Friday, May 27, 2005

Better Brains & Transhumanism

Reading this article in New Scientist about improving your brain got me thinking. Modafinil sounds like really great stuff, if there were established guidelines for using it on healthy people. There's an article about Modafinil and what it's like for a healthy person to take it from the Washington Post which makes pretty interesting reading.

As a transhumanist, I want to see (and legally use) clinically-proven drugs that enable me to stay up for 40 hours a "day" and increase my memory and IQ. Still, these articles do bring up an important point: if these drugs become the norm, how will that change our society?

In "The Incredibles", the villain intends to enable everyone to be "super" so that effectively, no one will be. The flipside of this is: if everyone can be Superman, will everyone be expected to be? Will "9 to 5" become a 30-hour work day? One would hope that current and future labor laws would prevent such a thing from happening. I want to have 40-hour waking periods to give me more time to pursue my projects and goals, not to be a superhuman slave to my employer.

Thinking about these issues is important. However, the history of technology shows us that we rarely get to decide how technology will change our lives before the change has already happened; when there is backlash, it comes too late to turn the tide. Healthy people are taking drugs like Modafinil and Viagra to achieve superhuman abilities today. Whether they realize it or not, they've gotten a taste of transhumanism and liked it. It's a sure bet that they won't give it up and will want more.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Best Fix For Scratched CDs

Although I have yet to try it, the word on the 'net is that Brasso is the best solution for scratched CDs. Terry McGee has this article about using Brasso for this purpose. Burning Issues has also done a comparison of various CD repair kits and home remedies, and Brasso came out on top.

At less than $5 per can, I'm definitely going to acquire some Brasso and try it out myself. I'm particularly interested to see how it works on DVDs. One of my son's much-abused movies will probably be the test victim.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Kevin Smith's Boring Life

Kevin Smith, the genius behind Mallrats and many other titles, has started blogging about his "boring ass life." Since Kevin is neither a superhero nor a womanizing, sexual dynamo, you may feel his life truly is boring. I leave it to you to decide.

Friday, May 20, 2005

How to Make a Jedi Robe

All over the planet, Star Wars Geeks have been showing up for Episode III totally geeked out in Star Wars garb. If you want to join them, you can always make your own Jedi robe.

Personally, I intend to go to Episode III dressed like a normal human...

Friday, May 13, 2005

Police State Right Around The Corner.

Well, the Real ID Act was passed this week as part of a large appropriations bill for our military. The same bill meant to help our soldiers on foreign soil makes sure they come to a country that is hardly America any more.

Within three years, the United States will have a de facto national ID card in the form of standardized driver's licenses. Furthermore, you must prove legal residency to get your license, which will mean more bureaucratic bullshit at the DMV.

"The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair." -H.L. Mencken

Your papers, please?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Spielberg Weeps at RotS

Evidently, Steven Spielberg wept at the end of Star Wars: Episode 3 and claims that fans will too. As a staunch supporter of the Empire, I'm sure I'll be cheering, but nonetheless, I have high hopes for this final Star Wars film.

After reading the novelization, I'm confident that this will be the best of the new trilogy. I also expect that many will consider this to be the best movie of all six films. I think how people will take it depends on which of the original trilogy is their favorite. If your favorite episode is The Empire Strikes Back and you revel in the darkness and down ending of that film, you will absolutely love Revenge of the Sith.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Space Ventures To Watch

Now that I've gotten back to it, "Space Ventures To Watch" is a "new" feature for this site. I'm collecting links to private companies which are pursuing the commercialization of space through privately funded spaceflight.

I'm trying to limit the list to "serious" companies and not include far-out concepts. Please comment on this policy, pro or con.

General Purpose Androids Needed

This article, "Robots' future in hobbyists' hands" got me thinking. Marshall Brain's comment on this article was "This may be true in the U.S., but certainly not in Asia. This is why Japan, Korea, China, etc. are likely to dominate the robotics marketplace. They have a huge head start."

As much as I respect Marshall, I have doubts about his take on this. Firstly, although the Asians are pouring big bucks into robotics now, they may give up. Technology areas have been abandoned before if they didn't yield large profits soon enough. Right now, Asian spending on robotics is more of an investment in the semi-distant future than the pursuit of immediate rewards. Secondly, if specialized robots can't get off the ground in the US due to limited mass-market potential, is the long-term situation really all that much different in Asia where cheaper labor is often right next door, geographically speaking?

The article states "only 42,000 industrial robots are consumed each year, according to some estimates" but doesn't say if that's for the US or for the world. Either way, it doesn't seem that there's a very large demand for specialized robots. What's needed is general purpose androids which could fill many jobs currently performed by humans. This would allow mass-market economies of scale.

Then again, I could be wrong...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Space Elevator Continues Its Climb

LiftPort has taken another step towards making the Space Elevator a reality with its new carbon nanotube plant in Millville, N.J.

Although this plant won't be making the SE's cable yet, this is yet another concrete baby step on the way. This matters because it is yet another bit of proof that LiftPort isn't all talk and candy dreams. The people behind LiftPort are serious about making an elevator to the stars and they are actually progressing towards that goal in measurable ways.