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Two scenarios for the future of the laptop

  • Notebook overhaul on the horizon: “Five years from now, the desktop will probably look pretty much like it does today, but the notebook will likely be smaller and lighter, capable of making cellular calls on its own and running on methanol. Component development projects under way portend fairly substantial changes in notebook design, according to executives and analysts. Fuel cells and battery enhancements, which will let notebooks run three to 10 times longer without a recharge, will begin to appear by late 2004.” C/Net
  • The laptop? The deck: ‘Then, in that classic wonk moment, you pull your Global Civil Society Designer Laptop from your ballistic-nylon shoulder bag and you boot it up. “Whoa!” is the instant response from a stunned and impressed public. “Where’d you get *that*?” “Oh, this? We’ve *all* got these now! They’re *everywhere!*”

    But it isn’t really a laptop per se. It’s more like your portable office network. Or maybe it’s more like a collection of PDAs. Let’s call it a Deck (as in a deck of cards…)’ nonsensical

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Hakim Bey would be pleased:

Declan McCullagh: Media chief decries Net’s moral fiber: ‘The president of media giant News Corp. warns that the Internet has become a “moral-free zone

,” with the medium’s future threatened by pornography, spam and rampant piracy.

Speaking Tuesday at an annual conference organized by the Progress & Freedom Foundation, Peter Chernin decried the “enormous amount” of worthless content online. He also predicted that without new laws to stave off illicit copying, News Corp.’s vast library of movies may never be made available in digital form.’ C/Net

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Music body presses anti-piracy case

Declan McCullagh: RIAA asks Verizon for name of P2P subscriber: “In what may become a new legal front in its war against online copying, the Recording Industry Association of America has asked a federal court for help in tracing an alleged peer-to-peer pirate.

On Tuesday, the RIAA asked a federal judge in Washington, D.C., for an order compelling Verizon Communications to reveal the name of a customer accused of illegally trading hundreds of songs. Citing privacy concerns and potential legal liability, Verizon has refused to comply with a subpoena the RIAA sent last month.” C/Net

Also:The U.S. Department of Justice is prepared to begin

prosecuting peer-to-peer pirates
, a top government official said on Tuesday.

John Malcolm, a deputy assistant attorney general, said Americans

should realize that swapping illicit copies of music and movies is a

criminal offense that can result in lengthy prison terms.” C/Net

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Yahoo’s China Concession

Yahoo agrees to China censorship

The aspiration to a borderless Internet has fizzled along with technology stock prices. Commercial Web sites are eagerly recreating real-space national boundaries in cyberspace, so that they run Japanese ads for people who log on in Japan and German ones for Germans. National regulators are tightening control, asserting their right to tax e-commerce sites in their countries and the right to “wiretap” e-mail with suspected criminal connections. For the most part, this is good: There’s no reason why societies that choose to ban child pornography in real space should decide that the same material in cyberspace is fine, or why bricks-and-mortar stores should pay sales taxes while clicks-and-mortar stores escape them. But this principle can sometimes go too far. It’s ironic that the latest company to cross the line is none other than Yahoo. Washington Post editorial

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NASA plans to read terrorist’s minds at airports

“Airport security screeners may soon try to read the minds of travelers to identify terrorists.

Officials of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration have told Northwest Airlines security specialists that the agency is developing brain-monitoring devices in cooperation with a commercial firm, which it did not identify.


Space technology would be adapted to receive and analyze brain-wave and heartbeat patterns, then feed that data into computerized programs “to detect passengers who potentially might pose a threat,” according to briefing documents obtained by The Washington Times.”

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Electronic People Tracking

Offender Supervision with Electronic Technology

(.pdf)

The document is designed to help readers understand

and appreciate the process needed to incorporate and

implement electronic supervision strategies within

justice system programs. It was developed for agency

staff that want either to introduce electronic

supervision as a new program component or enhance

the use of electronic supervision that has already

been implemented. The document is divided into five

sections, and by reading each of these sequentially,

the steps for developing or enhancing electronic

supervision strategies will be apparent.

