Archive for January 7th, 2009

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News you WANT to read – Mules and naked skiers

January 7, 2009

There are times I just can’t take the bad news anymore. And so I must punctuate the tragedy with some comedy or fuzzy warm hope. Welcome to my punctuation.

Mule Credited With Saving Woman From Fire

January 6, 2009
Source
McMINNVILLE, Tenn. — Jolene Solomon is beginning the new year with her life, her mule named Lou and little else. The Southern Standard in McMinnville reported Solomon had just finished eating supper on New Year’s Day when Lou’s braying and acting up got her attention.

Solomon, 63, who lived alone, stepped outside, she saw her house was on fire. She called 911 and as she waited for firefighters, her home and everything in it burned to the ground.

She said her father bought Lou years ago to help her and her late sister, Blue, around the farm. It took Lou months to get over the loss of her sister.

Solomon said she has ‘lost it all’, but credits Lou with saving her life.

Jolene is staying with family members and plans to rebuild her home. The home was built by her grandfather and she had lived there all her life.

Vail Chairlift Accident Leaves
Man Dangling Pantless

Source
If you think people laugh at your skiing skills then think again. A man was a put into a precarious and undoubtedly embarrassing position while skiing with his child at Vail mountain last Friday.

According to reports: the chairlift’s fold-down seat was not in the correct lowered-down position – causing the man to partially fall through the resulting gap as he attempted to board the lift.

He was prevented from plummeting to the ground below by his right ski, which became jammed in the ascending lift.

More pictures

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Singularity, Big Brother, The Matrix and AI

January 7, 2009



Remember back in the 70s when Captain Kirk had that neat ‘communicator’? Now we all have them. How about in 80s,when Pac-man thrilled us all? Compare the poor little gobbling screen blip of then to the realistic cyber games of today.

Then there was ‘1984’ by George Orwell; I never suspected we would come close to that scenario yet here we are in the new age of surveillance. But the scariest movie I have seen in some time is The Matrix where a robot race takes over its creators, the human race. After doing a bit of research on this plot, it looks as though we are definitely headed that way. Even Stephen Hawking predicts we will come to a bad end in our quest for Artificial Intelligence.

Another quite interesting film which falls now into Sci-Fi category, but is quickly approaching reality is AI, Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant film finished by Stephen Speilberg.

With this in mind, I have assembled below a selection of relevant readings on the subject. As with many subjects of fascination, the related urls are endless in these articles and can lead to who knows where. My only comment is this: Be afraid, be very afraid (unless you would just rather not think about it). And if you believe the Mayan calendar prediction, you need not worry about it at all – because we won’t be here.

All three movies, The Matrix, 1984 and AI are multi-dimensional stories allowing metaphors on many levels. The level explained in the following articles is purely one of literal possibility.

Dawn of the robots

Joy warns of tech Armageddon

Hawking warns of AI world takeover

Quotes from the Singularity Summit 2007
It’s haughty of us to think we’re the end product of evolution. All of us are a part of producing whatever is coming next. We’re at an exciting time. We’re close to the singularity. Go back to that litany of chemistry leading to single–celled organisms, leading to intelligence. The first step took a billion years, the next step took a hundred million, and so on. We’re at a stage where things change on the order of decades, and it seems to be speeding up. Technology has the autocatalytic effect of fast computers, which let us design better and faster computers faster. We’re heading toward something which is going to happen very soon – in our lifetimes – and which is fundamentally different from anything that’s happened in human history before.
-Dr W Daniel Hillis

Economics Of The Singularity

Technological singularity
The technological singularity is a theoretical future point of unprecedented technological progress, caused in part by the ability of machines to improve themselves using artificial intelligence. Much information here as well as links.

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Newborn DNA must be given to Feds – It’s the law

January 7, 2009


Ever seen the movie Gattaca? Well if you don’t like this story, don’t watch the movie. In either case, science fiction is now the possible with exactly such laws as these. We shall be told this sort of invasion into our privacy is ‘for our own good’. That might be true if the world were filled with altruistic leaders charting a course for humans to have ever more dignity in life on earth. Since the bill is signed by George Bush, I guess we can rule that one out.

The Bill Nobody Noticed:
National DNA Databank

December 18, 2008
Patty Donovan, citizen journalist

Source

In April of 2008, President Bush signed into law S.1858 which allows the federal government to screen the DNA of all newborn babies in the U.S. This was to be implemented within 6 months meaning that this collection is now being carried out. Congressman Ron Paul states that this bill is the first step towards the establishment of a national DNA database. S.1858, known as The Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act of 2007, is justified as a “national contingency plan” in that it represents preparation for any sort of public health emergency.

The bill states that the federal government should “continue to carry out, coordinate, and expand research in newborn screening” and “maintain a central clearinghouse of current information on newborn screening… ensuring that the clearinghouse is available on the Internet and is updated at least quarterly”. Sections of the bill also make it clear that DNA may be used in genetic experiments and tests. Read the full bill: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xp… Twila Brase, president of the Citizens’ Council on Health Care warns that this new law represents the beginning of nationwide genetic testing.

Brase states that S.1858 and H.R. 3825, the House version of the bill, will:

• Establish a national list of genetic conditions for which newborns and children are to be tested.
• Establish protocols for the linking and sharing of genetic test results nationwide.

• Build surveillance systems for tracking the health status and health outcomes of individuals diagnosed at birth with a genetic defect or trait.

•Use the newborn screening program as an opportunity for government agencies to identify, list, and study “secondary conditions” of individuals and their families.

• Subject citizens to genetic research without their knowledge or consent.

Read her entire analysis of the implications of this bill here: http://www.cchconline.org/pdf/S_1858_NB… Brase states that under this bill, “The DNA taken at birth from every citizen is essentially owned by the government, and every citizen becomes a potential subject of government-sponsored genetic research.”

All 50 states are now routinely providing results of genetic screenings to the Department of Homeland Security and this bill will establish the legality of that practice plus include DNA. Ron Paul has also vigorously argued against this bill making the following comments before the US House of Representatives: “I cannot support legislation…that exceeds the Constitutional limitations on federal power or in any way threatens the liberty of the American people. I must oppose it.” “S. 1858 gives the federal bureaucracy the authority to develop a model newborn screening program. Madame Speaker, the federal government lacks both the constitutional authority and the competence to develop a newborn screening program adequate for a nation as large and diverse as the United States. …”

“Those of us in the medical profession should be particularly concerned about policies allowing government officials and state-favored interests to access our medical records without our consent … My review of S. 1858 indicates the drafters of the legislation made no effort to ensure these newborn screening programs do not violate the privacy rights of parents and children, in fact, by directing federal bureaucrats to create a contingency plan for newborn screening in the event of a ‘public health’ disaster, this bill may lead to further erosions of medical privacy.

As recent history so eloquently illustrates, politicians are more than willing to take, and people are more than willing to cede, liberty during times of ’emergency.”

Cute huh?