Home – This Is Not A Film

amazingly courageous film maker smuggled the film he is not allowed to make out of his police state. Frankly I don’t know if you will help or hurt him by supporting his efforts. The more popular he becomes outside in the real world, the more the Iranian authoritarians may be inclined to victimize him…

Home – This Is Not A Film.

Flying like a bird | part 14/14 – YouTube

Inspirational. Even if it’s NOT real…

The web is currently divided between sceptics and believers. The sceptics are whingeing that it’s physically impossible. That’s because they’re assuming it’s human-powered flight. It isn’t. And no-one is pretending that it is. It’s servo assisted with battery-powered engines and controlled by Wii interfaces. All entirely plausible, subject only to the amount of battery power he needs and can carry – which would explain why he can only manage a couple of hundred metres – though that is about 3 times as far as the Wright Brothers first flight.

Clever stuff and the result of an engineering graduate’s 8 month R&D project. The whole 15 part story is on youtube. Well worth watching. This is the final part – the successful flight that made it all worthwhile.

I’d say he’s scored an A there…

If, that is, it’s real. And this story has become more interesting to me because it’s hotly disputed and yet impossible to either verify or refute. A classic Trusted Surveillance case study. It wouldn’t be an issue if he had a fully documented audit trail open to examination if disputed.

On the Up side, the project is plausible, as confirmed by the interview with Prof Bert Otten. I’ve been able to check him out and he really is a Professor of Neuromechanics at the University of Groningen.

On the Down side, Jarno Smeets is a pseudonym (hardly something I’m going to complain about) but one without any previous history. Like it was invented purely for the purpose of this project.

On the Up side, if it is a fake, I’d give him an A for that. The sheer amount of effort that has gone into it, fake or not, makes it, at the very least, a work of art.

On the Down side, if it was real, why on earth would he be so reluctant to repeat it, in front of the world’s cameras?

That last, for me at the moment, is the most significant fact. I can’t believe that anyone who had done that for real would be so reticent about repeating the feat. Indeed, failing to respond to the obvious demand would be bordering on the psychotic – given the huge appearance fees he could probably command, not to mention the obvious range of product endorsements he could subsequently select from. He would quickly and easily become a multi millionaire, which would in turn, fund his other no doubt equally ambitious projects. What kind of nutter would reject such an opportunity?

But even that’s not a clincher. He’s Dutch and the Scandinavians are notoriously prone to anti-commercialism. Think Linus Torvalds, ferinstance, who created Linux for free. Yes he has done well for himself as a result of the reputation that earned him. But that’s the point. He earned it. That could be the motivation of Mr Smeets…

Women really are worse at parking says Driving Standards Agency | Mail Online

I have to say this is fascinating and pretty convincing. It definitely says something about gender based driving skills.

But it doesn’t tally with my personal experience. 3 of the most important women in my life are amongst the best drivers I know, all having driven big trucks for a living. One also spent time as a commercial bus driver and the other two led truck based expeditions the full length of Africa. You don’t survive long driving trucks if you can’t park pretty competently and I remain jealous of my wife’s ability to reverse using her wing mirrors alone. I can’t…

Scientists stumped by mysterious foam causing hog farms to explode | Mail Online

tragic though this obviously is for the ham, we may have inadvertently discovered a novel way to farm the methane created by the pig slurry, and that could be worth its weight in oil…

18 U.S. veterans commit suicide daily; largely due to psychiatric drugs

the sad thought that occurs on reading this report of the suicide rate among US Veterans, and it’s link to the overprescribing of psychiatric drugs, is whether it is related to the horrendous story we had just 3 days ago, where a US Staff Sergeant went postal and killed 16 Afghan civilians in their own homes.

The Fence “Jerry Means” – YouTube

fascinating, sinister 6 minute video “Short” made by my new collaborator Todd Randall. Over the next 18 months or so, we’re going to try to give “Talking to God” the video treatment…

The Fence "Jerry Means" – YouTube.

Culture–gene coevolution of individualism–collectivism and the serotonin transporter gene

It’s rare I leap to defend Christianity, but such a defence is at the heart of my critique of this novel research, or rather its conclusions.

Whilst it is no great surprise to find a genetic marker that predisposes populations towards either collectivism or individualism, I don’t buy the pathogen based explanation. At least not yet. Seems to me equally likely that non conformists might simply have been killed off at a higher rate that conformists and that would have led to a similar excess of the relevant genetic marker. The pathogen excess might have played its part by “justifying” coerced conformity on the grounds of disease protection but the lethal abilities of the authoritarian deserve full examination too.

