DNA Lounge update, wherein you vote for us in Best of SF.
Posted Sat Apr 19 19:28:07 2014 Tags:

Snowden's question to Putin about massive surveillance in Russia was designed to give him a chance to make claims that could subsequently be studied and challenged.

Given Snowden's precarious position, I think it took courage to do this and courage to talk about it after.

Posted Sat Apr 19 04:27:24 2014 Tags:

Illegal logging is rife in the Peruvian Amazon. Many logging concessions are being canceled.

Posted Sat Apr 19 04:27:24 2014 Tags:
Posted Sat Apr 19 04:27:24 2014 Tags:

Tea Party, Taxes and Why the Original Patriots Would've Revolted Against the Surveillance State.

Posted Sat Apr 19 04:27:24 2014 Tags:

It may be quite difficult to design AIs with desires such that we can be sure they won't take horrible revenge on humans.

However, the problem may not arise if we stick to AIs that don't have desires.

Posted Sat Apr 19 04:27:24 2014 Tags:
I went to see this last night and it is amazing:

Part of what makes The Speakeasy such a special event are the number of intricate layers revealed -- about the storyline, the set, and your experience with both -- as you go along. You buy your ticket online and await instructions on where to meet up on the appointed night. You're given passwords and strict instructions on staying mum over the course of the evening. And you're rewarded for playing along with access to a labyrinth set where secret passageways offer some of the best seats in the house.

The Speakeasy is less a straight narrative and more a choose-your-own-adventure collection of character studies of the folks who populate a San Francisco speakeasy in the 1920s. There are the mob bosses and the showgirls, the fallen heroes and the families they (tried to) leave behind. The dramatic tension here is romantic and political, it comes out through dialogue, song, and dance, and it's performed in the chair next to you one moment and behind glass the next.

Go get your tickets, seriously. It's totally worth it. I'm probably going to go again.

Posted Sat Apr 19 02:37:11 2014 Tags:
The Institute: A documentary about the Jejune Institute, a bizarre prank or sort-of alternative-reality game that ran for a few years in SF. It starts off with interviews of some befuddled participants, then a little bit with the people who were running it, and then it takes a left turn into something that seems real and at that point I lost track of whether I was watching a documentary or a complete work of fiction. I'm still not entirely sure. But it's amazing.

Captain America, Winter Soldier: It's basically a long episode of Agents of SHIELD, but I was entertained. It's not as good as The Avengers, but it exceeded my expectations. (I thought the first Captain America was pretty lousy, for reference.)

About Time: It's a time travel movie where nobody is killed and nobody tries to fix anything more complicated than "get the girl". It's the Say Anything of Groundhog Days. It's cute.

The Returned: There had been a zombie apocalypse or two, and then they developed a cure that could reverse zombification if administered early -- but you have to take it every day or you start eating brains. Then supplies start running low of the medicine and everybody betrays everybody. Pretty well done.

Young Justice: not a movie, but two seasons of a cartoon series about Justice League sidekicks. The plots is pretty solid.

I'm not gonna even list the other 35+ movies I've seen since my last post because they pretty much sucked.


Posted Sat Apr 19 02:34:21 2014 Tags:

(reprinted from USENIX ;login: November/December 1992)

Have you seen Modula-3?


        MODULE Main;    (* hello1.m3 *)
        IMPORT Stdio, Wr;
            Wr.PutText(Stdio.stdout, "Hello, world.\n");
        END Main.

read more

Posted Fri Apr 18 22:50:39 2014 Tags:
SFMTA Board Repeals Sunday Parking Meters: Get ready for the return of Sunday traffic dysfunction and double parking.

Mainstream news reporters who have covered the Sunday metering issue, like columnists Phil Matier and Andrew Ross at the SF Chronicle and CBS affiliate KPIX, typically don't mention that the SFMTA found that meters cut cruising times for parking in half and increased turnover for businesses by at least 20 percent. Instead, parking meters have typically been framed as a way to collect revenue, even in the Chronicle report on today's vote. [...]

As we reported, there's no evidence to support Mayor Lee's claims that anyone besides church leaders have pushed to give away Sunday parking. Indeed, the only speakers who showed up to encourage the SFMTA Board to repeal Sunday meters were the same church leaders who campaigned against the policy in the first place. [...]

