer of the UAV — which is to say, he’s hardly a disinterested conduit for information. There has been no confirmation of the sale from Google, so far as we know. (Indeed, Forbes reports a Google spokesperson says, “”This was a purchase by a Google executive with an interest in robotics for personal use.”)
So, while curious and exciting, Telstar Logistics suggests keeping cool pending further information about Google’s plans and the regulatory environment that may or may not make such plans viable.
We’ll keep our eyes in the skies, but in the meantime, here’s some nifty footage of the Microdrone in action, during which we can see just how adept the tiny aircraft is at peeking into the windows of private homes.
Google once had a motto, “Don’t Be Evil.”
I think it might be safe to say that the definition of evil either changed, or Google doesn’t adhere to that particular motto any longer.