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Have you ever wondered what is going to happen within the next twenty to fifty years given the current exponential progress that science is following? Well, according to his relatively new book Radical Evolution, Joel Garreau believes that just about anything and everything science fiction has dreamed of in its most gooey fantasies, will not only occur, but will literally turn certain humans into a new species of animal. In this case, truth will be stranger than we can possibly imagine.

The book is divided into three main scenarios ranging from a veritable Utopian wonderland to a nightmare that would make even H. R. Giger run screaming home to his mommy; and, of course, there is a postulate of something in between.

Now before you start to say that perhaps the man has spent too much time reading the works of Philip K. Dick and is projecting his imagination into reality, I can only say that some of the stuff is already underway. Secret government research labs like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA are currently at work making super-human exoskeletons that accomplish everything Marvel Comic’s X-Men or better yet Iron Man could possibly devise. They hold annual contests for scientists to come up with the most wacky inventions and award prizes to those that actually work. This is just the stuff that is made public, imagine what they will not tell us about.

Drawing from interviews of such imminent inventors as Ray Kurzweil, and Bill Joy founder of Sun Microsystems, Garreau has written an intense book. The many pages of notes and sources in the bibliography are a testament to the fact that the man has done his homework. It  is quite enjoyably readable and just about any literate person can pick it up and dive right in. The tone even at some parts takes on an adventure-esque quality as he battles bizarre circumstances to gather the interviews from the reclusive geniuses such as the above-mentioned Bill Joy.

Speaking of Mr. Joy (no I did not make this up, the man actually goes by Bill Joy), it is from him that the darker scenarios of the future derive. I don’t want to give too much away but in the section, which focuses on him called “The Hell Scenario” there is a particularly amusing possibility put forth. Amusing that is if you found the last zombie movie to be a little too easy on the humans.

We have all heard of nanobots and the benefits that they could bring everything from medicine to window cleaner. Well there is an incredibly terrible possibility that once we turn the first one on it will make another of itself and continue to do so until it takes every last molecule on the planet and turns it into another nanobot. In other words we could easily lose control of something the size of an individual molecule that cannot be seen by the naked eye and in this case, the end of the world and all life as we know it will simply be reassembled into a giant cloud of microscopic robots. . . click . . . poof.

This actually has a name called the “Gray Goo Scenario” and is a topic of discussion in certain circles.  I don’t know about you but I can’t help but smile inwardly at that possibility. Perhaps that is why Garreau has called the four horsemen of this apocalypse the GRIN theories. This acronym stands for Genetics, Robotics, Information and Nanotechnology. It is these fields, which if they continue to advance as they are, and in fact increasingly advance as the bell curve of progress shows, will approach a moment called the “singularity”. This singularity is the moment when all bets are off and we had better hold on tight.

Now this book is not just written in order to alarm you as there is a section called “The Heaven Scenario” as well where hunger, disease, and quite possibly even death itself is eliminated from the human condition. This all is going to happen no matter what we think about it now if things continue the way they are going according to Garreau. It is going to happen within many of our lifetimes some things even within the next two decades. Ask yourself what someone would have said if you told them fifty years ago that everyone on the planet will be able to instantly communicate with every one else with a device no larger than a credit card. Can you say, ‘Beam me up Scottie’? I knew you could.

First Published — October 18, 2006

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Interpret This…

Posted: July 23, 2010 in Past Articles

Habeas Corpus 1670 – 2006 Rest In Pieces. Well, it’s now official, we are screwed. I’m not sure if you noticed with all the hype over senator sex and Korean brand nukes last week, but in the fine print of most news reports just below the articles about Harry Potter’s demise, and the details over the new Playstation 3, there was a small blurb about a little piece of legislation that was passed into law on the morning of October 17th. The Military Commissions Act of 2006, even George Bush agrees, is perhaps the most important law he has enacted in his six years as president. It effectively brings us teetering on the brink of martial law.