American Probation and Parole Association [via Politech]

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Annals of the Invasion of Privacy (cont’d.):

Disputed Air ID Law May Not Exist: “A recent lawsuit filed by Electronic Frontier Foundation founder John Gilmore against U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, United Airlines and several others challenges the requirement that airline flyers present government-issued identification in order to travel within the United States.

The suit claims unpublished federal regulations have created an “internal passport” for Americans in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

As it turns out, there may be no such law on the books. Instead, carefully worded rules and statements allow airlines to make it seem that way. Under current federal regulations, they’re only required to ask for ID, not to make it a condition of travel.Wired

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unplugged times

Many thanks to David Walker, rapidly assuming the role of an unofficial auxiliary FmH editor for the number of blinks he sends me, for the following list, reprinted in its entirety, of what captivated during my week away:

I recall my panic when I took a vacation after the first few months of FmH’s existence about whether there would be any readers left when I returned two weeks later. I approached each of several friends from the blogiverse about having them keep up the blog as a guest editor during my absence. Ultimately, I rejected the idea — I’m too much of a control freak about FmH, I guess — and it certainly seems that it remains interesting enough for many of you to remember to come back after a week or two when it hasn’t been refreshed, and for others of you to think of me, by collecting pertinent blinks, while I’m away. Again, I’m indebted, David. Keep sending me those pointers!

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‘Mystery particle’ in schizophrenics

Thanks to Alwin Hawkins, a fellow health professional weblogger, for sending me this blink.

A tiny particle found in the spinal fluid of schizophrenia patients is baffling doctors who cannot work out what it is.

The Swedish researcher involved has even suggested it might be “a new form of life”, although other experts say this is unlikely.

However, it could mean that doctors have a reliable test for schizophrenia.’ BBC

The ‘new form of life’ angle, the more sensationalistic aspect of this news, should be placed in the context of the continuing British preoccupation with BSE (“mad cow disease”), caused by miniscule nonviral, nonbacterial communicable (but by no stretch of the imagination living!) protein particles known as prions. However, I’m among those who find this analogy implausible for schizophrenia, which has none of the epidemiology of an infectious disease. If these mystery particles are real, they are more likely a byproduct than a cause of the pathological process in the schizophrenic brain. And that’s a great big “if” — the history of schizophrenia research is rife with the ‘discovery’ of putative markers for the disease in blood, urine or cerebrospinal fluid which have uniformly turned out to be artifacts. I’d love to read the scientific paper on this finding (from Neuroscience Letters; here’s the abstract

but the full text requires a subscription), rather than rely on the popular press, which does not even indicate if the study was done in a “double blind” fashion.

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Abu Nidal dead:

It seemed abit unreal that not much worth noting had happened while I was media-less last week, then I find out that Abu Nidal is dead in Bagdhad, where he was staying for the past several months as a guest of the Iraqi government while he reportedly underwent treatment for skin cancer. Confused reports suggest he committed suicide “when confronted by Iraqi agents about his anti-government activities”, namely reported contacts with anti-Saddam elements in Syria and Jordan. However, “sources in Abu Nidal’s group said on Monday that he shot himself because he was suffering from cancer and was addicted to painkillers.” Ever vigilant for a WoT®-serving soundbite, Administration mouthpiece Ari Fleischer commented:

“Abu Nidal is one of the most craven and despicable terrorists in the world, who is responsible for killing at least 900 people in 20 different countries. The fact that Iraq gave safe haven to Abu Nidal demonstrates the Iraqi regime’s complicity in global terror. He will not be missed.” Guardian UK

However, not content with this level of complicity, the hawkish Telegraph UK reports that

“While in Baghdad, Abu Nidal, whose real name was Sabri al-Banna, came under pressure from Saddam to help train groups of al-Qa’eda fighters who moved to northern Iraq after fleeing Afghanistan. Saddam also wanted Abu Nidal to carry out attacks against the US and its allies. When Abu Nidal refused, Saddam ordered his intelligence chiefs to assassinate him. He was shot dead last weekend when Iraqi security forces burst into his apartment in central Baghdad.”

