Saturday, March 15, 2008

Feet of Clay?


Nah grasshopper. You are overreacting. God's son is playing intellectual political & cultural judo with this one. Electorial Sun Tzu. Picking his battles. Why run 90 yards to fumble?

Why indeed friend Denmark, why indeed.....? Our boy has been muddied and bloodied by ethnic nationalist riff raff. Judging from the two interviews, one friendly, one adversarial, these are not strong challengers launching a surprise sneak attack. These are busters coming with something old, obvious and hidden in plain sight. Obama has not dealt with this artfully or deftly....., even Geraldo noted last night that the sparkle has gone out of Baraka's eyes. Look at the videos and tell me that he hasn't succumbed to some egregious conformity.

Used in the Bible in Daniel 2:34, part of the description of the huge statue in the dream of Chaldean King Nebuchadnezzar.

feet of clay

(idiomatic) To say that someone, who appears strong or invincible, in fact has a hidden weak point which could cause their fall.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch......,

While ABC News fomented tribal squabbles in the theater of the absurd, the real warsocialist Spartans continued prosecuting their phalanx of geostrategic maneuvering to assert control of 240 odd billion barrels of sweet light crude oil and ensure a McCain landslide victory in the general election.

Here are six developments that may have Iran as a common thread. And, if it comes to war, they may be seen as clues as to what was planned. None of them is conclusive, and each has a credible non-Iran related explanation:
1. Fallon's resignation: With the Army fully engaged in Iraq , much of the contingency planning for possible military action has fallen to the Navy, which has looked at the use of carrier-based warplanes and sea-launched missiles as the weapons to destroy Iran 's air defenses and nuclear infrastructure. Centcom commands the U.S. naval forces in and near the Persian Gulf . In the aftermath of the problems with the Iraq war, there has been much discussion within the military that senior military officers should have resigned at the time when they disagreed with the White House.

2. Vice President Cheney's peace trip: Cheney, who is seen as a leading hawk on Iran , is going on what is described as a Mideast trip to try to give a boost to stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. But he has also scheduled two other stops: One , Oman , is a key military ally and logistics hub for military operations in the Persian Gulf . It also faces Iran across the narrow, vital Strait of Hormuz, the vulnerable oil transit chokepoint into and out of the Persian Gulf that Iran has threatened to blockade in the event of war. Cheney is also going to Saudi Arabia , whose support would be sought before any military action given its ability to increase oil supplies if Iran 's oil is cut off. Back in March 2002, Cheney made a high-profile Mideast trip to Saudi Arabia and other nations that officials said at the time was about diplomacy toward Iraq and not war, which began a year later.

3. Israeli airstrike on Syria : Israel's airstrike deep in Syria last October was reported to have targeted a nuclear-related facility, but details have remained sketchy and some experts have been skeptical that Syria had a covert nuclear program. An alternative scenario floating in Israel and Lebanon is that the real purpose of the strike was to force Syria to switch on the targeting electronics for newly received Russian anti-aircraft defenses. The location of the strike is seen as on a likely flight path to Iran (also crossing the friendly Kurdish-controlled Northern Iraq), and knowing the electronic signatures of the defensive systems is necessary to reduce the risks for warplanes heading to targets in Iran .

4. Warships off Lebanon : Two U.S. warships took up positions off Lebanon earlier this month, replacing the USS Cole. The deployment was said to signal U.S. concern over the political stalemate in Lebanon and the influence of Syria in that country. But the United States also would want its warships in the eastern Mediterranean in the event of military action against Iran to keep Iranian ally Syria in check and to help provide air cover to Israel against Iranian missile reprisals. One of the newly deployed ships, the USS Ross, is an Aegis guided missile destroyer, a top system for defense against air attacks.

5. Israeli comments: Israeli President Shimon Peres said earlier this month that Israel will not consider unilateral action to stop Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. In the past, though, Israeli officials have quite consistently said they were prepared to act alone -- if that becomes necessary -- to ensure that Iran does not cross a nuclear weapons threshold. Was Peres speaking for himself, or has President Bush given the Israelis an assurance that they won't have to act alone?

