Michael Abberton, a Green Party activist in Cambridgeshire, was visited by two police officers on Saturday who had been sent by a local councilor from Ukip (a party that lets you express your xenophobia, racism, sexism and homophobia by cloaking it in a respectable "concern about immigration") who objected to a tweet that enumerated some of Ukip's most extreme positions. The police told him that they he wasn't legally obliged to follow their command, and also told him he wasn't allowed to tweet about their visit, but that he wasn't legally obliged to obey that command either. After the police left, a Ukip supporter sent Abberton a threatening tweet that implied that he knew that he'd been visited by the police.
New York Times media columnist David Carr on the FCC's upcoming vote on Net Neutrality: "A topic that generally begets narcolepsy is about to become, well, interesting. The government is contemplating changing the rules for how content is delivered over the Internet, which could mess with people’s TV programming and web browsing, so there may soon be fire in those glazed-over eyes." Read the rest
I've left the Friends of Bletchley Park, and have stopped recommending that friends visit the site.
Update: Bletchley Trust has clarified to me that while this volunteer was dismissed from guiding tours because he refused to conduct the tour to the new spec, he still volunteers with the Trust in its educational department. Read the rest
What an amazing photo. "Sarah Thistlewaite's daughters, Jenna and Jillian, are a rare set of monoamniotic or 'mono mono' identical twins, which means they shared an amniotic sack and were in constant contact during the pregnancy." Above, they hold hands in the delivery room. More like mano a mano, right? Read the rest
In a Wired Magazine feature, Mat Honan argues that TV and smartphones have swapped positions of dominance: our mobiles are now our primary screen, not TV. "Television has talked to us for decades, but it never listened. While we all watched events like the moon landing at the same time, we did so in pockets of isolation. It's why 'second screen' is such a colossal misnomer; the phone is the first screen—always with us and always on. And it has made our big screens more vital." [pic: Tavis Coburn] Read the rest
Phantom Manor is the local Haunted Mansion analogue at Disneyland Paris, and it's definitely the spookiest/most grotesque of the lost, with its apex in a gory graveyard scene that features rotting animated skeletons and cavorting ghosts. Here's a 2011 video shot in the graveyard during a ride-breakdown during which the emergency lighting kicked in, offering a rare look at the cunning mechanisms and clever techniques used to attain the Manor's graveyard magic.
Brian sez, "At the beginning of the month, Boing Boing reported on Mayday PAC, the super PAC started by Lawrence Lessig which intended to raise $1M in 30 days via a kickstarter-like crowdfunding, to fight for fundamental reform in the way candidates for Congress and members of Congress raised money for their elections. Read the rest
“Our study found that a child’s role in bullying can serve as either a risk or a protective factor for low-grade inflammation,” William E Copeland, one of the researchers and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, said in a statement. Read the rest
One thing that is glaringly absent from both the Heinleinian and Asimovian brain is the idea of software as an immaterial, infinitely reproducible nugget at the core of the system. Here, in the second decade of the 21st century, it seems to me that the most important fact about a robot – whether it is self-aware or merely autonomous – is the operating system, configuration, and code running on it.
If you accept that robots are just machines – no different in principle from sewing machines, cars, or shotguns – and that the thing that makes them "robot" is the software that runs on a general-purpose computer that controls them, then all the legislative and regulatory and normative problems of robots start to become a subset of the problems of networks and computers.
If you're a regular reader, you'll know that I believe two things about computers: first, that they are the most significant functional element of most modern artifacts, from cars to houses to hearing aids; and second, that we have dramatically failed to come to grips with this fact. We keep talking about whether 3D printers should be "allowed" to print guns, or whether computers should be "allowed" to make infringing copies, or whether your iPhone should be "allowed" to run software that Apple hasn't approved and put in its App Store.