Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

Georgetown students shed light on China’s tunnel system for nuclear weapons – The Washington Post

Georgetown students shed light on China’s tunnel system for nuclear weapons – The Washington Post.

Interesting. But more for what it, along with other omics studies (analysis of massive data–basically, examining indirect traces of activity), suggests a) new modalities of knowledge (thankfully, I was really getting bored by the old modalities), and that these may be liberating and certainly exciting, especially as b) they provoke the powers that continue to be to act as they’ve always (re-)acted. In this case, the reaction may be to foreclose avenues of inquiry, to amputate the limb before it can walk, let alone run.  Or, there may be the even more fun (irony alert) tactic of misinformation.

But these and so many other strategies of state power (or corporate: what difference is there, sometimes?) are hackneyed: we saw them in the Soviet Union, and they continue to be practised as necessary by more or less savoury polities. So, there may be more creative approaches to rendering not only the data problematical, but the analysis itself; and even the desire…. and then I think: didn’t we see a version of this clever obfuscation with, first, Enron, and then, more profoundly and dangerously, with the continuing, escalating, crash of 2008 and on? For wasn’t one of the big problems the very success of the obfuscation, so that what was being secured, or insured, and what was then being traded, and traded upon, was a there whose actual position (value) and momentum (price) could never be fully determined, at least at the same time? In this quantum universe of mortage foolery, it was all probability, until one encountered the stochastic element whose house was foreclosed, and whose job was cut.

Twitterstorm delong: November 27, 2011

Twitterstorm delong: November 27, 2011.

I could have posed almost any other twitterstorm from delong (J. Bradford DeLong, professor of economics at UC Berkeley) or any recent (as in the last 10 years) blogpost from Krugman or from Mark Blythe or from Mark Thoma or Simon Johnson–and so on. I read these and so many more. But I must surely be as isolated as the rest, be suffering from the affliction of hearing only my own opinions echoed (more richly) back. Because I think: How can the world continue in its crazy way–specifically the Austerian path chosen by the Wise Men and Women of Europe (with power, alas)–when they have nothing intelligent to say for themselves, to justify their egregious and consequential actions? In the face of the mountain of rationality and powerful argumentation, of reason and economic science, of math and data and simple brute logic–how can the Austerians, and even not just in Europe, do what they persist in doing?

Is it just so simple as: punish the sinner? And implicitly reward the righteous? Is it so *stupid* as that? It’s as if the lack of a gold standard only goaded these to fabricate the next best thing, a fictional island of intrinsic value that must–contradiction!–be preserved from the volatility of the market that it has committed itself to.

It’s madness.

(It’s almost as mad as the Koch brothers spawning/sponsoring Cain: he’s an idiot and a fool, and yet you would think that a dyad and a group as rich and powerful as the Koch would have chosen a better squawk and UT and a more intelligent campaign plan than we see with Cain, whose chances of doing well in primaries, let alone even gaining the nomination are as laughable as he is. So then one wonders: Why? Why him? Why not, say, the governor of Wisconsin?)


Data Furnaces Could Bring Heat to Homes –

Data Furnaces Could Bring Heat to Homes –

It’s worth thinking about… especially if the server arrays are located, say, where the alternatives are much less desirable and where a high-bandwidth connection is much wanted.

Labour Matters

Labour Matters.


I live in Toronto, and it has its problems, most of its own making. One of the interesting things about  it is that there are quite a few smart and enterprising people who have a good sense of what ought to be done to improve the residents’ lives as well as support local small (and probably not-so-small) businesses. But broadcasting the ideas is strangely difficult. It’s one thing to circulate ideas and develop consensus (more or less) among the circulators, but it’s another to move beyond what has turned out to just one of many concentric rings of social discourse. (Digression: Which is why the OWS is so interesting, it ruptures the laminar but isolating circulation of information. Nothing else has done that, recently.) Anyway, the Webzine London Matters does something that I should hope Toronto would, or for that matter any city. It publishes, up front, a positive message of how to fix things awry. Critique–the fun part, of course–surrounds the message. This arrangement alerts the reader that Labour is not only about negative critique with no positive suggestions for how to make things better, but in a way, the opposite. Labour has a specific agenda, and it is and was ready to go, but it is the party in power (nationally, locally) in the UK and London that negates its implementation.

