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Note About Blurb Requests

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 14:12
This is for editors/publishers/PR folks: Until I am done writing The End of All Things, I am not entertaining further requests for blurbs for other authors’ books. I have to finish my own book before I can think seriously about anyone else’s. This note encompasses blurb requests that have already been made in 2015. The good … Continue reading Note About Blurb Requests →

Hebrew Android’s Dream + Other Notes

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 13:23
First, look! The Hebrew version of The Android’s Dream: I can tell it’s The Android’s Dream because of the sheep on the cover. Also, it says so inside, in English. But mostly from the cover. I’m always still geeked when I get foreign editions of my books. It’s both strange and wonderful to be read … Continue reading Hebrew Android’s Dream + Other Notes →

Quick Email Note

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 09:45
I accidentally archived a lot of email I meant to respond to over the last couple of weeks, and are now digging through the archives to respond to those emails. So if you sent me an email in the last couple of weeks and it seems like it fell down a hole, well, it did. … Continue reading Quick Email Note →

Nominees for best science fiction of 2014 -- plus announcements!

Contrary Brin - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 14:14
See the Nebula nominees for best science fiction of 2014, below. Plus other cool, sci-fi related news. But first, a few announcements...

In the Year 2525: Big Science, Big History and the Far Future of Humanity. Join me for this Skeptics Society Conference, May 29 to 31 in Pasadena, CA – I'll be speaking along with Jared Diamond, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Gregory Benford, Michael Shermer, and Esther Dyson. Registration is now open.

Can't travel to a Sci Fi Convention? I’ll be a guest at SofaCON2: An Online Science Fiction Con, March 14 & 15, along with Kim Stanley Robinson, Joe Haldeman, Paul Di Filippo and Bruce Bethke. Register and tune in for two days of fascinating video panel discussions. 

My graphic novel, The Life Eaters has just been re-released by IDW. Imagine a world in which the Axis forces of World War II suddenly were propelled to victory over the Allies… prompted by aid from the ancient gods of Norse mythology. Welcome to the alternate reality of The Life Eaters, with lush painted art by Scott Hampton. See this vivid trailer for the book. 

(Note: the first third of this award-nominated Graphic Novel -- Thor Meets Captain America -- came in 2nd for a Hugo, way back in the 20th Century.)
A new anthology Old Venus will be published in March.  Sixteen all-new stories about the sister world of jungles, swamps and wondrous beasts that filled our dreams… till 1962… now about to reappear out of the mists of imagination! "Tales by science fiction’s top talents" (Joe Haldeman, Elizabeth Bear, Mike Resnick, including, ahem me) collected by bestselling author George R. R. Martin and editor Gardner Dozois -- following up on their successful Old Mars anthology.
TheMuseum of Science Fiction, "the world’s first comprehensive science fiction museum," is showcasing the winners of its Architectural Design Competition for the first time outside of Washington, DC, from February 12, 2015 - May 15, 2015 at the Brooklyn Public Library. I am on the board of advisors for what may become one of the most fascinating museum projects in North America, right in the national capital.
Kewl first chapter to an Indie sci fi series called “Tether.”
Another workshop site - Inkitt -- for new writers to share stories and offer mutual crit, online. They also run contests. 


Oh, by all means rent the film PREDESTINATION. It's a wonderful expansion upon Robert Heinlein's uber-classic story "All You Zombies."  The entire story is there, every single scene... though of course there are added layers and layers, to make it a movie.  None of those layers detract.  The compounded ironies are preserved and enhanced. The writing is solid. Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook are terrific. It is simply criminal that she was not nominated for Best Actress in the Academy Awards. Criminal. 
Here's a terrific interview with Sarah Snook... with tons of spoilers. 

