Science Addiction

A dormant blog by Devanshu Mehta

Tag: The World

Do You Want to End Up Like Bush?

Via Dave Winer, here’s a good catch by Think Progress:

French President Sarkozy talking to Russian Prime Minister Putin. “Do you want to end up like Bush?’ Mr. Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: ‘Ah — you have scored a point there.'”

Of course, Dave Winers riff is icing on the cake:

How well do Sarkozy and Putin understand that, unless they organize their people on the Internet first, Obama might do it for them.

And he points out this web site, from Israel’s Netanyahu, that looks exactly like the site of a certain Barry from Chicago:

NetanYahu We Can!

Advani Plans to Go the Obama Way

Advani, in the footsteps of Obama.

Drawing inspiration from the Illinois senator, the BJP wants to target the youth vote in a big way using technology. Therefore, like Obama, a website is being designed for Advani where his speeches will be uploaded right away and like Obama, text messages on cellphones will be a big weapon to get the attention of young voters.
[From Now, Advani plans to go Obama way]

For the uninitiated, Advani has almost been Prime Minister a few times over the past 20 years, but has proven a tad too right-wing for the right-wing Bharatiya Janta Party in India to nominate as their PM. And he’s embracing the Obama model. Oh, and he’s older than McCain.

A Motto for the United States

Three weeks ago, the Freakonomics blog called for a “6 word motto for the U.S.” There were many suggestions, ranging from the mocking the right (“Hubris: it’s not just for Greeks!” and “USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!”) to mocking the left (“What would liberals hate without it?”), but finally blogger/writer Stephen Dubner narrowed them down to these five, which the readers were asked to vote on:

1. The Most Gentle Empire So Far
2. You Should See the Other Guy
3. Caution! Experiment in Progress Since 1776
4. Just Like Canada, With Better Bacon
5. Our Worst Critics Prefer to Stay

And now, I’m happy to report, the winner is: “Our Worst Critics Prefer to Stay”.

Portrait of a Creator as a Sims Freak

Fantastic profile of Dr. Bostrom, the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford, in <a href=””>the New York Times</a>. <blockquote>In fact, if you accept a pretty reasonable assumption of Dr. Bostrom’s, it is almost a mathematical certainty that we are living in someone else’s computer simulation. [..] Dr. Bostrom assumes that technological advances could produce a computer with more processing power than all the brains in the world, and that advanced humans, or “posthumans,” could run “ancestor simulations” of their evolutionary history by creating virtual worlds inhabited by virtual people with fully developed virtual nervous systems.</blockquote>

I’ve had a similar theory for a while now, which I’ve tried to spin in to a fantasy novel (someday…) about a creator as a high-on-sugar kid with a LEGO set, albeit a LEGO set that builds intricate worlds. I’m paraphrasing, of course.

In any case, none of these ideas are ‘Matrix’-like pluggable-hybrid humans; they’re actually completely simulate that live in the circuits. The tubes, as they say in Alaska. I’d buy this theory, except there’s no way of knowing if it’s true. This isn’t the Truman Show, where you can walk out the end of the world or where everyone else is in on the joke. So, ultimately, it’s a cool hypothesis but I’m already set against unprovable creators.

A Chinese Golden Parachute

The boss of the toy company responsible for the huge recall in the US has “committed suicide by hanging himself”: in his warehouse. The toys were recalled due to toxic paint in the toys, which was sold to this ‘boss’ by a close friend of his. The most interesting paragraph in the AP story is:<blockquote>Zhang hung himself on Saturday, according to the report. It is common for disgraced officials to commit suicide in China.</blockquote>

First: An Ode to the TSA

I created this video on a whim. I call it: “First, They Came for the Box Cutters”

Starbucks in Forbidden City: Closed!

Forbidden Starbucks

Originally uploaded by EccoCraz.

First of all- yes, there was a Starbucks in Beijing’s Forbidden City.

Fortunately, there was a Starbucks in Beijing’s Forbidden City. It’s gone now after huge protests.

Says the BBC:

Starbucks, which has nearly 200 outlets in China, opened the Forbidden City shop seven years ago and removed its brand sign two years ago to address cultural sensitivities.

Here’s what it looks like on Google Maps. Yeah, no Starbucks inside 600 year old monuments. Sorry.

On the “Sky Trust”

Maybe I just don’t understand the “Sky Trust”: proposed by Peter Barnes, but it sounds like a recipe for disaster. Here is the gist of the idea:

Under the Sky Trust plan, all companies that bring burnable carbon into the economy would be required to buy permits for the carbon content of their fuels. Each year the number of permits would be reduced.

Revenue generated from the sale of permits would be placed in a trust, managed by independent trustees. Earnings from the trust would be returned to U.S. residents as dividends and used for public investments that accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

I’m not sure giving Americans financial gain for pollution is the solution; I understand that taxing pollution is already being floated as an idea, but giving the average citizen a bigger check when pollution levels rise can’t possibly make him appreciate the seriousness of the situation.

Of course, the idea of Sky Trust is a bit more nuanced, especially with the caps on total permits given to polluters which are reduced every year. The issue, however, is that if people get used to getting a $500 check every New Year’s day and all of a sudden that starts drying up, won’t the people be demanding a little more pollution?

I may be underestimating the general populace and I may be misunderstanding Sky Trust- let me know, I’d love to see it work.

We’re Censored in China!

Good news, everyone- this site is censored in China! We must be doing something right…

Terror Without the Terrorism

Bruce Schneier has “a fantastic article at”:,71642-0.html?tw=wn_columns_securitymatters_1 on the aftermath of the supposed London terror plots. The terror plots were not near fruition, they were apprehended by solid law enforcement tactics, the science of the plots has been debunked and yet, our air-lives have been disrupted, our “leaders” are posturing and shrill rhetoric fills the vacuum.

Before you call me names, hear me out. The threat is real. However, the roller-coaster perceived threat-level and fear mongering is generating as much terror as terrorism itself.

From Schneier:

Regardless of the threat, from the would-be bombers’ perspective, the explosives and planes were merely tactics. Their goal was to cause terror, and in that they’ve succeeded.

Imagine for a moment what would have happened if they had blown up 10 planes. There would be canceled flights, chaos at airports, bans on carry-on luggage, world leaders talking tough new security measures, political posturing and all sorts of false alarms as jittery people panicked. To a lesser degree, that’s basically what’s happening right now.