But say that Toronto had something similar–and for all I know, it does, and I’m simply ignorant of it–the message I’d like to see would be one focused on jobs, green energy, urban planning (as in, public transportation and better traffic management, as well as building: the usual). The idea is not just to inform and to open a venue for residents to publish their views (edited, I suppose), but also to rupture the isolation of the circles. Naturally, I’m pessimistic that would really occur–living in the always already is always less stressful than living in interesting times, when anything can happen, even to you.

The New Government of Canada Open Data License: The OGL by another name |

The New Government of Canada Open Data License: The OGL by another name |

Eaves is usually worth reading, and his long-ish post demonstrates that.

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi | UCDavis Bicycle Barricade

Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi | UCDavis Bicycle Barricade.

Very much worth reading.

Data Deluge | The Scientist

Data Deluge | The Scientist.


And data means nothing without the apparatuses, the instruments to extract its meaning. I’d suggest that it’s not only those directly meant by the data gathered but also those indirectly affected, and that’s a lot of people. After all, the boundaries of instrumentality–of what counts as meaningful data, even–are uncertain. Need only to look at belated discoveries in biology, or surreptitious extraction of meaning from the data of genes taken from unknowing subjects.

U.S. Government Glossed Over Cancer Concerns As It Rolled Out Airport X-Ray Scanners – ProPublica

U.S. Government Glossed Over Cancer Concerns As It Rolled Out Airport X-Ray Scanners – ProPublica.

Of note. There *are* alternatives to irradiation.

Tiki 8.1 Now Available, End-of-Life for Tiki 7.x | CMS Critic

Tiki 8.1 Now Available, End-of-Life for Tiki 7.x | CMS Critic.


Tiki 8.1 now includes “Integration with WebODF to support Open Document Format (ODF) in Tiki Docs.”

This is very good news. Wikis are becoming privileged collaborative domains among many enterprises and smaller businesses, and evidently there has been a call for ODF support.

What we need now–!!–is a set of mobile applications that can manipulate ODF. This is not saying, “We need OOo on a tablet.” Egad. Why retrogress? No. It is saying we need tools by which we can manipulate–edit, write, save as–ODF files. The features making up such a tool need not be super complete. Good gracious: we hardly as a group use the ones that come with our suites. The tools need only be sufficient. If someone wants to do more, they can wait a couple of years for Moore’s law to catch up or simply port a MacBook Air with them–or lesser device :-)


New test for consciousness in \’comatose\’ patients

New test for consciousness in \’comatose\’ patients.


It’s an old question, I hope: What if “fred” is declared dead in polity A where death occurs with heart stoppage, but is deemed alive in polity B, where death is all about the brain and more particularly about the ability to express thoughts or act on commands. And then comes this more focused examination, which looks to what was previously pretty much obscured by the meat of the matter.

All of which is to highlight the very ancient and now–to me, quite problematic–notion of death itself, the couple of life. We are not our thoughts alone, the pattern of sparks between and among synaptic neurones; our bodies, however defined, constitute us, too. And elements of that body are in constant creation/discreation. Death then is a continuing process, and I wonder if it really even ought to be called death at all.

I suppose the extension of this is not that by this equivocation, or perhaps biological evasion, I seek to pluck death’s thorns. Hardly: mourning, the anguish over the loss to death, sometimes enters with the slam of the closing door, sometimes silently, creeping, and you discover, in retrospect, that it’s been with you all along, the dimming reflection of your parent, your friend, your child.


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