== The 2014 Nebula List ==
The Science Fiction Writers of America has announced the nominees for this year’s Nebula Awards. Members get special access to these stories but you are welcome to hunt them down, yourselves. (Many of the authors post their tales on their own sites.) A good way to gauge current trends and keep up to date.  
Congratulations to the nominees!
Novel  •  The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)  •   Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)  •   Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)  •   The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu (), translated by Ken Liu (Tor)  •   Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)  •   Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate;
Novella  •   We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)  •   Yesterday's Kin, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)  •   The Regular," Ken Liu (Upgraded)  •   "The Mothers of Voorhisville," Mary Rickert (Tor.com 4/30/14)  •   Calendrical Regression, Lawrence Schoen (NobleFusion)  •   "Grand Jeté (The Great Leap)," Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean
Novelette  •  "Sleep Walking Now and Then," Richard Bowes (Tor.com 7/9/14)  •   "The Magician and Laplace's Demon," Tom Crosshill (Clarkesworld 12/14)  •   "A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i," Alaya Dawn Johnson (F&SF 7-8/14)  •   "The Husband Stitch," Carmen Maria Machado (Granta #129)  •   "We Are the Cloud," Sam J. Miller (Lightspeed 9/14)  •   "The Devil in America," Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com 4/2/14)
Short Story  •   "The Breath of War," Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/6/14)  •    "When It Ends, He Catches Her," Eugie Foster (Daily SciFiction 9/26/14)  •   "The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye," Matthew Kressel (Clarkesworld 5/14)  •    "The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family," Usman T. Malik (Qualia Nous)  •   "A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide," Sarah Pinsker (F&SF 3-4/14)  •   "Jackalope Wives," Ursula Vernon (Apex 1/7/14)  •   "The Fisher Queen," Alyssa Wong (F&SF 5/14)
For additional information, see the SFWA Website.
== Brin-Audio tales! ==
Speaking of SofaCon -- where you can join me for an online Sci Fi Convention -- you might enjoy the audio sci fi magazine Starship Sofa.  Here are some of the very well narrated versions they have run for some of my tales (after some introduction.)
Mars Opposition” 
Crystal Spheres” -- also available for Kindle.
Fortitude” 
A Professor at Harvard
Part 1 of my novella “Temptation” makes up the second half of this radio broadcast
Oh, and listen soon for announcement of my entire first collection, The River of Time – already available again in paper and e-book – will have a lovely audio edition of its very own.

== Final note... ==

Can one nominate a brief blog posting for a Hugo Award?  Here’s a way cool one by Howard Tayler, creator of Schlock Mercenary.
. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (site feed URL: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/atom.xml)

2015 Oscar Predictions, Final

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 15:00
The Oscars are this weekend, so as I do every year, it’s time to look back at my first-blush impressions and see if I changed my mind, refined my thinking, or otherwise need to commit. The first-pass predictions are here; check ‘em out and then come back. Now, then: Best Picture: I thought Imitation Game … Continue reading 2015 Oscar Predictions, Final →

This Year’s Nebula Award Nominees

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 12:55
Oh, look, I just happen to have the SFWA Press Release for this year’s Nebula Award nominees right here. Let’s just put this sucker up, shall we? The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America are pleased to announce the nominees for the 2014 Nebula Awards (presented 2015), nominees for the Ray Bradbury Award for … Continue reading This Year’s Nebula Award Nominees →

Oliver Sacks and Public Individuals at the Close

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 10:31
Oliver Sacks has terminal cancer and has decided to say goodbye to the public. It’s here, in the New York Times, and it’s both nicely done and something that’s being shared widely in my online social circle. Sacks seems, if not sanguine about the event, at least contented with the path of his life to date. … Continue reading Oliver Sacks and Public Individuals at the Close →

Optimism vs Pessimism

Contrary Brin - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 20:47
Speaking of the tradeoffs between optimism and pessimism....

