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From User: Shannon

"I don't think the report is true, but these crises work for those who want to make fights between people." Kulam Dastagir, 28, a bird seller in Afghanistan

Northrop To Develop Mind-Reading Binoculars | Danger Room from
Topic: Society 1:32 pm EDT, Jun 10, 2008

The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has tapped Northrop Grumman to develop binoculars that will tap the subconscious mind. The Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System program, informally called "Luke's Binoculars," combines advanced optics with electro-encephalogram electrodes that can, DARPA believes, be used to alert the wearer to a threat before the conscious mind has processed the information.

Northrop To Develop Mind-Reading Binoculars | Danger Room from

Administration Set to Use New Spy Program in US
Topic: Politics and Law 1:38 pm EDT, Apr 14, 2008

The Bush administration said yesterday that it plans to start using the nation's most advanced spy technology for domestic purposes soon, rebuffing challenges by House Democrats over the idea's legal authority.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department will activate his department's new domestic satellite surveillance office in stages, starting as soon as possible with traditional scientific and homeland security activities -- such as tracking hurricane damage, monitoring climate change and creating terrain maps.

The NAO surge continues roughly as you'd expect ...

"I have had a firsthand experience with the trust-me theory of law from this administration," said Harman, citing the 2005 disclosure of the National Security Agency's domestic spying program, which included warrantless eavesdropping on calls and e-mails between people in the United States and overseas. "I won't make the same mistake. . . . I want to see the legal underpinnings for the whole program."

Thompson called DHS's release Thursday of the office's procedures and a civil liberties impact assessment "a good start." But, he said, "We still don't know whether the NAO will pass constitutional muster since no legal framework has been provided."

I think there is some reasonable debate here about whether people have no expectation of privacy in regard to things that are only visible from above. At the time the Constitution was written, certainly, a hedge afforded some privacy.

Administration Set to Use New Spy Program in US

Shape-shifting robot forms from magnetic swarm - tech - 29 January 2008 - New Scientist Tech
Topic: Technology 2:48 pm EST, Jan 30, 2008

Swarms of robots that use electromagnetic forces to cling together and assume different shapes are being developed by US researchers.

The grand goal is to create swarms of microscopic robots capable of morphing into virtually any form by clinging together.

Watch the video!

Shape-shifting robot forms from magnetic swarm - tech - 29 January 2008 - New Scientist Tech

Airport profilers: They're watching your expressions
Topic: Society 1:45 pm EST, Jan  3, 2008

The TSA has finally managed to successfully turn the airports into a dragnet that pulls in large numbers of people guilty of all kinds of minor offenses that have nothing at all to do with terrorism.

"In the SPOT program, we have a conversation with (passengers) and we ask them about their trip," said Maccario from his office in Boston. "When someone lies or tries to be deceptive, ... there are behavior cues that show it. ... A brief flash of fear."

Such people are referred for secondary screening, which can include a pat-down search and an X-ray exam. The microfacial expressions, he said, are the same across many cultures.

Since January 2006, behavior-detection officers have referred about 70,000 people for secondary screening, Maccario said. Of those, about 600 to 700 were arrested on a variety of charges, including possession of drugs, weapons violations and outstanding warrants.

So they have a systematic process of harrassing travellers. For every 100 travellers that they detain and harrass they find one person guilty of a "crime." Most of those crimes involve warrants out for things like unpaid parking tickets, possession of illegal drugs (a victimless crime), and "weapons violations" (unregistered firearms or knives that are outside local municipal rules likely possessed by people who aren't even planning to get on a plane and may not even know they are illegal, etc)...

As long as there is a risk of terrorism this system will be perpetuated, but its real purpose is in enforcing a myriad of laws regulating behavior that is at best only illegal because of its secondary social effects and not because it is directly harmful to anyone, and at worst is a direct effort at social control by narrow minded and powerful people.

The next time some TSA person smiles at you and asks how your day is going think of this passage from 1984:

He did not know how long she had been looking at him, but perhaps for as much as five minutes, and it was possible that his features had not been perfectly under control. It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself — anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offence. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.

I know I will, and I know I'll be in for secondary screening while they try to determine whether my rage at their assault on the freedom this country once knew is a sign that I'm hiding something they can charge me for. Some day, perhaps, that rage itself will be illegal.

Airport profilers: They're watching your expressions

Toddler fools the art world into buying his tomato ketchup paintings | the Daily Mail
Topic: Arts 5:15 pm EST, Dec  5, 2007

To the untrained eye, they appear to be simple daubs that could have been created by a two year old. Which is precisely what they are.

But that didn't stop the supposed experts falling over themselves to acclaim them.

The toddler in question is Freddie Linsky, who has fooled the art world into buying and asking to exhibit his paintings.

Freddie's efforts, which include works using tomato ketchup composed while sitting on his high chair, were posted by his mother Estelle Lovatt on collector Charles Saatchi's online gallery.