Abit too neat, tying up Palestinian terror, Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda in one tidy package and delivering them to the WoT®-meisters, it seems. How would we ever know if it is true?

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Stand Tall:

This National Geographic Magazine feature on meerkats is getting alot of linkage. “Welcome to the strange social life of one of Africa’s most beloved carnivores.” Replete with cute pictures [and no references to the O’Reilly Network…]

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One Nation, Under Blog:

Are We? “A recent Newsweek article claimed that a half-million blogs populate the Net. But weblog software companies and industry experts say many new journals are authored by the same people who’ve abandoned older ones, just as AOL users stop using screen names they’ve outgrown.” Wired

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Don’t tell the 12m starving:

New from McDonald’s: the McAfrika burger :

McDonald’s has been accused of extreme insensitivity after releasing a new sandwich called the “McAfrika” in Norway, one of the world’s richest countries, at a time when 12 million people are facing starvation in southern Africa.

The launch of the new hamburger has infuriated the Norwegian equivalent of Christian Aid and the Norwegian Red Cross and generated a storm of bad publicity for the American fast-food giant. Guardian UK

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‘Guided Democracy’:

Musharraf Grants Self Broad Powers

Despite widespread criticism, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf unilaterally amended the Pakistani constitution Wednesday, granting himself sweeping powers – including the right to dissolve parliament – and extending his term in office.

“Pakistan is passing through a very crucial transitional period,” Musharraf told reporters in announcing his decision to implement the amendments, which were first unveiled in June. “We are taking Pakistan from democratic dictatorship to elected democracy. I want to introduce a sustainable democratic order.” Lycos News [thanks, Abby]

Is this not getting more airplay because of the Administration’s investment in downplaying this inevitable price of holding together the ludicrous WoT® coalition? Has there been any U.S. official reaction to these moves?

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Distant Echoes of the Clash Between Islam and the West


[Saragossa Ms.]

“Manuscript Found in Zaragoza,” based on a 200-year-old novel by a Polish count, tells the tragicomic tale of the seduction of an 18th-century Spanish-German soldier by a pair of Muslim princesses. Like so many Romantic adventurers and Western fictional heroes, from Lord Byron to Kit in Paul Bowles’s novel The Sheltering Sky, the protagonist is drawn into a sensuous and illusory dreamscape that ultimately leads to his destruction. Directed by one of Spain’s most renowned playwrights, Francisco Nieva, the play has been adapted by him from a book of the same name written by Jan Potocki, a Polish ethnographer and historian, between 1797 and 1815.’ NY Times Arts & Leisure [via Abby]

[Saragossa Ms.] I saw the labyrinthine, phantasmagorical The Saragossa Manuscript

, a 1965 Polish film from the same source (of which this article makes no mention) directed by Wojciech Has (1925-2000), in the ’70’s when I was in college. Although abit rococo, its complex structure of dreams inside stories inside reveries inside fables, which left the audience reeling and laughing in confusion, haunted me for several decades during which I had lost track of its title and could find no further information about it. Even posting queries on the internet when it became viable a decade later was without results, until I happened to read in the mid-’90’s

that it was reputed to be Jerry Garcia’s favorite film

and that, along with Coppola and Scorsese, he was funding its restoration to its original 175-min. length — in the process learning its name again. The restored version premiered at the New York Film Festival in the fall of 1997, with a posthumous dedication to Garcia. I finally obtained a video copy around two years ago. Potocki’s book has recently reappeared in print, prompted by the revival of the film.

