Liquid Surveillance

Cool term, huh?  Liquid surveillance. I learned it from Neil Richards’ 2013 paper “The Dangers of Surveillance” in the Harvard Law Review (thanks to Jesus Olmo for the link); it’s a useful label for that contemporary panopticon in which “Government and nongovernment surveillance support each other in a complex manner that is often impossible to […]

Posted in: rant, scilitics by Peter Watts 88 Comments

Rhetorical

I saw Particle Fever the other night. My movie buddy didn’t like it as much as I did: she thought the music was intrusive, and she didn’t learn anything new about the science. I did— I learned that Supersymmetry and the Multiverse were mutually exclusive theories, which had somehow failed to sink in even after […]

Posted in: ink on art, rant by Peter Watts 44 Comments

NSA. BSG. AAAS. FOAD.

Back in 2003 I attended a talk by David Brin, at Worldcon here in Toronto. Brin had blurbed  Starfish; to say I was favorably disposed towards the man would be an understatement. And yet I found myself increasingly skeptical as he spoke out in favor of ubiquitous surveillance: the “Transparent Society”, he called it, and […]

Posted in: rant, scilitics by Peter Watts 51 Comments

Culpa.

Say what you will about this Peter Watts guy, he sure has a way with punchy quotes. Just look at some of  the one-liners he’s come up with that various folks have pinched for their sigfiles, or stuck on the sidebars of their blogs. Just look at all the pithy wisdom quoted on GoodReads: “Science […]

Posted in: fellow liars, ink on art, rant by Peter Watts 11 Comments

Geoengineering and the Evils of Conservation

Well, traditional conservation, anyway. The kind where you presume to “manage” a wildlife population by ensuring, year after year, that its population remains stable. The problem is that as any population varies, so too does its behavior. Mortality curves, reproductive rates, vulnerability to pathogens and predators — a hundred other variables — all change with […]

Posted in: climate, marine, rant, scilitics by Peter Watts 22 Comments

The Constraints of Time, The Limits of Reason

  As a postscript to my previous entry — and as a case study to the current one — I spent a little while over this weekend doodling the outlines of a fake nature documentary riffing off the old “Hinterland: Who’s Who” vignettes that used to run on CBC.  Mine was called “Internet:  Who’s Who”.  […]

Posted in: rant, scilitics, sociobiology by Peter Watts 352 Comments

Everything I Needed to Know About Christmas I Learned From My Grandma

Christmas in a household of professional Baptists has always been a time to think about the joys of giving.  In my particular case this has proven to be a double-edged sword, the flip side being that it is not a time to think about “getting”.  Devoting any neurons to the contemplation of what one might […]

Posted in: misc, rant by Peter Watts 20 Comments

Douchebags in Deutschland

“Dismay, Confusion Greet Human Stem Cell Patent Ban“, wails Gretchen Vogel’s headline in the October 28th issue of Science. The news item itself begins with a question: “Has the environmental group Greenpeace dealt a major blow to the medical use of human embryonic stem cells in Europe? That’s what biologists, patent specialists, and lawyers are […]

Posted in: rant, scilitics by Peter Watts 29 Comments

To Intensify Heinlein…

…Democracy is based on the idea that a million idiots can make a better decision than a single intelligent person. I suppose the obvious rejoinder would have something to do with sour grapes. Still, the following facts are not in dispute: this is the first government in Canadian history to have been found in contempt […]

Posted in: rant, scilitics by Peter Watts 88 Comments

Dress Rehearsal

A dispatch from a place we haven’t quite got to yet: A newsfeed running in one corner of his display served up a fresh riot from Hongcouver. State-of-the-art security systems gave their lives in defense of glassy spires and luxury enclaves— defeated not by clever hacks or superior technology, but by the sheer weight of […]

Posted in: misc, rant by Peter Watts 80 Comments