not blaming work for silence

It would sound good to say that work has been eating up my work time, but it hasn’t. Another few weeks of backlog video appeared, but eh… i’m used to it. The real distraction from blogging has been playing Civ 4, with the Beyond the Sword expansion, during my downtime. It was born of rainy days, and just restless enough not to be able to focus on reading.

Kasparov Detained After Anti-Putin Rally in Moscow

Because of Thanksgiving, i took my eye off the ball. Among many things, Russia’s election is going to be a mess as expected.

Kasparov has been detained. Bill explained to me that he believes that Kasparov might possibly be seeking martyrdom, as he has no real chance in the election, but in death, he can provide a rallying point for reform. Now that he’s detained, assassination is probably unnecessary.

Bush saw Putin’s soul though, so it’s all going to be all right, isn’t it?

UN declares that tasers are a form of torture

The story is not as strong as the title sounds actually. When tasers were first introduced, they made sense, in using nonlethal force to disarm a violent criminal. As law enforcement grows accustomed to the weapon, they are now obviously using them haphazardly, against anyone who resists, physically or merely verbally. Tasers incapacitate through administration of extreme pain. That is a classic definition of torture.

I’m eager to see the use of tasers being more stringently regulated. Banning them altogether is not necessary, as guns will probably always be around. However, most of the tasers stories that i read lately have police using tasers essentially as cattle prods in ordinary disturbances, not ones in which anyone’s life is in danger.

golden-eyed priestess of Balochistan

A good mystery story is fun:

(AGI) – Rome, 21st November – In the Balochistan desert, a city burned down long ago, a mysterious necropolis, a five thousand-year-old tomb, the skeleton of a woman, with a golden eye. This is the real-life mystery of a discovery in Iran, at Shahr-i Sokta on the border with Afghanistan, of the remains of a shaman – the custodian, according to tradition, of secret lore. The discovery was made at the end of 2006 by Iranian archaeologists under the direction of M. Sajjadi from the Iranian Centre for Archaeological Research, with assistance from an Italian mission which has been wording in the area since 1967 on funds supplied by the Foreign Office, the Ministries of Heritage and the Museum of Oriental Art of Italy’s Institute for Africa and the Orient(ISIAO) formerly ISMEO the institution founded by that great explorer of that territory, Giuseppe Tucci. But the story of the priestess with the golden eye is still there to be written, and a new mission will be on its way on 30 November to carry on with Shahr-i Sokhta’s investigations, to re-start analysis of the eye prosthesis in collaboration with their Iranian colleagues. The woman was 1 metre 82 centimetres in height with African physiognomy, a pronounced jaw, perhaps dark-skinned. “The find was made by Iranian archaeologists working in the vast necropolis – Lorenzo Costantini, head of the Italian mission to Shahr-i Sokta, told AGI. The city is located on the frontier with Battriana which was a cross-roads for caravans coming from the West, headed for the Orient. The burial, according to my calculations, is 5,000 years old”. The gold eye was set in the right socket. And this is how the scientists found her. They have tried to find similar finds in archaeological history, but without success.

the Kindle

The Kindle device was leaving me nonplussed. I like reading books because they are books. It gives me a very different feeling from reading chunks of text online. I completely ignored Chabon’s Gentlemen of the Road when it came out in serial, as i couldn’t be bothered to read it online, knowing that it would be better enjoyed when it would be collected in a book.

Bookninja suggests something very obvious that i ignored completely. Reference books. Yeah, that would be useful. I already carry one bird book around with m all of the time (National Geographic, because it has paintings, not photos, and the range maps are on the same page as the pictures.) It would be kinda cool to carry books around for insects, reptiles, flowers, ect. or just cram it full of Wikipedia entires. However, the Kindle does not look much more robust than a laptop. And 30 hours of battery life? Why bother?

Yeah, i’m unconvinced. It looks like an utterly useless device.

Ed Champion has ten arguments against it.

Muscular Thin Films: Soft Robotic Devices

Obviously, the transhumanists are going to be all over this Muscular Thin Films technology. The technology is coating a silicon-based organic polymer with heart muscle cells that react to electrical stimuli, which are then easily cut off into sheets. The video shows that the sheets have semi-motility in swimming with this simple motion.

It would be most interesting to see if this can be used to create probes for deep sea exploration. There will be more advanced applications (artificial arms in ten years?) but when i see “swimming” robots, no matter how small, that’s what pops into my head.

Captain Marvel & Proust

That Batman Does Dostoevsky post has been popping up in blog posts for months, but when i was trawling through the past week’s comics, i caught something a lot more subtle (for comics anyway,) but just as peculiarly literary. I was reading the new Captain Marvel comic to find a scene in which a SHIELD agent meets with Iron Man telepathically. Yep, it’s a comic. They meet inside of a memory of the agent, and in it, she’s the size of a child, in the home of her French grandmother. She and Iron Man sit around chatting, eating cookies, and remarking on how good they are, with the agent adding something about they are just the way that she remembers them.

No, it’s not much, but it seems an obvious and gratuitous Proust reference and it’s funny to see it in a mainstream underwear pervert comic. Since the whole comic’s theme dwells on memory, i’m wondering if it’s about more than the cookie.

Never read Proust myself. Never seemed like my cup of tea, even though Pamuk and Vila-Matas adore him.