21 May 2004

What could you do with $53 billion? That's what the Pentagon is spending on a missile shield over the next five years. Problem is, there's little or no evidence such a shield would actually work. In fact, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists:

The ballistic missile defense system that the United States will deploy later this year will have no demonstrated defensive capability and will be ineffective against a real attack by long-range ballistic missiles. The administration's claims that the system will be reliable and highly effective are irresponsible exaggerations. There is no technical justification for deployment of the system, nor are there sound reasons to procure and deploy additional interceptors.

And by the way, could someone please tell me why I read about this on an Australian site? Since the US taxpayers are paying for this, I would think the US media would show some interest...

Posted 11:46 AM

20 May 2004

Someone, at either The New York Times or Google, clearly lives on a different planet. At the bottom of this article on Google's desktop search efforts, I found this paragraph:

Indeed, desktop searching might be particularly valuable for Google's commercial advertisers, which may be willing to pay dearly for the ability to place targeted ads in front of personal computer users.

Are you out of your mind? Targeted ads on my desktop, based on searches of files on my own computer? I'm sure advertisers would love it, but anyone who thinks PC users will tolerate it hasn't been paying attention and probably has little personal experience with the web.

Posted 10:38 AM

18 May 2004

This is just plain cool. A Lego robot that solves Rubik's Cube without human intervention, both calculating the solution and mechanically manipulating the Cube.

(Link by way of Joi Ito Web.)

Posted 09:53 AM

16 May 2004

In the language of political euphemism, it all sounds so reasonable, even civilized. "Unlawful combatants" in the war on terrorism, unlike soldiers in a conventional war, are not protected by the Geneva Convention. It is therefore acceptable to use "extreme measures" to extract information from "high-value detainees."

This week, the cloak of euphemism was stripped away, and the world saw snarling dogs threatening a cowering, helpless, naked man in American-controlled Abu Ghraib prison. There's no way to know whether this particular man is a "high-value detainee," or, like between 70 and 90% of prisoners in Iraq, completely innocent. It is clear that this incident does not represent the most "extreme measures" used in Iraq, just the most extreme deemed suitable for publication in mainstream newspapers.

It's also obvious that this isn't what average Americans had in mind when we envisioned a reborn democratic Iraq. This isn't the warm liberator's embrace we were promised. This is the sacrifice of our most treasured principles on the altar of expedience, in the service of a war that looks more misguided every day.

Posted 04:50 PM


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