While cynics get a brief tactical advantage by getting to sneer, like playground bullies, they undermine their own effectiveness at generating changes - in society or in their own lives.  And there is another major drawback, pointed out by "Paul" over in my cogent-smart comment community
"Self-identifying pessimists I have known claim that by being pessimistic they avoid being ripped off, but if you read the literature on stress you find that they pay a high price for it. Having a negative outlook causes your endocrine system to release cortisol and a host of other stress-related hormones (as does insufficient sleep). This chronic release has some serious side-effects, including the shrinking of the hippocampus. Anyone who wishes to know their enemy needs to accept that their own body can be one of their worst. Grumpy old men trap themselves in a feedback loop of hypochondria and failing mental health. Dr. Robert Sapolsky of Stanford makes the point that thinking positive thoughts all by itself cuts off these stress hormones and releases others that have more beneficial health effects. Optimists might get cheated once in awhile, but they tend to live longer and happier lives."
Here's the Amazon link to Sapolsky's most well-known book: Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: The acclaimed guide to stress, stress-related diseases and coping. 
I would add that optimist-pragmatists live vastly more effective lives since they believe their efforts can change their circumstances, their lives and even their nation or society.  This may make them seem fools, part of the time. But they are also more likely to trycollaborative or competitive efforts to make change. Automatically that means they are more likely (even occasionally) to succeed.
The world was made by the Franklins and Lincolns and Edisons and Roosevelts and Marshalls who believed it could be changed.

== They WANT us afraid ==

One commenter said "9/11 was a huge kick in the nuts for our culture. Maybe I am wrong, but people did not seem so unkind and paranoid and crazy with religion before then."

Ah, but 9/11 was a "kick in the nuts" only because we let it be. Our parents suffered such losses weekly during WWII and they were the lucky ones, compared to Britain... and then Germany, Russia, Japan. Yes, we entered a ridiculous state of panic.  But it was deliberately pushed upon us... and especially upon Red America. 

The media and the Bushes portrayed us as wimps and we swallowed it. 

 Except many of us didn't! Read Rebecca Solnit's A PARADISE BUILT IN HELL. (See below.) There is an industry based on keeping us panicky.  But we don't have to buy the product.  Steven Pinker proved... most things are getting better!  We need to note that, not  in order to kick back, but to have the confidence it will take to evade further mine-fields...

...and get to Star Trek.

== Can mythology and Sci Fi help?==

"The future was better when Star Trek: The Next Generation was making it."  So asserts an interesting rumination on how only one major media sic fi franchise has ever taken on the hardest and best challenge — telling good stories, criticizing possible errors, while assuming that maybe - just maybe - our grandchildren mights be better than us.  That Hard Assumption terrifies most lazy producers, directors and writers.  How much easier to make the Dullard-Dystopic Assumption, that we will fail and that our descendants will all be fools? It makes plotting and action trivial.  At the small cost of chopping away at our confidence as a civilization and a people.!

Glimmers of the finer path were seen in Babylon Five. I see hints of it in Halle Berry's EXTANT. Maybe the star-trekkian mantle of adventure-with-critical-optimism will be taken up by Marc Zicree's Space Command.  Oh, and I  left out STARGATE! Very upbeat. Except for one huge flaw. They stuck - till the end - with the insane premise that it would panic all of humanity senseless, if they revealed to citizens that Earth was now the lead planet in a newly hopeful galactic federation. Um?

Still… the irony is stunning.  That my own chief pessimism about our future is rooted in Hollywood's absolute determination to undermine our confidence with pummeling after pummeling of relentless pessimism.
 == Future Tech ==
Wow. Read this from Mark Anderson: 

“At the CEATEC Japan electronics industry trade show held in October, Rohm exhibited its wearable key device, a multi-function, key-shaped item capable of counting your steps, telling you if you are walking up and / or down stairs, are on a bicycle or in a car or on a train (in case you didn't know), estimating distance (point and triangulate), counting calories, detecting metal particles in your food or somewhere else they shouldn't be, locking and unlocking your cellphone, and monitoring UV exposure so you can avoid sunburn. It contains a gyroscope, a proximity sensor, an accelerometer, a pressure sensor, an ambient light sensor, a color sensor, a UV sensor, a magnetometer, a Bluetooth Low Energy wireless communication IC, and a microcontroller. Bought in volume, the unit price is one US dollar.”  

