I thought of another great webcomic - The Shooting War.
Set in Baghdad in 2011, it follows the rise of an anarchist blogger who gets commodified into big business reporting and the publicity machine of a Iraqi-nationalist death squad.
Blogger vs. Big world. Media Ethics vs. Media Money. Happenstance vs. Propaganda tool.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Posted by Sterling at 4/27/2007 05:39:00 PM
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Canadian soldiers set up light, bullet-proof tents at a base camp in East Africa. Windmills provide the power, while high up in the sky aerostats watch for insurgent activity. This is the fictional East African city of Zefra in the 2020's.
Crisis in Zefra was written by Karl Schroeder, one of the best voice in Canadian Sci-Fi, for the Canadian military to raise questions about how Canadian forces will act in future conflict.
It is great! The main character is Ebun Ishangi, a DND strategic analyst from East Africa. And there are strikebots, smart military armour, radio frequency subduer's, "smart mob" strategy and lots more. And there are spider-bot's on the cover!
But before I go all geek here, I think some questions should be asked: Will Canada still carry out this type of overseas military activity? Will we be able to get the mandate from the UN or other body, like NATO or some new group? Will Canadians still want to carry out this activity?
Schroeder was raised a Mennonite, and did this piece for the Directorate of Land Strategic Concepts. Read it more as a thought piece than possible future.
But it still is a great read.
To see an independent look at an American example of conceptual military thinking, read The Spiders, an alternative history to the U.S./Afghanistan war. Written by Patrick Farley, this webcomic is revolutionary. Read it, love it, tell everyone about it!
Crisis in Zefra was found via Metafilter
The above spiderbots are from the webcomic The Spiders
Posted by Sterling at 4/25/2007 03:26:00 PM
Researchers from Cardiff University have found evidence that climate change is affecting fungal growth in the UK.
From Science Daily:
The study found that fungi are fruiting significantly earlier and for a longer period than ever before. In the 1950s fungi fruited over a period of around 33 days but this has more than doubled to nearly 75 days in the current decade.
They say earlier spring rains and generally warmer temperatures has caused early fruiting. They also say that this could lead to greater levels of decomposition in forests - does this mean more CO2 release?
Posted by Sterling at 4/25/2007 02:14:00 PM
Samples of the giant fungi have been found all over the world since its discovery a century ago. It lived between 420 million and 350 million years ago, at a time when millipedes and worms were among the first creatures to make their home on dry land. No animals with a backbone had left the oceans.
"A 6-metre fungus would be odd enough in the modern world, but at least we are used to trees quite a bit bigger," says Boyce. "Plants at that time were a few feet tall, invertebrate animals were small, and there were no terrestrial vertebrates. This fossil would have been all the more striking in such a diminutive landscape."
And this fossilised fungus was first discovered by a Canadian paleontologist Charles Dawson (not the same Charles Dawson who "discovered"Piltdown Man") in 1859 along the Gaspé Peninsula.Science Daily coverage
Posted by Sterling at 4/25/2007 02:40:00 AM
From New Scientist:
Hunters in Russia's far east have shot and killed one of the last seven surviving female Amur leopards living in the wild, WWF said on Monday.
A hunter shot the leopard through the tail bone. It tumbled over and was then beaten over the head with a heavy object, Pavel Fomenko, WWF's regional biodiversity coordinator said. Amur leopards have not been known to attack humans.Last week environmentalists said there were only between 25 and 34 Amur leopards – still living in the wild. However, at least 100 are needed to guarantee the species' survival.
Biological diversity is a non-renewable resource.
Amur Leopard Conservation Support Program
Posted by Sterling at 4/25/2007 02:27:00 AM
And it's within the Goldilocks zone - not that our idea of extraterrestrial life should be hampered by this concept, but still.
From New Scientist:
Theory predicts that the small planet should be about 50% wider than the Earth and have a rocky surface. It orbits its dim star every 13 days, and the astronomers calculate that it has a pleasant surface temperature of about 0 to 40°C – just right for liquid water, so the planet might be habitable.
"If you take an average value for the amount of starlight heating the planet, you get something like 20° C," Udry told New Scientist. That's similar to the average temperature in New York City, US, in June.
Astronomers have discovered "super-Earths" slightly larger than this one before. However, they are either too hot or too cold for liquid water to exist. The smallest world circling Gliese 581 is a "Goldilocks" planet with the conditions just right for potential life.With some more observation we should be able to find out more - atmosphere composition, landforms, possible surface organisms.
We just need some amazingly fancy telescopes.
Posted by Sterling at 4/25/2007 01:55:00 AM
Thursday, April 19, 2007
If you believe the spin of Environment Minister John Baird, you will believe that meeting Kyoto carbon emission levels would be "bad economic policy."
From the CBC:
Appearing before a sometimes hostile Senate environment committee in Ottawa, Baird said a Liberal bill calling for the government to honour Canada's commitment under the Kyoto treaty is "bad economic policy" that would result in 275,000 Canadians losing their jobs...
The economics just don't add up," Baird said, and warned that gasoline prices would jump 60 per cent and natural gas prices would double.
"There is only one way to make it happen: to manufacture a recession."
Yeah, nothing says recession like trying to stabilize the environment, and attempting to mitigate the rapid climate change that is already leading to thawing of the arctic, loss of glaciers, increase in drought, and warming of coastal sea-water. It's not like Canada is a resource based economy... oh.
Well, good thing that Baird's predictions "based on studies by some of the country's leading economists. "
Who needs science anyway?
Posted by Sterling at 4/19/2007 03:01:00 PM
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
When you combine the idea of electro-magnetically floating skyscrapers,
With the bioclimatic high-rise designs of Ken Yeang,
And add in
some form of urban vertical farming,
And you might get something like this.
