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[links] Link salad, Thursday edition

Tomorrow Museum — An interesting site with in-depth posts about futurism, sf and culture, including a long essay on women in SF.

China as an Island — Another fascinating squib from Strange Maps. Especially worth the read if you are Sinophile, or interested in international trade and development.

Vending Machine Extravaganza — Japanese vending machines! Mmm, Pocari Sweat, anyone? (Thanks to danjite.)

Baffling crop circles equal pi — (Thanks to danjite.)

The Fall and Rise of Hillary Clinton — What Hillary won by losing the Democratic nomination. A fascinating, thoughtful article. My own angry frustration with her, which was only stoked by her speech the night of the final primaries, mitigated considerable with the much better speech she gave when she suspended her campaign.

Shariate law cited in US courts — It’s long been one of the more bizarre fixations of conservatives that secular liberals somehow pine for the imposition of Shariate Law in this country. Look who has petitioned for Shariate Law to apply in a lawsuit in a US court, brought by a US citizen against a US company. MoveOn.org? NOW? NEA? The Democratic Party? No… wait for it… Blackwater. The private military firm which is a darling of neocon foreign policy, which is invoking conservative Islamic theology in US courts. Hello, conservative America, check your monitors, you’ve flatlined again.

Fundie lunacy on paradeThe real world is the biblical world—a universe designed by God with the Earth at the spiritual focal point, not an evolutionary universe teeming with life. I see that someone has read Mainspring Powell’s | Amazon thb | Audible ]. One of the not-obvious-from-the-text details in the worldbuilding is that the entire Universe is only about a lightyear in diameter, the stars being variously colored lamps in the sky. (Eventually I’ll write some fiction about astronauts in that world.) Ken Ham would be right at home there.

John Scalzi hits the nail on the “California Marriage Protection Act.” — More conservative idiocy. When the GOP spends its time and energy on red-meat-to-the-base issues like this, it only deepens my conviction that the Republican party is completely controlled by narrow-minded bigots. There’s no rational public policy reason for this kind of ugly prejudice, nor is there a “reasonable people can disagree” moral position.


6/18/08
Time in saddle: 0 minutes (still recovering from surgery)
Last night’s weigh-out: n/a
This morning’s weigh-in: 258.0
Currently reading: The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia Amazon ]

[links] Link salad for a Wednesday

jimhines with good advice for Con Virgins

Magnetic Genes — Genetically engineered cells make their own nanomagnets, providing clear MRI images. With bonus photography of a mouse brain!

Road Rage Correlates with Number of Bumper Stickers — Interesting if a bit weird. (Snurched from Interrupting Gelastic Jew.)

The Fate of The Sentence: Is the Writing On the Wall? — Shorter WaPo: Oh noes! Kids today will be death of language! I’m pretty sure Cicero complained about the same thing. And look what happened to Latin.

What did it mean to ‘bear arms’ in 1791?Language Log with an interesting piece on the Second Amendment. Their opinion runs contrary to my own feelings on the subject, but they’re certainly analyzing a lot of worthwhile data to get there. Me, I mostly think thousands of gun deaths every year is a staggeringly high price to pay for a theoretical defense of essential liberties, but what do I know? (It also took me years to understand that the phrase “If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns” was not a pro-gun control argument.)

The Court McCain WantsWaPo on McCain, Gitmo and the Supremes. Once again, Mr. Straight Talk Express was for something before he was against it. Too bad Your Liberal Media is still largely incapable of recognizing a significant McCain flip-flop, especially when there’s terrorist fist jabs to be discussed.

More conservative wrong-ness on Guantanamo — Glenn Greenwald on John Yoo on the Supreme Court’s Boumediene decision. Just in case you thought people detained at Gitmo and elsewhere in the War on Terror are, you know, terrorists. If this Republican administration can cause innocent people to disappear for years without any recourse, what protects you? Why any conservative worth the name supports this utter abrogation of the rule of law is beyond me.