6. Israel's war with Hezbollah: While this seems a bit old, Israel 's July 2006 war in Lebanon against Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces was seen at the time as a step that Israel would want to take if it anticipated a clash with Iran . The radical Shiite group is seen not only as a threat on it own but also as a possible Iranian surrogate force in the event of war with Iran . So it was important for Israel to push Hezbollah forces back from their positions on Lebanon 's border with Israel and to do enough damage to Hezbollah's Iranian-supplied arsenals to reduce its capabilities. Since then, Hezbollah has been able to rearm, though a United Nations force polices a border area buffer zone in southern Lebanon .

Talk Radio Tempest Travails

On My Faith and My Church;

The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.
Let me repeat what I've said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.
With Rev. Wright's retirement and the ascension of my new pastor, Rev. Otis Moss, III, Michelle and I look forward to continuing a relationship with a church that has done so much good. And while Rev. Wright's statements have pained and angered me, I believe that Americans will judge me not on the basis of what someone else said, but on the basis of who I am and what I believe in; on my values, judgment and experience to be President of the United States.
Obama legitimizes ethnic nationalist projection and perturbation....,

McCain's Senior Strategist Rejects Ethnic Nationalist Tactics

Once again, McCain's camp appears to cleave to the high road in contrast with the talk radio demagogues...,


Ethnic Nationalists Losing It

On the heels of affirmative action mafia daughter Geraldine Ferraro's deep Archie Bunker moments - one of the architects of Nixon's southern strategy and an avowed ethnic nationalist - loses his cool with an uppity negress.



Projective casualities continue to mount in the face of overwhelming rorschachian ambiguity....,

Thursday, March 13, 2008

McCain's Spiritual Guide

Senator John McCain hailed as a spiritual adviser an Ohio megachurch pastor who has called upon Christians to wage a "war" against the "false religion" of Islam with the aim of destroying it.

On February 26, McCain appeared at a campaign rally in Cincinnati with the Reverend Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, a supersize Pentecostal institution that features a 5,200-seat sanctuary, a television studio (where Parsley tapes a weekly show), and a 122,000-square-foot Ministry Activity Center. That day, a week before the Ohio primary, Parsley praised the Republican presidential front-runner as a "strong, true, consistent conservative." The endorsement was important for McCain, who at the time was trying to put an end to the lingering challenge from former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a favorite among Christian evangelicals. A politically influential figure in Ohio, Parsley could also play a key role in McCain's effort to win this bellwether state in the general election. McCain, with Parsley by his side at the Cincinnati rally, called the evangelical minister a "spiritual guide."



Why would McCain court Parsley? He has long had trouble figuring out how to deal with Christian fundamentalists, an important bloc for the Republican Party. During his 2000 presidential bid, he referred to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as "agents of intolerance." But six years later, as he readied himself for another White House run, McCain repudiated that remark. More recently, his campaign hit a rough patch when he accepted the endorsement of the Reverend John Hagee, a Texas televangelist who has called the Catholic Church "the great whore" and a "false cult system." After the Catholic League protested and called on McCain to renounce Hagee's support, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee praised Hagee's spiritual leadership and support of Israel and said that "when [Hagee] endorses me, it does not mean that I embrace everything that he stands for or believes in." After being further criticized for his Hagee connection, McCain backed off slightly, saying, "I repudiate any comments that are made, including Pastor Hagee's, if they are anti-Catholic or offensive to Catholics." But McCain did not renounce Hagee's endorsement.

McCain's relationship with Parsley is politically significant. In 2004, Parsley's church was credited with driving Christian fundamentalist voters to the polls for George W. Bush. With Ohio expected to again be a decisive state in the presidential contest, Parsley's World Harvest Church and an affiliated entity called Reformation Ohio, which registers voters, could be important players within this battleground state. Considering that the Ohio Republican Party has been decimated by various political scandals and that a popular Democrat, Ted Strickland, is now the state's governor, McCain and the Republicans will need all the help they can get in the Buckeye State this fall. It's a real question: Can McCain win the presidency without Parsley?