Sea of Suns
Posted by Sterling at 4/17/2007 03:41:00 PM
Thursday, April 12, 2007
"Circling the Earth in the orbital spaceship, I marvelled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world! Let us safeguard and enhance this beauty - not destroy it."
- Yuri Gagarin
On April 12th, 1961, Yuri Gagarin was launched from Baikonur into space aboard the Vostok 1. This is the first time humanity reached beyond our atmosphere and into orbit.
After spending 108 minutes in orbit, the Vostok-1 descended. Gagarin ejected from the capsule 7 km above the surface of the Russian steppe in Sarotov Oblast.
Two schoolgirls witness the Vostok landing and described the scene. "It was a huge ball, about two or three metres high. It fell, then it bounced and then it fell again. There was a huge hole where it hit the first time."
A farmer and her daughter observed the strange scene of a figure in a bright orange suit with a large white helmet landing near them by parachute.
Gagarin later recalled, "when they saw me in my space suit and the parachute dragging alongside as I walked, they started to back away in fear. I told them, don't be afraid, I am a Soviet like you, who has descended from space and I must find a telephone to call Moscow!".
Gagarin later became a trainer and researcher at Star City. He was active in preparing manned missions and worked on the design of a re-usable spacecraft.
On March 27th, 1968, Gagarin died in a crash while test-piloting a Mig-15.
Gagarin was a simple family man, who lived to fly and worked tirelessly toward our quest for space.
"Yura personified the eternal youth of our people. He combined within himself in a most happy blend the attributes of courage, an analytical mind and exceptional industry."
Gagarin, a world's hero.
Comrade Kosmonaut, Do svidaniya.
Russian Archives Online - Gagarin
Astronautix - Gagarin
Posted by Sterling at 4/12/2007 06:19:00 PM
From New Scientist:
The greenery on other planets may not be green. Astrobiologists say plants on Earth-sized planets orbiting stars somewhat brighter than the Sun may look yellow or orange, while those on planets orbiting stars much fainter than the Sun might look black.
Vegetation colour matters to astrobiologists because they want to know what to look for as a sign of life on planets outside the solar system. Terrestrial photosynthesis depends mostly on red light, the most abundant wavelength reaching the Earth's surface, and blue light, the most energetic. Plants also absorb green light, but not as strongly, so leaves look green to the eye.
Extraterrestrial plants will look different because they have evolved their own pigments based on the colours of light reaching their surfaces, says Nancy Kiang of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Sciences in New York, US.
Can't wait to practice my extraterrestrial botany skills.
Posted by Sterling at 4/12/2007 01:42:00 AM
flash mob - describes a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, do something unusual for a brief period of time, and then quickly disperse (wikipedia.)
I found this link on boingboing, and it's pretty cool. Now just forget that they are in cosplay and dancing a piece from an anime (not that there is anything wrong with that.) Every year flash mobs get more and more complex. How long before they are build homes, mad-max cars, cities that float in the sky under homemade zeppelins?
Probably a little ways off.
But don't be surprised.
Tokyomango via boingboing.
Posted by Sterling at 4/12/2007 01:28:00 AM
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
From Science Daily:
Water vapor (or steam) has been expected to be present in the atmospheres of nearly all of the known extrasolar planets, even those that orbit closer to their parent star than Mercury is to our Sun. For the majority of extrasolar planets, their close proximity to their parent star has made detecting water and other compounds difficult.
Sure, the planet is what they like to call a "hot Jupiter" that is only 7 million kilometres for its sun (Earth is 130 million kilometres from its own sun), but water other places means there could be life similar to our own other places.
Things are looking up.
Check out the New Scientist coverage.
Also: see Steam Power in Space post concerning same extra-solar object.
Posted by Sterling at 4/10/2007 10:51:00 PM
Monday, April 9, 2007
On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space. The Soviets launched Vostok-1, beating the Americans.
So now there is an international party every year!
Come Thursday night, get together with some friends, grab some Vodka, and think of Russia.
And for those of you who are iffy on the whole space-race-thing, watch this:
A Brief History of Manned Space Flight. For More details, visit the Yuri's Night Web Site.
Posted by Sterling at 4/09/2007 11:11:00 PM
My father died four-years-ago because of two brain aneurysms. My grandfather suffered a massive stroke that led to his eventual death. And a couple of other people in the family have had blood clotting issues.
Jeez, that seems kind of depressing, doesn't it?
Well, anyway, I have a passing interest in how to find blood clots. Good news for me, there is a new imaging approach.
From science daily:
...Neuroradiologists believe a brain imaging approach that combines standard magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans with specialized contrast-enhanced techniques could lead to more effective diagnoses in patients with difficult-to-detect blood clots in veins of the brain. Researchers say these specialized techniques--known as contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance venography--produce better defined pictures of difficult-to-detect abnormal flow areas within vessels of the brain. These areas may be important warning signs of blocked blood flow that require medical intervention. The enhanced imaging tools can also help identify areas where flow has been partially reestablished after a vessel blockage has occurred.
New machine, better images, increased chance for life.
Hopefully it works.
Sorry about all that death stuff.
Posted by Sterling at 4/09/2007 10:25:00 PM
Philosophers like to argue about consciousness, what it is, and what sets us apart from the animals.
One of the main arguments used to separate us from the "lowly animals" is our ability to problem solve -- to be aware of our situation and be creative in attempting to deal with. The simplest way to visualize this argument is our ability to make tools.
Monkeys and apes use tools, but using tools and making tools are not the same thing. Picking up a stick and using it to pull grubs out of a rotting tree is not the same as creating a hook and going fishing.
The video that follows is a few years old now, but it's damn impressive.
Here is an old National Geographic article on this topic.