6/18/08
Time in saddle: 0 minutes (still recovering from surgery)
Last night’s weigh-out: n/a
This morning’s weigh-in: 259.4
Currently reading: The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia Amazon ]

[culture] The ethics of contact

I had the radio on briefly during my lunch break, and learned the startling (to me) information that there may be as many as 60 different “uncontacted tribes” in the upper Amazon Basin. Apparently about 45 are in Brazil, and 15 in Peru. The discussion was that Peru is more interested in opening resource exploitation than in cultural protection, while Brazil has an active, long-term policy to keep their “uncontacted tribes” safely isolated. Many of these tribes are thought to be the descendants of refugees and tribal elements fleeing violent contact in prior centuries, and virtually all of them discourage outsiders by violent and even fatal means. Some of them are referred to as “The People of the Arrow.”

The past 500 years of European history have drawn some stark lessons in the ethics of contact. At least part of the Brazilian policy is based on the abysmal healthcare consequences of contact — past tribal contacts have lead to epidemic deaths within weeks of first encounter not unlike the general decimation of tribes in the Americas in the early 16th century. (See 1491 by Charles C. Mann [ Amazon ] for more on this.)

I began turning over the ethics of contact in my head. European, and specifically Anglophone, history on this topic is staggeringly ugly, more so than most of us are willing to admit. Yet at the same time, I am bothered by the notion of leaving people without the opportunity to choose sanitation, healthcare, reduced infant mortality, education access, increased life expectancy, and the whole array of life choices attendant on modern culture when it is functioning correctly.

It is very hard for me to see what is right here. The question is essentially moot for me personally — I am highly unlikely to ever need to make a choice regarding an uncontacted tribe. At the same time, I can argue a number of sides of this question with equal passion. And I do appreciate the value of an extremely conservative, preservationist approach to the uncontacted tribes. Some mistakes can never be undone.

I believe I shall explore this in fiction. Your thoughts?

Bonus question: Would differing immune system requirements be one of the greatest dangers to a time traveller?

[links] Link salad for a whole new Monday

A reader reacts to Mainspring Powell’s | Amazon thb | Audible ]

Branding: 1939 — I swear, if the Cold Waste had hamburger stands they’d look like this one. Note the eldritch runes along the top of the wall. ETA: A rather nice response to this, from mythusmage.

Some seriously weird tromp de l’oeil — (Thanks to willyumtx.)

Wenger Giant Swiss Army Knife — They’re not kidding about the “giant.” Pull the other one, it hath bells on it. (Thanks to lt260.)

Bacterial petroleum — Biotech cowboys up. (Thanks to lt260.)


6/16/08
Time in saddle: 0 minutes (still recovering from surgery)
Last night’s weigh-out: n/a
This morning’s weigh-in: 260.2
Currently reading: The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia Amazon ]

[links] Link salad says TGIF

Schools Struggle With Dark Writings — Wow, this article is disturbing on a number of levels. If my mental health was being judged based on my fiction, they’d never let me out. It happened to me once, that I wrote a story which scared an instructor so much I was blackballed from a program. You might know that little piece as “The Goat Cutter.” (Thanks to willyumtx.)

In which I ask for your opinion on my greatest hits

Another Internet doppelganger surfaces — It’s amazing how I get around.

Thai Ladyboy Test — I scored a 90%. I think that’s good. (Thanks to willyumtx.)

Baby Supernova ID’d in Milky Way — They’re so cuuuute.

BMW GINA — A fabric-skinned automobile. Which is oddly reminiscent of BMW’s original business line, building engines for WWI era fabric-skinned aircraft. (Thanks to sheelangig.)

Photo of a frilled shark — Fascinating but sad story attached.

54 sickened at hospital after farmer’s chemical-fuelled vomit generates toxic gas — That’s like something out of cyberpunk. (Thanks to willyumtx.)

Right Wing Bloggers Employ Investigative Journalism “Skills” to Skim Documentsnomissnewo has some fun at the expense of people who are far too easy to make fun of. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch, either.

Ex-Clark Co. GOP chief admits performing oral sex on a sleeping man — As the story notes, the perp was also chairman of the Young Republican National Federation. This is why gay marriage must be opposed at all costs! Because Republicans just can’t control themselves without a Constitutional amendment! Mmm, family values.


6/13/08
Time in saddle: 0 minutes (still recovering from surgery)
Last night’s weigh-out: n/a
This morning’s weigh-in: 262.2
Currently reading: The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia Amazon ]