Science Addiction

A dormant blog by Devanshu Mehta

Month: October, 2008

Thoreau as Climate Researcher

The New York Times has a great peace on research at Boston University and Harvard that is using the writings of Thoreau on the plant life at Walden Pond for climate research.

Ten Years of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act

On the 28th of October, 1998, Bill Clinton signed the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) in to law. And the technology industry was never the same. This week, it turns 10.

The Anti-Circumvention Provision
The purpose of the anti-circumvention provisions in the DMCA was to prevent copyright pirates from defeating copy protection (DRM) mechanisms. In reality, neither the DMCA nor DRM have done nothing to stop piracy on the Internet. The DMCA has had an effect though- a chilling one. An effect on innovation, fair use, competition, expression. Read the rest of this entry »

Got Myself a Linux EEE PC

My ASUS EEE PC 900 16G (Linux) fits in my palm and I already love it:

What Genius Planned the FCC Meeting for the 4th of November?

The FCC commissioners plan to vote on “white spaces” in their next meeting on the 4th of November.

Detour #1: What are “white spaces”, you ask? Why I have a nifty video for you explaining just that. And this from EFF:

For those new to the issue, “white space” refers to the unused spectrum that exists between broadcast TV channels. The FCC has been weighing the merits of allowing newer, smarter wireless communication devices to operate in the the otherwise unused spectrum — similar to the way that Wi-Fi devices exist today.

Detour #2: Who had the brilliant idea of planning the meeting for the 4th of November, when a certain Barry O. and John M. will be fighting it out in the title match of 2008 and the right to insult foreign dictators for the next 4 years?

Back on topic. Predictably, the National Association of Broadcasters has sent an “emergency” request to remove white spaces from that meeting. After 4.5 years of deliberation and 30,000 comments, it is an emergency.

I understand everybody is tired and cranky after all that time, but really- if you cry foul every time something comes up for a vote, people might just think you expect to lose.

In the words of David Isenberg:

Sorry, NAB, the FCC isn’t here to protect the broadcasters. It is time to test this idea in the real world.

Block the Vote

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast have a great article on voter suppression tactics at Rolling Stone:

These days, the old west rail hub of Las Vegas, New Mexico, is little more than a dusty economic dead zone amid a boneyard of bare mesas. In national elections, the town overwhelmingly votes Democratic: More than 80 percent of all residents are Hispanic, and one in four lives below the poverty line. On February 5th, the day of the Super Tuesday caucus, a school-bus driver named Paul Maez arrived at his local polling station to cast his ballot. To his surprise, Maez found that his name had vanished from the list of registered voters, thanks to a statewide effort to deter fraudulent voting. For Maez, the shock was especially acute: He is the supervisor of elections in Las Vegas.

Twitter Vote Report Ramping Up

I have already written about it, but the Twitter Vote Report project is picking up steam, with a lot of highly talented individuals and organizations involved. The idea is to:

As news outlets and blogs will report on Election Day stories, we are building an invaluable resource for thousands of voters to get immediate help. From questions like “where do I vote” or “how do I make sure that my rights are being upheld,” Twitter Voter Report augments these efforts by providing a new way for voters to send text messages (aka tweets) via cellphones or computers which will be aggregated and mapped so that everyone can see the Nation’s voting problems in real-time.

You can help:

Right now, you can help out by adding to this set of dummy test data that will be used to test some of the code.

Change Congress

The Change Congress project has been trying to compile a comprehensize database on the positions of members of congress on the subjects of earmark reform, lobbyins money and PAC money. There are two ways people can help.

  1. Pester Your Member of Congress: ask them to tell C-C where they stand on the issues.
  2. TAG a politician: If you find an article or a resource that talks about a particular politicians position on the influence of money in politics, tag them on the C-C web site.

That’s it! It’s a simple, but powerful way to assemble a scorecard.

The MINI E(lectric) Field Trial

Since I’m a former Mini Cooper owner, I got the following via email about their introduction of the electric MINI:

An email from MINI about their Electric car field trial.

An email from MINI about their Electric car field trial.

500 people will be able to lease the MINI E for a year. The applications begin mid-November and are open to people in Southern California, New York and New Jersey.

Kos: Taking on the System

I recently read Markos Moulitsas Zuniga’s (of DailyKos) Taking On the System, and was thoroughly impressed. It is partly a history of the Netroots- the progressive online movement that powered Dean, winning back the Senate and House in 2006 and now Barack Obama. But it is mainly a guide to online (and offline) activism in the Internet age. Ultimately it demonstrates that activists can use the modern web tools of citizen journalism to bypass the traditional gatekeepers- in political parties, in the media and everywhere else.

More than anything else, though, it inspires me to action. Haven’t I been blogging more often recently?

P.S.: I just love the name Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. Sounds like an old South American Revolutionary.
Taking on the System outline

The Year Flash and Real Player Arrived

In a sense, it’s the year Linux arrived. The year Flash and Real Player took Linux seriously. Flash Player 10 was released for Linux the same day as other platforms and earlier in the year Real Player 11 was released as a .deb for Linux. [via Slashdot]