Archive | November 5, 2013

All Is Lost—And Who Was Doing the Thinking?

All_is_Lost_posterWarning: This article contains spoilers.

The film All Is Lost has been released to unanimously raving reviews. Critics are greatly satisfied with both the film itself and Mr. Redford’s performance, which is wonderful since he is the one and only actor in it. A seasoned gentleman leisurely crossing the Indian Ocean all by himself on an elegant sailboat faces a number of contretemps. Things go from bad to worse until he’s forced to abandon ship and board the lifeboat. More tribulations await him there.

It’s a good man-versus-the-elements yarn, and I found myself rooting for the mariner (we never get to know his name) because, as a fellow human being, I certainly wouldn’t like to be in his predicament. Having said that, my rooting for the mariner wasn’t nearly as wholehearted as it should have been, because a simple but essential detail kept nagging at me.

Years ago, while doing research for a novel of mine, Leeward & Windward, I studied a book by Don Biggs entitled Survival AfloatHow to Prevent Disasters on the WaterOr Survive if One Occurs, copyrighted in 1976 and published presumably then (there is no release date in my copy).… Read the rest

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Officials in Zurich call ‘sex box’ drive-in a success

This is an example of giving up the ghost, addressing the elephant in the room, and turning a con into a pro.

via The Raw Story

Switzerland’s first sex drive-in, which opened two months ago in a bid to take prostitution off Zurich’s streets, has been a success, the city said Tuesday following an initial evaluation.

“After two months I can say that this guarded prostitution site is working,” Michael Herzig, director of social services for sex workers in the city, told reporters.

Zurich opened the fenced-in site, which is only accessible by car, in an industrial sector on the outskirts of town in August to move sex workers out of the city centre and provide them with a safer working environment.

The drive-in, approved by 52.6 percent of Zurich voters in a March 2012 referendum, has a track where the sex workers can show off their assets and negotiate a price, and nine so-called “sex boxes” where they and their clients can park and conclude the transaction.

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How the Houston Cop Who Killed an Unarmed, Disabled Man Was Found Innocent

Apparently Houston cops can kill and get away with it. This time it was a mentally ill double amputee with a pen.

via Texas Observer

Police misconduct in shootings is “very very difficult” to prove, FBI agent says.

On October 24, the Houston Police Department announced the results of its yearlong investigation into the shooting death of Brian Claunch, a mentally ill double amputee killed by an officer last September after refusing to drop a pen. HPD cleared the officer, Matthew Marin, of any wrongdoing.

That may not come as a surprise, since HPD hasn’t found a single police shooting unjustified in at least six years. Between 2007 and 2012, HPD officers fatally shot 109 people and injured another 111. All those shootings were found justified. (For the full story on HPD shootings and beatings, read the Observer investigation here.)

But some expected this case to be different. Claunch was wheelchair-bound and had one arm and one leg.

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Can We Make the Hardware Necessary for Artificial Intelligence?

Eye_iris“Logic is an organized way of going wrong with confidence” Robert Heinlein

This is my opinion of what might be, not What THE FUTURE!!! Will Be!

My POV is hardware driven, I do electronic design. I don’t present myself as “an authority” on Artificial Intelligence, much less “an authority” on sentient artificial intelligence, until they are Real Things, there is no such thing as an authority in that field. That said, if the hardware doesn’t exist to support sentient AI, doesn’t matter how wonderful the software is.

The following is why I’ve been saying in a number of places that I expect hardware to be able to run a synthetic consciousness in ~20 yrs, @2045singularity on Twitter asked me to clarify what I meant.

1. I assume that if the physical operations of a human brain can be simulated in real-time, programs that simulate human consciousness in real time can be part of that simulation.

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“Real” positive thinking

Photo: Newthoughtdocumentary (CC)

Photo: Newthoughtdocumentary (CC)

Swami Lego Ver explains the benefit of letting go of pessimistic fears.

via Anxiety Culture

Once upon a time, people performed ritual sacrifices in an attempt to avert natural disasters. Nowadays, the most popular ritual for avoiding disasters is to accumulate money. Our ancestors didn’t know when to stop spilling blood, as their gods never announced: “That’s enough”. Modern people can’t stop accumulating money for a similar reason.

A conviction (or suspicion) that the world is essentially hostile probably underlies this behaviour. In which case, no amount of sacrifice or money will remove the underlying sense of insecurity. No burglar-alarm can make you feel safe, if you believe the neighbourhood is dangerous enough to require it.

Feeling safe requires an alteration of your belief-system to remove the archaic “programming” concerning the hostile/dangerous “nature” of things. The gimmick is to do this without offending your sense of “reality” (which might be difficult if you live in a war zone).

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Forensic Psychiatrist: Women Kill More Creatively Than Men

blood-countess-elizabeth-bathory

Elizabeth Bathory

Sigrun Rossmanith and Spiegel Online talk about gender roles and the underestimated shadow of women.

via Spiegel Online International

Women rarely commit murder, but forensic psychiatrist Sigrun Rossmanith has treated many female killers. She tells SPIEGEL ONLINE that women’s dark side is underestimated.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Frau Rossmanith, in your book you pose the question of whether women make better murderers than men. Is that the case?

Rossmanith: They are certainly more creative than men. More inventive. Take the revenge incident that I describe in the book: An unfaithful wife from Asia passionately kisses her partner — and in doing so slips a cyanide capsule into his mouth, which he is forced to swallow. She combines an act of love with the murder. Would a man come up with such an idea?SPIEGEL ONLINE: Hard to say. Are women perhaps more creative with murder because they lack the physical strength for more heavy-handed violence?

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Guy Fawkes Day: Why ‘V for Vendetta’ is More Important Than Ever

Rabid Fish (CC)

Rabid Fish (CC)

Did you remember, remember the Fifth of November, disinfonauts? Well just in case you forgot, that means it’s Guy Fawkes Day. Michael Shammas tells us why Guy Fawkes and its modern day movie iteration V for Vendetta is more important than ever, at PolicyMic:

Warning: major spoilers below

Every Nov. 5 for the past few years, I’ve sat back with a few friends to watch V for Vendetta. While ostensibly we did this to commemorate Guy Fawkes Day, which marks the anniversary of British revolutionary Guy Fawkes’s attempt to blow up the Parliament in 1605, we really did it because everyone else was doing it, and we were bored.

But this Nov. 5, I expect I’ll be a bit more alert when I watch V. Why? Because the movie’s lessons are more important now than ever before.

Originally a graphic novel by Alan MooreV for Vendetta is set in a dystopian England where a revolutionary wearing a Guy Fawkes mask sets out to destroy a fascist party called Norsefire by convincing citizens to stand up and rule themselves.

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