Information Landmine

"The Americans keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night." - An un-named EU trade representative quoted during international trade talks in Denver, Colorado, 1997.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why We Can't Believe In Change

Follow the money, and a potential Obama presidency looks more and more like just another case of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

Sure, the handcart may slow down a little on its journey, but it still appears headed inexorably down the same one-way track with the same invisible hand at the controls. And, for those who hunger for real "change we can believe in", that is scant motivation to get out the vote for the Democratic candidate this election cycle.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mysteries of the Unexplained: Number 4,667,542

With news like this, how exactly are the Republicans leading in the US presidential election polls?

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Two things

Regarding my previous thoughts about governments and expertise, the Matthew Yglesias blog points to a new study from the Urban Institute making the, one would think, unexceptionable suggestion that US public policy should be based on evidence.

Meanwhile, via the Open Rights Group, a letter from leading copyright scholars to Jose Manuel Barroso, pointing out that extending copyright terms retroactively is an obviously stupid policy, shows that this isn't how we do things in the EU, either. Money quote:

... we are certainly not so naive as to expect that the recommendations of an academic institution such as ours, however well researched and conceived they may be, will find their way into the Commissions policies in undiluted form. What we would expect, however is that our work, which was expressly commissioned by the policy unit in charge of these proposals, be given the appropriate consideration by the Commission and be duly referenced in its policy documents, in particular wherever the Commission's policy choices depart from our main recommendations.

So the DG Internal Market and Services Commission paid for a study, and is now trying to eliminate all trace of it because it concluded that copyright lobbyists' arguments were bunk. Sad, but entirely typical.

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

Key quote from this seemingly-innocuous-but-seriously-unsettling tech news item:

"There is speculation that we may be approaching an inflection point where the rate of technology advancements is accelerating at an exponential rate, and machines could even overtake humans in their ability to reason, in the not so distant future."

Is there anyone out there in the science & technology community who somehow missed T2 back in the day - or even that Will Smith version of I, Robot - and thus can't see where this is all going?

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Reason 10,698,032 Why the Republic is in Terminal Decline

So much for the prospects of reinforcing the much-needed separation of Church and State. More like pandering to the would-be theocrats.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Small Triumph for Reason

Oh yes indeed.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008


Look out, here we go again!

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