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

The Feel-Good Spill of the Decade

Dead zones suffocating 20,000 square kilometers of ocean. Endangered wetlands, disappearing at the rate of over 300 Ha/day. Clouds of black viscous poison soiling the coastlines of four states. And then the Deepwater Horizon blew up. What, you thought those apocalyptic descriptions were of the spill? You thought the Gulf of Mexico was some pristine […]

Posted in: In praise of biocide, rant by Peter Watts 170 Comments

Lost? Damned Right It Was.

You know what the creators of epic, multiyear-arc television shows need? They need a novelist or two on staff. Or a playwright. Somebody who understands that an epic tale needs to be planned in advance, that plot is not something you work out after you’ve already written 90% of the story, that you can’t just […]

Posted in: ink on art, rant by Peter Watts 77 Comments

The Revenge of the Lizard Queen

There are so many little things I could talk about: another doomed award nom, a couple of nifty academic analyses of Blindsight, even an intriguing new finding of a relationship between hand-washing and buyer’s remorse (no, really — it factors into everything from musical preferences to crucifixions). And I’ll post on at least some of […]

Posted in: ink on art, rant by Peter Watts 65 Comments

Prisoners of Gravity

Rick Green said it best, during an episode of the eponymous and innovative Canadian spec-fic documentary series.  And on this 40th anniversary, this celebration of the voyage of an ancient diving bell — amidst all the back-patting and self-congratulations (especially the CBC’s desperate Me Too! efforts to convince this nation of low-self-esteem self-professed underachievers that […]

Posted in: rant by Peter Watts 7 Comments

Not exactly SF, but pretty fucking Orwellian just the same.

I had dinner the other night with a friend of mine, a former investment banker and derivatives jock for the Toronto Dominion Bank. He grew sufficiently wealthy to retire years ago — while still in his thirties — and has since been managing hedge funds for widows and environmentalists to make up for his past life of […]

Posted in: economics, rant by Peter Watts 20 Comments

Quantum Economics

The past couple of weeks have not been pleasant ones.  I have been doing statistics (on the biogeography of waterfowl), and I have been reading about statistics (on the global economic meltdown).  I have been delving broadly, if not deeply:  postmortems in The Atlantic and Wired; an articulate if foamy rant in Rolling Stone; and […]

Will No One Rid Us of This Troublesome Priest?

I think I might want to be an American. I don’t say this easily. The acid shit-soup aftertaste of the Cheney administration still burbles at the backs of our throats; deregulated dominoes continue to topple the world over; Rush Limbaugh is yet taken seriously by an alarmingly large army of devotees. And yet, I can’t […]

Posted in: rant, scilitics by Peter Watts 18 Comments