What an age.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is asking for ideas from the private sector on breakthrough technologies to guide military investment for the next decade and beyond. 
As war drones improve, disturbing questions arise. As John Markoff says in the New York Times: Britain’s “fire and forget” Brimstone missiles, for example, can distinguish among tanks and cars and buses without human assistance, and can hunt targets in a predesignated region without oversight. The Brimstones also communicate with one another, sharing their targets.”
The U.S. Defense Dept actually takes these issues seriously: “In a directive published in 2012, the Pentagon drew a line between semiautonomous weapons, whose targets are chosen by a human operator, and fully autonomous weapons that can hunt and engage targets without intervention."
Weapons of the future, the directive said, must be “designed to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force.”

== ... and prescience... ==

Rumors fly about, that Apple has teamed up with SpaceX and Tesla... or is it Google?... to create a new "iCar!" The patent cited here is just one of many that might be involved. As both a future-pundit and a stockholder in all those companies (Apple, since 1981), I approve!

Still might I point to this image from my 2009 graphic novel TINKERERS, kinda foreseeing this event?  Someone put it on my predictions wiki?

== Be prepared! ==
A fascinating glimpse of a study of disasters, showing that most people die because they are too passive, when situations become dire. Rather than madness, or an animalistic stampede for the exits, it is often people’s disinclination to panic that puts them at higher risk.  Very interesting and important…

…and yet, it does not tell the whole story.  Which Rebecca Solnit does in A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, showing that, when they get a little time to think, many people respond to baad situations with courage and grit and dedicated citizenship.
Following up on that… I am doing my part: I took the CERT Civil Defense training and upgraded so I am now in California's Disaster Corps. They might call me up to head for any disaster site in the state. But CERT is lower level - local and neighborhood oriented with training that a busy person can take. You get certified and received tools... and confidence. It makes you part of the civilization's network of resilience.

== Miscellaneous ==

New and exciting: The Brighter Brains Speaker Bureau will connect your group, company or conference with dazzlingly interesting keynoters. It’s just getting started, but I confess to being impressed!  (If a bit biased ;-)
This list of "52 common misconceptions" is useful and fun... but I do know that the left-right brain "debunking" is very misleading.  It is more false than true.
PODCASTS!  A couple of new ones. First on Bloomberg… Predicting and Inventing the Future: Bill Frezza’s interview with me is available on SoundCloud and YouTube:
On some similar topics, I get carried away and blather on and on about the power of sci fi in self-preventing prophecies on The Note Show. The host seemed pleased, despite hardly getting a word in! Available at www.thenoteshow.com/david-brin and also on itunes and stitcher.
Yikes! Can the decline in marriage be attributed to … free online porn?

So cool! But this dinosaur costume could give some stranger a heart attack!  Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:14.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-font-family:Times; mso-fareast-language:JA;}

. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (site feed URL: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/atom.xml)

Humble Subterranean Press Bundle: Pay What You Want For a Lot of Great Stuff

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 15:42
Most of you know that I do a lot of work with Subterranean Press, because they do an excellent job with my limited and/or off-the-wall projects. They are some of my favorite people to work with, and I’m not alone in this assessment: some of the best authors in science fiction and fantasy work with … Continue reading Humble Subterranean Press Bundle: Pay What You Want For a Lot of Great Stuff →

Back in the Day

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 12:35
This is a picture of a Christmastime choral concert at my high school, roughly 30 years ago. You can tell it’s from Christmastime because of the otherwise utterly-nonessential-for-southern-California scarves the singers are wearing. I am in this picture. Can you find me? (Here’s a larger version of the photo, if you need more detail to … Continue reading Back in the Day →

Binary Isn’t

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 10:20
There’s a very interesting piece in Nature today about how science is making it more clear than ever that the binary nature of the sexes isn’t actually binary at all — that there are a lot of gradiations in biological sexual development, brought on not only via chromosomal differentation (the old “XX” and “XY” thing) but … Continue reading Binary Isn’t →

Sunset 2/17/15

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 20:09
Some nice ice pillar action tonight. 