The McCain campaign did not respond to a request for comment regarding Parsley and his anti-Islam writings. Parsley did not return a call seeking comment.

"The last thing I want to be is another screaming voice moving people to extremes and provoking them to folly in the name of patriotism," Parsley writes in Silent No More. Provoking people to holy war is another matter. About that, McCain so far is silent.

Obama as America's Rorschach Test - III

The proxy war continues and escalates. Obama in the crosshairs via the proxy of his former pastor Jeremiah Wright. It's new news on ABC today and Bill O'Reilly has clamped his jaws down it far more ferociously than he did with his misguided attempt on Baraka via Michelle Obama.



Obama's pastor's sermons scrutinized
"Attention must be paid!" That line from a famous play is certainly appropriate when we talk about Barack Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, whose controversial sermons are now being listened to for the first time by the public at large. In his sermons, he rails not only against Hillary, but white America and its supposed ills. Judge for yourself if this man's influence helps or hurts Sen. Obama.

Plus, we'll have the latest on Geraldine Ferraro's critique of the Obama candidacy and her resignation from the Clinton campaign. Don't miss these two hours of the Radio Factor today.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

As Above, So Below, As Within, So Without....,

This article is available in its entirety to registered users at Technology Review. So click the link and go and register, abundant good material with an underlying dot-connecting editorial sensibility. Anyway, the discussion of neural density, dendrites, synapses, and so forth was serendipitous to me in view of the beautiful blogospheric visualizations presented in the current issue of the magazine. Here are a couple of those visualizations - look an awful lot like the bioflourescent and fMRI visualizations of cytoarchitechtonic structure in the human nervous system, don't they?

Blogosphere
The core of the blogosphere, made up of several thousand popular blogs that are heavily connected to one another, divides into two regions when seen up close. The region on the left, at the center of which are two areas showing a lot of pink, contains political blogs; the region on the right, divided from the first by the triangular indentation at the bottom, contains blogs focused on gadgets and technology. The two regions are held together by popular blogs with ties to both subject areas. The size of the ­circle representing a given blog is proportional to the number of other blogs linked to it. Hurst notes an apparent difference in culture between the two regions: pink lines, which represent reciprocal links, are much denser among the political blogs than they are among blogs focused on technology.


Twitter Social Network

People have different intentions when they share information through social networks, says Akshay Java, a member of the eBiquity Research Group at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He cites three purposes that bring users to the microblogging site Twitter, where they share brief updates via text message, instant messenger, and the Twitter website: finding information, sharing information, and having conversations. These images show the different networks produced by the different types of communication. When all connections as of April 2007 are mapped (top image below), news sources appear as huge nodes. When maps show only mutual relationships (bottom image below), in which all users both share and receive information, nodes are smaller and the network appears more tightly knit. (The different colors reflect a loose attempt to group close contacts together.)

Got No Soul....,

The energy wasted while the attention is caught in the internal wheel of perpetual associations is what could be harnessed and directed to produce the presence necessary to develop a correctly crystallized soul, a higher body of consciousness able to withstand death of the physical body. This is the problem, men forget why they are alive on this world and therefore they have no real continuous aim. A man is alive on this world to develop a correctly crystallized soul through self-remembering and transformation of experience and in that pursuit each man must focus his attention on both his inner consciousness and the external world that fate has delivered him into. As a man’s mind rolls with aimless associations he allows this pointless inner activity to draw his attention away from both the inner Self and the world around him. He falls into a dream world that is under the law of chance, where any kind of fantasy can lull him into a false satisfaction. Men do not notice this state because they are asleep, but this is where each lives the greater measure of his life, fantasizing in a state of false satisfaction.
Fragments of a Well Known Teaching - go read the whole thing, you may find it interesting.

Obama as America's Rorschach Test - II

Is Barack Hussein Obama the Antichrist?



John Hagee tell's Glenn Beck no, but the number of viral videos proliferating on youtube tend to say otherwise.



What this all says about the collective American psyche is what is most revealing and most valuable. Sock it away in your political calculus - connectomics that you can really use.

