Systema – Pushing the limits of the possible

If you’re a big Gibson fan like I am, you’ve already read his newest book.  I always find his choice of material interesting and this time is no different, I read the book as soon as I could get my hands on it and enjoyed every second.

One of the interesting section in his book is talking about Systema – the hybrid martial-art/gymnastic/espionage practiced by a family of immigrants in the big city.  The things they are described as doing are fantastic to say the least, but we are accustomed to the fantastic in literature, particularly science fiction and fantasy literature.

William Gibson

In his blog, Gibson points us to a youtube video of a systema demonstration in real life.  Reading about it is one thing, seeing a human body actually perform like that is quite another.

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Kindle – Web 2.0 Service?

An interesting look at the idea behind the Kindle ebook reader.

Kindle ain’t no e-book reader | The Register

I must admit that while this is interesting, and definately has application for certain areas (technical books could benefit from being able to push errata out to people who had bought the book, certainlu), it is actually quite a disturbing idea.  For one, even after buying a book, you’ll never own the book.  Some would say you don’t now, but at least you could be certain that the words wouldn’t change between now and the next time you read it.  Giving Authors the power to retroactively modify what they’ve written days or even years after publication would potentially take away from culture rather than adding anything to it. 

Many fans of the original star wars understands this point.

For a literature example, take Anne Rice, author of many books regarding vampires and the supernatural, amongst other things, and now a born-again christian who has reportedly repented everything she previously wrote.  Imagine she could, from her own free will or coercian, go back and change, or even delete, books that her fans previously bought because she no longer approved of them.  Imagine if someone opens up an early Anne Rice, ready for a familar tale of vampiric despair and instead finds an uplifting chrstian moral story.

Thats pretty close to a horror story for some of Anne’s original fans.

We seem to be grasping for the new in this ‘Web 2.0’ connected world, and this is good. It will hopefully lead to some wonderful advancements – I know Facebook has put me back in touch with a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a decade or more.  Whether or not thats a good thing remains to be seen of course.

We need to understand however that just because we can do a thing, doesn’t mean we should.  Some things are -not- made better by newer and newer technology, regardless of what we technophiles might sometimes think

The idea of collaboration on a mobile device is particularly amusing.  Thumbtouch keyboards are fine for short messages and even paragraphs, but you do not write entire novels, or even reasonable length stories on a thumb touch keyboard.  I have been a writer, and always a tech, but never will I ever wish to write on a mobile device without something approaching a proper keyboard.  I’ve seen some laser projection ones that look interesting, but nothing less.  We already have a great medium for collaborative fiction – It’s called the Internet.  Sites about where people are doing it, big business simply doesnt realise because it doesn’t make them money.

One last thing that no-one seems to have mentioned, perhaps its no big issue to the Americans but it would certainly lower adoption rates here.  Rather than wi-fi, the device uses 3G like a mobile phone.  One would assume it requires a mobile contract then to be used.  So Amazon’s idea for lowering the price of books is to deliver inline advertisements updated daily… and for us to pay the connection fee to be bombarded with these ads as well? We pay for the privilage?

This is a bad idea hopefully going no-where.  Bring on the next try, in the meantime i’ll stick to my PDA.  It can read just about any format of ebook without having to worry about authors changing their minds -and- it has wireless.  And bluetooth.

The future is now, if you want it.

Android already making waves

This is a particularly interesting look at the effects of Android’s implementation strategy.

When is Java not Java? | The Register

If you’re a developer and you havn’t been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Android by now.  The multi-million dollar prizes being offered for early development successes is a strong motivation for people that may have otherwise been apathetic, or even resistant to yet another application framework, to get involved and try out the shiny new libraries.

I would be lying if I said I too wasn’t tempted.

But now the eyes will be on Sun.  If they decide to go to court over this bypassing of the licence agreements, it will bad for their hard-won open-source friendly reputation, which means they will likely only do so if they are really frightened by Androids potential.

Markets can move on the strength of one response.  I’m sure lots of people with a stake in the mobile market are waiting to see what Sun thinks (or wants us to think it thinks, anyway.)

Sex Offenders

This irritates me to no end.

Digg – State wants special car plates for sex offenders

Let us have a little thought experiment here.  We’re going to assume that Law and Order, Crime and Punishment is about protection.  We have laws to protect our citizens from each other, and outsiders.  Laws like, don’t kill each other.

Now assuming thats true, you can view prison time in one of two ways.  Either, you believe in rehabilitation and think that after some time in jail he’ll come out a new man/woman/toaster, or you don’t, and believe that prison is good for keeping dangerous people away from the rest of us.

If you believe in rehabilitation, then you believe that when they come out, they are rehabilitated.  They’re better.  Not going to do it again.  In which case, there is no reason for sex offender roll’s, fluro green license plates, or marks of Cain tattooed on their foreheads.

You only need those things if you believe theres a chance they’ll reoffend.  And if you believe that they might reoffend, then you believe they might not really be rehabilitated.  In other words, it’s all a load of crap, they may or may not be as dangerous as they were when they went in, but hey, lets roll the dice and see who gets hurt next time.

If you dont believe in rehabilitation, then you need to realise that they are just as dangerous when they come out, as when they went in.  In other words, DONT LET THEM OUT. 

If we’re going to spend the rest of their lives making them miserable for what they did, then why not leave them in jail and not pretend like they have some hope of a normal life.

The same goes for people who believe crime and punishment is like a transaction. You committed crime x, you owe y years in jail.  If this is the case, they’ve paid their due and deserve to be left alone.

I’m not standing up for sex offenders.  The idea of violence against women is abhorrent to me, and even more so the idea of people taking advantage of children.  I don’t think these people should ever be let out.  But if we are going to let them out we need to be consistent.

All these excess measures really mean that we don’t trust them not to reoffend.  To rape again, abuse again or molest again.  If we honestly think they will, then we should keep them away from people they might hurt, not try and “shame” them out of it.

Hell, they’re probably already ashamed of themselves.  Those that aren’t probably aren’t going to care that you think they should be. They’ll just get angry, bitter, and violent.

This is even more important in a world where the government is charging fifteen year olds with molestation for fooling around with their same-age partners.  A charge like that sticks for life, and no-one ever asks to find out what the circumstances were.

Virtual Burglary?

This is interesting

Dutch teen swipes furniture from virtual hotel | The Register

What is particularly interesting about it is that they aren’t just charging him with hacking, but with burglary as well, even though the items stolen were completely virtual, as was the hotel he ‘burgled’.

I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  I suppose in a way it’s the same as being charged with “Breaking and entering” and “Burglary”.

Wonder if it’ll stick?