Life on the conference trail, future shock, and rule of law.

For man years I'd always looked somewhat askance at Terrence McKenna's talks about the year 2012, his hypothesis of time having a fractal nature, and Everything Changing in the year 2012 of the common era. That I've taken for myself the name of a certain British science fiction hero (and have a certain interest in Time) aside, it never seemed, well, plausible, to put not too fine a point on it. I even went so far as to ruminate about it a couple of years back to get it out of my system. Then, earlier this year I conceeded …

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DC cracks down on silent dancing.

If you've never heard of a flashmob before, it's when word gets out somehow for everyone who finds out about it to gather at a particular place and time, count down from five, and then do something weird. There have been flashmobs where everyone opened an umbrella for precisely 23 seconds, made chicken noises, turned their shirts inside out, had a pillow fight, and even briefly created a supercomputer. About five years ago, there was even a silent disco held in the stations of London's subway system and 1,000 people gathered for a flash rave in Union Square in …

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Could getting a US passport get much more difficult in the near future?

Note: All links anonymized due to the possibility that Someone might subpoena web server logs.

Earlier today during my morning news crawl (Twitter has pretty much supplanted everything I used before due to how fast word travels on that service, even Google News) I ran across something that made me shiver while considering the implications: the US Department of State is considering implementing new paperwork that United States citizens would have to fill out to apply for a passport which includes a biographical questionnaire that asks some pretty outlandish things which are analyzed in depth here. The proposed form, called …

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Trauma overload.

I think it's pretty safe to say that a lot of us are glad that the year 2010 of the common era is over, done with, and a candidate for erasure from the Time Vortex if it starts getting uppity again. Sure, it had its ups and downs for all of us - they always do - but last year was a particularly bad one on a large scale. There was the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that's destroyed a entire ecosystem, perhaps permanantly. Last January was the earthquake that devastated the island of Haiti, resulting in the …

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More on the TSA's power trip.

Note: I started working on this article the day after the first one went up. Since that time, I've been keeping an eye on things while on vacation in Pennsylvania and collecting another queue of a few dozen links to sort through. I've also had a couple of disressing conversations with people which went something like this: "The TSA is there to keep us safe when traveling. It's worth being imaged nude to stay safe. It's worth being skin searched to stay safe. No, the TSA would never hire screeners who abuse their power. No screeners are abusing their power …

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The TSA is listening to the people, all right...

I was originally going to fold this into my follow-up post on the TSA's "get imaged by a pornoscanner or get felt up by a screener" policy but I think this deserves to be brought up by itself, lest it get lost in the noise.

The US TSA is most certainly listening to everyone pushing for them to stop degrading people and do something which actually increases security. They are paying attention. And they have decided to say that everyone kicking up a fuss is a threat. The high points of an internal TSA document were sent anonymously to a …

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The people said "No more!" and the TSA said "Shut your pie holes!"

First, I'd like to give special thanks to I/Oerror who's been keeping a hawk's eye on this. I found a couple of the articles for this post on his Twitter feed during my daily news crawl. I wish I had the time to dedicate to scanning feeds constantly for stuff like this.

I haven't been posting about this for two reasons: first, because hearing that stuff like this is going on within the United States of America to decent people who haven't done anything upsets me greatly. There is simply no reason to mistreat people like this, all it …

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TSA archives full-body scans at airports.

A couple of years back the Transportation Security Agency started deploying full body scanners at some airports around the country which use millimeter wave radar to scan travelers and show them as if they were nude (note: actual image, NSFW) to ensure that they weren't concealing anything under their clothes. Nevermind the fact that they utterly failed in the practicals, but never let it be said that a little thing like "it doesn't do what we want it to" stops a government project. Needless to say this has many people upset and has even resulted in no small amount of …

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Platform independence.

The only thing that Java coders spend more time on than the user interface is the code in the installer that detects which variant of the JRE you're running and errors out because there are three extra characters in the canonical name of the JRE binary? Wasn't the whole point of Java to have a language that could be implemented everywhere and execute in any runtime environment that adhered to the spec?