People are idiots.

Toddler fools the art world into buying his tomato ketchup paintings | the Daily Mail // Media � Mountain Wingsuit
Topic: Recreation 12:10 pm EST, Nov 28, 2007

Pretty neat video of mountain-wingsuit diving. They look like flying squirrels. // Media � Mountain Wingsuit

Home snoop CCTV more popular than Big Brother | The Register
Topic: Society 12:33 pm EST, Nov 14, 2007

"In focus groups, the biggest thing they said to us was it made them safer, because if you are in a public space you know someone's watching."

The parade of horrors presented nightly by sensationalistic local television news has scared a certain segment of the population from leaving their living rooms, and its warm, glowing advertisement display. Now these people, the most paranoid in our society, have been armed with the power to spy on the actions of the rest of us and report those activities to the police! I'm sure its thrilling to think that from the comfort of their couches they can participate in law enforcement! This is how you build a network of informers and snitches!

Home snoop CCTV more popular than Big Brother | The Register

Torontoist: Bon Cop, Bad Cop
Topic: Society 11:57 am EDT, Aug 23, 2007

For a minute or so, it's just Coles being a good samaritan, trying to stop a potentially violent confrontation and demanding that one of the men who picks up a rock put it down. It's already extremely tense by the time that someone starts pointing at the masked protestors and chanting "policier!" Coles demands that the men take off their masks, and the majority of the crowd join him––some even reach for the bandannas themselves––and accuse the masked men of being cops, police provocateurs hired to start a riot. When Coles actually looks at one of the men dead-on and says, "you're a police officer," the masked men all freeze, seemingly dumb-struck. And then they kind of start being aggressive again, until a little over two minutes in, when there's the weirdest police takedown you'll probably ever see.

Interesting video... I nearly posted it yesterday. If you were a protestor holding a rock, which is clearly a violent jesture, would you walk toward the police line for protection when the crowd starts chanting at you, still holding the rock? Don't miss the picture where the "protestors" and police are all wearing the same boots. These kinds of accusations are made often but I've never seen such clear evidence. Fortunately the mainstream press in Canada appears to be picking up on it.

Just remember that authorities never abuse power, which is why we don't need checks and balances. Checks and balances kill Americans.

Torontoist: Bon Cop, Bad Cop

Modified Tetris has calming effect - 19 August 2007 - New Scientist
Topic: Games 2:12 pm EDT, Aug 21, 2007

VIDEO games are notorious for raising adrenalin levels but now there's one that calms you down.

Julian Spillane of game studio Frozen North Productions in Toronto, Canada, together with a programmer who goes by the name Ne0nRa1n, have created a version of Tetris called BioBlox. Players put one hand on a device that measures their pulse rate. As their pulse rises, so does the speed of the blocks falling from the top of the screen. That makes the game harder, creating an incentive for the player to calm down and so get a higher score. "I'm a big fan of weird input devices," says Spillane.

In 1999, Nintendo released Tetris 64, which also used pulse rate to control the speed of play, but it ran only on Nintendo's console. BioBlox runs on Windows-based PCs and will be available online soon.

This video game won't make you calm. It will just make you really, really frustrated that you can't calm down!

Modified Tetris has calming effect - 19 August 2007 - New Scientist

131 - US States Renamed For Countries With Similar GDPs « strange maps
Topic: Local Information 2:08 pm EDT, Jul 18, 2007

If only she was as beautiful as Switzerland...

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a convenient way of measuring and comparing the size of national economies. Annual GDP represents the market value of all goods and services produced within a country in a year. Put differently:

GDP = consumption investment government spending (exports – imports)

Although the economies of countries like China and India are growing at an incredible rate, the US remains the nation with the highest GDP in the world – and by far: US GDP is projected to be $13,22 trillion (or $13.220 billion) in 2007, according to this source. That’s almost as much as the economies of the next four (Japan, Germany, China, UK) combined.

The creator of this map has had the interesting idea to break down that gigantic US GDP into the GDPs of individual states, and compare those to other countries’ GDP. What follows, is this slightly misleading map – misleading, because the economies both of the US states and of the countries they are compared with are not weighted for their respective populations.

Pakistan, for example, has a GDP that’s slightly higher than Israel’s – but Pakistan has a population of about 170 million, while Israel is only 7 million people strong. The US states those economies are compared with (Arkansas and Oregon, respectively) are much closer to each other in population: 2,7 million and 3,4 million.

And yet, wile a per capita GDP might give a good indication of the average wealth of citizens, a ranking of the economies on this map does serve two interesting purposes: it shows the size of US states’ economies relative to each other (California is the biggest, Wyoming the smallest), and it links those sizes with foreign economies (which are therefore also ranked: Mexico’s and Russia’s economies are about equal size, Ireland’s is twice as big as New Zealand’s). Here’s a run-down of the 50 states, plus DC:

131 - US States Renamed For Countries With Similar GDPs « strange maps

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