In the past century we’ve seen just how effective and lethal the authoritarians can be. And we know that the Asian societies have had such authoritarianism embedded in them for just as long as all the western societies. Take society back a couple of thousand years and we were all living in extremely hierarchical authoritarian societies. Any keen student of political history will be aware that the notion of individual liberty is, historically, a very recent phenomenon which emerged in the enlightened thoughts of western philosophers and produced the wave of 18th century revolutions in Europe and America. ONLY.

The major obvious difference is religion. One major advantage (from the point of view of an Anarchist like me) of Christianity is that, initially at least, (and still today in its purest forms), it sanctified individualism and subverted the ruling/owning class. And secular or not, western society is built on mainly Christian inspired tenets.

I would argue, therefore, that it’s possible that, up to, say 1500 years ago, we wouldn’t have found the differences in the Serotonin Transporter gene. But that the spread of individualism nurtured by Christianity permitted the individuals to survive and breed, thus increasing the prevalence of the individualist version of the gene.

And like all good hypotheses, mine is testable. If my conjecture is sound, then my prediction is that we’ll find the same prevalence of the relevant genes in the Islamic community as in the Asian community, because their religion has pointedly not nurtured individualism like Christianity.

Culture–gene coevolution of individualism–collectivism and the serotonin transporter gene.

Iraq militia stone youths to death for emo style | Reuters

Just as well we liberated them from an awful dictatorship eh? Good job “coalition”…

Iraq militia stone youths to death for emo style | Reuters.

Rob Higgs – YouTube

It’ll never sell. They shoulda made it musical…

Rob Higgs – YouTube.

WING – YouTube

best watched gently stoned…

WING – YouTube.

Invisible Children | Kony2012

Damn! This looks like it could actually work. Let’s see if we can help it along a little.

It certainly takes care of this year’s PFL battlegroup, we usually lend ironic support to some villain or other. We broke with tradition last year and chose the hero who started the Arab Spring (Mohammad Bouazizi). Time to get back to where we belong, with the bad guys. And they don’t come much badder than the medieval style arch-criminal Joseph Kony.

What particularly struck me about the video is the intelligent construction of the message. There is nothing that anyone (apart, possibly, from the target, Joseph Kony) can take issue with. At one stage, I thought the narrator was being a bit heavy handed with his own kid, Gavin, but when he made the point that kids of Gavin’s age are among Kony’s victims, it made the scene utterly justifiable.

Also I’m impressed that he hasn’t demanded blood – which would be more eminently justified in Kony’s case than any other criminal, political or private, alive today. This alone sets an enormous precedent. As would a positive result arising from an inspiring web run campaign based on true consensus. We ALL want to see the bastard stopped and brought to justice. We ALL want to see, as far as possible the enormous damage he has wrought, reversed.

No one’s going to argue “on the one hand this, on the other, that”. From the Westboro Baptist Church (who might argue that Kony represents God’s punishment for our tolerance, nay, encouragement of Sodomy) to the Government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea (who might argue that Kony is a natural consequence of Capitalism and its selective morality) we ALL want the same thing.

That’s VERY rare. Almost unique. It might even be enough.

And, if it is, you’ll have played your part in what the world may one day come to see as the first act of REAL Global democracy. That’ll be something to tell the grandkids.

So watch it and weep. Then sign up and join the movement…

KONY 2012 from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

Invisible Children | Kony2012.

Invisible Children | Kony2012

It would be excellent if a web based campaign somehow provided the solution to this, so far, intractable problem, where the international community has so spectacularly failed…

Invisible Children | Kony2012.

Is There a Fatal Flaw in the TSA Nude-Body Scanners? – Jeffrey Goldberg – Technology – The Atlantic

there are many reasons to oppose the unaccountable operation of these overly intrusive scanners but, unless I’m missing something, this isn’t one of them. Granted he’s exposed a flaw but getting punters to “twirl” or simply rotate 90 degrees during the scan would fix it. So while we welcome this exposure of their continuing incompetence and “security theatre”, it doesn’t offer the killer blow which will force the authoritarians to back down…

Is There a Fatal Flaw in the TSA Nude-Body Scanners? – Jeffrey Goldberg – Technology – The Atlantic.

We’re Underestimating the Risk of Human Extinction

Why now?

I’m certainly not the first but even I have been prattling on about extinction level threats for over 15 years. This, after all is what “god” was talking about when we met in 2000. And I painted some of the threats we can look forward to a few years back when I wrote Reasons to be fearful” (Ch 10 part 2) in 2005. And Resurrection was, in part, inspired by Nick Bostrum’s original essay on the Simulated Universe Argument.

So what’s new? Why has he surfaced here? Answers should be attached in the usual way (or, if you’re not a WordPress blogger, email me)

Full article at Atlantic

What do you think of the new StumbleUpon?

This page provides a textbook lesson in how to REALLY fuck up your Social Network. Makes Facebook’s occasional user-baiting look positively amateurish…

What do you think of the new StumbleUpon?.