Obama as America's Rorschach Test - I

Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King stands by controversial Obama comments;



I will tell you that, if he is elected president, then the radical Islamists, the al Qaeda, the radical Islamists and their supporters, will be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11, because they will declare victory in this war on terror,” King said, as reported in The Daily Reporter in Spencer, Iowa.

King added: "Additionally, his middle name (Hussein) does matter. … It matters because they read a meaning into that in the rest of the world. That has a special meaning to them. They will be dancing in the streets because of his middle name. They will be dancing in the streets because of who his father was and because of his posture that says: Pull out of the Middle East and pull out of this conflict."

Domestic Ruling Class Warfare

Like the Kwame Kilpatrick situation, the Elliot Spitzer situation ought to be instructive to folks seeking to understand how politics actually work. THIS public humiliation is a case study in how the ruling class fight each other via proxy.

Vice setups and the like are perfect tools for derailing the continuing political viability of selected managers of public resources and public opinion. (politicians). Spitzer, like Kilpatrick, is a political brand. He as accumulated brand value and in one fell swoop, he has squandered a professional lifetime building the brand.

Most folks look at this kind of thing and just call it vice. Certainly, there is an aspect of that at play here, along with an aspect of technotragic stupidity, and plain old stankass tendencies. The fact of the matter, however, is that it goes much deeper than that.

The demise of Gov. Spitzer is an exemplary case study in the way in which rich folk use the apparatus of state as a private security service (bank/IRS/FBI) as private investigators. Folks have extremely short memories. The Privacy Act and its corollary Freedom of Information Act were initially enacted in response to allegations that the Nixon administration used the IRS as an instrument of harassment for Nixon's political adversaries. Remember all of this as we watch the continuing "political" spectacle playing itself out in the Democrat presidential primaries....,

Monday, March 10, 2008

Predicting Human Interactive Learning by Regret-Driven Neural Networks

Much of human learning in a social context has an interactive nature: What an individual learns is affected by what other individuals are learning at the same time. Games represent a widely accepted paradigm for representing interactive decision-making. We explored the potential value of neural networks for modeling and predicting human interactive learning in repeated games. We found that even very simple learning networks, driven by regret-based feedback, accurately predict observed human behavior in different experiments on 21 games with unique equilibria in mixed strategies. Introducing regret in the feedback dramatically improved the performance of the neural network. We show that regret-based models provide better predictions of learning than established economic models.

1 Interdepartmental Center for Research Training in Economics and Management (CIFREM), University of Trento, Italy.
2 Advanced School of Economics and Department of Business Economics and Management, Ca' Foscari University, Venezia, Italy.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: warglien@unive.it

Read the Full Text

Connectomics

T3 hollar'd at me this morning about neural density. This in turn provoked me to dredge up this post on neuroeconomics from the archives and do a bit of google-ing. My remarks to T3 were rather disparaging of the state of the art. As it turns out however, the dismissive remarks were right on target as this article in the current Technology Review bears out.
The diagram is the fruit of an emerging field called "connectomics," which attempts to physically map the ­tangle of neural circuits that collect, ­process, and archive information in the nervous system. Such maps could ultimately shed light on the early development of the human brain and on diseases that may be linked to faulty wiring, such as autism and schizophrenia. "The brain is ­essentially a computer that wires itself up during development and can rewire itself," says ­Sebastian Seung, a computational neuroscientist at MIT, who is working with Lichtman. "If we have a wiring diagram of the brain, that could help us understand how it works."

Although researchers have been studying neural connectivity for decades, existing tools don't offer the resolution needed to reveal how the brain works. In particular, scientists haven't been able to generate a detailed picture of the hundreds of millions of neurons in the brain, or of the connections between them.
Not exactly the product of crack smoking, but a little on the "crackish" side, just the same...., The pictures are pretty and the underlying techniques are interesting and in sync with some prior articles on bio-fluorescence.