Before I continue, I will list some of the provisions this act allows in no particular order:

1) The ‘Writ of Habeas Corpus’ has been permanently annulled for all non-citizens and it retroactively applies to the detainees of Gitmo and any other secret prisons.

2) It prohibits detainees from demanding the protection of the Geneva Convention and effectively usurps the convention’s international laws. It gives the chief executive the sole power to interpret this convention’s laws as he sees fit.

3) The president shall be allowed to interpret the definition of torture and make its use legal for any US organization. It retroactively makes those who have authorized its use immune to prosecution. It allows evidence attained through torture, hearsay evidence and coerced testimony to be used against the accused in a trial and denies the accused access to this evidence in order to prepare a defense. In addition, it limits the rights of a detainee to attain council of his or her choosing.

4) The president may convene military commissions in order to prosecute ‘unlawful enemy combatants’ and allows broad definitions of said ‘combatants’ for the chief executive for whomever and for whatever reason he chooses. Citizens so-designated will not have the right to a civilian court of law in place of these commissions. These commissions will have the power to impose death sentences and can be conducted in secrecy.

5) It allows the indefinite detention of said ‘combatants’ without the right to a speedy trial. These detentions may also be conducted in secret.

Now I don’t know about you but I for one cannot imagine what this will allow our “fearful” leader to be capable of for the next two years. God willing that is only as long as he’s in power. If someone who is secretly declared an “enemy combatant” was innocent, we will never know of it because they will be whisked away, held indefinitely, and perhaps even murdered without anyone the wiser. Furthermore, those innocent prisoners of Gitmo (which there are lots of according to many) will never have any hope of proving themselves so. This sounds extremely familiar to me and in an effort to avoid Godwin’s Law let us just say extremely, militaristic.

What really blows me away is that the rhetoric spewed forth by Chaney and Bush continually states that the War on Terror is for the protection and spread of freedom while at the same time they push Congress to enact laws which take those freedoms away. Perhaps we have forgotten the entire purpose of this ‘grand experiment’ called democracy was to avoid this exact type of tyranny. Many of the original settlers and indeed current immigrants to this nation came here to avoid secret prisons, false arrests, and government sanctioned murder, all because they were deemed ‘enemies of the state’ by their respective tyrannies.

Now perhaps it might be a good idea to flee the U.S. for fear that someone might be knocking down your door if you piss the wrong person off. Canada is looking better all the time. I’ll take the cold of winter over cold hard cell bars any day. However, if I renounce my citizenship I am even worse off than I was before. Pardon the expression but WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN THIS COUNTRY!!!

Normally I couldn’t care less about what the military and Washington want to do with their time, I transplanted to California to get as far away from them as possible, but seriously are we all in danger of being kidnapped and murdered?!? The author of the Declaration of Independence, a person I truly admire who may in fact be declared an ‘unlawful enemy combatant’ under these new laws, I quote now with extreme caution,

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness [. . . ] when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is [the people’s] right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Jefferson then lists a long line of abuses that the king of England has enacted upon the colonies I am not going to list them all here but I suggest you Google the Declaration of Independence and read them yourself. How many of them ring familiar to you? I certainly am not abating revolt (you hear that out there I love America) but i am asking for the possible impeachment of a poor leader and a tyrant which is perfectly legal under our current laws, at least last time I checked. If our only hope of avoiding secret prisons is making sure that we don’t be declared the ‘enemy’ and if the definition of that term is made subject to executive discretion than how do we voice any dissent without fear of government reprisal. If no one knows of that reprisal what will stop them from whisking away anyone they want.

Finally, above all, I hope that we are not attacked again. Not just for the obvious reasons of loss of life and terrible tragedy, but now for fear of what my own government will do in order to ‘protect’ me. If this is how I am protected I would like a second opinion. The leader of Pakistan stated that the Iraq War has made us less safe than we were prior to 9/11 and generally speaking save for the few Bush fanatics out there (and I say that because in order to continue supporting this guy you got to be nuts) nobody thinks we are winning this war on terror. Moreover, I am truly more terrified of what my own government is going to do next than I am with a bunch of pissed off Muslims living in caves.