You Can’t Take Back What You Already Have

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 12:40
First, go read this. This is only one dude, to be clear, but his defensive, angry and utterly terrified lament is part and parcel with a chunk of science fiction and fantasy fandom and authors who want to position themselves as a last redoubt against… well, something, anyway. It essentially boils down to “The wrong people are … Continue reading You Can’t Take Back What You Already Have →

The Big Idea: Peter Darbyshire

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 07:57
In today’s Big Idea, author Peter Darbyshire casually subverts the Bible, Shakespeare and the reasons why one might choose a pen name, all in the service of his latest novel, The Dead Hamlets. PETER DARBYSHIRE: What if Christ left his body behind on our earthly realm when he went off to the undiscovered country? And … Continue reading The Big Idea: Peter Darbyshire →

The Thing I’m Giving Up For Lent, 2015

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Tue, 02/17/2015 - 07:00
I’m not religious, but in the last few years I’ve taken to giving up something for Lent, because I like the idea of mindful deprivation of a thing you enjoy (or at the very least, just plain do a lot), with an eye toward reflecting on that thing and its place in your life. Last … Continue reading The Thing I’m Giving Up For Lent, 2015 →

My Solo Album (Not Really But Even So)

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 23:06
So, I posted this picture of myself with ridiculously large, Bono-like sunglasses on Twitter and noted that if I ever decided to make a solo album called The Life and Times of a Pretentious Wanker, it would be the cover photo. And, well. A fellow with the Twitter handle of “Johnny Magnum” decided to take … Continue reading My Solo Album (Not Really But Even So) →

I am Busy Today But Do Not Wish to Leave You With Nothing Here on Whatever, So Please Enjoy This Picture of a Cat in a Bathtub

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 16:54
And Lopsided Cat is all, “What? Can’t a cat have a little private time? With his favorite sponge?” Hey, man. I don’t judge. How’s your Monday?

Reminder: Today is International Grover Appreciation Day

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Sun, 02/15/2015 - 10:51
Have you shared the good news about Grover with the important people in your life? If not, today is a very fine day to do so! He is, after all, the best of all possible Muppets.

Privacy will not go away -- but it will evolve

Contrary Brin - Fri, 02/13/2015 - 20:54

The issue will not go away. But at last the reflexes seem to be fading. The silly reflex - for example - to demand that we solve information age problems by shutting down info flows.  By standing in front of the data tsunami like King Canute screaming "Stop!"  Instead of learning to surf.

First: this is too easy to do. "The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists."
What is your reaction. Outrage? Want to ban this?  Fool. Yeah, that's gonna work, as cameras get smaller, faster, better, cheaper faster than Moore's law. Endlessly. Think TEN years ahead. Try some imagination, for a change, hm?
Driving this kind of activity underground will only empower elites and make them hire nasty-secretive henchmen to do all this in secret. 

On the other hand, if we stay calm, we can instead be militant for something that works… keeping public supervision representatives and public-access cameras in the control rooms of these systems! Require that operator-henchmen in such systems change jobs after 5 years and go to places where they can be encouraged to tell if there had been abuse. Whistleblower rewards. Lot of them.

These are deterrence vs abuse methods that use sight, which is possible. Deterring sight itself is not.
Can I belabor the point, having learned the hard way just how difficult it is? Worrying about what others KNOW is inherently insane, because you can never verify what someone else does not know! 

But you can verify what others DO with their knowledge. Preventing others from doing bad things is possible -- if we can see.

We became free by saying to elites: "You will inevitably see. But we demand the right and power to see (and supervise) you!" 