Friday, March 07, 2008

The Great Game in the Second World

A Game Where Resources Dwindle and Partners Shift

In the 21st century the empires strike back. The United States, the European Union and China dare not call themselves imperial powers, Parag Khanna argues in “The Second World,” his sweeping, often audacious survey of contemporary geopolitics, but they are busy reshaping the globe to suit their interests. The game is afoot, with the natural resources and potential wealth of countries like Ukraine, Turkey and Brazil as the prize.

Mr. Khanna is the director of the Global Governance Initiative at the New America Foundation, a public policy institute. He strides the world in seven-league boots, armed with a powerful thesis: in the postcolonial, post-cold-war era, three superpowers have emerged with a ravenous appetite for energy and natural resources. Restlessly, they look to the second-tier economies of Latin America, the former Soviet bloc, the Middle East and Asia for partners or patsies. This argument was laid out recently in The New York Times Magazine in an excerpt it published from the book.

No shots will be fired. Instead the three imperial rivals will woo and coerce, relying on distinct styles. The United States offers military protection, along with the promise of democracy and human rights. The European Union dangles the prospect of membership in, or affiliation with, the world’s most successful economic club, provided that applicants undertake specific reforms. China talks trade, investment and infrastructure projects, with no annoying demands for political reform in its would-be client states.

“To a large extent, the future of the second world hinges on how it relates to the three superpowers,” Mr. Khanna writes, “and the future of the superpowers depends on how they manage the second world.”

Global Governance Challenges

Temple3 continues his analysis of global governance challenges and the bare-knuckles quest for power within the empire;

more than oil…concessions, access, other resources, the whole nine yards. Oil is just a part.

The complete calculus includes “go along to get along” votes in international organizations, support for NGOs, permission to establish military bases and much more. It’s a big deal - and while this pattern clearly did not start with Slick Willie, he seems to be about the only one masquerading as a “Black President.”

He's dot connecting a quest to politically control many of the resources required to exercise a new model of global governance. This subject is foundational to the mission of this blog. Last October I recommended the following RAND study to your attention;

This report summarizes the issues that arose and the discussions held during the meetings of a 1998-1999 study group focusing on global governance of information technology and biotechnology. The goal was to bring a policy perspective to bear on a discussion of new technological developments through a series of free-flowing and exploratory presentations and discussions.
Download it and read it in its entirety when you get a chance...,

The governance challenge of the 21st century is no longer democratic control over centralized systems, as it was in the 20th century, but governance over decentralized, distributed systems. The features that make these technologies different from and their potential benefits greater than those of other technologies increase their potential for abuse.[...]The mechanisms societies use to control, direct, shape, or regulate certain kinds of activities is what we mean by governance. Governance is almost always conducted by governmental bodies, although it can be carried out in other ways. Yet, the practical obstacles to governance of these new technologies are tremendous. Success in governing them requires the cooperation o stakeholders, states, nongovernmental organizations(NGOs), interest organizations, and the average citizen. Within any decision making process, commercial, defense, social, and individual interests will intermingle and a consensus among many players may be integral to any workable outcome.[...]Two recent shifts in attitudes strongly influence the issue of governance within technological arenas. The first shift is the decline of conventional top-down governance models and an emphasis on applying privatization, deregulation, downsizing of bureaucracy, and private, market-based solutions to many social problems.

Stakes are very, very high - and T3 has thickened the plot in a way with which I can vibe without any further reservations. As he said; My people suffer from a woeful lack of knowledge....,

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Gaza Bombshell

The April issue of Vanity Fair reports that it has "obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the US and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams to provoke a Palestinian civil war."

The magazine adds that the plan "was for forces led by Dahlan, and armed with new weapons supplied at America's behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically-elected Hamas-led government from power."

A great irony here is that Israel originally (covertly) helped Hamas when it was first founded in the late 80's, on the grounds that a religious extremist movement would help undermine the PLO. (sounds vaguely familiar...,) - it is ironic that the Israeli leadership [and, we can add, the US leadership as well] is now supporting the PLO in the hope of undermining Hamas.