Hold on there is someone knocking on my door . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

First Printed –October 20, 2006

Reports are still sketchy and investigations are underway but one thing is clear since last summer the North American bee population has decreased by 40, 60, and even as much as 70 percent in some areas. Hundreds of millions of bees disappeared and/or died over the winter. Honey farms across the county are reporting thousands of hives decimated and not one person, farmer or scientist, can conclusively explain why.

Theories are flying and speculations range from cell phone signals messing with the bees communications to each other, to a bee version of a pandemic such as Aids. Even abusive handling, antibiotics, or pesticides could be forcing them to lose their natural defenses. No matter the cause the result is unmistakable.

For most, the problem isn’t what are we gonna do to help the bees, but rather, who is going to pollinate the millions of acres of agriculture this summer now that the bee population is MIA?

Unfortunately the news of the population’s collapse came a little too late for California’s most lucrative crop the almond groves. Farmers are reporting a record decline in growth of the almond trees this year and attribute this decline to the lack of free labor provided by the worker bees. In addition the fruit farms such as oranges and apples are also showing serious signs of demise. Florida’s orange farmers are clamoring.

This of course is not to mention that if you like a little honey in your tea you might have to pony up some dough this year to get it as the honey farmers are losing almost everything.

Bees are an active species in the overall ecosystem and they travel long distances as different flowers bloom to offer them their much coveted nectar to produce their honey. Commercial farmers increase this migration by packing the hives in trucks and moving them about the country to fertilize the various crops as the seasons change. As this man made migration travels, bees perform the necessary function of fertilizing nearly all the crops in the United States. If the plants aren’t fertilized then they cannot produce the various seed products that humans and many other animals consume. It is estimated as much as 90% of America’s crops will be affected this summer by this lack of free migrant labor.

Autopsies are underway to determine the cause of what scientists are dubbing “Colony Collapse Disaster” and preliminary reports are grim to say the least. Those remaining bees studied are showing indications that they are riddled with viruses and diseases. One particularly being the Aspergillus virus affecting them only because the honeybees’ immune systems are nearly completely broken down. In addition the worker bees are not returning to their hives and the living ones seem lost and wander around as if they’re unable to maintain any sense of direction or communication.

This is not the first time that bee populations have taken serious hits to their numbers but it most certainly is the most severe in the 200 hundred years that records have been kept. It is such an issue that a hearing has even made its way to the floor of the House in Washington focusing on nothing less than the nation’s food supply.

Needless to say don’t swat the bees this summer and if you see one in your house or your car try to let him out because he might be one of the only ones left still providing you with food.

First Published — May 30, 2007

Not the GOP!!!! AAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHH!!!!

With politicians like these who needs an enemy?

“I saw the Mayor of New York said today, ‘We’re tough. We can do it.’ Well, Mayor, how are you going to feel when it’s your daughter that’s kidnapped at school by a terrorist? How are you going to feel when it’s some clerk — some innocent clerk of the court — whose daughter or son is kidnapped? Or the judge’s wife? Or the jailer’s little brother or little sister?” Rep. John Shadegg R Arizona

“I think the President will find, upon reflection, that to bring the worst of the terrorists inside the United States would be cause for great danger and regret in the years to come.” Former Vice President Dick Cheney

“…who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.” Former Alaska Governor. Sarah Palin

“I believe that the greatest fear that we all should have … to our freedom comes from this room, this very room, and what may happen later this week in terms of a tax increase bill masquerading as a health care bill. I believe we have more to fear from the potential of that bill passing than we do from any terrorist right now in any country.” Rep. Virginia Foxx R North Carolina

Have Republicans gone insane? Have they lost their confidence and love for their country just because a black man beat the crap out of them in the polls last November? Has the strain of multiple wars they started, a colossal deficit to China they caused and a near depression from reckless management of the economic system to the benefit of the richest 1% of the population only, brought them all to the brink of lunacy? Or is it that they are now so convinced the only way to gather their base to the polls is to terrify grandma and grandpa and the uneducated masses to the point of abject fear?

