Links for 20th May 2009

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. Display your [Wordpress] categories in two columns

    Lil' PHP hackery; should be applicable elsewhere with a little grokking.

    Tagged with: wordpressphpcodesnippetcategorycolumnsformatting

  2. Harnessing science to create the ultimate warrior

    "Zak emphasises that the panel was not asked how to turn soldiers into better "killing machines", although "the whole purpose of maximising and sustaining battlefield capacity is to gain superiority over opponents", admits Floyd Bloom of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, who chaired the panel.

    That's not to say someone won't try it, though. Zak's own work focuses on the role of the hormone oxytocin in trust and empathy. If drugs were developed to block oxytocin, the effect might be to reduce a soldier's ability to empathise with enemy combatants or civilians.

    "There are lots of stories of soldiers who refuse to shoot other soldiers," says Zak. "If you could get rid of that empathy response you might create a soldier that's more prepared to engage in battle and risk their life."" ^_^

    Tagged with: warfaresciencedrugsempathyoxytocinmilitaryresearchtechnology

  3. Gov’t to track citizens, prevent pandemic

    "The proposed system relies on mobile phone providers to constantly track the subjects’ geographical locations and keep chronological records of their movements in a database. When a person is labeled as “infected,” all the past location data in the database is analyzed to determine whether or not anyone came within close proximity to the infected individual.

    The system will know, for example, whether or not you once boarded the same train or sat in the same movie theater as the infected individual, and it will send you a text message containing the details of the close encounter. The text messages will also provide instructions on specific measures to take in response." Hellooooo, panopticon.

    Tagged with: fluepidimiologyphonesgeolocativetrackingpanopticonsurveillance

  4. We must ensure ISPs don’t stop the next Google getting out of the garage

    "Telcoms companies argue that their responsibility is to their shareholders, not the public interest, and that they are only taking the course of maximum profitability. It's not their business to ensure that the Googles of tomorrow attain liftoff from the garages in which they are born.

    But telcoms firms are all recipients of invaluable public subsidy in the form of rights of way and other grants that allow them to string their wires over and under our streets and through our homes. You and I can't go spelunking in the sewers with a spool of cable to wire up our own alternative network. And if the phone companies had to negotiate for every pole, every sewer, every punch-down, every junction box, every road they get to tear up, they'd go broke. All the money in the world couldn't pay for the access they get for free every day." Another zinger from Doctorow.

    Tagged with: internetprivacycensorshipISPnet-neutralitytelcomsDoctorow

  5. Assessing solipsist solutions to the Fermi Paradox

    "Solipsist solutions reject the premise of FP, namely that there are no extraterrestrial civilizations either on Earth or detectable through our observations in the Solar System and the Milky Way thus far. On the contrary, they usually suggest that extraterrestrials are or have been present in our vicinity, but that the reasons for their apparent absence lie more with our observations and their limitations than with the real state-of-affairs.

    Of course, this has been for so long the province of lunatic fringe of science (either in older forms of occultism or more modern guise of ufology) but to neglect some of these ideas for that reason is giving the quacks too much power. Instead, we need to consider all the alternatives, and these clearly form well-defined, albeit often provably wrong or undeveloped ideas. Some of the solipsist hypotheses discussed at least half-seriously in the literature are the following… "

    Tagged with: FermiParadoxgalaxycivilisationSETIsolipsistsolutions

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