First Human in Space

Apparently Yuri Gagarin was not the first person in space. It was cosmonaut Colonel Vladimir Illysushin. Other conspiracies are also alleged.

Documentary Link


Digital Currency Trading Declared Illegal in China

Virtual Currencies threaten the power of governments by weakening their grip over the medium of exchange - ie Fiat Currency. In that sense, it is not surprising to see one of the more Authoritarian States definitively cracking down on Virtual Currency exchange. In practise, this will lessen the booming virtual currencies business and put many Chinese "gold farmers" out of work, but generally drive the digital currency market to ever higher levels of sophistication and security.

We have touched on this issue before.

An exposition on the topic of secure digital currencies can be found in David Friedman's Future Imperfect.

We suspect that the collapse of the value of the private US Federal Reserve Dollar will spark a real push for legalisation of competing Commodity backed digital currencies.

The Often Misleading State of Electronic Waste Recycling

PBS Frontline featured a disturbing piece recently concerning the processing of electronic waste. With an undercover investigation, Frontline revealed how Americans and Europeans are assured they are "recycling" electronic waste safely and locally. Instead it is all loaded onto containers that are shipped to Ghana or the southern Chinese city of Guiyu where people work in extremely dangerous conditions burning plastics, and poisoning themselves with heavy metals to extract trace amounts of precious metals. The waste is transported under the guise of "donations." While Africa particularly needs electronics if they have any hope of ever developing, Westerners should be made aware of the environmental and human dangers of e-waste "recycling," and law enforcement agencies ought to investigate fraud and environmental destruction in this regard. Hearing that one is "recycling" tends to eliminate a feeling of guilt for many Westerners, but the reality in this case is far from that.


Galapagos Tourism

Respect the nature of the Galapagos and the importance it had in informing Evolutionary Science, by never going there. Policymakers should strictly limit the number of allowed visitors or residents through licensing and taxation, and give collected rents to foundations which protect other nature preserves.

The Google God

Tonight's discourse:

Pace: I really think once people realise the efficiency, many will start programming to the Google Ap engine

Consigliere: uuuuuuuuuugh
that's a TERRIBLE idea
we already have one giant fucking monolith, i.e. Microsoft
why would we want to trade one for another?
the last thing the web needs is a single point of failure, like if google goes down and takes everybody's webapps with it

Pace: they are at least better than M$ - should theoretically still be reployable elsewhere without too much modification

Consigliere: they're only tbetter than M$ at the moment b/c htey';re not as big/dominant
but they certainly will become so
and there's a huge difference between "theoretically" and "in realitiy"

Pace: they do support open source though

Consigliere: it doesn't matter
I"m glad they do
but it'd still be a single point of failure

Pace: agreed

Consigliere: and god only knows what they'd do with all that data once they had it

Pace: they would become God

Consigliere: yeah, but a God beholden to capitalist shareholders

Pace: yes

Consigliere: it woudl be very Old Testament

Pace: haha


The Iranian Revolution

When one attempts to shut down or contain the Internet to suppress a discontented populace, one has lost all legitimacy to rule. خدا بزرگ است.


Augmented Reality and other Smartphone News

We've been holding out on buying a smart phone given the rapid acceleration taking place. Some of the applications we have seen are quite impressive. Here is one: Wikitude. Wikitude takes GPS and phone camera input, and overlays points of interest on the image.

By the way, if you check out the Recommended Stories section, you will see more reasons NOT to get an iPhone. Once again, Apple's insistence on running their users' lives drags down the company. Apple has banned an application which remotely administers legal torrent software, and now has also banned the Electronic Freedom Frontier's RSS application because they linked to a parody video Apple found potentially politically incorrect.

Information Technology in a Free Society should be used to enable Free Speech and Expression. We can not abide a company with such anti-human business practices, unless compelled by an oppressive regime as in Israel, Iran, or Zhong Guo. A California based company protected by the US Bill of Rights has no such excuse. We posit that in a well regulated market, such suppressions themselves would be illegal. In the meantime, boycott Apple.