Tanev said the parking meter reversal "violates all semblance of competence in government and public process. Your own report shows that meters are beneficial to businesses and shoppers, reduce congestion and increase pedestrian safety."

"Sunday meters were passed in collaboration with many stakeholders, including the Chamber of Commerce. It is a betrayal that they are revoked without the same process applied when they passed."

"You're nobody's puppets," Tanev told the SFMTA Board. "You work for free. Be willing to be fired, do the right thing, and let the politicians take the blame if they interfere in your work."

Previously, previously, previously.

Posted Fri Apr 18 21:59:19 2014 Tags:

In the UK, in a private test, 40% of prepared "lamb" dishes tested proved to have other kinds of meat. To address this problem, the UK will cut the budget for testing food.

Posted Fri Apr 18 12:00:00 2014 Tags:
Posted Fri Apr 18 12:00:00 2014 Tags:

Everyone: sign this petition asking the governor of Tennessee to cancel contracts with privatized prison company CCA.

Posted Fri Apr 18 12:00:00 2014 Tags:

ALEC is pushing state laws to pressure the US government to give states control of federal land, the idea being that the states will be pushovers for mining companies.

They refer to this with the romantic-sounding name of "sagebrush rebellion" to make it look like something other than exploitation.

The Australian government is giving states control over environmental planning precisely to make it easier for mining companies to despoil and pollute.

Posted Fri Apr 18 12:00:00 2014 Tags:

8 million Americans have signed up under Obama's health care program.

It is good, as far as it goes; it just doesn't go far enough.

Posted Fri Apr 18 12:00:00 2014 Tags:

I’m not, in general, a fan of David Drake’s writing; most of his output is grimmer and far more carnographic than I care to deal with. I’ve made an exception for his RCN series because they tickle my fondness for classic Age-of-Sail adventure fiction and its pastiches, exhibiting Drake’s strengths (in particular, his deep knowledge of history) while dialing back on the cruelty and gore.

Drake’s sources are no mystery to anyone who has read Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey-Maturin series; Daniel Leary and his companion-in-arms Adele Mundy are obvious takes on the bumptious Jack Aubrey and physician/naturalist/spy Stephen Maturin. Drake expends great ingenuity in justifying a near-clone of the Napoleonic-era British Navy in a far future with FTL drives. And to his credit, the technological and social setting is better realized than in most exercises of this kind. It compares well in that respect to, for example, David Weber’s Honor Harrington sequence.

The early books in the RCN series, accordingly, seemed fresh and inventive. Alas, in this tenth installment the series is losing its wind. We’ve already seen a couple of variations of the plot; Daniel and Adele traipse off in the Princess Cecile on a sort-out-the-wogs mission backed by Cinnabar’s spooks. In a wry nod to another genre trope, they’re looking for buried treasure.

The worldbuilding remains pretty good, and provided most of the few really good moments in this novel. Alas, as the action ground on I found the characters’ all-too-familiar tics wearing on me – Adele’s nihilistic self-loathing, Daniel’s cheerful shallow bloodymindeness, Hogg’s bumpkin shtick, Miranda the ever-perfect girlfriend. The cardboard NPCs seem flatter than ever. The series always had strong elements of formula, but now Drake mostly seems to be just repeating himself. Even the battle scenes are rather perfunctory.

This is not a book that will draw in people who aren’t fans of its prequels. I’ll read the next one, but if it isn’t dramatically improved I’m done. Perhaps Drake is tiring of the premises; it may be time for him to bring things to a suitably dramatic close.

Posted Thu Apr 17 21:05:07 2014 Tags:
By night, she dresses in a skin-tight, all-in-one Spandex body suit that covers everything -- including her eyes -- and sits in bars, alone but liberated, she believes, from the judgment of others.

"With my face covered, I cannot eat or drink like other customers," said the woman, who is in her 20s and says her name is Hokkyoku Nigo (North Pole No. 2).

"I have led my life always worrying about what other people think of me. They say I look cute, gentle, childish or naive," she said, her lips ruffling the tight, red shiny material.

"I always felt suffocated by that. But wearing this, I am just a person in a full body suit."

Posted Thu Apr 17 20:11:09 2014 Tags:

Planet Debian upstream is hosted by Branchable.