Below is a list of definitions gathered from four different dictionaries for the word terrorist.

ter·ror·ist n (Government, Politics & Diplomacy)

a. a person who employs terror or terrorism, especially as a political weapon

Collins English Dictionary– Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003

b. An individual who uses violence, terror, and intimidation to achieve a result.

Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. US Department of Defense 2005

c. a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells; often uses religion as a cover for terrorist activities

WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2008 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.

d. A person, usually a member of a group, who uses or advocates terrorism; a person who terrorizes or frightens others.

Dictionary.com Unabridged; Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2009.

That pretty much covers every definition of the word minus a few redundant additions. Do you notice a common thread among them? It would seem that the  requirement in these definitions is that a terrorist is not necessarily defined by the act itself. There is no definition that lists the acts of death and destruction as necessary to define what actually a terrorist is. Rather the definition of terrorist relates to the effect, a desire to inspire fear through any action destructive or otherwise for the sake of political influence. Doesn’t, by these definitions, most of the leaders of the Republican Party in fact qualify as terrorists?

Why have they become such fear mongers? To be honest I used to consider myself Independent and actually probably would have seriously considered voting for McCain against Al Gore. But that is certainly not the case anymore. I find myself voting strictly Democrat not so much because I feel they are such great leaders but rather to do whatever I can to ensure that their lunatic opponents have as little political power as possible.  Apparently the GOP and its very own TV channel Faux News have decided that the only method that their political agenda can be espoused is through intimidating and scaring the hell out of their constituency. No wonder these people are slowly going a little nuts manifesting themselves into a group of imbeciles obliviously insulting themselves calling themselves “tea baggers” led by their “fear monger in chief” the biggest head case ever to have a platform to rant from, second only to Adolf Hitler, Glenn Beck.  Clearly eight years of being terrified on a regular basis is having an effect on the stability of that population willing to watch this sensationalism designed to keep them glued to the screen and nothing more.

Ask any news editor, a story about murder, rape, robbery or destruction is much better for selling papers or airtime than one about something good happening.  That said most editors recognize a responsibility to their public, which requires a certain amount of balance between the less interesting positivity stories to the sensational negative ones. They realize that if the public hears nothing but bad news all the time a countrywide depression will develop as people begin to believe the world is nothing but a bad place to live. Most news broadcasts will consider this when programming their shows and will usually end with a feel good story to bring their viewers back up again after the prime-time stories scare them or depress them a little for the sake of drawing them to the show in the first place.  This has not been the methodology of Faux News, however, as it is clear their only real agenda is to polarize and rile up their audience in order to keep them from turning to other more rational opinions for the sake of gaining the whole story.

Perhaps because Rupert Murdock is an Aussie he has no sense of patriotism to America and he doesn’t care the damage his networks and the ratings prostitutes he hires to blather nonsense are doing to this once resilient and steely resolved nation of the strongest and brightest folks in the world.  That is the real problem with these methods of attention getting. If you continuously threaten and scare the crap out of someone, no matter how strong and intelligent they once were, you eventually will turn them into a drooling coward. Look at the military. Do you think if we actually told the GI’s that charged head first into Normandy that there was a good chance when they charged into thousands of machine guns and artillery boxes they were going to be torn to pieces along with 70% percent of their unit. If we had we never would have stood a chance against defeating fascism? Boot camp is designed to bolster the troop’s confidence as much as it is to teach them how to kill stuff.  Most military guys carry this sense of confidence with them for the rest of their life, which is why they often find themselves in roles of management and leadership when they return to civilian society.

