- If You Want to Know Bike Laws, Don’t Ask the California Highway Patrol – A great rundown of traffic laws as they apply to bicycles in California… and how unfortunately uninformed the police are. (tagged: bicycle transportation police law california )
- R3project: Sustainability in Barcelona – A blog recounting the story of remodeling (and living in) a previously abandoned 18th century apartment in Barcelona's old town, as sustainably (and cheaply) as possible. Available in English or Spanish! (tagged: green sustainability design architecture urban barcelona buildings )
- The Evolution of Life in 60 Seconds – 4.6 billion years of Earth history, boiled down into 60 seconds, showing the spectacularly non-linear nature of evolution. (tagged: non-linear video science evolution biology earth darwin history )
- EFF Surveillance Self-Defense Project – A tutorial from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, on what you can do to protect yourself against snooping, government and otherwise. Now if only these things would become standard, default practice, around which all of our applications and workflows are designed. (tagged: politics technology privacy surveillance security law )
- Human flesh search engines – A phenomenon of internet vigilantes, kind of like paramilitary morality cops, in China. We've been doing this kind of thing to spammers and other "internet criminals" for a while now. Strange to see it leak out into the real world. A potentially interesting propaganda tool. Mob justice on command? (tagged: internet technology china vigilante politics )
- Short Term Investing – A gleeful satire of what really, truly ails Wall Street, and capitalism in general: grotesquely short term thinking. (tagged: investing finance money bailout satire )
- MBARI finds fish with a transparent head – This thing is beyond weird. If we're still discovering things like this on Earth, how can we hope to even imagine what extraterrestrial organisms would be like? (tagged: fish biology science video weird alien ocean evolution )
- The Kessler Syndrome – Another example of unsustainable behavior, without forethought on our parts? The recent collision of two satellites is causing some to wonder if we might be getting close to the threshold at which the debris from such collisions begets more collisions, and more debris, in a runaway process rendering low earth orbit useless for satellites. (tagged: space sustainability non-linear kessler imapcts )
- Zeitgeist – The Movie – Have not seen these movies. Some of what the summaries say is interesting, but other parts sound utterly bogus. Curious from a memetic point of view if nothing else… (tagged: movie film zeitgeist economics religion politics money war )
- Boston Dynamics (DARPA) BIGDOG Robot – BigDog is a DARPA funded quadripedal robot capable of climbing over a pile of cinderblocks, walking on slippery ice, scaling dunes and snow covered hillsides, taking a big shove from the side, and jumping over a designated obstacle. When do we get to send one of these guys to Mars? (tagged: robot youtube darpa mars military video research technology )
The utter primacy of H. sapiens in all the theistic religions is one of the things that bothers me most deeply about them. I believe we are unique and unusually important amongst life on earth (as were the first oxygenic photosynthesizers, and the first eukaryotic organisms, and the first macroscopic multicellular life forms), but I don’t think that the earth without humans would be without value. Diminished, certainly, but still a precious place. By the same token, I think that we diminish the value of the earth by causing the extinction of other species.
I think this may actually be somewhat related to the abortion question, and the difficulty of coming to any kind of common ground on it. I don’t consider non-viable fetuses human, but to me that doesn’t mean they are without value, or undeserving of any kind of legal protections. I just don’t think those protections should be as extensive as our protections of humans. People are resistant to the idea that “humanity” is a continuum. Some might even say repelled by it, but it seems inescapable to me. I also believe that severely mentally disabled people are “less” human, and that a brain-dead human is, for all intents and purposes, a cell culture with no more moral value than a side of beef. This might seem like something we had better not talk about, since it starts off all kinds of slippery slopes to horrible places, but I think eventually, we will have no choice, because some time in the next few decades, or at most the next few centuries, we will be confronted with positive deviations as well as negative.
What will it mean to be human, when there exist super-humans? When some portion of the population is genetically or cybernetically enhanced, will they have super-human rights, privledges, and responsibilities, or will they simply be more powerful through extra-legal means?
A person, even a politician, can stand up for human rights while condoning abortion if they do not consider the fetus human. The core of the abortion argument is what does it mean to be human? Is it a discrete, or continuous classification? Unless we can come to some consensus on these questions, the abortion issue, and many others, will remain vexing indefinitely.