A concise blog reporting on articles of importance to the future of human and social development.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Weekends' News.

There’s a good deal of news today as I’ve gone the whole weekend without making an update.

Engadget reports a Computerworld article questioning the validity of banning RF devices on planes. The article reports that it’s a lot easier and cheaper to ban cell phones, Wi-Fi, and other wireless communication devices in flight than it is to independently test and certify every product. The author makes a very compelling argument: If wireless devices could take down a plane, what’s to stop terrorists from doing so? Then goes on to suggest that the lack of news reports implicating radio technology in plane crashes indicates that it is not too dangerous to ban their use completely. This is a fallacious assumption, as RF does interfere, but the possibility of the ban being intended as a crowd control measure certainly bears investigation.

Slashdot links an article in the UK Guardian describing a particularly troubling estimation of future trends made by their nation’s Ministry of Defence. Predictions include Marxism, famine, war, urbanization, climate change, and, in a slightly more hopeful note, direct mind-machine links through ‘brain chips’ by 2035. When ministry of defense of the English-speaking worlds’ oldest imperial nation makes a grim prediction, people better notice. You don’t get to be a 1040 year old nation by not changing with the times.

Disinformation links another article from the guardian describing the events of a small welsh village that’s leading the charge of sustainable habitation. Small towns like Lampeter are pioneering our energy-depleted futures. One can only hope that they’ll be able to iron out the kinks in time to start spreading their innovations to communities that use much more resources than the farming village of 4,000 residents does.

Another post on Engadget sends us to an article from ABC news. Citizens from a county in New Mexico have voted to accept an increase in sales tax to pay for the proposed spaceport. Critics of the bill think that the $198 million price tag should be left to the state, as Dona Ana county has its own problems to deal with. Supporters of the project are excited that the plan is finally moving forward, and hope the momentum of this election will sway nearby counties and the state to their side.

And for the last bit this evening, Techdirt reports that the judge in the Vonage vs Verizon patent has issued an injunction against Vonage to stop them from bringing in any new customers. This, according to the article, is the corporate equivalent of holding their head underwater. Without new customers to sustain the company, Vonage will eventually die. All this because Vonage’s VoIP system uses the technology from three of Verizon’s patents. These patents “cover technologies that deal with connection of VoIP calls to the regular phone network, some features for implementing call-waiting and voice mail services, and VoIP calls using Wi-Fi handsets.” So far, the company has been orderet to pay a $58 million fine, and post $66 million bond, the injunction would be the final nail in an airtight coffin around the already struggling company, but a recent update shows they’ve been granted a temporary stay pending appeal. These are monopoly tactics, similar to Microsoft in the past decades. Verizon is slowly eliminating Vonages’ competition using the broken patent system as a weapon of corporate destruction.

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