There's still hope — robots fail in the desert

Ever since watching the opening sequence of the first Terminator movie in 1984, in which autonomous battlebots relentlessly and remorselessly hunt down a pesky band of cockroach-like humans who refuse to be eradicated from what’s left of the Earth, the mad scientists at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration have been racing to beat the movie’s date of 2029 for the ultimate man-machine showdown.

Perpaps starting to panic a little–with only 24 years to go, no credible unstoppable AI-driven land-based deathmachines on the horizon and a whole world to destroy–the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) challenged itself to “think outside the box(sm)” and so opened up the competitionto universities, entrepeneurs and even people who have no known connection to Haliblurton, Lockheed or Raytheon.

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Legislative Wrangling Over Word Definitions

Yesterday (March 11th), the Massachusetts legislature approved a proposed amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage, and instead establishing “civil unions” for same-sex couples. In this heated debate, I think neither side has noticed the the arguments over the sanctity of marriage vs. the civil rights of gays and lesbians has suddenly become a movement to amend the country’s oldest constitution to legislate the definition of a word.

As a professional writer, despite all the heated debate and the heartfelt views on both sides, I have to say I find this almost amusing…

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Tales of the Sausage Factory: Some Indecent Collateral Damage?

UPDATE: A somewhat clearer explanation of Ms. Lo’s commentary and what happened is now available from Time Magazine online here. As a result, I’ve modified my comments a bit.

Radio Commentator Sandra Tsing Lo got fired from her public radio spot for using a swear word in a pre-recorded piece that went unedited onto the air. You can hear her commentary on her experience and suddenly finding herself in solidarity whith Howard Stern here. My commentary below.

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Sausage Factory: a partial index to date

Here’s a nearly complete list of Harold Feld’s “Tales of the Sausage Factory” articles here on Wetmachine. Real Soon Now I’m going to get organized and use the blog software to keep track of this stuff so I don’t have to manualy copy and paste to generate lists like this. . .

On the Nader copyright case

Justin/Janet part 2

Justin/Janet part 1

The ICANN Train Wreck

Unlicensed Spectrum Access

Why Disney/Comcast Merger Sucks Rocks


CBS Caves Again for Bush

Yet more on Fileswapping

Fileswapping — whither to in ’04

ABA article:“More than a Toaster with Pictures”

On making the Wall Street Journal’s Shit List

Golden Globes, Former Presidents, Media Ownership”

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Tales of the Sausage Factory: A Good Copyright Decision . . . Priceless

As some of you may recall, in 2000, Ralph Nader ran an ad as part of his Green Party candidacy for President satirizing the Mastercard ads. Mastercard sued for trademark and copyright infringement.

As one can see, the wheels of justice grind rather slowly. But occassionaly they come out right. A good decision on copyright and trademark . . . which proves a point I’ve long been saying on the impact of footnote 14 of _Accuff Rose_ on copyright analysis (how’s that for lawyer geek speak!) A copy of the decision is here. A bit of analysis below.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory: Indecent bandwagon rolls on

Well the House and Senate have been busy little, ahem, beavers on the indecency front. The surprise is the provisions on media ownership. Will they survive a House vote over the opposition of the Republican leadership? Will Bush veto indecency regulation to save his buddies in big media? Stay tuned to Survivor: Washington.

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Bush wants only friendly scientific opinions, example N+1

From my corner of “Tales from the Sausage Factory”: There’s been a lot of buzz in scientific circles about the Bush administration politicizing scientific policy. The recent issue of Nature reports that Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, an eminent molecular biologist, is being ousted from the US president’s Council on Bioethics. Blackburn disagrees with many of the administrations positions, including stem cell research. She has publicly stated her concerns that Council reports have distorted scientific findings.

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1985 — a novel a-borning

I’ve started work on a new novel (or novella — we’ll see how lont it turns out to be. . .). It’s set in the year 1985 in a setting that seems to be some kind of hybrid of the USA, the New Kent of my “Cheap Complex Devices”, and Orwell’s 1984. Its subject, I guess, is the prison-industrial-military-entertainment complex, but I’m trying to focus (of course) more on the story than on any big themes or messages.

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Mapping metabolic networks

Once again physicists have made the great biological leap. It took physicists to design and carry out the experiments that unlocked neurophysiology. Now a group of physicists, biophysicists and a pathologist have published a flux balance analysis of all the metabolic pathways in our favorite bacteria, E. coli.

In a time when genetic and protein data are being generated at a remarkable rate, few people in biology have been able to come out of reductionism and into systemic thinking. The sheer amount of data is daunting, and excluding the biophysicists, many biologists don’t use (or need) math harder than ANOVA or a two-tailed T test.

For those interested in more of the crunchy details, the abstract from PubMed is below.

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