Orwell’s dead. Get over it.


1984It’s gotten to be a bad joke, recently re-highlighted by the “discovery” that some of the new Samsung Smart TVs have cameras and microphones that could detect the goings-on in front of them (to allow better control of the TV): When people saw the “terms and conditions” warning that any criminal or terrorist-related visuals or words picked up by the TV could potentially be forwarded to the authorities, the web-verse immediately invoked George Orwell, and decried that “1984 was here.”

And as it happened, the spirit of George Orwell reared up out of his grave and said: “Oh, shut up and let me get some sleep already!” Continue reading

Logocracy: The next logical step in government


supercomputerThere was an interesting discussion on IO9, inspired by a post that sought to define a technocrat.  The discussion, begun by me, was in response to the notion that technocrats could create a “technocracy,” a technocrat-run government:

Though technocracy may not be capable of wholesale operation of an entire country—and I’m not so sure it would be much worse than the systems that operate today—it should at the very least be more of a part of existing political systems, more heavily factoring into some decisions. I’d go so far as to suggest it take an equal place in American government, placed beside the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches. (And maybe outright replace the Legislative branch.)

Continue reading

A Worldview via balloon


World View capsule and balloonWorld View Enterprises, a Tucson, Arizona start-up, has gotten FAA approval for a revolutionary experience, riding 19 miles into the stratosphere and getting a spectacular view of the planet… by balloon.

Which may not sound like much to most jaded humans, until you remember that a commercial airliner generally flies no more than one mile high.   Mount Everest, the highest point on the planet, is about 5.5 miles high.  You’re still in atmosphere, and it’s not quite considered orbit (officially designated as being 100 km or 62 miles high)… but for the view, I’d say it’s frackin’ close enough. Continue reading

PRISM and public overreaction


NSA sealThe news of the past week has been filled with the revelation by an ex-CIA employee of the project called PRISM, in which the government has unfettered access to Americans’ phone calls, emails, Facebook messages, etc, in order to catch threats to national security.

As I suggested in a previous post, Americans have short memories.  Even this close to the Boston Marathon bombing, after which we were treated to the sight of the Tsarnevs killed or captured by police and federal authorities, to the standing ovations of Boston citizens… those same citizens now cry “Big Brother!” and cite privacy issues in our government’s monitoring our communications. Continue reading

Worldfarm One and the End of the American Century


cover of Worldfarm OneWhen I originally wrote Worldfarm One—the story of a man from the United States who travels to Brazil to work, and learns the hard way how hard immigration can be—I expected there to be comments about the characters, about the sexuality and sex-role-reversals, the casting-couch business practices, the feed-the-world model, the prejudice, even my descriptions of Manaus and the surrounding Amazonian regions in the book.

I was surprised, therefore, to discover the greatest number of comments generated by the book were about the idea that the United States would, in the future, lose its status of “greatest nation of the world,” and because of economic hardships, American citizens would be forced to immigrate to other countries with greater opportunities to make a living. Continue reading