Links for 26th May 2009

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. The "Ida" fossil: on missing links and media circuses

    "The "missing link" language is pretty misleading as well. The phrase, in popular understanding, is typically reserved for something that had a mixture of characteristics of human and non-human primates, and was ancestral to modern humans. We've already got a lot of these fossils, and it's not clear that anything is "missing" there. Those fossils, as well as other evidence, suggests that humans diverged from the rest of the primates about 6 million years ago; Ida dates to 50 million years old, so it's not the missing link as most of the public probably knows it."

    Tagged with: Idafossilmediamisinformationhypescience

  2. Distinguish between transactional and revolving credit

    "… while transactional credit provision is a perfectly good business, it might be reasonable for the state to offer basic transactional credit as a public good. This would be very simple to do. Every adult would be offered a Treasury Express card, which would have, say, a $1000 limit. Balances would be payable in full monthly. The only penalty for nonpayment would be denial of access of further credit, both by the government and by private creditors. (Private creditors would be expected to inquire whether a person is in arrears on their public card when making credit decisions, but would not be permitted to obtain or retain historical information. Nonpayment of public advances would not constitute default, but the exercise of an explicit forbearance option in exchange for denial of further credit.) Unpaid balances would be forgiven automatically after a period of five years. No interest would ever be charged."

    Tagged with: creditfinancegovernmentsocialismeconomicstransactional-credit

  3. How to Create a Steampunk Style Illustration in Photoshop

    "The main focus, aside from the style of course, is fusing elements from different sources together to create a cohesive whole. There are many tricks to this end and we shall be looking at light sources, shadows, and image grading." Some good general P-shop tips here.

    Tagged with: photoshopGIMPtechniquesgraphicillustrationsteampunk

  4. Gulags, Nukes and a Water Slide: Citizen Spies Lift North Korea’s Veil

    "An economist who studies developing countries and has traveled from Turkmenistan to Zimbabwe, Mr. Melvin started his project in early 2007 to designate places he visited on two group tours to North Korea earlier this decade. He shared it on several North Korea-related Web sites.

    People soon started sending him locations they knew, from tourist sites to airfields tucked into valleys near South Korea. Mr. Melvin says that sadness for North Koreans' plight, and the fascination of discovery, motivated him to continue.

    Many updates later, Mr. Melvin and his correspondents have plotted out what they say is much of the country's transportation network and electrical grid, and many of its military bases. They've spotted what they believe are mass graves created in the 1995-98 famine that killed an estimated two million people. The vast complexes of Mr. Kim and other North Korean leaders are visible, with palatial homes, pools, even a water slide."

    Tagged with: North-Koreaespionagecrowdsourcingsatelliteimagerysecrecytotalitarianism

  5. Pentagon Seeks High School Hackers

    "The ultimate goal, according to the initiative's mission statement, is a new sort of grassroots cybersecurity education designed to keep America ahead of a growing threat of cyber attacks from both criminal and state-sponsored enemies. "In the 1950s and 1960s, Sputnik and the space race inspired young people to pursue careers in science and engineering," reads a draft of the statement. "We have a similar opportunity to inspire today's young people to tackle the important challenges we face, including cybersecurity."" Yeah, Good luck with that.

    Tagged with: USmilitaryhackingrecruitmentcompetitionsecurity

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