Both policies - Israel's initial support for Hamas and this latest US effort to undermine it - have been disastrous as far as Israeli security is concerned. The article in Vanity Fair concludes:
"It is impossible to say for sure whether the outcome in Gaza would have been any better-for the Palestinian people, for the Israelis, and for America's allies in Fatah-if the Bush administration had pursued a different policy. One thing, however, seems certain: it could not be any worse."
The more things "change" - the more they just seem to stay the same....,

What You Gonna Do? (when they come for you...,)

What will the effects on American social order be when society is even more seriously buffeted by economic collapse? A best case scenario would be similar to the Great Depression (1929-39), when neighbors tended to band together and help one another. A worst case scenario will be one in which stealing, killing, and violent criminal gangs increase and become the more prevalent order of the day.

The two scenarios seem so contradictory that they seem nearly mutually exclusive. Both highly contradictory scenarios will, however, occur and the main question is what must you do now in order to facilitate the former rather than the latter? What must you do in order to choose? Let's refer to the two scenarios respectively as (A) Co-operation and (B) Competition.

Choosing examples of the two modes, what social and historical patterns reveal themselves as important to facilitating one or the other way of life? Do any patterns begin to reveal themselves?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

South America on the Brink of War

Venezuela's military currently has about 100,000 regular troops and a growing force of reservists that now totals 280,000. Colombia's U.S.-backed military has 255,000 regular troops and 62,000 reservists, according to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Radical Simplification?

5.5 Billion too many humans is one of the foundational premises of the world problematique as originally formulated and as analytically refined by a subsequent handful of good faith futurist thinkers. Bear in mind that extensive old-school operations analysis and serious infrastructural investment in old-school solutions delivery capability is a fact of life.

I posted Orlov's Five Stages of Collapse as part of my continuing information sharing agenda, and, as a rhetorical counter to the false optimism and relentless apologetics for unsustainability by so-called conservative commentators. I'm going to go out on a limb this morning - and pose an interrogatory challenge to my most respected blogging associate Temple3 and any and all commentators tracking on the subject matter we're both following and around which he's formulating a dot connecting explanatory thesis.

T3, what if what you're about to describe is indeed the case? Knowing the absolute seriousness with which cultural hegemony is sought (a deep tenet of - what it do - because the monoculture has shown its true nature for the better part of a century) is the path to minimal-regret you're outlining a "worst case" scenario, or, a hard choice on a hard road scenario?
The word “collapse” implies for most people something highly negative. No doubt it is important to be sober about the level of shock and suffering that will be entailed in this process. But it is also important, in order to be able to imagine any light at the end of the tunnel, to play with other language that could also describe the process we find ourselves in. For example, it feels very different to say: “We are on the brink of the radical simplification of human society on the planet.”[...]

The word collapse calls up images of horror. And that’s not inappropriate. But images of collapse inspire no visions of ultimate benefit. On the other hand the term radical simplification could sound a different chime for people exhausted from the current wage slave system, where the many work ever harder to stuff the ever more soft and opulent feather beds of the few elite. Radical simplification of life, if people would slow down enough to contemplate it, could actually feel like a breath of non-polluted air. Too many people, most people I would venture to say, and even those with currently stable incomes, are incredibly lonely. They sit in quiet despair in front of their television sets or walk the malls with iPods stopping their ears, or drink beers and soullessly cheer at yet another sporting event, forever in frantic search of more distraction. For most, collapse will be, alternatively, either a shock or, if it proceeds slowly, just a heightened erosion of already degraded and meaningless lives. The coming transition will not be pretty for the bewildered herd. But for visionaries and cultural creatives collapse, or radical simplification, likely calls up what may seem to be paradoxical feelings of relief and even empowerment. I’ve heard more than one friend recently exclaim, “Bring it on. I’m sick of this shit.”
What provoked this morning's question? I came across a lengthy though somewhat new-agey and hand-wavy response to Orlov's Five Stages of Collapse article called Orlov and the Wonderful, Terrible, Radical Simplification, and, I fell asleep on Roberto Rodriquez' Planet Terror last night....,

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Engineering Life to Convert CO2 to Fuel

A scientist who mapped his genome and the genetic diversity of the oceans said Thursday he is creating a life form that feeds on climate-ruining carbon dioxide to produce fuel.