Again, there is an addiction to cynically demanding that we solve info age problems by reducing the amount and flow of light. By shouting at others "don't look!"  That approach is not only hopeless, it is illogical. Show me one example, across 6000 years, of it ever having worked. 
 == Shining Light on Anonymity ==
The Troll Hunters: This article shows the dawning of a new and badly-needed type of transparency… the hunting down and holding-accountable of internet trolls. 

“It is generally no longer acceptable in public life to hurl slurs at women or minorities, to rally around the idea that some humans are inherently worth less than others, or to terrorize vulnerable people. But old-school hate is having a sort of renaissance online, and in the countries thought to be furthest beyond it. The anonymity provided by the Internet fosters communities where people can feed on each other’s hate without consequence.”
Follow this Swedish journalist who tracks and exposes Internet trolls on his television show Trolljägarna (Troll Hunter). The author reminds us that “attempts to curb online hate must always contend with the long-standing ideals that imagine the Internet’s main purpose as offering unfettered space for free speech and marginalized ideas.”
“Anonymity online is possible, but it’s frail,” says one researcher who has exposed cryptic neo-Nazis.  

One lesson from this article — perhaps not intended — is to make clear the need for an intermediate, win-win solution that will promote pseudonymity — the purchase of vetted IDs from trusted sources that also convey meta-data about credibility and allowing accountability. This would be easy to accomplish, using some of the same methods as BitCoin.  The resulting billion dollar industry could give us the best of both worlds.
== Mass Surveillance and Terrorism ==
Mass surveillance ineffective at fighting terrorism -- This article about surveillance follows the standard pattern. Starting out informative, it moves on to gloomy dudgeon, and concludes with a general armwave call for unsepecified actions, in directions that cannot possibly work.

“In response to the terrorist attacks in Paris, the U.K. government is redoubling its efforts to engage in mass surveillance. Prime Minister David Cameron wants to reintroduce the so-called snoopers’ charter—properly, the Communications Data Bill—which would compel telecom companies to keep records of all Internet, email, and cellphone activity. He also wants to ban encrypted communications services.”
France has blanket electronic surveillance. It didn’t avert the Charlie Hebdo events. They process vast amounts of imperfect intelligence data and do not have the resources to monitor all known suspects 24/7. The French authorities lost track of these extremists long enough for them to carry out their murderous acts.”
Good point!  (Though it ignores the likelihood (with real evidence) that many other attacks were staunched by national protector castes. Notice that the possibility is never raised by the writer, that this is a matter of ratios, not black and white.
Only then, alas, the pattern repeats yet again. The author reaches exactly the wrong conclusion: 

“It is statistically impossible for total population surveillance to be an effective tool for catching terrorists.”
Sorry, but this article, while informative and important, is also wrongheaded… the way nearly all earnest and sincere journalism on the topic of surveillance tends to ultimately swing wrongheaded. Always, we see the same pattern, almost every time: a smart person, knowledgable and committed to enlightened civilization, bemoaning some trend that appears likely to empower Big Brother — some Orwellian nightmare of top-down control by elites of government, of wealth, of corporatcy, criminality or tech-wizardry.
Always, these alarums are spot-on correct — till we get to the end of each piece, when the pundit recommends… 

... nothing useful, whatsoever. 
Either the article dissipates into hand-wringing that someone oughta do something, or else vague notions that we should STOP the encroachment of cameras and data sifters, somehow, despite the unstoppable trend (sometimes called “Brin’s Corollary to Moore’s Law”) that cameras get smaller, faster, cheaper, more numerous and more mobile every year.
For nigh onto 20 years I have pointed out that nothing can stop this tsunami of eyes, swarming across the world. Those who try to stand, in the face of this wave, shouting “halt!” reveal nothing but their own myopia.