Consumer confidence is the lowest it has been in mine and even my father’s lifetimes. This lack of confidence brought us to the brink of economic collapse and is clearly bringing the value of the American ideal into the gutter. Don’t you think there might be a reason for this? By and large people are very sheep-like when it comes to their day to day life and the effect that their mood has on the body politic is very real. That is what the terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda are banking on in this unbelievably insurmountable battle they have waged against the most powerful nation in the history of the world. They are merely a small group of wacked out religious fanatics with nothing more than horsebacks, a few assembled motley weapons and a bunch of caves to live in. Yet they have brought the world’s largest and most powerful superpower that has won both world wars and an even greater cold war against another hugely powerful nation, screaming and cowering to its knees. How? By challenging and very nearly defeating America’s greatest strength; our can do, never say die, nothing is impossible attitude. This attitude allowed us to stand against the oppression of the British Empire in our very beginning. It wasn’t until we Americans stood up to the oppressive fear and control that Monarchy held against its population that the concept of individual rights and freedom ever came about in the first place.  We have carried that strength of character for over 200 years from generation to generation and have accomplished some of the greatest strides of human achievement in the history of human civilization.

So why exactly are we now turning into a nation of whiny cowards now that a bunch of whacked out boogey men are shaking a piece of wood made into a gun shouting “Alalalalalala” at us. If it wasn’t for the fact that a major portion of the population is being terrified regularly by people with something to gain by doing so, do you really think these rag-tag lunatics would stand a chance against a nuclear juggernaut and the economic master of the world?  Who the hell are Faux news and the GOP really working for? It isn’t for the benefit of this country as far as I can see. Although I am reasonably certain that McCain and the rest of them genuinely thinks they are patriots and are not in fact working for the enemy. However, he and his Republican cronies have seemed to sacrifice the good of the nation for the sake of their own political agenda. There is a word for that activity which in times of war would normally earn one a bullet to the back of the head by your own commander as a demonstration of what happens to cowards in a combat situation. It’s called “desertion” and in cases in which you are inspiring such behavior in those around you it graduates to something even worse called “treason”.

Confidence is the true strength in politics. That is how Obama came out of nowhere and defeated not only the most powerful Democrat at the time but the best the Republican Party could muster as well and became the first African American president something which in itself still takes some major cojones. His life story is literally the most unlikely American presidential story as could be imagined in Hollywood’s most Liberal imagination.  Say what you will about his policies but the moment he took office this country seemed as if to wake from a nightmare and start to take a little pride in itself once again. The man inspires confidence like no other politician in a long time. This confidence he brought allowed the Stock Market to jump back into the 10,000s, the economy to return from the brink of depression, and America started to look once again like a place worth being proud of when traveling or speaking to the rest of the world. People stopped telling other countries they were from Canada when they traveled and we literally went from being the most despised country in the world to the most beloved once again in less than eight months.

Well these traitorous demagogs have not gone away ladies and gentleman. They are still using these strategies they learned from the enemy to scare you into thinking reforming health care to actually benefit people over insurance company CEO’s, reforming energy policy to keep that money out of Saudi and terrorist hands and in the hands of the American farmers, and I am sure when this Job’s bill comes about, scare you into thinking benefiting the American worker is somehow going to kill and bankrupt your children’s children.  If you find yourself starting to believe this rhetoric ask yourself which is better living in fear and never taking a chance on anything or living in confidence and venturing strongly forward into the future.  In either case you might in fact be right, but by which one do you actually lose?

Once upon a time, there was a President who healed the depression of our nation and brought us out of the last great loss of confidence in America. He happened to be a strong and confident Democrat as well and his name was Franklin D. Roosevelt.  He said something that is perhaps the wisest quotation a leader has ever put to voice, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself” and this is in fact what the Republican Party has seemed to have forgotten in their tired desire to win political elections. There are two other things he said which are less quoted but nonetheless hold a great deal of weight when you consider who you want to listen to in this uncertain time, “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today” and “We, and all others who believe in freedom as deeply as we do, would rather die on our feet than live on our knees”. Personally I would much rather be wrong and listen to this thinking than be right and listen to Glenn Beck and as long as I do in fact I never will be wrong. Remember one of the most successful American businessmen in our history, Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Originally published- November 22, 2009