Geneticist Craig Venter disclosed his potentially world-changing "fourth-generation fuel" project at an elite Technology, Entertainment and Design conference in Monterey, California.

"We have modest goals of replacing the whole petrochemical industry and becoming a major source of energy," Venter told an audience that included global warming fighter Al Gore and Google co-founder Larry Page.

"We think we will have fourth-generation fuels in about 18 months, with CO2 as the fuel stock."

Simple organisms can be genetically re-engineered to produce vaccines or octane-based fuels as waste, according to Venter.

Biofuel alternatives to oil are third-generation. The next step is life forms that feed on CO2 and give off fuel such as methane gas as waste, according to Venter.

"We have 20 million genes which I call the design components of the future," Venter said. "We are limited here only by our imagination."

His team is using synthetic chromosomes to modify organisms that already exist, not making new life, he said. Organisms already exist that produce octane, but not in amounts needed to be a fuel supply.

"If they could produce things on the scale we need, this would be a methane planet," Venter said. "The scale is what is critical; which is why we need to genetically design them."

The genetics of octane-producing organisms can be tinkered with to increase the amount of CO2 they eat and octane they excrete, according to Venter.

The limiting part of the equation isn't designing an organism, it's the difficulty of extracting high concentrations of CO2 from the air to feed the organisms, the scientist said in answer to a question from Page.

Scientists put "suicide genes" into their living creations so that if they escape the lab, they can be triggered to kill themselves.

Venter said he is also working on organisms that make vaccines for the flu and other illnesses.

"We will see an exponential change in the pace of the sophistication of organisms and what they can do," Venter said.

"We are a ways away from designing people. Our goal is just to make sure they survive long enough to do that." — AFP

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Part III of Bill's Long Con - T3 Continues

Week before last, I had the privilege of linking T3's first installment of a deep mapping series on the longterm designs of very powerful elements within the TEP. After having read the current installment a few times - with the interim backstory linked over at his site - I believe I understand where he's going with this. Needless to say, I'm very much enjoying the unfolding of the data as he lays it out and draws our attention to various and sundry connections, and look forward to the big picture he promises to disclose.

"invasion of sovereign bodies" is a strikingly liminal allusion that is deeply sympatico with the subrealist approach. While it's clear that T3 is addressing himself to the who, what, when, and where of the thing, I'm equally if not more taken with the "what it do" aspects of his treatment. In a nutshell;
The emergence of biological and chemical research and experimentation which objectified Black and other bodies was part of a broader cultural framework. The value system of the scientists was consistent with broader societal beliefs and was framed within a pseudo-humanitarian “box” which condoned the invasion of the sovereign body in the same way that the notion of “civilization” and “democracy” and “capitalism” condoned the invasion of sovereign lands.[...]

The invasion of sovereign lands has always been a complicated endeavor for Europeans. The spectre of disease has always loomed large. Eradication, then, has been critical to support the managerial requirements of appropriating wealth from “hostile environments.” In most instances, stating that objective has been too bold for public consumption. Instead, Western philanthropists have emphasized the long-term needs of children versus the short-term needs of adults in their approaches to humanitarian aid. For children, the priorities are education (solution: build schools), healthcare (solution: provide vaccines), and security (solution: subsidize persons or groups promising democracy or at least access to markets and natural resources). For adults, the issues are a bit different - and adults are not the focal point of these efforts - except as it relates to testing. [...]

Resolving the critical needs of African adults - the care takers of African children - requires different solutions. For all the millions spent to cure the fourth leading cause of death, thousands of African communities continue to suffer from the THREE LEADING CAUSES of DEATH for lack of a 21st century WATER and SANITATION system.

Do these folks actually want to keep the baby, and throw out the parents with the bathwater?

Having been condemned for letting folks off the hook for their historical and continuing behaviors, (not like I or anyone else is likely to be able to hold major actors accountable anytime soon - if ever), I remain principally fascinated with coherent and falsifiable descriptions of what's happening that can be put to work to increase collective awareness of the same.