Probably because both films were most suitable for midnight viewing and, if you weren’t in an altered state of mind going into them you would be upon emerging, I often think of Alexandro Jodorowsky’s 1970 El Topo

(“What it all means isn’t exactly clear, but you won’t forget it. “) — anyone else remember this? — in the same vein. Funny, this Bright Lights Film Journal piece on The Saragossa Manuscript leads off with a reference to the latter. [El Topo]

There are rumors, by the way, that

Jodorowsky is working
on a sequel to El Topo

with Johnny Depp annd Marilyn Manson in the cast. Here’s a pre-release flyer. Other Jodorowsky ( “I ask of film what most North Americans ask of psychedelic drugs”) trivia:

  • he studied mime with Marcel Marceau
  • he ‘signed on to direct a French-American production of Dune, which was to star his son Brontis, Orson Welles, Salvador Dalí and Gloria Swanson. The screenplay he wrote, by some accounts, could have been made into a 12- to 16-hour film. The financial backers pulled out in 1976.’ Dune was of course, disappointingly, made by David Lynch in 1984…
  • he ‘was also reported to have scouted locations in Tangier in the mid-80’s with William S. Burroughs for a film of Naked Lunch that was never made’

Uncategorized

Distant Echoes of the Clash Between Islam and the West


[Saragossa Ms.]

“Manuscript Found in Zaragoza,” based on a 200-year-old novel by a Polish count, tells the tragicomic tale of the seduction of an 18th-century Spanish-German soldier by a pair of Muslim princesses. Like so many Romantic adventurers and Western fictional heroes, from Lord Byron to Kit in Paul Bowles’s novel The Sheltering Sky, the protagonist is drawn into a sensuous and illusory dreamscape that ultimately leads to his destruction. Directed by one of Spain’s most renowned playwrights, Francisco Nieva, the play has been adapted by him from a book of the same name written by Jan Potocki, a Polish ethnographer and historian, between 1797 and 1815.’ NY Times Arts & Leisure [via Abby]

[Saragossa Ms.] I saw the labyrinthine, phantasmagorical The Saragossa Manuscript

, a 1965 Polish film from the same source (of which this article makes no mention) directed by Wojciech Has (1925-2000), in the ’70’s when I was in college. Although abit rococo, its complex structure of dreams inside stories inside reveries inside fables, which left the audience reeling and laughing in confusion, haunted me for several decades during which I had lost track of its title and could find no further information about it. Even posting queries on the internet when it became viable a decade later was without results, until I happened to read in the mid-’90’s

that it was reputed to be Jerry Garcia’s favorite film

and that, along with Coppola and Scorsese, he was funding its restoration to its original 175-min. length — in the process learning its name again. The restored version premiered at the New York Film Festival in the fall of 1997, with a posthumous dedication to Garcia. I finally obtained a video copy around two years ago. Potocki’s book has recently reappeared in print, prompted by the revival of the film.

Probably because both films were most suitable for midnight viewing and, if you weren’t in an altered state of mind going into them you would be upon emerging, I often think of Alexandro Jodorowsky’s 1970 El Topo

(“What it all means isn’t exactly clear, but you won’t forget it. “) — anyone else remember this? — in the same vein. Funny, this Bright Lights Film Journal piece on The Saragossa Manuscript leads off with a reference to the latter. [El Topo]

There are rumors, by the way, that

Jodorowsky is working
on a sequel to El Topo

with Johnny Depp annd Marilyn Manson in the cast. Here’s a pre-release flyer. Other Jodorowsky ( “I ask of film what most North Americans ask of psychedelic drugs”) trivia:

  • he studied mime with Marcel Marceau
  • he ‘signed on to direct a French-American production of Dune, which was to star his son Brontis, Orson Welles, Salvador Dalí and Gloria Swanson. The screenplay he wrote, by some accounts, could have been made into a 12- to 16-hour film. The financial backers pulled out in 1976.’ Dune was of course, disappointingly, made by David Lynch in 1984…
  • he ‘was also reported to have scouted locations in Tangier in the mid-80’s with William S. Burroughs for a film of Naked Lunch that was never made’