The big sleep: “There is a fascination with this deep state of unconscious, a ‘twilight zone’ between life and death and a place few of us ever explore.

Even fewer have lived to tell their stories, but two women in the UK who recovered after weeks in a coma give a rare insight.” (BBC)

Wave that Flag

Victory for Fair Use: “In a unanimous decision, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out the broadcast flag, the FCC rule that would have crippled digital television receivers starting July 1. The ruling came in ALA v. FCC, a challenge brought by Public Knowledge, EFF, Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America, the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, the American Association of Law Libraries, the Medical Library Association, and the Special Libraries Association.

The court ruled, as petitioners argued, that the FCC lacks the authority to regulate what happens inside your TV or computer once it has received a broadcast signal. The broadcast flag rule would have required all signal demodulators to ‘recognize and give effect to’ a broadcast flag, forcing them not to record or output an unencrypted high-def digital signal if the flag were set. This technology mandate, set to take effect July 1, would have stopped the manufacture of open hardware that has enabled us to build our own digital television recorders.” (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

The Caesar’s Bath meme

Lots of people are paying attention to this meme, of which I learned from walker and which is doing the weblogging rounds:

Behold, the Caesar’s Bath meme! List five things that people in your circle of friends or peer group are wild about, but you can’t really understand the fuss over. To use the words of Caesar (from History of the World Part I), “Nice. Nice. Not thrilling . . . but nice.”

Poking into what people put on their lists is revealing. Although some people ignore the premise and simply list things they love to hate (for example, President Bush), it is more interesting if, as intended, you are attentive to what your social circle or peer group loves but you cannot get into (I feel really sorry for the Bush-hater who finds h’self embedded in a peer-group of Bush supporters!). Certainly, it is partly a question of how you define your peer group; most of the lists say much more about that than they do about your tastes and those of your social circle per se.. There are certain circles in which I hang out in which a list of five items wouldn’t begin to scratch the surface of our divergences (although I wouldn’t call them my close friends), and others in which I would be hardpressed to come up with five of any significance. How trivial or profound a difference of taste from your peers does your list embody? I mean, I hope you are going to differ from your peers with respect to some rock band or other, some TV show or other, and hopefully even on some of the books you have loved.

There are a number of entries that commonly appear — reality TV, drinking, spectator sports, NASCAR, Jim Carey, Seinfeld — or maybe I just notice them because they would all be on my list. If you can’t think of many items for yourself, I wonder — does it mean you are fortunate to share most of your preferences with your friends? unfortunate in that your circle of friends have very little stimulating diversity? or could it be you just don’t know your friends very well?

The game might be easier for someone — probably generally someone much younger — whose peer group have much more conformist needs. While this is abit stereotypical, the tastes of those of us who are older are probably generally less congruent with those of people we nevertheless call our close friends, perhaps because friendships are built more and more on shared history rather than shared preferences; people may remain friends even with drastic divergence of their cultural styles over decades. It may also be that people define who they are more securely and less on the basis of what they like, so even new friendships may be with more culturally dissimilar people. BTW, an interesting variant on this meme, for us older more settled folks, might be to “list five things that your spouse or life partner is wild about, but you can’t really understand the fuss over.”

And finally, it occurs to me that, because of the selection bias in this being a weblogging meme, there is one item that probably would appear on some lists which will not: weblogging.

The Time Traveler Convention – May 7, 2005

“Technically, you would only need one time traveler convention. Time travelers from all eras could meet at a specific place at a specific time, and they could make as many repeat visits as they wanted. We are hosting the first and only Time Traveler Convention at MIT on Saturday, and WE NEED YOUR HELP to PUBLICIZE the event so that future time travelers will know about the convention and attend. This web page is insufficient; in less than a year it will be taken down when I graduate, and futhermore, the World Wide Web is unlikely to remain in its present form permanently. We need volunteers to publish the details of the convention in enduring forms, so that the time travelers of future millennia will be aware of the convention. This convention can never be forgotten! We need publicity in MAJOR outlets, not just Internet news. Think New York Times, Washington Post, books, that sort of thing. If you have any strings, please pull them.”

They got their New York Times puff piece:

Time Travelers to Meet in Not Too Distant Future: “Suppose it is the future – maybe a thousand years from now. There is no static cling, diapers change themselves, and everyone who is anyone summers on Mars.

What’s more, it is possible to travel back in time, to any place, any era. Where would people go? Would they zoom to a 2005 Saturday night for chips and burgers in a college courtyard, eager to schmooze with computer science majors possessing way too many brain cells?

Why not, say some students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who have organized what they call the first convention for time travelers.

Actually, they contend that theirs is the only time traveler convention the world needs, because people from the future can travel to it anytime they want.

‘I would hope they would come with the idea of showing us that time travel is possible,’ said Amal Dorai, 22, the graduate student who thought up the convention, which is to be this Saturday on the M.I.T. campus. ‘Maybe they could leave something with us. It is possible they might look slightly different, the shape of the head, the body proportions.’

The event is potluck and alcohol-free – present-day humans are bringing things like brownies. But Mr. Dorai’s Web site asks that future-folk bring something to prove they are really ahead of our time: ‘Things like a cure for AIDS or cancer, a solution for global poverty or a cold fusion reactor would be particularly convincing as well as greatly appreciated.’

He would also welcome people from only a few days in the future, far enough to, say, give him a few stock market tips.”

When the President Talks to God

Kudos to NBC for allowing Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst to perform this song on Jay Leno’s show. It is worth it to see how flustered Leno is when he comes out to thank Oberst afterward (mentally running through his viewership numbers in the red states). The song, however, doesn’t impress me anything like the protest songs of the antiwar era it seems meant to evoke. If you like it anyway, you can have a free download from the iTunes store. [thanks, Joel] //' cannot be displayed]

The Technium

Kevin Kelly: “This is a book in progress. I’m thinking and writing aloud. The origins and objective of the book are detailed here; please read this background before commenting. Since my posts are often long, only two will show on the front page. The rest I move quickly off to the side archive. There is no order to the postings; I’m just exploring here. Comments on particular posts welcomed.” [thanks, walker]