== Reiterating till the year 2050 ==
Elites will see — name one counter example across recorded history, when they willingly gave up a method of intelligence gathering.  If we panic, passing laws to forbid surveillance, all we will accomplish, in the prophetic words of science fiction legend Robert Heinlein, will be to “make the spy bugs smaller.”
There is another approach, a trend that is happening all around us and one that may save freedom, despite the fact that our pundits refuse to look at it.  The trend is “sousveillance,” or assertively using these new technologies to look BACK at power.  The effects are already being seen in police departments across America, as lapel cameras become standard on cop uniforms and as citizens get used to applying their now-entrenched right to record authority.  This is the trend that will save us…
…yet the hand-wringers cannot glimpse anything that doesn’t fit their narrative.
==  Privacy Dead or Alive ==
Speaking of smart dopes… “Privacy as we knew it in the past is no longer feasible… How we conventionally think of privacy is dead,” said Margo Seltzer, a professor in computer science at Harvard University. Said her colleague Sophia Roosth: “We are at the dawn of the age of genetic McCarthyism,” “It’s not whether this is going to happen, it’s already happening… We live in a surveillance state today.”
Notice, yet again, the mental block. The inability to even turn the brain and mind toward sousveillance and the tech empowerment of the individual as a phenomenon or even as a possibility to be refuted with facts or logicIt seems plainly impossible for most such mavens to wrap their heads around the possibility that light might punish abusers and invaders of privacy – precisely that effect that we have seen for the last 100 years. So much for Harvard.
Privacy will not go away -- but it will evolve. 

== Miscellany ==

A "warrant canary" is a method by which companies like Google can - in theory - let you know when the government has served a warrant for your information under a gag order.  If the company sends you daily messages "We have not been served any warants for your data… today."  Then when the notifications stop… You get the idea. And I would count on it about as far as I can drop kick an NFL linebacker.
How should the FTC have responded when Google was found to be using ad-tracking cookies that circumvented Apple’s Safari web browser? Or when Amazon’s one-click technology allowed children to make in-app purchases too easily? Or when Uber’s staff was caught using the company’s so-called “God View” application to surreptitiously track people’s comings and goings? This report gives regulators a four-part analytical framework to evaluate infractions and determine what types of penalties are called for based on a sliding scale of intent and resulting harm. — A sensible offering from folks who still believe in something called “middle ground.”  Offering some persuasive charts reminiscent of The Transparent Society.
== Untraceable Money ==
See where we're heading, if we don't fight for transparency: Loopholes in U.S. Laws allow billions in untraceable foreign funds to pour into N.Y. C. Real Estate: "Behind the dark glass towers of the Time Warner Center looming over Central Park, a majority of owners have taken steps to keep their identities hidden, registering condos in trusts, limited liability companies or other entities that shield their names. By piercing the secrecy of more than 200 shell companies, The New York Times documented a decade of ownership in this iconic Manhattan way station for global money transforming the city’s real estate market.

"Many of the owners represent a cross-section of American wealth: chief executives and celebrities, doctors and lawyers, technology entrepreneurs and Wall Street traders.

"But The Times also found a growing proportion of wealthy foreigners, at least 16 of whom have been the subject of government inquiries around the world, either personally or as heads of companies. The cases range from housing and environmental violations to financial fraud. Four owners have been arrested, and another four have been the subject of fines or penalties for illegal activities.

The foreign owners have included government officials and close associates of officials from Russia, Colombia, Malaysia, China, Kazakhstan and Mexico."

As an indication of how well-cloaked shell company ownership is, it took The Times more than a year to unravel the ownership of shell companies with condos in the Time Warner Center, by searching business and court records from more than 20 countries, interviewing dozens of people with close knowledge of the complex, examining hundreds of property records and connecting the dots from lawyers or relatives named on deeds to the actual buyers.

. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (site feed URL: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/atom.xml)

Today’s Thing I’ve Never Seen Before

Whatever (John Scalzi) - Fri, 02/13/2015 - 19:07
It’s a large print edition of Redshirts, in a library binding and everything. I’m not 100% sure but I suspect this is the first book of mine in large print (the Hugo award may have helped it get into the format). At the very least it’s the first book of mine that I’ve seen in … Continue reading Today’s Thing I’ve Never Seen Before →
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